Phillies April Report Card

The Phillies are hovering around .500, third place in the NL East, which is about where most of us thought they would be throughout the season. There haven’t been many surprises. The schedule will start to get tougher now that the calendar has flipped to May and many players will be looking to build upon what they accomplished in April. Let’s go through the roster and mark down some grades.

(Note: Stats compiled prior to Tuesday evening’s game in Cleveland.)

Kyle Kendrick: Kendrick is as good as he has ever been thanks to an August intervention which motivated him to scrap his cut fastball for the most part in favor of his change-up to handle left-handed hitters. His 2.41 ERA is tops among Phillies starters and ranks 14th among qualified NL starters. You can’t ask for much more from your #4 starter. GradeA+

Michael Young: He has hit for almost no power — his .080 isolated power is the sixth-lowest among qualified third basemen — but he has had hits in 18 of his previous 21 games, including a 14-game hitting streak between April 9-23. Most impressively, though, he is drawing walks. His ten percent walk rate is double last year’s rate. Many, especially myself, predicted a poor season from Young but if the first month is any indication, he still has something left in the tank. The only criticism you can direct at Young is that he could stand to hit for more power and his defense has been predictably lackluster. Grade: A

Antonio Bastardo: Many gave up on Bastardo when his 2012 season did not live up to expectations set a year prior, but the lefty has shown he really is among the game’s most dominant relievers. He sits with an 0.96 ERA entering May and he hasn’t even been striking out hitters at his normal 30 percent rate. Though the eventual rise in strikeouts will counterbalance the regression with his .130 BABIP. Grade: A

Chase Utley: Utley has had a couple uncharacteristic blunders on the base paths and on defense, but he has otherwise shown he still has the ability to be the Phillies’ MVP. Thus far, he has been baseball’s fourth-best-hitting second baseman, behind usual suspects Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia. With his knees giving him issues over the past three years, many thought his ability to stay healthy and hit for power were gone, but he has started 25 of his team’s 27 games and posted a .211 ISO, his best mark since 2009. Grade: A-

Cliff Lee: Lee shockingly walked three batters in one inning in his April 20 start against the St. Louis Cardinals, but has otherwise been as reliable as ever. In fact, so reliable he’s boring to write about. There is nothing interesting about him this year that you didn’t already know. Grade: B+

Jonathan Papelbon: Papelbon allowed two runs in his first appearance of the season on April 3, but has otherwise held the opposition at bay in his eight appearances since, saving four games in as many attempts. Shockingly, he has struck out only two in his last six innings. He is averaging 92.3 MPH on his fastball, a 1.5 MPH decline from last year and 2.7 MPH from 2011. Definitely something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Grade: B+

John Mayberry: Between the Delmon Young signing and Domonic Brown‘s great spring training, Mayberry looked like the odd man out. With Young still rehabbing his injured ankle, though, the Phillies are very thankful to have had Mayberry’s bat in the lineup. Despite his .238 average and .324 on-base percentage, he is slugging .476 and has shockingly hit right-handed pitching about as well as their left-handed counterparts. It’s been reported that Young has looked abysmal on defense in his rehab starts and given how well Mayberry has hit and how much more he offers defensively and on the bases compared to Young, the Phillies should consider jettisoning the Young experiment. Grade: B+

Laynce Nix: The Phillies’ bench has arguably been the best in the National League thanks in large part to Nix. Phillies pinch-hitters lead the NL in average (.333) and slugging percentage (.600) and have the most total pinch-hits (15) in baseball. As a pinch-hitter, Nix has seven hits in 13 at-bats, including a double and two home runs. When he has started in right field, he hasn’t been nearly as effective (.404 OPS). Grade: B  

Kevin Frandsen: Frandsen struggled in the first three weeks of the season (.182 average through April 20) but has come on as of late (.444 since). The big question after his great 2012 season concerned his ability to maintain a high average going forward. Through the first month, he is hitting .300, which is about all the Phillies need from him. Grade: B-

Jonathan Pettibone: Filling in for the injured John Lannan, Pettibone has gone at least five innings and allowed three or fewer runs in both starts. He has struck out ten and walked only two in 10.1 innings. For someone with a grand total of 51.2 innings of experience at the Triple-A level, he has been better than expected thus far. Grade: C+

Ryan Howard: His power has only come on recently — three doubles and two homers in his last seven games — but he looks markedly better than the hobbled, ineffectual hitter we saw last year. Still, his 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio is cause for concern, as is his three percent walk rate. Grade: C+

Freddy Galvis: Galvis has been more or less average on offense (.307 wOBA), even hitting a couple of home runs, and has played his usual superb defense. Most impressively, though, he has cut his teeth as an outfielder. He has logged 16 defensive innings at second base, 12 at shortstop, 8.1 at third base… and 31 in left field. It’s smart for Galvis to be willing to move to the outfield since the Phillies really don’t have a way to get him regular playing time solely as an infielder. Grade: C+

Roy Halladay: It’s tough to know which Roy Halladay you’re going to get on a given night: the one who has no life on his fastball and is bereft of his characteristic pinpoint accuracy, or the right-hander who reminds you of Greg Maddux‘s later years, as he has appeared in three starts between April 14-24. With a 5.08 ERA and sub-4.00 ERA retrodictors, the hope is that he grows more and more comfortable with his aged arsenal and learns how to properly use it. Grade: C

Jimmy Rollins: Though one would have preferred he hit for a bit more power by this point, his overall offensive output is in line with where it has been dating back to 2009. He is striking out a bit too much and hasn’t been as much of a factor on the bases as we’re used to, but otherwise has lived up to his billing. Grade: C

