Phillies 24/7 HD Radio Links & Info

I was a bit forgetful in procuring the clip from my appearance on Spike Eskin and Chris Johnson’s show “What’s the Word?” on Phillies 24/7 HD Radio last week. Although the topics are a bit outdated, you may still enjoy listening to the 20-minute segment. Use the player below.

What’s the Word? with Bill Baer by Crashburn Alley

If the player doesn’t show above, try viewing the page in a different browser or use the links above.

Today’s edition of “Stathead” is also ready to go at 3 PM ET today. Spike is filling in for Jeff Sottolano, who had to attend to more important things on this beautiful Tuesday mid-morning. We’ll be talking about that amazing 19-inning game, the resurgence of Raul Ibanez, what’s in store for Vance Worley, and the best Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. If you have an HD radio, tune in to 98.1 WOGL HD-4 at 3 PM ET.

Cole Hamels Is Phillies’ Best Starter

Surprising headline, indeed. And, yes, it is true: Cole Hamels has been the Phillies’ best starter thus far. While Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have received the lion’s share of media attention, Hamels has quietly become one of the best pitchers in baseball. In fact, an argument could be made that he has been the best in baseball thus far this season.

After a relatively mediocre performance from Roy Halladay yesterday against the Washington Nationals, the reigning National League Cy Young award winner relinquished his Major League-leading 2.60 SIERA. He was bumped slightly back to 2.66. Hamels, just a shade behind at 2.62, moves into first place.

Hamels isn’t better than every Phillies starter in any particular category. Cliff Lee strikes out more batters, Halladay issues fewer walks and induces more ground balls, while Roy Oswalt allows fewer home runs. However, Hamels is well above-average in every category that best explains and predicts a pitcher’s success and failure.

Of course, Hamels has only been technically the best starter going by SIERA. There is still a lot of variance that reduces our certainty in the data. Additionally, Halladay and Lee have both been a bit BABIP-unlucky, so there is room for them to be even better going forward. At any rate, it is quite nice that the Phillies have the three best starting pitchers in baseball.

Phillies Catchers Need Defensive Improvement

Going into last night’s game against the New York Mets, Phillies catchers had not been punishing opposing base-stealers. With Carlos Ruiz (58 percent of defensive innings at catcher), Brian Schneider (26 percent), and Dane Sardinha (16 percent) behind the dish, the Phillies had thrown out just 23 percent of base runners. The average National League team has stolen 33 bases in 45 attempts, a 73 percent success rate (or, conversely, a 27 percent failure rate) . The Phillies’ catching trio entered the night with 24 percent, 18 percent, and 29 percent caught-stealing rates.

The Mets ran wild on Ruiz on Saturday night. Four different Mets stole a base, including Jose Reyes with two. The only runner caught stealing was Angel Pagan on a pick-off move by Cole Hamels. The Mets entered the night third in the league in total stolen bases at 44. As they are slightly below-average offensively, base running is tantamount to their scoring runs. Both Mets runs last night were directly attributable to stolen bases:

  • Bottom 1st: Jose Reyes doubled to lead off the inning, stole third, then scored in the same at-bat on a Justin Turner single.
  • Bottom 3rd: Jose Reyes singled to lead off the inning, stole second, advanced on a Carlos Beltran fly ball to right field, then scored on a one-out Jason Bay single.

Ruiz is known as a decent defensive backstop with a great ability to block pitches in the dirt, call games, and handle a pitching staff. However, he received poor grades in terms of throwing out runners in Matt Klaassen’s Catcher Defense Ratings as of May 10. At the time, Ruiz was 70th out of 76 eligible catchers with 1.1 CSRuns below average.

