David Beats Goliath, Phillies Out of Playoffs

The called strike three to Ryan Howard that clinched the National League Championship Series for the Giants was, among other things, emblematic of the Phillies’ offensive ineptitude throughout the NLCS. Despite banging out eight hits and drawing five walks, the Phillies were only able to push across two runs against Jonathan Sanchez and the Giants’ bullpen. Once again, they were disappointing when runners were in scoring position, notching hits in two of a whopping eleven opportunities. Overall, they were 8-for-45 in the series — a measly .178 average with RISP.

The Phillies also played poorly defensively, continuing a surprising trend in the 2010 playoffs. Shane Victorino misplayed a fly ball in center field, Chase Utley misplayed another grounder, and Placido Polanco made a throwing error. Defensive failures helped the Giants score two runs in the third inning, marring what was an otherwise impressive outing by Roy Oswalt. Chase Utley, baseball’s best defensive second baseman, was the biggest goat of the goat defenders in the NLCS — a shocking revelation to say the least.

In the end, the Phillies came two playoff wins away from becoming immortalized in baseball history, perhaps as a dynasty. They would have been the first National League team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to reach three consecutive World Series. Though that was not realized, what the Phillies have accomplished is impressive nonetheless.

Consider that, when the Phillies clinched the division on the last day of the regular season in 2007, we Phillies fans were simply thrilled that a 13-year playoff drought had ended. The Colorado Rockies promptly swept the Phillies out of the NLDS. And that was all right.

Now, on the heels of a championship in 2008 and a near-repeat in ’09, the Phillies’ exit from the NLCS in Game Six is considered premature. The disappointment from Phillies fans in the restaurant I was in at the time of Howard’s called strike three was palpable. Sports talk radio callers — and the hosts — blasted Howard and his sizable contract awarded to him earlier in the season, wondering how someone with zero NLCS RBI could be worth such a large sum of money. Utley was denigrated for, apparently, typically shoddy defense. Charlie Manuel’s decision-making, for the first time since the Phillies have enjoyed playoff berths, was second-guessed.

Amid the disappointment, it is important to step back and appreciate what we have witnessed out of the Phillies. Yes, the dismissal from the 2010 playoff stings, but the team gave us a lot to be proud of in this season alone. For instance, coming back from a plethora of injuries and seven games out of first place in the division, was an incredible feat. There was also:

Roy Halladay‘s perfect game against the Florida Marlins, and his no-hitter in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.

Roy Oswalt playing left field — and recording a put out — in the 14th inning was great theater.

Jayson Werth put up one of the best offensive seasons by any Phillies outfielder ever.

Carlos Ruiz‘s emergence as a legit offensive threat.

Cole Hamels‘ bounce-back season after a disappointing 2009. Brad Lidge, too.

Ryan Madson‘s continued dominance as the set-up guy for Lidge.

Ruben Amaro’s ability to fill in around the edges, with Wilson Valdez, Mike Sweeney, and Ross Gload playing big roles outside of being reliable bench players.

Remember, three years ago, that Kyle Kendrick started Game Two of the NLDS and Jamie Moyer started Game Three. The Phillies have come a long way. They should not be ashamed of what they didn’t accomplish this season.

While the Phillies will likely part ways with Jayson Werth, the core group is still intact and primed for another deep post-season run with a trio of ace starting pitchers and a solid but aging offense.

In closing, if I can ask one thing of the Phillies fan base in the aftermath of the NLCS — don’t harp on players for what they didn’t do in the post-season. There aren’t enough innings and plate appearances from which to draw conclusions confidently. That Ryan Howard didn’t have an RBI isn’t indicative of decline, or mental shortcomings, or what have you. If you replay Howard’s 22 at-bats again in the same situations, he will likely come away with at least one RBI. Likewise, Utley’s defensive miscues are not representative of his true ability as a second baseman; they were just a few ugly plays in a very small sample of opportunities.

Rolls of the die can be cruel. The Phillies happened to roll snake eyes  several times in the NLCS. Them’s the breaks. The Phillies have been on the other end as well. Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers about Matt Stairs, or the Tampa Bay Rays about Joe Blanton and Geoff Jenkins.

Ask Brock Lesnar about Cain Velasquez.

