Phillies Week in Review #2

Record: 4 wins, 2 losses
Standing: 6-6, 4th place in NL East (5.0 GB)

Top 3 offensive plays (by Win Probability Added, WPA)

  • April 12: Game tied 1-1, top 10th (runner on 1st, 2 out): Chase Utley RBI triple to right off of Jon Rauch. (+.410 WPA)
  • April 14: Game tied 1-1, top 9th (bases empty, 1 out): Laynce Nix solo home run to right field off of Jon Rauch. (+.388 WPA)
  • April 12: Phillies trail 0-1, top 6th (runner on 3rd, 2 out): Domonic Brown RBI double to left off of Ricky Nolasco. (+.171 WPA)

Bottom 3 offensive plays

  • April 14: Game tied 1-1, top 8th (runners on 1st and 2nd, 0 out): Michael Young 4-6-3 double play against Chad Qualls. (-.183 WPA)
  • April 14: Game tied 0-0, top 3rd (runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out): Chase Utley 6-4-3 double play against Kevin Slowey. (-.131 WPA)
  • April 13: Game tied 1-1, top 7th (bases loaded, 2 outs): Jimmy Rollins strikes out against Mike Dunn. (-.120 WPA)

Top 3 pitching/defensive plays

  • April 12: Game tied 1-1, bottom 8th (runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out): Donovan Solano grounds into 4-6-3 double play against Mike Adams. (-.251 WPA)
  • April 14: Game tied 1-1, bottom 7th (runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out): Adeiny Hechavarria fly out, Rob Brantly thrown out at second, 8-6-4. (-.143 WPA
  • April 12: Game tied 1-1, bottom 9th (runner on 1st, 1 out): Greg Dobbs grounds into 6-4-3 double play against Phillippe Aumont. (-.129 WPA)

Bottom 3 pitching/defensive plays

  • April 8: Game tied 0-0, top 2nd (runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out): John Buck three-run home run to left off of Roy Halladay. (+.239 WPA)
  • April 13: Game tied 1-1, bottom 9th (runner on 1st, 0 out): Greg Dobbs infield single off of Phillippe Aumont. (+.231 WPA)
  • April 14: Phillies lead 1-0, bottom 7th (runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out): Chris Valaika RBI single off of Roy Halladay. (+.215 WPA)

Best Hitter: Ryan Howard (.391/.400/.696)

Best Starter: Cliff Lee (1 GS, 8.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 0 BB)

Best Reliever: Jonathan Papelbon (3 G, 3 IP, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB, 2 SV)

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20 comments

  1. BenJah

    April 15, 2013 08:12 AM

    really like these roundups, along w/ the commentary in other posts.. thanks!

  2. Evan

    April 15, 2013 08:37 AM

    Nice to see Howard have a good series after a poor start. The way he’s moving I’m afraid it’s just a matter of time before he hits the DL for his achilles.

  3. Tomg

    April 15, 2013 08:37 AM

    Agree with comment above. Weekly summaries are great.

  4. Hampton

    April 15, 2013 09:42 AM

    I also appreciate the summary.

    Question: would Nix’s bad route be a candidate to appear in a summary like this? Or does an error have to be given?

  5. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 09:52 AM

    So now it’s been two weeks and we have the very beginnings of certain trends… So far Dom’s performance is again hampered by a low BABIP. Althoug it’s only 48 PAs so far this year, it’s a disturbing trend that has plagued his entire, albeit quite brief, MLB career. His batted ball profile doesn’t look much out of the ordinary… Anyone have any theories as to why? Please bear in mind I’m not just looking at his 2013 season; I’m looking all of the aggregate numbers, using 2013 numbers as a catalyst.

  6. LTG

    April 15, 2013 11:19 AM

    So, just to precisify 697’s question: Brown’s xBABIP, given his career batted ball rates, is .326. His actual career BABIP is .269. That’s a big spread. But it is worth keeping two things in mind. Over a single season BABIP can vary widely from what the batted ball rates predict. And Brown has not even had a single season’s worth of PAs yet. The most likely explanation for his low BABIP is still just luck.

    Of course, it is also possible that his LD% is inaccurate relative to the rest of the league. That is, it is possible he’s getting credit for line drives that are not really line drives and that most other players would not get credit for. In that case, his xBABIP would be too high. I am not sure what the proper error bars would be here because I don’t know how widely judgments about LDs differ among those measuring batted ball types.

