Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

This is the first Graph post of the 2011 season. Hooray! Sadly, it’s not a particularly encouraging graph. I’ve complained about the Phillies’ plate discipline on several other occasions here on the blog, but it’s worth pointing out until the problem is fixed. The Phillies haven’t scored more than four runs in a game since they scored 10 runs against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday April 9.

Here’s a graphical look at the Phillies’ overall plate discipline:

In only four of their 14 games have the Phillies beaten the 2010 National League average of 3.83 pitches per plate appearance. The current league average is 3.77; the Phillies’ overall team average is 3.59. Only three players are better than the average: Jimmy Rollins (3.91), Ben Francisco (3.89), and Carlos Ruiz (3.83).

As of this writing (after Sunday’s games, but before Baseball Reference updated), the Phillies are third in the National League in on-base percentage at .349, but .298 of that comes from batting average. The Cincinnati Reds led the league in batting average last year at .272, and the NL average was .255, so we should expect the Phillies’ average to fall even further down. Subsequently, their OBP and thus their run-scoring, will suffer as well — unless they start drawing walks.

In last week’s post examining the Phillies’ power potential, I talked about how much the absence of Chase Utley and Jayson Werth will be felt, and that is just as true in terms of on-base percentage as well. Werth has a career .365 OBP and Utley is at .380. One of Utley’s unique on-base skills is his propensity to get hit by pitches. He led the league from 2007-09 with 76 total plunks, looking quite Biggio-esque in the process. The HBP’s represented about 10 percent of Utley’s total times on base, which is quite significant.

Charlie Manuel has been known as a miracle worker when he gets his hitters in the batting cages, but plate discipline is not something that can be learned overnight. If the Phillies don’t fix this problem soon, we could be in store for offensive droughts we haven’t seen since May 22-27 last year, when they were shut out in four of five games.

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11 comments

  1. jph89

    April 18, 2011 08:23 AM

    Same problem, different year it seems. The team gets hot and all of a sudden we start swinging at every pitch.

  2. leroyquimby

    April 18, 2011 09:00 AM

    What are the Rockies numbers for the same time period?

  3. Dan

    April 18, 2011 09:49 AM

    I’m actually surprised to see Ben Francisco at second best on the team in pitches per PA because every time he’s batting, it seems like he’s just hacking away from the first pitch. He does foul off quite a few pitches which helps but after his quick start, that AVG and OBP has been steadily dropping and I suspect his PPA has been as well.

  4. Richard

    April 18, 2011 10:32 AM

    It’s nice to see Rollins at the top.

    Howard has some truly bizarre swing/contact rates. He’s only intermittently been showing any patience.

  5. Dave

    April 18, 2011 01:18 PM

    Is there anything to take from Howard’s 75% contact rate on pitches out of the zone?

  6. Richard

    April 18, 2011 01:35 PM

    I’ve been scratching my head on that one, Dave. Something tells me it’s not a positive, that it means he’s hitting fewer balls hard. So rather than working himself into deeper counts, where he could walk or get a pitch to drive, but risk striking out, he’s putting the ball in play, for easier outs. But I could be wrong.

  7. Dave

    April 18, 2011 01:57 PM

    But I imagine for Howard, if he’s making contact on pitches out of the zone, it’s likely to be hit to the opposite field. So, his O-Contact% could serve as a weapon against the shift, if it keeps up.

  8. Josh

    April 18, 2011 02:08 PM

    I’d love to see a spray chart of where Howard’s hits have been so far. Teams are shifting against him in the outfield as well moving the left fielder to left-center and everyone over accordingly. If he is making an adjustment to hit balls (weakly) to left that would be encouraging.

  9. Rob

    April 18, 2011 06:25 PM

    Good call Josh — Howard just hit an RBI single on weakly hit ball to the left side.

  10. Moose

    April 18, 2011 10:24 PM

    Bill,

    After tonight’s atrocity, can you do an article evaluating Kyle Kendrick’s value? Maybe over the course of his career? And determine whether the Phillies would be better off just cutting ties with him and letting some of the kids down on the farm get a crack at the big leagues for a fraction of Kendrick’s pricetag? That’d be a good read

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