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58 comments

  1. Cutter McCool

    October 24, 2010 02:11 AM

    Bill, you are such an apologist homer. Are you lobbying for Chris Wheelers job should the phillies fire him?

    I knew the phillies would lose this game in the third inning. Because they made three defensive mistakes in the top and then, in the bottom, with two men on and no and no outs, could not get a single runner in.

    The giants laid out a simple blueprint for beating the phils–have lots of adequate lefties in your bullpen. The success of sanchez in late innings against Utley and Howard doomed their chances for any late inning heroics.

    Most obvious was the massive outmanaging of Manuel by Bochi–the phials lost to a clearly inferior team (better only by bullpen) in large part because of that.

  2. Cutter McCool

    October 24, 2010 02:20 AM

    This season was a waste–and with jason werth gone next season, the phils ineptness against lefties will only worsen.

    So next year you think they’ll have a better chance at a championship?

    While i agree the your precious saber metrics are useless in analyzing the playoffs, here’s a stat worth memorizing–hoemruns in the NLCS by Utley and Howard combined, 0. Homeruns by Juan Uribe, 1.

  3. Bill Baer

    October 24, 2010 02:38 AM

    Bill, you are such an apologist homer.

    I think this term least describes me, ha ha.

    I’m sure you meant Javier Lopez, not Jonathan Sanchez as well.

    So next year you think they’ll have a better chance at a championship?

    Better? No. But they’ll still have a chance, much better than most if not all other Major League teams.

  4. Pito

    October 24, 2010 03:35 AM

    Hard to be “better” next year when you’re the best the year before. The lineup is going to be crazy. Ibanez is signed through next year. Francisco is arb. eligible. What do you think of swapping the two from bench-to-lineup? I’ll be honest the only reason I suggest it is to keep the balance of righty-lefties with Dom Brown replacing Jayson in left field. Ben is a viable option as a replacement but would it be a mistake? After all, Ibanez was the one with the leadoff doubel. Ben was the one who couldn’t bring him in by lofting one to the outfield. Just a thought for consideration. Also, how do you see the bullpen shaking out? Durbin and Contreras are FA. Do we re-sign both? Keep one? Let both go? I agree that we have a better chance next year than most teams. First step is to 5 peat as NL East champs! Then I don’t care what they do; they just have to win 11 more games after that! H2O should be enormous next season. Considering this team went 41-19 after the Oswalt trade, I think we have every reason to believe this team can win it all next year (I know, Werth played a huge part in that run but no one said Dom Brown isn’t going to match him either. RotY? We’ll see!)!!! And final question; do we re-sign Sweeney? Did you see his post-game interview? He deserves a chance to win a WS with us next year, IMO.

  5. Gaël

    October 24, 2010 06:25 AM

    I don’t understand how losing in the NLCS can be seen as a waste of a season. Yes, the Phillies were the favorites going in, but if this season should have taught us anything, it’s that being the favorites only means you’ll have to work just as hard (and be just as lucky) to win.
    Does it sting losing to the Giants in 6 games? Of course it does (and I wish those Cody Ross homers and doubles had been hit by Posey and Burrell, at least I wouldn’t feel so bad about them). But it’s not as if the Phillies were robbed. Sure, the Giants caught some lucky breaks (but so did we), and the umpiring was awful, but the Giants managed to take advantage of that more often than we did. They played better opportunistic baseball, and given the low-scoring nature of the series, it’s no surprise they won.

    So yes, I am disappointed the Phillies didn’t win a third pennant in a row, but this was an amazing season, and these guys gave us so much to be proud of throughout the year (on top of what Bill already mentioned):

    The Moyer shutout.

    Sweeney’s hugs and joy at reaching the postseason for the first time.

    Hamels losing all those 1-0 games, and never wavering.

    Madson coming back from a stupid freak injury to be even more dominant than before.

    The Valdez’s homeruns that lifted the team when we least expected it.

    That epic comeback win against the Rockies in September.

    That 11-game winning streak that turned them from outsiders to near-lock.

    Oswalt’s grin. Just Oswalt’s grin.

    And I could go on and on. This was the kind of season that’ll turn a newcomer to baseball into a lifetime fan. So they didn’t win it all? I’m still way thankful for what they gave us.

