Phillies-Braves Game Thread 5/1/12

The Phillies have arrived in Atlanta after a brief four-game homestand against the Chicago Cubs. The 14-9 Braves lay claim to one of the league’s best offenses, averaging over five runs per game. Compared to the Phillies, they’re basically the 2000 Colorado Rockies. That’s not to say the Braves haven’t had their problems, however. Brandon Beachy, tonight’s starter, has easily been their most effective starter. Young talents Mike Minor and Randall Delgado haven’t yet put it together and veteran Jair Jurrjens was recently demoted to Triple-A after his fourth start, which left him with a 9.37 ERA.

Last night, the Phillies were able to earn a series split with the Cubs thanks to some timely hitting. Placido Polanco‘s two-run single in the eighth inning broke a 4-4 tie and allowed Jonathan Papelbon to enter in the ninth to nail down the save. For as bad as the Phillies have been offensively, they have been timing their runs as best as they can: 35 of their 76 total runs scored this season (46 percent) have come in innings 7-9, compared to 20 in innings 1-3 (26 percent) and 21 in innings 4-6 (28 percent). That will be just a bit tougher to do against Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, but the Phillies will try nonetheless.

Lineups

Phillies

Braves

Greetings From Clearwater – May 1

Originally written by Bradley Ankrom.

It wasn’t a terribly exciting week for Phillies hitting prospects, with most players simply continuing the trends we saw in last week’s update. Let’s dig in.

View the Top 30 Prospects

HITTER

AGE

LVL

AVG/OBP/SLG

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

SB

CS

A. Altherr, of

21

A

.314/.362/.442

86

27

4

2

1

4

16

9

2

M. Alvarez, of

22

A+

.222/.222/.259

27

6

1

0

0

0

13

1

0

C. Asche, 3b

22

A+

.333/.370/.400

75

25

3

1

0

5

10

1

1

J. Barnes, 2b

25

A+

.140/.240/.163

43

6

1

0

0

6

17

0

0

L. Castro, of

23

AA

.214/.240/.329

70

15

5

0

1

1

19

2

2

K. Dugan, 1b/of

21

A

.245/.344/.396

53

13

2

0

2

7

15

0

0

E. Duran, ss

21

A+

.254/.275/.381

63

16

2

3

0

3

12

1

2

G. Eldemire, of

23

A

.239/.398/.328

67

16

4

1

0

16

26

12

2

M. Franco, 3b

19

A

.235/.309/.424

85

20

5

1

3

7

17

0

0

F. Galvis, ss

22

MLB

.191/.219/.294

68

13

4

0

1

3

12

0

0

T. Gillies, cf

23

AA

.289/.333/.446

83

24

6

2

1

3

15

3

0

G. Gonzalez, ss

21

A

.209/.221/.209

67

14

0

0

0

1

15

3

0

T. Greene, ss

19

A

.164/.235/.311

61

10

6

0

1

6

30

1

0

C. Hernandez, 2b

22

AA

.278/.310/.367

79

22

5

1

0

4

14

2

3

A. Hewitt, of

23

A+

.170/.220/.319

47

8

1

0

2

2

15

2

1

K. Hudson, cf

21

A

.162/.203/.203

74

12

1

1

0

2

27

13

3

J. James, cf

23

AA

.250/.278/.444

72

18

4

2

2

4

24

2

2

H. Martinez, 1b/3b

22

A

.259/.276/.407

27

7

4

0

0

1

4

0

0

L. Moore, c

21

A

.173/.328/.288

52

9

3

0

1

9

20

0

1

C. Overbeck, 3b

26

AAA

.313/.356/.458

83

26

6

0

2

6

13

0

0

C. Perdomo, ss

22

A

.205/.279/.308

39

8

1

0

1

3

5

4

2

B. Pointer, of

20

A

.295/.387/.577

78

23

3

2

5

12

24

5

0

D. Ruf, 1b

25

AA

.378/.402/.524

82

31

6

0

2

6

15

2

0

C. Rupp, c

23

A+

.273/.355/.400

55

15

4

0

1

7

10

0

0

S. Valle, c

21

AA

.281/.329/.375

64

18

3

0

1

5

22

0

0

Aaron Altherr raised his batting average by 24 points last week, going 9-for-29 with a double, a triple, and three stolen bases. His nine steals rank seventh in the South Atlantic League.

Three of Clearwater third baseman Cody Asche’s last four games have been of the multi-hit variety, and he notched his first extra-base hit in more than two weeks last night with a double off of Brevard County’s Brandon Williamson. Asche has the fifth-best batting average, .333, in the Florida State League.

Leandro Castro has now gone hitless in eight-consecutive games after a 3-for-5 night at Richmond on April 17. Castro has only reached base once, via walk on April 24, during that stretch.

Lakewood first baseman Kelly Dugan was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle on April 24.

Edgar Duran sits in a five-way tie for the Florida State League lead in triples with three after stroking a pair of three-baggers last week. He still isn’t drawing walks, but the 21-year-old shortstop is holding his own as one of the youngest regulars in the league.

It was another rough week for Gauntlett Eldemire, who extended his streak of games without an extra-base hit to 12 with an 0-for-4 effort yesterday against Greenville. Eldemire’s dozen stolen bases rank second behind Lexington’s Delino DeShields.

