The Phillies Offense, Visually

By now, everyone is firmly aware that the Phillies haven’t been hitting. They’ve managed two or fewer runs in five of their last six games and, looking at the personnel, it doesn’t portend to get significantly better until Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return from the disabled list, which may not come for another two or three months.

Just how bad has the offense been? I compared the Phillies’ wOBA by position to the National League average, then converted the difference into runs.

Pos PHI wOBA NL wOBA RAA
C .277 .320 -2.1
1B .335 .331 0.2
2B .251 .316 -3.1
3B .219 .308 -4.9
SS .272 .310 -2.1
LF .304 .298 0.3
CF .342 .355 -0.7
RF .305 .332 -1.5

It ain’t pretty. Note that the run values are through roughly 70 plate appearances, so for a fun mental exercise, you can multiply by 10 for a full season’s performance.

If the offense continues to flounder — and we have good reason to expect it should improve slightly, at least — then the Phillies will have a tough remaining five months of the regular season, and they will have to rely even more on their starting rotation.

The positions that stick out are second base and third base. Freddy Galvis, known for his glove and not his bat, has been filling in at second for Chase Utley, someone who twice posted a wOBA north of .400 (2007 and ’09). By comparison, the .250 wOBA of Galvis looks like a steep fall — and it is. Third baseman Placido Polanco has had a terrible start to what may be the end of his career. Now 36 years old, Polanco has had difficulty with just about everything opposing pitchers have thrown at him, and while he has never been known for his plate discipline, he has only drawn one walk in 54 plate appearances.

With the aging roster and the potential escape of soon-to-be free agents Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, 2012 may be the Phillies’ best shot to win another championship. If it’s going to happen, they will need the offense to pick itself up by the bootstraps and score some more runs.

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29 comments

  1. Brian

    April 23, 2012 08:59 AM

    This is really pathetic and hard to watch. They go down 2-0 in the first inning and the game is basically over….against Corey Lebuke

  2. Damned Liar

    April 23, 2012 09:15 AM

    Fun with arbitrary endpoints.

    Phils so far this year: 7-9, 43 runs, triple slash .239/.283/.317

    Phils last May 6 to May 22, right before Utley returned: 7-9 record, 37 runs, triple slash .202/.264/.303

    I know this team looks different from last year’s team. But last year’s team survived a season of LF Raul Ibanez, a couple of months of RF Ben Francisco, and a couple of months of the Valdez / Orr / Martinez triumvirate at 2B/3B and STILL won 102 games. I’m not panicking yet.

  3. Phatti

    April 23, 2012 09:20 AM

    The crazy thing about this chart: right now CF is the top hitting position (Kemp) but LF is the worst. I can’t believe we’re ahead of the average at 1b.

  4. Richard

    April 23, 2012 09:40 AM

    it’s a wee bit surprising that the only above average positions have been first base and left field; actually, that’s somewhat encouraging… SS, RF, CF are bound to be much better; C may be better; and Polanco has to improve, unless he’s literally just done… he might not make it to above average for the position, but even improving to bad would be nice.

  5. jackieinertia

    April 23, 2012 09:58 AM

    So Yayberry/Pierre/Nix/Wiggy all combine to two above average players? Odd.

  6. bharring

    April 23, 2012 09:59 AM

    With a couple more at bats, Juan Pierre would qualify for 12th in the league in BA. There’s plenty of time for this team to “progress” to the mean. Also, isn’t Chase “re-joining” the team today?

  7. LTG

    April 23, 2012 10:01 AM

    That CF number has to be skewed by Kemp’s ridiculous start to the season. Something tells me he will regress to human being soon enough.

  8. Jeff T

    April 23, 2012 10:13 AM

    This is depressing . . .you should have really put a disclaimer on this post in case children or the elderly stumbled upon it.

  9. Dan K.

    April 23, 2012 10:15 AM

    “Note that the run values are through roughly 70 plate appearances, so for a fun mental exercise, you can multiply by 10 for a full season’s performance.”