    And, then, there is the depressing possibility. The rates don’t measure quality of contact. Perhaps Brown hits his FBs and GBs more softly than most MLBers. Perhaps, when he’s not hitting LDs, he’s making weaker contact. I don’t think we have evidence to reach this conclusion yet because it is more likely that he’s been unlucky, hitting balls at people rather than out of their reach. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 12:07 PM

    LTG,

    Of course, 48 PAs does not even begin to quantify as reliable data. However, we now have 540 PAs spread over about 4 season, each season by themselves can’t tell a coherent story, but collective, the story is very consistent. The BABIP over those 4 seasons are: .282, .276., .260, .265; this is not a wildly up and down data set. As we all know by now, hitters DO have control over their own BABIP, and believe me, I was really hoping Brown, because of his patience at the plate, would be something like a .330 BABIP hitter. Instead, so far, he’s below average in the other direction.

    Of course I’m in the wait-and-see mode as well, but this is disturbing to me, and I’m trying to find some explanation. If it’s just bad luck, great. I’m just fearing that it’s not…

  8. LTG

    April 15, 2013 12:28 PM

    697,

    Read my post again. I used his *career* BABIP and his *career* xBABIP based on his *career* batted ball rates. Then, I pointed out the BABIP-caveat that even a full season won’t control very well for luck (hence the development of xBABIP calculators), and 540 PAs is not yet even a full season. None of this is commentary only on his performance in 48 PAs this year.

    We can start speculating. But the most likely explanation is still just bad luck. Me, I’m worried that he is swinging at more pitches out of the zone this year than he has before. I’m especially worried that he’s being encourage to be “more aggressive”, in particular in RBI-situations.

  9. Pencilfish

    April 15, 2013 01:22 PM

    LTG,

    Where did you read about Brown being “encouraged to be more aggressive” and who is encouraging him? Unless you can substantiate it, this sounds like you making an excuse for his so-so start. Given that he’s only had 48 PA’s in 2013, that’s bit premature. We should get a better read on him by early June (~50 games?).

    People have been clamoring to give Brown a chance to show what he can do over a full season, so let’s give him the chance to prove RAJ was right to keep him and that he’s not the 2013 version of John Mayberry Jr.

  10. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 01:47 PM

    @LTG,

    I am fully aware of your points, none of which I was disputing. I’m saying the consistency he has shown so far in 4 seasons in BABIP, even though the aggregate numbers are still small, does not imply luck; when someone with true ability turn in “unlucky” numbers, usually one can point to a bad streak within those numbers. Brown’s “consistency” isn’t indicative of luck.

    Funny how you challenged me to provide more precise analysis when confronted with limited data, and then summarily reject such analysis when I do so, LOL.

  11. LTG

    April 15, 2013 02:50 PM

    697,

    Forgive me but this response, “Of course, 48 PAs does not even begin to quantify as reliable data,” led me to believe you misread my post. Why else would commenting on this season’s sample size be relevant? If I misunderstood you I apologize.

    As for the 4 season spread, I don’t think it is all that relevant. I suspect you think that it rules out a “cold” streak where his mechanics are off and need readjusting or something like that. But other hitters have wild swings in BABIP from season to season and it is not obvious that one season they were “cold” and the other “hot” or something like that. While hitter-BABIP is related to hitting-skill that doesn’t rule out pretty wide variation, indeed more than pitchers tend to see. And he’s still young and adjusting. For example, young Utley at around the same number of PAs had about a .275 BABIP. This is why I don’t think even a season’s worth of data spread out over 4 seasons is enough to draw strong conclusions about his BABIP talent.

    On fine-grained analysis, as I said, we can start to speculate. But we would have to say more than it isn’t just luck. We’d have to look for evidence of more than usual weak contact and then reasons why that is likely to continue. Wouldn’t that be a great article?

    Finally, I’m not challenging you to do anything.

  12. LTG

    April 15, 2013 02:56 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Yeah, that’s pure speculation about an open-ended worry I have. I base it mostly on things RAJ and Manuel have said about what they like to see from hitters and watching Brown hit with runners on. It looks to me like he is swinging at pitches in off the plate, middle and up. When he does he makes weak contact because he can’t get the barrel on them (because they are not good pitches to hit). He can handle middle of the plate up but not in off the plate and up.