  6. Tamuel

    October 24, 2010 07:01 AM

    Before the season, if someone told you that the Phillies would lose Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino to the DL, and still come two wins away from the World Series, would any of you seriously believe them?

  7. hk

    October 24, 2010 07:48 AM

    Bill,

    Well done in asking fans not to come down hard on Howard in particular. I was wondering how you, who’ve been so tough on Howard, would address the SSS of his post-season.

    The fact that Howard did not have an RBI in the post-season is more an indictment of RBI as a statistic as it is of Howard himself. He hit .300 with nearly a .400 OBP in the post-season and if the hitters ahead of him had been on base more, he may have driven in some runs. Also, if Perlozzo had sent Jimmy last night, he may have driven in a run and we may be talking about game 7.

  8. Steve

    October 24, 2010 08:34 AM

    either way on howard, this blog has told of the folly that his contract is. here is my shakeup trade:

    placido polanco, ryan howard, ben francisco and a top prospect for albert pujols (plus obviously some cash for that ridiculous salary)

  9. Big E

    October 24, 2010 08:36 AM

    I’m still pretty angry and bitter, but I’m trying not to be. Fact is, the Giants are better. Better hitting, better bullpen, equal starting pitching. I guess I’m angry because this Phillies team was supposed to be unbeatable. Then we found out, they’re just old. Ibanez and Polanco, obviously they’re best days are past them. Rollins has been old for 2 years, but when you play a guy 160 games a season for 10 years at shortstop, what do you expect?

    Howard has apparently become a 200 strikeout a year singles hitter, who plays terrible defense, and soaks up $20 million a year in salary. Utley just looks shot. Every year he gets hurt, and we say, “well, when he gets healthy, look out!” Except, now he’s never healthy. Werth still looks like he’s in pretty good shape, maybe good for another few years. Of course I guess those years will be spent in Boston or New York. So we have a ton of money tied up in old, non-productive position players.

    I guess I’m mad our core players got old so fast. I thought we would have a dominant run for the next few years. Yeah, well, it was fun while it lasted.

  10. John K

    October 24, 2010 08:55 AM

    Bill,
    Great piece. Last night hurt more than 07 for the reasons you mentioned. More than 09 because we weren’t the better team and – honestly – how sad can you really be when a championship is so fresh in the mind?

    This is exactly the kind of article I was hoping someone would write. That kind of perspective is crucial in the aftermath of a series like this.

    This is the first year in which I seriously followed Phillies blogs and I’m very happy to have found yours. Easily the most thoughtful and interesting Phils blog around. Thanks for the great year

  11. dejesus54

    October 24, 2010 09:29 AM

    SF winning does seem like a small sample size fluke, or at least “roll of the die,” to me as everyone was seemingly at the top of their game (most obvious e.g. Cody Ross at .350/.435/.950 in 20 AB), and IMO Colorado is at least even with SF in NL West division odds for 2011. But it still counts; 2010 Yankee fans (who only had to face Cliff Lee once over six games and still lost the series) would agree.

    The worst, or most ominous, number for the Phils? SF average team age: batter 29.4, pitcher 27.9. Phils average team age: batter 31.8, pitcher 31.1. (Half-sarcastic footnote: I wonder how much closer it is when you subtract Moyer.)

  12. Pat

    October 24, 2010 09:37 AM

    Bill,
    Great Article. I completely agree with your second to last paragraph and how we should not be hasty to judge this team. I’m honestly afraid to turn on the radio and tune in to 97.5. First of all, it just hurts too much. Secondly, I’m just going to be pissed off by what those idiots are saying.

    Thanks for providing perspective as you have throughout the entire year. Philadelphia could use a little more Bill Baer.

  13. dejesus54

    October 24, 2010 09:45 AM

    Also, minor critique: one AB for Sweeney vs. the Reds and zero AB vs. SF? I know Gload is slightly more likely to hit one outta here than Sweeney at this stage in their careers, but I was still hoping for him to pinch hit to begin the 9th last night, among other opportunities.

    (Especially after this: joeposnanski.si.com/2010/10/14/sweeney-an-essay/)

  14. James

    October 24, 2010 10:07 AM

    Ryan Howard: 33 strikeouts in his last 61 at bats (71 plate appearances) in the playoffs.

