The End of the Chad Qualls Era

The much-ballyhooed end of the Chad Qualls era is upon us, as the Phillies have designated the right-handed reliever for assignment. Qualls had a disastrous time in Philly, posting a 4.60 ERA that is, somehow, far too kind to him. He surrendered one home run per every four fly balls, an obnoxiously-high rate — the second-highest among relievers (min. 30 IP), in fact, behind Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners.

At the end of January, when the Phillies signed Qualls, Paul Boye warned of Qualls’ declining K-rate. In 2012, it is nearly half the rate it was in 2008 (13.6%, 23.7%). Not much else had changed in the time between ’08 and ’12: he still surrendered walks at an infrequent rate (between 6 and 7%) and allowed home runs at his normal pace (between 11 and 14% of fly balls). It all went haywire this year, though, as he became nothing more than a piñata for opposing hitters.

The obvious struggles occurred against left-handed batters, who posted a staggering .480 wOBA against him in 60 plate appearances, compared to the .282 of right-handed hitters in 80 PA. You can see the difference in the heat maps here:

In the past, I have argued that the Phillies should be able to identify these weaknesses and utilize their relievers accordingly. Last year, for example, I saw potential for J.C. Romero to have utility as a LOOGY (a left-handed, one-out guy), but Charlie Manuel gave him the handedness advantage against fewer than two out of every five batters. Likewise, Qualls could have had value as a ROOGY but likely nothing beyond that.

Qualls was a relatively cheap ($1.15 million) gamble that didn’t pay off in the end. Fortunately, the Phillies didn’t commit multiple years and multiple millions of dollars to Qualls the way they have in the past with Romero, Jose Contreras, and Danys Baez, among others, so it’s no big deal. Soon, another team will, like the Phillies, pick up Qualls only to ignore all of the warning signs and fail to utilize him correctly, giving up tens of unnecessary runs. Then, they will release him soon thereafter in frustration. The baseball world, she never stops turning.

Leave a Reply



  1. Ryan

    June 28, 2012 12:04 PM

    I wish that there was a way to “like” this post. Good riddance, Chad Qualls.

  2. Josh G

    June 28, 2012 12:09 PM

    I’d like to cite the archives and email RAJ. Subject line “I told you so”

  3. ColonelTom

    June 28, 2012 12:15 PM

    Brian Sanches got roughed up in his 3 earlier appearances for the Phils, but at least he can strike guys out and appears to have solved the control issues that plagued him last year (29 K, 5 BB in 31.2 IP at AAA). He should be an upgrade on Qualls.

    Dumping Qualls tells the players that nobody’s safe just because they have a guaranteed contract.

    They will have some interesting decisions to make if/when Howard and Nix come back. I think Luna stays over Wigginton – the game in which Cholly started Luna at 3B and Wigginton at 1B tells you whom he thinks can play 3B better (or less terribly). Once Nix is ready, Pierre (who lacks Nix’s ability to play 1B) could be used as trade bait to bring back a serviceable RH reliever.

  4. hk

    June 28, 2012 12:32 PM

    “Dumping Qualls tells the players that nobody’s safe just because they have a guaranteed contract.”

    No it doesn’t, not for anyone who makes any real money or is signed for beyond this year. Dumping Kendrick might say that, but I doubt this GM will do something like that to a player who they still owe $4M+.

    Speaking of Kendrick, where are all of the people who tried to make the argument that 30+ slightly above average innings from KK at the end of last year was an indicator that he had become a decent pitcher?

  5. Ryan

    June 28, 2012 12:40 PM

    Kyle Kendrick DFA…at least that’s what I’m hopeful to hear. I’d rather give Tyler Cloyd a shot than have Kendrick implode any further.

  6. KH

    June 28, 2012 01:58 PM

    It always amazed me watching the games that the radar gun on te screen would consistently show Qualls at 94 or 95 mph and he would still get shellacked. I know velocity doesn’t mean much without either movement or location but still.

  7. Frank Reynolds

    June 28, 2012 02:33 PM

    I am suprised that they did this. I would have done it weeks ago.

  8. jauer

    June 28, 2012 03:20 PM


  9. Ryan

    June 28, 2012 03:33 PM

    Howard is actually a good player. He is a presence in the lineup and can turn around a ball game with one swing of the bat at any time. Have you taken notice at Hunter Pence and Jayson Werth’s inability to hit effectively in the 3-4 slots? He’s also a player that contributed greatly to the 08 championship. It’s not his fault that RAJ signed him for more than he’s worth. His contract isn’t looking quite as terrible now that Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez, etc have even longer deals and are starting to decline or will in the near future.

    Charlie–he was a good manager when the team needed a players’ manager to coax them through lulls in the confidence and slumps. He’s not the guy you want playing a chess match in tight ball games or trying to maximize a crappy bullpen. He’s certainly not Tony LaRussa or Joe Maddon where he’ll do everything statistically correct matchup and shift wise. I will say that he appears to have evolved a little bit with the usage of Papelbon but it has, unfortunately, backfired to this point. He gets a bit of a pass due to past success but I would be willing to show him the door now.

    There is no apology for Kyle Kendrick. He’s never really done anything worth keeping him on the team other than have a lucky stretch of batted ball luck here or there. I also can’t fathom why he got that contract from RAJ.

  10. trent phloog

    June 28, 2012 04:18 PM

    Happy to see the last of Chad “Two-Run Homer” Qualls… now can we get rid of Kendrick, please?

  11. hk

    June 28, 2012 04:21 PM


    How has Charlie evolved beyond going by “the book” in his usage of Papelbon? He uses him in the 9th inning of tie games at home, which is 100% by “the book” because once a home game becomes tied, there is no chance for your closer to get a save.

    Also, further to Bill’s point, comparing Howard’s contract to Fielder’s makes Howard’s look much worse. RAJ signed Howard (nearly 2 full seasons before Howard would be eligible for free agency) to an extension at an AAV of $25M for Howard’s age 32 to 36 seasons. The Tigers signed Prince Fielder for his age 28 to 36 seasons at an AAV of $23.8M. The Tigers got the much better baseball player for less $ per year and have him for his age 28 to 31 seasons before they get him for the same age seasons that cover Howard’s extension. How does this make Howard’d contract look better by comparison?

  12. bill

    June 29, 2012 11:52 AM

    Ryan Howard is an ok player, there’s no reason to hate him personally. His contract is what sucks.

    Charlie won a WS, so of course he gets the benefit of the doubt, right or wrong.

    Kendrick is terrible and I have no idea why anyone is ok with him pitching.

  13. hk

    June 29, 2012 12:24 PM


    Very few, if any, comments on here show hatred towards Ryan Howard personally. No one begrudges him the money he is getting. The hatred is towards the contract and the man who gave it to him.

  14. BobSmith75

    June 29, 2012 07:59 PM

    Yeah it would be great if you could use Qualls and Romero strictly for one or two outs in an inning.

    In reality, the manager often doesn’t have that option because of how many relievers are rested & how deep the starter has gone into a game.

    Certainly hasn’t been the case for Manuel since the middle of May generally.

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