When Maikel Franco hits, he hits often. Since going 1-for-4 on April 13, Franco has collected three, two, or zero hits in 13 games. He fell a double short of the cycle against Asheville on April 24, but has gone 2-for-23 since, dropping his batting average from .290 to .235.

Philadelphia second baseman Freddy Galvis is one of eight qualifying National League hitters to carry a sub-.200 batting average into May. His .519 OPS ranks sixth-worst in the league, and stellar defense hasn’t been enough to keep him above replacement level (-0.5 WARP).

Tyson Gillies has hit in 12 of his last 13 games, including a 3-for-5 effort with a pair of doubles to help Trevor May secure his fifth win of the season last night at New Hampshire. Three of his six doubles have come in the last three days, and eight hits last week bumped his batting average up from .266 to .289.

Tyler Greene’s struggles at Lakewood continue, as a 1-for-17 week dropped his season line down to .164/.235/.311. Had he enough plate appearances to qualify, Greene’s batting average would be nearly 70 points worse than the next-worst average in the South Atlantic League, and only two players can top his 30 strikeouts. Greene seems primed for a reassignment to short-season Williamsport in June.

Back-to-back 0-for-4 games dropped Cesar Hernandez’s batting average 32 points, serving as a testament to just how early we are in the 2012 season. Hernandez was as high as .310 after going a combined 5-for-7 on April 26-27, but now sits at .278, only three points lower than this time last week.

It turns out that Anthony Hewitt’s big game against Jed Bradley on April 23 was a mixed signal, as Hewitt ripped his second home run of the season last week, and is now hitting .170 after missing the start of April with injury, but also carries an ugly 15:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio into the season’s second month.

Despite starting April hitting .400/.409/.850 through six games, Reading outfielder Jiwan James closes the month at a disappointing .250/.278/.444. James hasn’t gone deep since April 10 and had eight strikeouts (and only one walk) last week.

Last year’s third-round pick out of Miami, Harold Martinez made his season debut with Lakewood when Kelly Dugan went on the disabled list. Primarily a third baseman in college, Martinez has played six of seven games thus far at first base, hitting .259/.276/.407 through 28 trips to the plate. Despite his late start, Martinez already ranks third on the BlueClaws with four doubles.

Four multi-hit games raised Lehigh Valley first baseman Cody Overbeck’s batting average 43 points to .313. He also slugged his second home run of the season, and first since April 13, on Sunday.

Brian Pointer continued his subtle breakout last week, socking his fifth home run of the year on April 28 and running his successful stolen base attempt streak to 13. Pointer ranks third in the South Atlantic League in home runs, sixth in RBI, seventh in slugging average, and 13th in OPS.

Reading first baseman Darin Ruf had a nine-hit week, which actually dropped his batting average 15 points. His .378 mark still ranks third among Eastern League leaders, and he’s in the top 10 in slugging average and OPS. Ruf has always hit, but a 25-year-old first baseman slugging away in Double-A offers little reason for excitement.

Sebastian Valle walked not once, but twice last week, and Is now 40 percent of the way toward matching his 2011 total of 13 free passes. The power Valle exhibited in 2010 may have caused expectations for his bat to become over-inflated, but if this is what he is—a good defender who won’t be a burden at the plate—that isn’t a bad thing to have in your system.

Pence’s Plummeting Production

The Phillies’ start to the season offensively as a whole has been disappointing, but no one individual has so far failed to live up to expectations quite like Hunter Pence. Pence had a career year in 2011, posting a career-high .378 wOBA, including .405 in 236 plate appearances with the Phillies after coming over from the Houston Astros. Although unorthodox in every way, Pence’s quirkiness always seemed to get the job done in the end.

This year, however, is another story. Pence has a .306 wOBA, the sixth-highest mark on a team of underachievers. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard absent for at least the first two months and potentially the entire first half, the Phillies were relying on Pence to be their rock in the clean-up spot, but that simply hasn’t been the case through April. He is striking out more than five times for every one walk — the second-lowest BB/K ratio on the team behind John Mayberry, Jr. and overall striking out in one out of every four plate appearances.

Even with the small sample, there isn’t a noticeable change in batted ball splits and he has an overall .310 BABIP, which is only a shade below his career average .327, a difference of one hit. He is even putting balls in play to the same locations (pull/opposite field) at the same rate. So, his biggest problem thus far has simply been plate discipline. His .293 on-base percentage is a far cry from his .370 OBP last year and his .342 career average.

The Phillies were never expected to be an offensive powerhouse without Utley and Howard. Shane Victorino was the only other regular position player PECOTA projected to post a true average above .270 (league average is .260). PECOTA pegged Pence at .287. Through April, only four teams have seen a lower OPS out of the #4 spot in the lineup than the Phillies have (.695). Since Pence hasn’t been producing, the Phillies have averaged 3.3 runs per game, the third-worst rate in the National League. This puts them on pace to score 535 runs, which would be the fewest scored by a Phillies team in a non-strike-shortened season since 1940-42.

(Please heed the usual small sample size warnings when drawing any conclusions from the above heat maps.)