    Amazing.

  15. James D.

    October 24, 2010 10:42 AM

    chase utley’s errors shouldn’t be a shocking revelation. he’s always been error prone, consistently top 5 at his position. fielding percentage and errors have recently been downplayed when talking about good fielders (see the article linked in this piece and the subsequent comments) but the importance of avoiding errors in a playoff series should be obvious to phillies fans after the last series.

    by the middle of next year we can all go back to worshiping utley’s uzr and ignoring those unimportant stats like fielding percentage and errors, because he only makes more errors because his range is so good that he gets to more balls, right? until playoff season, that is. then we’ll realize that catching and throwing the ball with messing up actually does matter.

  16. Dave

    October 24, 2010 10:52 AM

    “In closing, if I can ask one thing of the Phillies fan base in the aftermath of the NLCS — don’t harp on players for what they didn’t do in the post-season. There aren’t enough innings and plate appearances from which to draw conclusions confidently.”

    Well said.

    In the words of Billy Beane,

    “Once you get to the playoffs, it’s all F****** luck anyway.”

    And nice work this season, Bill. I’m a relatively late follower to Crashburn, but I’m glad I eventually found it.

  17. Dukes

    October 24, 2010 10:54 AM

    I am usually on board with those who say RBI’s are meaningless, but isn’t it the truth that pitchers bear down and throw tougher pitches in RBI situations? When the count isn’t predictable, Howard is pretty much worthless. And let’s not forget, Howard wasn’t given that contract to be a singles/doubles hitter. A home run would have given him an RBI, too. Because of the size of his contract and the amount that it will take away from being able to acquire and hold on to other talent, Howard deserves to get ridiculed for not coming through in important situations in the NLCS.

    Furthermore, his telling the media that the ball was down was junior high. It was a perfect strike and even if it wasn’t, at that point you just tip your hat. I like Howard, I think he is a great player and the best first baseman the Phillies ever had, but his contract is going to kill us.

    To me, the NLCS was living proof of what most sabermetricians said about Howard’s contract when it was first signed – it’s crazy. How can sabermetricians have it both ways – “Howard’s contract is meaningless AND RBI’s don’t matter.” That’s BS.

    Here are the players on the Phillies who are more important than Ryan Howard…

    Halladay
    Utley
    Werth
    Hamels
    Oswalt
    Howard

    He’s the 5th or 6th best player on his own team and yet getting paid like he’s the first or second best player in baseball. No question this is lethal to the future of Phillies baseball.

  18. Daniel

    October 24, 2010 10:57 AM

    Bill,

    You offer a nice counter to the fan’s knee-jerk reaction to a dissappointing loss.

    Nevertheless, is there room for the argument that the Phillies need some new blood. ESPN quoted players who said that they never saw this coming. They were shocked. Could complacency be the root of this?

    Perhaps a new manger is in order. Perhaps a new manager could be that new blood that the Phillies need. Charlie Manuel made several key managerial mishaps this postseason. Despite what your article says (and still a good article), fans have been complaining about Charlie’s decision-making abilities for years.

    As much as I like Charlie Manuel, his moves this postseason were inexcusable. There were too many to mention here.

    So, why not look for a new manager? I hear Ryan Sandberg is looking for a job. Perhaps we can make up for letting him go to the Cubs as a young rookie and hire him as a new rookie manager. Just a thought.

  19. Rick

    October 24, 2010 11:28 AM

    Beyond simply rolling “snake eyes”, perhaps this is the end of an era?

    No core player on this roster is younger than 30 with the exception of Cole Hamels. This is an exceedingly old team. The influx of quality pitching with the Roy trades helped obscure the fact that this team is in decline as an offensive ballclub.

    People will write off the offensive ineptitude and declining stats as “due to injury”, but what they are missing is that players like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins are simply going to become old and stop hitting at some point, and that point is fast approaching if it hasn’t been reached already.

  20. Jerome

    October 24, 2010 11:40 AM

    Next year, the Phillies NEED to get younger. We can’t afford to get old – when a team’s age gets to a certain point, they just start to stink (see the current Houston Astros, the 1998 Orioles, the 2005-2007 Giants).