Player PA Tm CSRuns
Josh Thole 925 NYM -2.4
A.J. Pierzynski 1035 CHW -1.8
Ryan Hanigan 689 CIN -1.7
Jonathan Lucroy 653 MIL -1.5
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 759 BOS -1.2
Carlos Ruiz 676 PHI -1.1

Although the Phillies’ offense has picked up since Chase Utley’s return, averaging 6.5 runs per game in his six games, they still figure to be an average to slightly above-average offense with great pitching. With so many games expected to be close and low-scoring, preventing base running efficiency for opposing offenses becomes more important.

In other news, Mike Pelfrey balked yesterday and it was hilarious.

Reader Email: Phillies Great vs. LHP

Reader Nate sent in this interesting email:

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and I really appreciate it as a way to stay on top of the Phils out here on the West Coast. I was randomly checking out some stats and found that the Phils have a mediocre 19-16 record against right-handed starters this year, but are a stellar 12-3 against lefties. I was really intrigued, so I looked up the team slash lines, and to my surprise, found they were almost identical: .246/.313/.366 against righties vs. .246/.313/.383 against lefties.

To me, there are two intriguing questions here: One, how is it that they have produced almost identically against RHP and LHP, given that the lineup is dominated by left-handed batters (or maybe that’s just the perception, since Utley and Brown, before this week, have been replaced by right-handed substitutes or platoons?)?

The second is that, assuming that the performance of our own starting rotation is unaffected by the handedness of the opposing pitcher (as far as I can tell, a reasonable assumption – there would be no reason to think our rotation would systematically underperform when opposed by right-handed pitchers, or vice versa), why should there be this vast gap in win percentage between facing LHP and RHP when the offensive production has been seemingly identical against the two? Is this just a case of small sample sizes and statistical noise? Is it that so many of the games have been decided in the late innings, when they have possibly been facing relief pitchers who are opposite-handed from the starters, that the starters’ handedness becomes irrelevant? Or is there something else at work here?

That is quite an interesting statistical find. I think it has an interesting explanation as well.

The Phillies score 4.0 runs per game on average against LHP; 3.9 against RHP. They allow 2.5 runs per game on average when an opposing LHSP is on the hill; 3.6 when an opposing RHSP is on the hill. It’s actually the Phillies’ pitching, not the offense, that is skewing the records.

In the 15 games against LHSP, the Phillies have used Roy Halladay 8 times; Cole Hamels 3 times; and Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt twice. The Phillies have not used a #5 starter against a LHSP.

Even if it wasn’t the pitching, though, 15 games isn’t nearly enough to tell us anything about how the team fares against left- or right-handed pitchers. The data would be prone to far too much randomness, such as base-out sequencing and quality of opposition. The Phillies may have an .800 winning percentage against lefties, but given the small sample size, it is unlikely that that winning percentage represents their true talent.

. . .

If you have any questions you’d like answered, feel free to email me (crashburnalley [at] gmail [dot] com), send me a tweet @CrashburnAlley, or leave a message on Facebook.

A Reminder: J.C. Romero Not As Bad As He Seems

Recently, I have seen a lot of negativity regarding left-hander J.C. Romero. It is somewhat justified as his 3.75 ERA does not speak to his performance. His BB/9 is currently higher than his K/9 (6.00 to 5.25) and he has had three appearances that qualify as “meltdowns“. From a fan perspective, he is not fun to watch because he is constantly making situations tougher than is necessary.

Last night’s game against the Reds was a great example. Romero came in to face the left-handed Joey Votto with one out and a runner on first base. He quickly fell behind 3-0 before issuing a five-pitch walk. The lead base runner, Brandon Phillips, was picked off as his attention drifted, lessening the blow of the free pass. Romero fell behind the right-handed Scott Rolen 3-0 and walked him on five pitches. Finally, Romero got ahead of the left-handed Jay Bruce 1-2, but walked him on six pitches. His final line? Three walks in one-third of an inning.

Romero has never had good control. His career average BB/9 is 5.2. That he has a 4.07 ERA and not a 6.07 ERA is a miracle. However, Romero’s wildness can be mitigated by utilizing him properly. I have mentioned many times before that Romero should be used strictly as a left-handed, one-out guy (LOOGY). Romero has a career 3.59 xFIP against lefties; against right-handers, his xFIP balloons to 5.38. Romero strikes out significantly more and walks significantly fewer lefties.

