Phillies Best Individual Offensive Seasons, 2006-11

On Twitter recently, there has been discussion of Shane Victorino‘s MVP candidacy. The case has been made quite often, including here, but the latest twist involves comparing Victorino to Jimmy Rollins in 2007, when the shortstop overtook David Wright and Matt Holliday for top honor in the National League. That led me to wanting to find the best offensive seasons relative to the team’s overall output, using wRC, found at FanGraphs.

The following are the top five offensive seasons ranked by the amount the player contributed to the team’s overall offense. Quite simply, the equation is (Player’s wRC / Team’s wRC).

Ryan Howard, 2006

151.1 wRC, 873.6 team wRC (17.3%)

Howard is the leader here by a wide margin. Not only was Howard the bulk of his team’s offense, he was tops in all of baseball, besting Albert Pujols in second place with 142.5 wRC. When factoring in defense and base running, Howard wasn’t really the MVP, finishing more than two fWAR behind Pujols and sitting in 10th place overall among all Major Leaguers. Nonetheless, Howard took home the hardware with sexy traditional stats including a .313 batting average, 58 home runs, and 149 RBI.

Chase Utley, 2008

121.8 wRC, 791.0 team wRC (15.4%)

In another year, Utley very well may have won the MVP award, but his 8.3 fWAR was not enough to overtake Albert Pujols at 9.1. Utley finished eighth overall in wRC, tops among second basemen. Surprisingly, this was only Utley’s third-best season in terms of wRC, finishing a shade higher the previous year (121.9, 13.2%) and with a few extra runs in 2006 (129.2, 14.8%). Utley set a career-high with 33 home runs and finished with 100-plus RBI for the fourth consecutive year.

Chase Utley, 2009

123.8 wRC, 815.3 team wRC (15.2%)

With Howard hitting a bunch of homers and driving in runs en masse, Utley’s contributions in 2009 went relatively unheralded. The big changes in Utley’s offensive repertoire from 2008 to ’09 included a four percent increase in walks and nine additional stolen bases. Utley finished sixth overall in wRC, but was once again left out of the MVP discussion given the great season Albert Pujols was having. Utley received 84 vote-points in NL MVP balloting, less than a fifth of Pujols’ first-place total of 448.

Jayson Werth, 2010

114.9 wRC, 755.8 team wRC (15.2%)

In his final year under contract before hitting free agency, Werth had a career year. Among all Major Leaguers, he finished 11th in wRC, setting a career-high with a .397 wOBA as well. He benefited from a slightly-high .352 BABIP, which dropped nearly 70 points in 2011. Most importantly, Werth was a big part of the Phillies lineup as players went down left and right. Of their eight regulars, six Phillies spent time on the disabled list; Werth was not one of them, playing in 156 regular season games. Among all Phillies from 2006-11, Werth has the biggest gap between himself and the second-best offensive contributor: Werth represented 15.2% of the Phillies’ offense while Ryan Howard was a bit behind at 12.4%.

Chase Utley, 2006

129.2 wRC, 873.6 team wRC (14.8%)

As Howard took home the NL MVP award, Utley flew under the radar as an important cog in the Phillies’ offense — a big reason why Howard was able to amass so many RBI. Utley ranked eighth in MLB in wRC. Among second basemen, no one came close to Utley; the second-best offensive second baseman that year was Dan Uggla with 94.5 wRC. Utley actually finished ahead of Howard in fWAR, 7.3 to 6.2 on account of his elite base running and world class defense. The 2006 NL MVP race focused prominently on Howard and Albert Pujols, but perhaps it should have been Pujols and Utley.

Chase Utley. Pretty good at baseball.

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18 comments

  1. gfweb

    August 30, 2011 07:03 AM

    There was a hollowness to Werth’s 2010 stats. His avg with RISP was dismal. Something like 1 for 40 at one point.

  2. TheKayell

    August 30, 2011 07:16 AM

    Gfweb, I guess that’s why we shoudn’t of kept Werth. More like werthless, am I right?

  3. Santos

    August 30, 2011 07:24 AM

    ^ Man, this guy is always on!

  4. Richard

    August 30, 2011 07:49 AM

    is it only performance with RISP that decides whether a season was “hollow” or not?

    In fact, Werth started tons of rallies, which is just as important as finishing them. His season was hollow at all.

  5. Richard

    August 30, 2011 07:49 AM

    dammit… his season wasn’t hollow at all…

  6. Dash Treyhorn

    August 30, 2011 08:02 AM

    Might be worth noting that in 2008, Chase experienced a not-so-insignificant decline in power in the second half of the season (25 HR, .582 SLG in first half, 8 HR, .465 SLG in second half), to go along with a decline in doubles, stolen bases, but an increase in walks and OBP.

    It’s probably not a coincidence that this was the same time that his hip began to give him trouble, which sapped most of his power and made him look like a shell of his first half self.

    Despite that, Utley still one of the greatest seasons as a Philly in recent memory. That’s pretty incredible.

  7. mratfink

    August 30, 2011 09:08 AM

    I remember 2007 as the year when Utley was going to win the mvp, but then he missed about a month in august and rollins got that quadruple double that sportwriters loved to talk about and won it instead. Utley never factored into the discussion at the end despite the fact that he had an amazing year before the injury.

  8. bill

    August 30, 2011 09:52 AM

    Yeah 2007 was the lost MVP year for Chase. If he plays the whole year he easily has a 9~ WAR year, and his traditional stats still would have been great, something like .330/.410/570, plus 120~ RBI for that crowd.

  9. Mike B.

    August 30, 2011 10:05 AM

    @mratfink: one more reason I hate John Lannan.

  10. AGH

    August 30, 2011 10:10 AM

    Out of curiosity–where does Shane’s current season rank? If not for the games missed to injury, I’d have to think it would be off the charts.

  11. Bill Baer

    August 30, 2011 11:18 AM

    I forgot to save my spreadsheet, but I think Shane just missed the cut by a fraction of a percent.

    EDIT: Shane has 82.2 wRC of the team’s 569.6 wRC, so 14.4%, just 0.4% behind Utley’s 2006.

  12. jauer

    August 30, 2011 03:56 PM

    “The big changes in Utley’s offensive repertoire from 2008 to ’09 included a four percent increase in walks and nine additional stolen bases.”

    The change in BB/PA was from 9.05% to 12.80%, which is a 41.4% increase. 3.75/9.05 = .414.

    The “four percent” subtraction seems to understate his increased plate discipline from 08 to 09

  13. gfweb

    August 31, 2011 07:42 AM

    I was never a big Werth fan, but he wasn’t worthless. He just didn’t live up to his stats like some other players do.

  14. SJHaack

    August 31, 2011 11:19 AM

    YO I HEARD CHASE UTLEY WAS GOOD AT BASEBALL IN HERE.

    @jauer- It’s a 4% increase in overall walk rate for total plate appearances, not the rate walks increased relative to themselves. ~4% does not understate it at all. It’s 25 walks, that’s a lot.

  15. Scott G

    August 31, 2011 12:10 PM

    “@gfweb What does live up to your stats mean?”

    I was thinking the same thing.

  16. jauer

    August 31, 2011 01:25 PM

    I understand that; it’s just not the correct way to describe an increase.

    If you walk 5% of your PAs in 2008 and 10% in 2009, that’s a 100% increase, not 5%.

    Doubling the output = 100%

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