    The pitching staff is fine – not anything to majorly change here. It’s strong and can carry the Phils to the playoffs unless we really stink it up (see: 2010 Cardinals).

    I say let Durbin and Contreras go. Halfway decent relief pitchers are a dime a dozen. No need to overpay for any relief pitcher that’s not the closer or the setup man.

    Also, Werth goes (no doubt about that), and I think we should consider getting rid of Ibanez if he starts slow. Fransisco could probably start and play at a similar level as Ibanez (but he’s like 10 years younger). Also, the Phils need to start identify solutions for 3rd base, SS, and Closer so that if things go wrong, they have a backup. They’ve got Madsen for future closer, but 3rd and Short may be an issue if Rollins and Polanco can’t bounce back.

  21. Cutter McCool

    October 24, 2010 11:49 AM

    The phils aged so quickly, let’s not forget, because players like Utley and Howard were stuck in the minors (unlike say, Buster Posey) well into their late twenties due to mismanagement by the top offices.

  22. hk

    October 24, 2010 01:03 PM

    Dukes: To me, the NLCS was living proof of what most sabermetricians said about Howard’s contract when it was first signed – it’s crazy. How can sabermetricians have it both ways – “Howard’s contract is meaningless AND RBI’s don’t matter.” That’s BS.

    Dukes, your confused. Sabremetricians say that RBI are a team-based statistic and that they don’t have a lot of value in rating an individual player’s performance. Since Howard’s contract is based in (large) part on his RBI’s, sabremetricians say that his contract is a gross overpay. They also note that he’s a bad fielder and baserunner, which also factors into how bad his contract is.

    All of that being said, when looking for scapegoats in the NLCS, it is tough to blame Howard’s offense when he produced a .318/.400/.500 line in the series. Compare Howard’s #’s to those of every other regular. Yes, he got most of those hits when there were no runners on; however, the flip side is that the hitters in front of him did not get on the 33% of the time that he did get hits. The point being – and this reverts back to the in-season criticism of Jayson Werth – is that stats like RISP or qualities like being clutch are descriptive, not predictive.

    For a simple example of the relative worthlessness of RBI’s, consider that Howard’s BA and OBP were better in the small sample size of the NLCS than they have been throughout his career, yet he had 0 RBI in the series and has been a huge RBI producer during his career.

  23. Moose

    October 24, 2010 01:22 PM

    I was 100% against the Ibanez and Polanco signs, and its fairly obvious why. We need to get younger. I’ll give Polly the benefit of the doubt because of his elbow, but Ibanez has just flat out been bad. He needs to go.

  24. Moose

    October 24, 2010 01:24 PM

    Also, I’m not blaming the loss on Howard, but he needs to swing in that situation. It was way to close to take and with the season on the line, you need to take the game out of the umpires hands and put it in yours. Swing the bat and try to make something happen.

  25. hk

    October 24, 2010 01:40 PM

    Bill,

    Correction: Your listing of the starters in Games 2 and 3 in 2007 is off slightly. Kendrick started Game 2 and Moyer started Game 3. Lohse relieved Kendrick early in game 2 in the 3rd or 4th inning and immediately gave up a grand slam to Kaz Matsui. Still, point taken about the rotation then vs. now.

  26. Dukes

    October 24, 2010 02:19 PM

    hk…nice post. thanks. the other points of my post still stand, howard is the 5th or 6th best player on the team.

  27. Jeff

    October 24, 2010 03:49 PM

    Howard’s not alone in deserving blame. But his 2010 playoff stats are insane:
    - 38 PA, 17 K (projects to 268 K in a 600-PA season)
    - vs. LHP: 19 PA, 10 K
    - RISP: 10 PA, 6 K
    - 7th-9th innings: 11 PA, 8 K

    Teams have been throwing LOOGYs at Howard for years. He hasn’t adjusted. The evidence says maybe he can’t.

    To me, this is Priority #1 for the new hitting coach. (A close second: convincing Victorino and Rollins that they aren’t Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.)

  28. hk

    October 24, 2010 04:03 PM

    Dukes, I agree that Halladay, Utley, Werth, Hamels and Oswalt all > Howard.