Charlie Manuel has not been putting Romero in the best situations, as he has had the platoon advantage in only 38 percent of his match-ups, down from 57 percent last year and 44 percent in 2008.

With Jose Contreras nearing his return, many are calling for the Phillies to cut ties with Romero. That is absolutely the incorrect move. Romero’s poor performance thus far can be blamed solely on Manuel’s usage. The Phillies front office knew going in what Romero’s strengths and weaknesses were; no one should be surprised when he fails after being put in statistically unfavorable positions.

Phillies Win A Statistically Improbable Game

As Jayson Stark will tell you, baseball is a great game because every day you have the chance to see something that has never happened before. Last night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds was as close to unique as we’ve seen in a long time.

19 innings. 26 position players and 15 pitchers used. 600 total pitches thrown. 155 total plate appearances. 73 pitches and five shut-out innings of relief from Danys Baez. Wilson Valdez, a position player, retiring the toughest part of the Reds’ lineup, including reigning NL MVP Joey Votto, and earning the victory when the Phillies won it in the bottom half of the 19th inning. One tenth-inning home run to break the tie, and another one in the bottom half to re-tie.

There was so much improbability involved in the game that I can only assume that Stark’s head exploded.

Recaps are boring so I’m just going to throw some trivia and stat nuggets at the wall.

  • The last time the Phillies played a game that went 19 innings or longer was July 7, 1993 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • The last time a Phillies position player pitched was May 13, 2002 when Tomas Perez pitched a third of an inning in a 17-3 blowout loss to the Houston Astros.
  • The last time a position player earned a victory was August 22, 2000 when catcher Brent Mayne pitched a scoreless inning.

11 plays had a leverage index of 4.00 or above (meaning it was a really important play); only one of them involved a hit.

Pitcher Hitter Inn. Outs Base Score Play LI
Herndon Hernandez 11 2 123 4-4 Ramon Hernandez grounded out to pitcher (Grounder). 6.86
Masset Polanco 9 2 123 3-3 Placido Polanco reached on fielder’s choice to shortstop (Grounder). Jimmy Rollins out at second. 6.38
Masset Brown 9 1 123 3-3 Domonic Brown fouled out to catcher (Fly). 5.71
Fisher Ibanez 19 1 123 5-4 Raul Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly to center (Fly). Jimmy Rollins scored. 5.71
Halladay Bruce 7 2 123 3-3 Jay Bruce singled to right (Grounder). Miguel Cairo scored. Drew Stubbs scored. Joey Votto advanced to 2B. 4.66
Halladay Rolen 7 1 123 3-1 Scott Rolen struck out swinging. 4.66
Romero Phillips 11 1 12_ 4-4 Brandon Phillips picked off. 4.62
Romero Bruce 11 2 12_ 4-4 Jay Bruce walked. Joey Votto advanced to 3B. Scott Rolen advanced to 2B. 4.43
Masset Mayberry 9 1 12_ 3-3 Chase Utley advanced on a wild pitch to 2B. 4.31
Masset Rollins 9 1 _23 3-3 Jimmy Rollins was intentionally walked. 4.15
Fisher Howard 19 1 _23 4-4 Ryan Howard was intentionally walked. 4.15

Note that Jay Bruce’s solo home run in the tenth earned just a 2.30 LI and Ryan Howard’s solo home run to tie the game back up in the bottom half earned a 3.42 LI.

EDIT: Tango offers clarification with my above comment:

Note that the LI is assigned PRIOR to the event occurring.  It is a description of the state that the batter and pitcher find themselves.  So, Jay Bruce found himself in a state where the LI was 2.30.  What you “earn” are wins (not LI), meaning that in this situation, rather than a HR being worth around +.14 wins, they were paying off at about 2.3 times that.  (He earned +.342 wins.) The change in win expectancy is how much more relief the Reds fans got (and the level of despondency that Phillies fans experienced).  Ryan Howard’s HR spun things around the other way.