    However, Swing% stabilizes quickly, like 50 PAs. So, his dramatic increase in O-Swing% likely indicates a big change in his approach. If it persists, I bet he won’t benefit from it.

  13. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 03:03 PM

    @LTG,

    Why not? I like being challenged. Only way to get better :) That is at the heart of sabermetrics :)

    As for Dom, all he’s shown so far is “cold streaks.” There aren’t any example of “hot streaks” in the majors, hence the worry that perhaps the “cold streaks” are really the true indications of his real BABIP skills. I would have felt better if the BABIPs were all over the place, even if the aggregate stays the same.

  14. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 03:07 PM

    @LTG/Pencilfish,

    Not to mention all that increase in O-Swing% and O-Contact% seem to be having a negative effect on his BB%. A 6.3 BB% Dom Brown is a pretty useless Dom Brown.

  15. LTG

    April 15, 2013 03:08 PM

    ‘However’ in the above means ‘speculation aside’.

    Also, Pencilfish, what part of “wait and see” contradicts “let’s give him a chance”?

    Actually, now that I reread your post, I’m really confused. First, you accuse me of making excuses for him (whereas I would call it explaining the appearances if I were doing that, which I wasn’t). Next, you admonish me for not giving him a chance. Wouldn’t I only make excuses for him in order to give him a chance? I mean, I could not make excuses and, nevertheless, give him a chance, but why else would I make excuses for someone (which, again, I wasn’t doing).

  16. LTG

    April 15, 2013 03:14 PM

    ” I would have felt better if the BABIPs were all over the place, even if the aggregate stays the same.”

    Have you tried cutting up the samples small enough? (Hey, he’s 1-1, hot streak! /badjoke)

    Questions are not challenges. I prefer questions to challenges. It keeps the investigation less litigious.

    Yeah, the drop in BB% is worrisome too, but BB% stabilizes at around 200 PAs. So maybe it will come up some in the next month or two. Nevertheless, since the BB% coincides with the O-Swing% I’m not very optimistic.

  17. Pencilfish

    April 15, 2013 03:56 PM

    LTG,

    I agree with your “wait and see” approach, but we don’t need to make excuses for his performance, because it’s too early to make any judgments. We’ll get a better idea of his true skills and value to the team around ~50 games–arbitrarily chosen because it is about ~1/3 of the season or better yet at season’s end

    In particular, I am curious to see how he’ll hit once Ruiz and D. Young join the team.

  18. Phillile697

    April 15, 2013 04:00 PM

    *Putting on my BBWAA hat*

    Well, he IS on pace for 27 HRs. That’s very good, right?

  19. LTG

    April 15, 2013 04:16 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Again, I never said anything about excuses. You shouldn’t infer from ‘x is being encouraged to y’ that ‘it’s not x’s fault that x ys’. x still has to do what x is encouraged to do. Without other intervening circumstances, x is still responsible for ying. Maybe you just aren’t talking to me when you talk about making excuses. Maybe other people are doing that. I have no idea. Are we in different contexts?

    Your generalization about making judgments is, well, false. It is too early to make judgments about some things and not to early to make judgments about others. I’m not drawing any general conclusions. I am, however, looking at some data and worrying, which is open-ended, revisable, and directs one’s attention to more specific details. (I take it 697 is doing the same.) You can choose whatever random end-points you want before forming a judgment about all things related to Dom Brown. I’ll look at what is justified, as best I can, and work from that. Obviously, as more things actually happen, we’ll have better evidence. But truisms aren’t helpful.

  20. Pencilfish

    April 15, 2013 05:23 PM

    LTG,

    Btw, I didn’t mean to accuse you of
    making excuses for Brown, but the “encouraged to be aggressive” was an unsubstantiated claim.

    I assume you say it’s not too early to make judgments on certain things, such as Swing%, which you claim stabilizes at 50 PA’s. but you also said there was a dramatic change in Brown’s approach. His approach may change again if he feels it is not working, so your statement on Swing% stabilizing at 50 PA’s may not be relevant in a few weeks. Doesn’t that mean you cannot make early judgments, period?

    In my view, Brown is a young hitter still searching for what works for him at the ML level. He will likely continue experimenting with different approaches with Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner. We may not get a true measure of his skills until he gets more experience and PA’s–not sure how much more, but he isn’t there yet. We can worry about it, but how reliable are trends for young, inexperienced players who are still adding to their skill set?

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