  29. hk

    October 24, 2010 04:08 PM

    Jeff,

    Statistics show that K’s by a batter are not that much different than other outs and K’s are better than DP’s. Therefore, while it is true that he K’d in 17 of 38 PA’s, he did get on base in 15 of the other 21 PA’s (10-16 with 5 BB’s). Now, you could counter that he had an unsustainable .625 BABIP, but all of these are the types of distorted numbers that can come with small sample sizes.

  30. Steve

    October 24, 2010 04:13 PM

    I won’t hammer Howard for his contract, the FO gave it to him, it’s not up to him to say no. The Phils are obviously very vulnerable to LHP, and it just gets worst next year if they don’t sign Werth. Brown showed nothing at the Major League level this year, and his swings against LHP are reminiscent of Howard. So it would be a terrible assumption to think he’ll fill Werth’s shoes and all will be fine.

    Francisco was to me the one bright spot in the NLCS. He hit the ball very well in his one start, and he should have the opportunity to start next year in Left. Ibanez’ contract is a sunk cost, if you can get someone to take him great, but if not it doesn’t mean you have to play him to justify the $. Let Francisco grow in to the talent he appears to be. Again, don’t blame Ibanez for the dead $ (that’s the FO), but make the right move for now and the future.

    Jeff, you make a good point with regard to Howard’s vulnerability to Lefties, but if a hitting coach can turn that around they should pay him half of Howard’s salary. I don’t see it happening this far into his career with all the financial incentive removed.

  31. Steve

    October 24, 2010 04:22 PM

    Bill,

    I reviewed your bright spots again and notice something interesting. With the exception of starters Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth, they are all related to pitching. Pull Werth out of the equation next year, and we have a lot of close low scoring ball games ahead of us. If I’m not mistaken, the Phils had a phenomenal record in 1 run games, but isn’t this the type of stat that should regress to the mean of ~50%. If so, perhaps the Phils aren’t so dominant after all and the expectations for next year ought to be made with that in mind.

  32. mike

    October 24, 2010 05:16 PM

    Well said, Bill. I’m as disappointed as the next guy at how the season ended, but on reflection, this was a pretty amazing season. And I can’t wait for the next one to start.

  33. Jeff

    October 24, 2010 05:58 PM

    hk,

    The counter-argument would be: if Ks are not much different from other outs, then why are strikeout pitchers so valuable?

    I’d agree with you if Howard struck out 5x in 38 PA. But 45% of his PAs? Come on. And let’s not cherry-pick his stats.

    Want a bigger sample size? In the regular season he struck out 157x in 620 PA (25%) — vs. 59 BB. That 2.7-to-1 K/BB ratio signifies a challenged hitter.

    It’s tough to argue that his K/BB and K/PA ratios would improve in the playoffs, facing better pitchers and managers motivated to use specialists in do-or-die situations. (The Giants, to their credit, exploited his weakness.)

    Also, Howard’s BBs have decreased each of the last 3 years, from 108 to 59. So he appears to be regressing.

  34. hk

    October 24, 2010 06:53 PM

    Jeff,

    I cherry picked his stats as much as you. My point was just that he was one of the few hitters who produced a little offensively during the series and I think he’s down the line below Utley, Victorino, Rollins, Ibanez, Perlozzo and Manual for deserving blame for this loss. I am a big critic of Howard’s defense, baserunning and his regular season production, not to mention the GM for the insane contract he bestowed upon him, but despite the K’s, he was better than those listed above.

    As far as the statistics showing why K’s from batters are not nearly as bad as K’s are good for pitchers, I don’t have the studies at hand, but I’ve read them when referenced in other blogs. If I can find one, I’ll link to it. I’ll also ask Bill Baer or any of the other readers to chime in if they are so inclined.

  35. Brad.

    October 24, 2010 07:43 PM

    Thank you, Bill, for a very enjoyable season of blogging. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed the discussions, and the agony that was the NLCS would have been far worse without this outlet. I, too, am grateful for the Phillies’ season (as I am for the last decade of Phils baseball), and will eventually appreciate my memories from 2010.

    But I still hope the Giants get creamed, and Brian Wilson suffers from hair dye poisoning.

  36. Jeff

    October 24, 2010 07:50 PM

    hk,

    I’ve read the studies as well. They’re like linear vs. nonlinear physics: the relationships don’t hold up outside the linear region. A rubber band that retracts when stretched an inch, breaks if stretched a foot. Likewise, at some point, the relative value of outs is irrelevant because the hitter simply strikes out too much.