Prior to the walk-off sacrifice fly by Raul Ibanez, the Phillies’ highest win expectancy came in the sixth inning when Ibanez tripled off of starter Travis Wood. The Phillies’ lowest win expectancy was after Bruce’s solo homer.

The following chart plots each player’s leverage index (pLI) for the game along with their win percent added (WPA).

As you can see, there weren’t too many players that landed in the upper-right quadrant.

The Phillies were 1-for-13 (.077) with runners in scoring position. The Reds weren’t much better, at 3-for-15 (.200). The two teams combined to go 4-for-28 (.143). The Phillies left 16 runners on base; the Reds 17.

Finally, how about this whopper from ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume on Twitter:

Links to video clips from MLB.com:

  • Stutes strikes out the side in the 8th [Link]
  • Howard ties the game in the 10th [Link]
  • Romero picks off Phillips [Link]
  • Herndon escapes an 11th-inning jam [Link]
  • Baez’s five scoreless innings of relief [Link]
  • Valdez’s scoreless inning of relief in the 19th [Link]
  • Ibanez’s walk-off sacrifice fly [Link]
  • Valdez post-game interview with Sarge, gets pied by teammates [Link]
  • Charlie Manuel’s post-game press conference [Link]

Did you stay up for the entire game? Feel free to post your thoughts and any interesting statistical factoids in the comments.

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.

On Trade Rumors

Rumors connecting the Phillies to Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence have been well-publicized by now. For that, I blame Eric Seidman. ESPN’s Jayson Stark nixed the rumors in his Rumblings & Grumblings column yesterday:

Meanwhile, continuing rumors of the Phillies’ interest in Pence appear to be exaggerated. Clubs that have spoken with the Phillies report they’re doing no more at the moment than compiling a shopping list of potentially available bats. But since their payroll is wedged right up against the luxury-tax threshold, they’ve been telling other teams they can only talk about hitters making no more than about half of Pence’s $6.9 million.

That blurb is a good examples of factors fans don’t consider when they cook up trade hypotheticals. Most trade rumors follow this pattern:

  • Team A is out of contention and have some expensive players they would like to send elsewhere.
  • Team B is in contention, needs one or more of those players, and is willing to spend money

Boom. Match.com‘d.

In reality, there are so many factors that go into a trade that make most hypotheticals uproariously unrealistic. ESPN’s David Schoenfield took a lot of heat for some suggested trade scenarios, but his were no more unrealistic than the rumors that constantly end up in Jon Heyman columns.

If you want to cook up a good trade rumor, you need to account for all of those factors.

