How to Slump and Still Create Runs

Jayson Werth is in a slump that has encompassed his last 35 plate appearances. He looks completely lost at the plate, having notched only one hit in that span and struck out 14 times. There’s no way Werth has helped the Phillies at all during his slump, hitting fifth in the lineup, right?

Well, yeah, there is a way. He has drawn six walks and been hit by a pitch, and has also stolen one base in one attempt. That’s right, while Werth was hitting .042 prior to today’s game with the Brewers, his OBP was at .250. Further, Werth has driven in four runs: two with his only hit in 35 PA on September 22, and two more with productive outs in each of the last two games against the Brewers.

As an example, when Jimmy Rollins went hitless in 31 PA between June 19 and July 1, he only had an OBP of .129. Players like Werth, who can draw a walk (he’s second only to Chase Utley in that area), can continue to earn their spot in the lineup even when they’re taking some awful cuts at the plate.

They say speed never slumps. It does, but humoring that, neither does intelligence, and Jayson Werth has shown in his three years with the Phillies that he is a very smart hitter with his ability to work counts and draw walks. Werth will soon emerge from his slump, but in the meantime, Charlie Manuel can still feel justified in writing his name on the lineup card.

What If Jimmy Was Good All Year?

Let’s have a fun little thought experiment. What if July-to-present Jimmy Rollins had existed between April and the end of June? As we’re all aware of, Jimmy had a terrible first half, putting up a .572 OPS in 325 plate appearances. Since then, he’s hit for an .813 OPS in 372 PA.

The only tools needed for our experiment are:

I went ahead and plugged in all of the numbers — the Phillies’ batting order and their respective OBP and SLG. Then I selected the 1959-2004 model and clicked submit. This is easy!

The current Phillies lineup — including Rollins’ current level of production — comes out to 5.017 runs per game with the most optimal at 5.156.

For the second test, I simply replaced Rollins’ current OBP and SLG with that of his second half, .323/.490.

That lineup comes out to 5.183 runs per game with the most optimal lineup at 5.298. So, we can say that first-half Jimmy cost the Phillies .166 runs per game, or 13 runs over 81 games, a bit more than one win.

Should you have any questions about how the calculations work, click on the lineup analysis tool link above (or here) and click on the linked names after “Based on work by”. Cyril Morong’s article at Beyond the Box Score in particular is a great read.

Just for fun, I wanted to see how much better Carlos Ruiz has been than Paul Bako offensively. As above, the current Phillies line-up will score 5.017 runs per game. Replacing Ruiz with Bako brings them to 4.849 runs per game, a difference of .168, nearly the same difference between Good Jimmy and Bad Jimmy! Of course, it’s advantageous to rest a catcher so the total difference between the two catchers isn’t as large as the lineup analysis tool indicates. But it’s a fun thought experiment.