    I don’t know what the linear region is for strikeouts. Perhaps 25% (Howard’s regular season rate) is. 45% simply cannot be.

    As far as blaming others, I agree. My point is that the original post said to not blame Howard. I don’t think he was above reproach. His series OBP was good, but he was completely futile with RISP or with a LOOGY on the mound.

    Utley stunk. He shouldn’t have bothered with a glove or a bat. Neither did him much good.

    Victorino and Rollins think they are Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. If they were like Willie Mays Hays, and did pushups after every popup, they’d be built like Brock Lesnar.

    Shane often makes me wonder if there’s anything upstairs, or if he’s merely too busy talking to think. He throws to the wrong base and makes baserunning errors too often. And I can’t figure out why he didn’t steal either 2B or 3B against Lincecum when they needed one run now-dammit to stay alive. You and I could steal off Lincecum while running backward.

    Likewise not sure why Jimmy didn’t steal off Wilson. His legs seemed better, and he had no problem stealing in Game 5.

    Ibanez played like a 38-year-old OF. I blame Amaro.

    Other than getting Chooch thrown out in Game 2 (which ultimately didn’t matter), I’m not sure what Perlazzo did wrong, or did wrong of any consequence.

    Charlie made some mistakes, but that’s outweighed by NONE of his star hitters showing up. (OK, that was harsh. Werth was only partially abysmal.)

    Let’s not forget that Senor Octubre had a bad series as well. Barely hit and did a poor job blocking pitches.

    Also Fat Joe. Yes, he outpitched Baumgarner in Game 4, but he had to get into the 6th. Especially in an extreme pitcher’s park like SF.

    And I’d have to look at the pitch sequences to Cody Ross to see whether to blame Dubee for poor pitch selection or the pitchers for missing their spots.

  37. Jeff

    October 24, 2010 08:02 PM

    The one person who did absolutely nothing wrong and deserves zero blame: Brad Lidge.

    Bet nobody would’ve predicted that.

    And, Bill, thank you for this year. I nominate you to replace McCarver in the booth. You don’t even have to speak — just type.

  38. Bill Baer

    October 24, 2010 08:35 PM

    Thanks for the kind words. Stick around during the off-season as there will be plenty to talk about. I’m hoping Ruben Amaro gives us a Jayson Werth for the holidays.

  39. Cutter McCool

    October 24, 2010 09:35 PM

    Keep dreaming, Bill. Any takers on a bet that Werth ends up on the Giants (after they are clobbered in the series for lack of offense)?

  40. Scott G

    October 24, 2010 11:41 PM

    Bill,

    I am getting irritated hearing people rip into the Phillies for lack of home runs in the “bandbox”, CBP. I think I remember a little while back hearing something that it actually has a bad reputation in that manner, and that it’s actually an average park. Something that used stats to prove it rather than what peoples’ eyes tell them. Any idea what I’m talking about, or do you have any info on the topic?

  41. hk

    October 25, 2010 06:53 AM

    Jeff,

    Good points. I am wrong about Perlozzo. When he sent Chooch in game 5, I kept thinking back to him putting up the late stop on Oswalt in game 2 and wondering why he stopped Oswalt, but not Chooch. The bottom line is that we won games 2 and 5, so it is all irrelevant.

    As far as why hitter K’s aren’t so bad, but pitcher K’s are good has more to do with what happened (for batters) vs. what you expect to happen (with pitchers). Of Howard’s 17 K’s in the post-season, 12 came with the bases empty and/or with 2 outs (situations where the type of out is irrelevant). On the other 5 K’s, yes he had chances to have “productive outs”, but he also could have hit into DP’s that would have been more damaging than K’ing.

    Pitcher K’s are good from a predictive standpoint in the sense that, the fewer balls in play, the fewer baserunners. However, in looking back at Howard’s slash line from the post-season, his offensive production should not be viewed much differently based on the fact that 17 of his 23 outs were K’s. If he keeps striking out in 45% of his AB’s, he won’t continue to produce slash lines like he did.