  • Team standing. Mentioned above: is the team in question an obvious buyer or seller? If they’re in the middle, what are their contingency plans by July 31?
  • Team financial status. Also mentioned above: does the team need to clear payroll, or does it have the ability to add salary? Is the team at or near the luxury tax threshold?
  • Position(s). Position has a huge impact on the net return on a player as well as his eventual landing spot. Good players at premium positions tend to cost more, meaning they are less likely to end up on teams with lesser payrolls.
  • Service time. Is the player still under team control, earning close to the league minimum? Is he arbitration eligible? How many years of arbitration does he have left? Does he have 10-and-5 rights? Service time affects a player’s trade value significantly. Between two players of equivalent skill, the one earning less money will be a better trade commodity.
  • Contract stipulations. Does the player have performance bonuses (a.k.a. incentives)? Does the player have clauses (player, club, mutual)? Does he have a buy-out? Does he have a no-trade clause? If so, what kind (limited, full)? How many years are left on the contract? Teams with smaller payrolls have to factor in every little thing that could add more salary, so they pass over a perfectly good player simply because he earns an additional $1 million for winning an MVP award. Additionally, players with buy-out clauses give the acquiring team some wiggle room for taking on a risk.
  • Other team’s needs. Does the other team simply need salary relief? Do they need prospects? If so, at what level? Would they take lower-level prospects (higher risk, higher reward)? At what positions is the team weak? Teams that need salary relief tend to be much easier to deal with compared to those that are looking specifically for top-shelf talent at or above Double-A. Factoring in a team’s lack of depth at the Major League level can be a good way to gauge the likelihood of making a deal.
  • Skills. Is he a hitter? Does he have good on-base skills, or does he hit for power (or both)? Can he run the bases well? Can he play multiple positions? Is he left- or right-handed (or a switch-hitter)? Is he a pitcher? Is he a starter? Does he strike out a lot of hitters, or walk hitters infrequently (or both)? Is he a reliever? Is he left- or right-handed? Where has he traditionally pitched (mop-up, middle relief, lefty specialist, set-up, closer)? Can he pitch multiple innings? Does he have the ability to make a spot start if necessary?
  • Agent. Is the agent’s name Scott Boras? Has the agent had previous dealings with the team? Were they positive? For a while, the Phillies refused to deal with Boras as a result of the J.D. Drew fiasco. Agents that have a good rapport with general managers do a better job of making sure each side gets what they want.
  • History. Have the two teams dealt with each other recently? Were both sides vindicated for the transaction(s)? Astros GM Ed Wade may be gun-shy dealing with Ruben Amaro because he did not come out looking great in the Roy Oswalt trade. That may decrease the odds of a Pence/Phillies trade occurring.
  • Minor Leagues. Does the team have depth in the Minor Leagues? If not, for how long should they be expected to have a lack of depth? At what specific positions do they lack depth? Where is the bulk of their talent concentrated? If the team is linked in rumors to an outfielder, but have a glut of outfield depth at Triple-A, they probably will not make a deal for a Major League outfielder.
  • Manager. Does the manager have job security? Has he had past interactions with the other team’s player(s)? Although it wasn’t a trade, Charlie Manuel‘s past dealings with Danys Baez had an influence on the Phillies signing him as a free agent before the 2010 season.

There are numerous other factors to be listed, and the list is really endless, but the above should hit on most of the important ones. Most trade hypotheticals simply miss the target by ignoring these and other factors.

Measuring Chase Utley’s Impact

Hey, have you heard the news? Chase Utley is back. He will be making his 2011 debut today against the Cincinnati Reds, the culmination of a long and arduous battle back from patellar tendinitis. At one point earlier during his rehab, Utley needed to sit on a stool to field ground balls; today, he will be doing so freely in a Major League game.

With the offense struggling — it hasn’t scored more than three runs in a game since Friday, May 13 — getting Utley back is huge. As a team, the Phillies compiled a .306 wOBA, a shade below the .312 league average. The return of Utley, assuming good health, will be a boon to the offense. Pete Orr, who had a .258 wOBA, was optioned and Chase’s consistent playing time should significantly cut into the AB’s for Wilson Valdez (.254 wOBA) and Michael Martinez (.202 wOBA). Overall, the offense was nearly nine runs below average, which equates to one win.

We convert wOBA to runs with the following equation:

( ( Player’s wOBA – League average wOBA ) / 1.15 ) * Player’s PA

Using PECOTA’s 50th percentile projection, Utley is expected to post a .383 wOBA in 400 PA for the rest of the season, which amounts to nearly 25 runs, or two and a half wins. That is, uh, quite an improvement over Orr and Valdez, who combined to be nearly nine runs below average in 117 PA (-31 runs in 400 PA). In other words, getting Utley back and severely reducing the roles of his replacements should net the Phillies roughly five and a half wins theoretically. The 50th percentile projection assumes a career-worst season for Utley as well, so Utley could be worth more offensively if he’s back to his usual self.

