Rumors of the offense’s demise may be greatly exaggerated. Although they have been shut out on ten different occasions (four of them at the hands of New York Met pitchers), the Phillies are slowly climbing back up the offensive leaderboards. Their average 4.75 runs per game is second-best in the National League behind the Cincinnati Reds.
As the following chart will show, the Phillies actually have quite a crew of above-average hitters:
(If you’re not familiar with wOBA, stop by the new stats page.)
Jayson Werth leads the pack with a .397 wOBA that is ninth-best in all of baseball. He is currently tied with Adrian Beltre and just ahead of Robinson Cano. Contrary to popular opinion, Werth is enjoying the best offensive season of his career.
No surprise that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley come in at two and three, respectively. Utley could be as high as Werth given his career .388 wOBA, but he was slumping for a while before his injury. From May 16 to June 28, Utley compiled a triple-slash line of .239/.331/.336 (.667 OPS). He went 0-for-5 last night in his first game since June 28.
Ross Gload should surprise you. During the first half, he wasn’t getting much playing time — maybe two or three starts per month. Once Howard injured his ankle, Charlie Manuel gave Gload more at-bats and it paid off. In the ten games in which he has played while Howard has been out, Gload has a triple-slash line of .320/.433/.600 (1.033 OPS).
Carlos Ruiz is another surprise. He is routinely lauded for his defensive contributions as well as his ability to work with the pitchers; he was never expected to do much with the bat, especially after his disappointing .279 wOBA in 2008. This year, though, Ruiz has become one of the better offensive catchers in baseball. Among catchers with at least 200 plate appearances this season, Ruiz has the seventh-best wOBA, just ahead of John Jaso and Miguel Olivo and slightly behind Jorge Posada and Miguel Montero. He’s also been on a three-week tear: since July 27, Ruiz’s triple-slash line is impressive: .361/.378/.597. Best of all, a healthy portion of those hits have come in higher-leverage situations. Although they may not be predictive of anything, the stats show that his timing is indeed impeccable.
Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins have the most room for improvement. Victorino hasn’t been hitting as many line drives, having hit more fly balls instead. Sadly, his BABIP on fly balls is a staggeringly low .042, much lower than the National League average .136. This may be because Victorino has adopted a more power-oriented approach — his HR/FB went from 5.5% last year to 10.6% this year, causing his ISO to go up by 35 points.
Rollins’ trend is the opposite of Victorino’s. He’s drawn more walks, struck out less and hit for very little power (.114 ISO). The calf injury likely deserves a lot of blame but there are signs that Rollins is feeling healthier. In the first 21 games after his injury, he attempted only one steal. Since July 17 (26 games), he’s stolen nine bases in nine attempts. Hopefully the power is the next thing to come back to him.
As frustrating as this offense has been this year, the Phillies are finally getting closer to full health and should be back to scoring runs in bunches. Just in time for another late-season playoff push.