    The bottom line is that I think we pretty much agree that (a) Howard deserves some blame, but not as much as the other regulars, (b) his RBI’s – whether the large number that he produced during the season or the 0 that he produced in the post-season – should not be part of the conversation and (c) his contract extension projects to be an impediment to the franchise’s ability to remain elite in the years to come…starting with this year if it is responsible for them not re-signing Werth.

  42. bill

    October 25, 2010 10:01 AM

    Howard hit well in the NLCS, so let’s not harp on this forever.

    I hate to say it but it did really feel like bad luck. The Giants got outscored in the series! They certainly have great pitching, but that was some serious offensive ineptitude, and even when they had runners on, they couldn’t score.

  43. sean

    October 25, 2010 10:13 AM

    first impressions on a ball park go a long way, much like april stats stay in our minds until june or even later

  44. sean

    October 25, 2010 10:19 AM

    if you’re going to complain about something how about the lack of home runs hit by the phillies/lack of hot hitter outside of howard and werth. the lack of home runs hit is sort of distrubing, though this year taught us anything, perception didn’t line up with reality that the phillies are a “home run hitting team”. pretty unfortunate

  45. Scott G

    October 25, 2010 10:41 AM

    I am not upset with Howard at all, except slightly for not swinging at a close pitch to protect the “strike zone”. That being said, I don’t know why so many people are surprised by the lack of HRs.

    Jimmy Rollins isn’t really a home run hitter, and he is hurt.

    Placido Polanco isn’t a home run hitter.

    Shane Victorino has an awful swing from the left side. While he is very good from the right side as his wOBA suggests, he’s still not a home run threat. Even if he were, his approach at the plate/ lack of discipline doesn’t really help him.

    I still question if Utley is slightly bothered by his hand in terms of his power at the plate. I couldn’t help notice that he would frequently look at his hand after failing/completing diving plays in the field alike.

    Ryan Howard didn’t have any homers. Yet, he had 4 doubles and slugged .500 in the NLCS.

    Werth had 2 HRs and a 2B in the NLCS.

    Ibanez is old, and his bat speed has slowed.

    Ruiz isn’t a home run threat.

    The Giants have really good pitching staff. Why are people surprised that the Phillies didn’t hit homers?

  46. Manny Mendoza

    October 25, 2010 10:45 AM

    We all know the better team did not win the series but the best coach and a gutty group of guys that executed just enough to win. Look at their three 1-run victories– all came with a run in the eight or nine inning! Boutche managed a great series and seemed to always make the right call or move in this series outcoaching Charlie by a mile. In my mind, the deciding factor in the series. Charlie’s inability to play small ball early in the series caused us a game, his loyalty to his players (late in series another), and his questionable late game reliever decisions (probably another)– all factors that that turn the tide and were magnified enough to flip the series in their favor. A microcosm of our entire season. With all true respect, this was the best Philly team ever and they fell short of accomplishing their goal. A true disappointment but something they can learn upon and built upon for the future. For a true, down to the bone fan, a very hard pill to swallow.

  47. CH Phan

    October 25, 2010 11:55 AM

    Since it hasn’t been mentioned here, those 2 HRs Werth hit put him in an elite “club”. He now leads the NL in postseason HRs, but he achieved this feat in fewer games (a LOT fewer) than the other leaders with whom he’s tied (Jim Edmunds, Chipper Jones, & Albert Pujols).

    He may still be the most underrated player in the NL. He’s definitely the most underrated player on the Phillies (he’s STILL a Phillie, damn it).

    Bill: I’m with you on this, “I’m hoping Ruben Amaro gives us a Jayson Werth for the holidays.” Doesn’t this have to be done by the 1st or 2nd wk of Dec now? MLB changed the dates & shortened the arbitration period & deadline, didn’t they?

  48. CH Phan

    October 25, 2010 11:59 AM

    Hey Bill did you hear RAJ make these statements? Were you there? What do you make of what he said?

    On the cost of Werth: “I havent had any discussions with Scott yet…I guess the following question is, ‘do we have enough money to do it and would we like to bring him back?’ I think the the answer to both questions is, yes. However, that’ll kind of depend on what the ask is and ultimately how that’ll affect us on other possible moves we’d have to make to do that.”

    On the length of a possible Werth deal: “I think length is always an issue, it’s probably the most poignant issue, always.”

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