Then there’s Utley’s defense. It’s no secret that Utley grades out as one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball (arguably the best pre-injury). In over 8,200 innings, Utley has saved 80 runs more than an average second baseman according to UZR (an average of one run above average per 102 innings). If Utley does not decline defensively, he should save about ten runs defensively. In 383 combined innings, the combination of Orr and Valdez have saved 1.4 runs less than an average second baseman would.

We have passed the one-quarter mark of the season. Still, the return of Utley could net the Phillies upwards of six and a half wins. Last year’s contest with the Atlanta Braves was decided by six games, and it figures to be much closer by the time October 2011 rolls around. Getting a healthy, productive Utley back could be the difference between playing October baseball and playing October golf.

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Performance and Results

One of the cool things about Sabermetrics is that it teaches you your own fallibility. Science requires a certain humbleness, to know your limits and to recognize yourself as a flawed being. True arrogance is taking what your untrained eyes see at face value, believing them to be infallible. It’s why the stat guys have had the “you should watch the games instead of looking at spreadsheets” line used as a weapon against them.

The area where I have seen the biggest contrast between the lying eyes and what actually happens is on the pitcher’s mound. DIPS theory has taught us that once contact is made with the baseball, the pitcher’s work is done; he has little to no control on what happens next — the rest falls on the defense, environmental factors, and good old fashioned luck. Many studies, including research that led to SIERA, have shown strikeouts, walks, and batted ball types to be the strongest predictors of future success and failure for pitchers.

Essentially, stats like SIERA separate performance from results. Even fans of traditional stats understand this concept. It is quite possible for a pitcher to have an outstanding performance, but get saddled with the loss for reasons out of his control — his lack of offensive support, bad fielding, bad luck, etc. Similarly, a pitcher can post great strikeout and walk numbers and wind up with poor results in a number of areas including ERA.

For example, those who looked at the 2010 ERA of Houston Astros starter Bud Norris (4.92) would have assumed he pitched badly and would have expected more of the same going forward. Those who looked at his 9.3 K/9, his 43 percent ground ball rate, and his 3.90 SIERA would have expected his ERA to come back down going forward. To wit, his ERA currently sits at 3.93. Even better, his SIERA is at 3.03. His 2010 performances were good; his 2010 results were bad.

Generally speaking, pitchers with good strikeout and walk rates and favorable batted ball splits stick around while the bad ones get weeded out. Adam Eaton had average rates for much of his career, but once they trended in the wrong directions, the Phillies were eager to pay him to not pitch for them.

One pitcher who seems immune to this thinning of the herd process is Kyle Kendrick. His Minor League numbers were decent, but prior to his promotion to the Majors in 2007, he had never pitched above Double-A. With one pitch (a two-seam fastball), it is not impossible to breeze through subpar hitting; doing so at the Major League level is an entirely different story.

Unsurprisingly, Kendrick has a 4.62 ERA in 508 and one-third innings with the Phillies. He has pitched from a number of roles with very limited success, none of it sustainable. He bought himself years of immunity with his 2007 season when he was called up and made 20 starts, earning a 3.87 ERA and helping the Phillies end their 13-year post-season drought. His SIERA was a much less inspiring 4.86 and he benefited from a .281 BABIP.

Kendrick earned a rotation spot in ’08, but posted a 5.49 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance. His SIERA was 5.23. He spent the ’09 season getting his first taste of Triple-A, trying to earn his way back to the Majors. He did just that, finishing with a 3.34 ERA for Lehigh Valley. The Phillies recalled him in September for a couple spot starts and mop-up relief duty. Kendrick again earned a rotation spot for the 2010 season. And Kendrick bombed, wrapping up the season with a 4.73 ERA and a 4.94 SIERA.

