The Phillies’ offense has been less than stellar in 2011, the continuation of a trend starting last year. They average about 4.1 runs per game, which is right at the National League average. Considering past offenses fans have grown to love, the relative lack of run support has taken some getting used to. Is the Phillies offense really as mediocre as we make it out to be?
I compared the Phillies’ wOBA by position to the league average, and then converted that into runs above or below average.
Shortstop: Relatively thin position. Only seven qualified shortstops have a wOBA above the National League average .312. Jimmy Rollins hasn’t been a wizard at the plate, but he has been ever so slightly better than the league average at the position.
Center field: Comparatively, center field has a glut of capable players. Although Shane Victorino has been incredibly good, he is one of nine NL outfielders with an above-average wOBA. Victorino has been worlds better than Rollins at the dish, but when you factor in position scarcity, his contributions are diminished.
First base: Another stacked position. 11 first baseman have an above-average wOBA, making it the most offense-heavy position in the league — a surprise to no one. Ryan Howard is barely above the league average offensively, but hopefully he has one of his trademark hot second-halves.
Catcher: Traditionally, catcher and shortstop have been the most offensively-weak and that continues to be the case in 2011. The trio of Carlos Ruiz, Brian Schneider, and Dane Sardinha have combined to be about a half-win worse offensively than the average catcher.
Right Field: The combination of Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco in right field has made the Phillies pine for the days of Jayson Werth (who, by the way, is not having a stellar season in Washington). However, right field is not the worst outfield spot for the Phillies as you’ll soon learn.
Third Base: Third base is not a deep position, but the two-month-long slump of Placido Polanco sunk him well below the league average. While the Phillies search for possible cures, Phillies fans hope he can turn it around in time for the second half.
Second Base: This is not Chase Utley‘s fault. His .382 wOBA is best among second basemen with 150 or more plate appearances. Instead, blame the trio of Wilson Valdez, Pete Orr, and Michael Martinez who filled in for Utley while he was recovering from an injury and racked up 56 percent of all of the plate appearances at second base.
Left Field: Raul Ibanez has had a disappointing season as his traditional hot streaks have been shorter and less frequent while his cold streaks have been longer and more frequent. As a result, the lefty has been nearly 12 runs worse than the average left fielder.