    Isn’t the issue with that the fact that none of these stats are predictive? It’s been mentioned that the averages are skewed, for one.

    I get that it’s early and we need to talk about SOMETHING, but where’s the usual warning about the small sample size?

  10. LTG

    April 23, 2012 10:20 AM

    So, is Matt Kemp one of the infiltrator ETs who secretly learns all of our defense capabilities and sends word back to the homeworld, instigating our invasion and subsequent enslavement?

  11. LTG

    April 23, 2012 10:22 AM

    When I read this site, I take it to be an implicit norm that SSS applies when appropriate.

  12. Phylan

    April 23, 2012 10:22 AM

    I keep finding my self making the small sample size warning on the podcast and on every post but really, in the beginning of the season, it should go without saying that at least the writers on this blog don’t mean to read too much into 70 PA samples or whatever.

  13. Bill Baer

    April 23, 2012 10:24 AM

    I don’t take it for granted that every reader understands SSS and our observance of it, so I try to always explicitly state it when possible. However, this article was descriptive and not predictive (except very vaguely at the end), so it wasn’t necessary.

  14. Dan K.

    April 23, 2012 10:32 AM

    @Bill,

    I’m mostly reading this and (in my mind) hearing people cite this article as a reason the Phillies WON’T succeed. I, like you, don’t take it for granted that every (or even > 33%) reader understands the importance of SSS.

    As for “fun mental exercise,” I suppose our definition of fun might be different. I consider this on par, in terms of fun, with having the Phillies’ swing at my head instead of baseballs. Sure, they might only hit it less than 25% of the time, but it still hurts like hell.

  15. Dan K.

    April 23, 2012 10:43 AM

    Yes, I very much enjoyed that article. I meant to comment on it, but some people visited us this weekend so I ended up being more busy than I had hoped.

  16. Dan K.

    April 23, 2012 11:36 AM

    I tried. But they tied me down and put my laptop just out of my reach. I failed you, I’m sorry.

    *goes to the corner to cry*

    Not sure if crying about my failure or Phillies’ offensive failure…

  17. Ben

    April 23, 2012 02:02 PM

    .355 wOBA for NL centerfielders? My goodness, Matt Kemp is something else isn’t he

  18. Jim.

    April 23, 2012 02:04 PM

    1.Get a new hitting coach.
    2. trade for players they need,LF,3B,1B,
    3. Get some of playhers they traded thanks
    to Ruben unkwowing Amaro last season.
    4. Get legitimate power hitter.
    5. How about Mike Schmidt for hitting coach.

  19. Bob

    April 23, 2012 02:08 PM

    What about the pitchers? Hamels is slugging .500 and leads the team! Then that would be even smaller SSS.

  20. Jonny

    April 23, 2012 03:21 PM

    Jim, Hitting coaches usually make little difference unless their name is Thad Bosley (hint, hint Phillies he’s probably looking for work). He’s the only hitting coach who seemed to make a mlb club actually hit better than they previously did. *That I know of.

    And that list. It’s as if you think there may be a Walmart for teams to pick up good baseball players. That’s not really the case.

  21. pedro3131

    April 23, 2012 04:10 PM

    Here’s to hoping the dbacks pitching (After getting lit up by the braves) is just what this offense needs! Anyone in the Phoenix area I’ll be at the game sitting down the 3rd base line in my Vitorino jersey, feel free to say hello

  22. John Wockenfuss

    April 23, 2012 04:11 PM

    There is a Walmart. Whether you can pick up good baseball players there, I don’t know.

  23. schmenkman

    April 24, 2012 07:25 AM

    Damned Liar — thanks for the dose of perspective.

    “Phils last May 6 to May 22, right before Utley returned: 7-9 record, 37 runs, triple slash .202/.264/.303″

  24. Tyler

    April 24, 2012 08:26 AM

    clearly this means when Howard comes back he should move to 3rd

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