The appeal to the Phillies about the right-hander was his relative cheapness: he cost under $500,000 in each of his first four seasons. He was arbitration-eligible after the 2010 season, which meant a relatively significant increase in pay if the Phillies wanted to keep him around. The analyst who looks at performance rather than results would have seen the peaks as unsustainable and the valleys as par for the future course. The people who chose to pay him $2.45 million to avoid arbitration instead looked at results, viewing the peaks as future goals and the valleys as, well, valleys.

Kendrick’s results have been very inconsistent. 2007, good, but lucky. 2008, bad, but descriptive. 2009, good but with a very small sample size. 2010 bad, but descriptive. His overall performance — a 4.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and a barely above-average ability to generate ground balls — did not yield optimistic projections. As an example, the following is a list of pitchers from 1996-2011 that have pitched at least 475 innings (starting 80 percent of games) and posted a K/9 at or below 4.5 and a BB/9 at or above 2.5.

Rk Player ERA SO/9 BB/9 IP From To Age W-L% ERA+ Tm
1 Mike Maroth 5.05 4.34 2.57 918.0 2002 2007 24-29 .427 87 DET-TOT
2 Kyle Kendrick 4.62 3.97 2.71 508.1 2007 2011 22-26 .585 93 PHI
3 Aaron Cook 4.41 3.78 2.75 1215.1 2002 2010 23-31 .543 109 COL
4 Kirk Rueter 4.33 3.77 2.83 1692.2 1996 2005 25-34 .561 96 TOT-SFG
5 Chien-Ming Wang 4.16 4.16 2.64 670.2 2005 2009 25-29 .679 108 NYY
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/22/2011.

Certainly not a list of pitchers I would pay $2.45 million or more to keep around when I have better pitchers (Vance Worley, Drew Carpenter, among others) waiting in Triple-A and eager to earn the Major League minimum, which is just over $400,000.

2011 has been yet another wild ride on the Kendrickmobile. If I were to give you the numbers 2.9 and 4.7 and asked you to match them up with K/9 and BB/9, you’d probably match the 4.7 to K/9 and 2.9 to BB/9, right? You would be wrong. Kendrick currently sits with a 2.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. Even more interesting is that they are very nearly the inverse of Livan Hernandez‘s current rates. Yet he has a 3.28 ERA, and even with his spot start against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, he appears to have completely avoided being eliminated at the bottom of the food chain.

No one doubts Kendrick’s selflessness in taking the ball in whatever role the team puts him in, nor his work ethic which allowed him to jump from Double-A to the Majors in ’07, then re-earn his job out of Triple-A two years later. He has never complained, never been a problem. He took a cruel joke as well as anybody could have. Unfortunately, those are not skills that translate into sustainable success on the mound. Jason Giambi didn’t discover the fountain of youth when he hit three home runs on Thursday; he ran into Kyle Kendrick (and Danys Baez).

Kendrick simply doesn’t have the skills necessary to enjoy consistent, sustainable success at the Major League level. He can improve, albeit unlikely at this stage of his career. The Phillies made a mistake keeping him around for such a relatively exorbitant price, and continue to make a mistake every day he is on the 25-man roster. The Phillies have dealt with quite a few injuries, but have several pitchers that should be ahead of Kendrick on the depth chart. I would love to be proven wrong about Kendrick, but the stats have shown me things I simply can’t unsee.

Caveat: As stated previously on the blog, I wouldn’t mind Kendrick used strictly as a ROOGY. Given how Charlie Manuel has used J.C. Romero, however, I don’t see that ever happening with any consistency. Additionally, paying $2.45 million or more for a ROOGY seems misguided.

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Pitching to the Corners; Links

At The Hardball Times, Lucas Apostoleris (@DBITLefty) did some data mining to find the pitchers who frequently hit the corners of the strike zone.

The information was quite interesting and confirmed a lot of what we already knew about the Phillies:

  • J.C. Romero loves to pitch inside to left-handers (11.7%)
  • Jamie Moyer loves to throw inside to right-handers (8.1%)
  • Roy Halladay works the inside corner to all hitters (6.3%)

More links from the Internets after the jump. Continue reading…