Mike Adams: It’s tough to read Adams. Coming off of surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, his fastball has averaged 89.4 MPH, a career-low and a 2 MPH decline from 2012. On the other hand, he has struck out one out of every three hitters he has faced, so ERA retrodictors paint his performance thus far as masterful. His ERA is 3.60 in ten innings and has been credited with four shutdowns and three meltdowns which is a big pile of “meh”. GradeC

Humberto Quintero: Quintero hit a bit better than expected (.250 average) and seemed to develop a rapport with Roy Halladay, catching four of his starts. It’s about all you can ask of a third-string catcher. Grade: C

Domonic Brown: His overall numbers are around where they’ve been from 2010-12, but considering how good he was in spring, the high expectations always associated with him, and that this is his first time with a full-time job at the Major League level, 2013 has thus far been a slight disappointment. Additionally, he has made some good defensive plays, but still struggles with reading fly balls off the bat. Many fans are ready to cut bait, but remember that Brown has still yet to have more than two months of consistent playing time in the big leagues. Let him have the entirety of the season before you write him off. Grade: C-

John Lannan: He has made only three starts having landed on the disabled list after a diastrous April 17 start in Cincinnati in which he surrendered six runs in 1.2 innings. His first two starts were decent, so his 6.14 ERA is wildly distorted by his injury-shortened start. Hard to fault him for that. Grade: C-

Phillippe Aumont: Great at times, ugly at others. The Phillippe Aumont experience. He started off the season with at least one walk in his first five appearances, but has gone the last three having allowed no walks. If he can continue to make progress with his control, he can be a reliable late-inning option, but until then, the Phillies are best using him in low-leverage situations. Grade: D+

Cole Hamels: Just an ugly start to the year for Hamels. His ERA is 4.78. He has walked three or more in three of his six starts. He walked six in his last start, just the second time in 217 starts he has done that. He has struck out more than six batters in a start just twice. Unlike his struggles in previous years, his struggles in the first month of the season can’t be blamed on BABIP. All of his ERA retrodictors paint him at 4.00 or worse. Grade: D+

Jeremy Horst: Horst has a 5.91 ERA, but most of his struggles this year are a function of bad luck (.343 BABIP). The strikeouts are down though and he has shown a velocity decline of more than 2 MPH on his fastball. While we should expect Horst to get better as the season progresses, there are some key pieces that have to fall in place first. Grade: D+

Ben Revere: He has made a couple of jaw-dropping catches and leads the Phillies with five steals in seven attempts, but he is hitting .207 with a .472 OPS in 93 PA. No one expected Revere to even be a league-average hitter, but this 2013 season offensively has been a gigantic disappointment. His big problems have been making contact with fastballs and not rolling over on slower stuff, both fixable problems and there’s just no way he will go an entire season with a sub-.500 OPS so you should feel optimistic about his coming five months at least. Grade: D-

Raul Valdes: 7.82 ERA over 14.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks. He is walking more than he did last year when he was an underrated free agent pickup, but otherwise has solid defense-independent stats. It’s quite possible he can be an effective option out of the bullpen, but he has had a significant velocity drop on his fastball of about 1.5 MPH. Grade: D-

Erik Kratz: The journeyman, who earned his first shot at a starting role in the Majors at 33 years old, enters May with an OPS in the mid-.500’s. After catching fire last summer, many thought Kratz would be able to tread water while Carlos Ruiz served his 25-game suspension, but his lackluster hitting forced the Phillies to rely more on Humberto Quintero, who has a career adjusted OPS+ of 59. Grade: F

Chad Durbin: Nine relievers in the National League have inherited at least ten base runners. The Nationals’ Mike Gonzalez has allowed the second-highest percentage of them to score: five of ten. Durbin leads, having allowed nine of 11 (82 percent) to score. The Durbin experiment has been an absolute nightmare and the Phillies should cut bait on him before the Chad Qualls mistake is repeated. Grade: F

Ezequiel Carrera: The Phillies grabbed Carrera off of waivers from the Cleveland Indians, but it just hasn’t worked out. In 16 trips to the dish, he is hitting .077. You can understand why the Phillies dropped him for Delmon Young. Grade: F

Disagree with any of these grades? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Richard

    May 01, 2013 07:19 AM

    Hard to disagree with too much. I would note that Rollins does have 9 doubles, which is pretty good. And that Howard’s poor K/BB ratio (now 24-to-3) is primarily a function of the almost total lack of walks (seriously: Freddy Galvis has 3 walks). His K% is a surprisingly low 23.8.

  2. Bill Baer

    May 01, 2013 07:25 AM

    I completely forgot. Every time I read over it, I guess I assumed I already covered him.

    Give me a few minutes and I’ll add him in. (In keeping with the stats having been used prior to last night’s game, I won’t include his awful start against the Indians.)

  3. WayneKerrins

    May 01, 2013 07:25 AM

    Jeeeesus, Roy Halliday ungraded before last night’s game. Where the hell will he classified now?

  4. Steve

    May 01, 2013 07:36 AM

    Bill, Roy H – F an omission due to the depressing outing last night.

    Ben Revere – has to get an “F” when you consider the expectations of how he was going to provide us a true “Leadoff” player. His arm is so bad, it offsets whatever he may catch, I haven’t seen anyone not run on his arm. Hell, he should catch the ball and immediately flip it to DB or JMJ so someone can get it in quicker. The number of DP’s have been astronomical as well as the K’s. This is a factor of how poorly he is making contact or not. Yesterday he saw a total of 6 pitches in three AB’s. Hell FG saw 5 and walked in his one AB. Not a Fan of Ben Revere and everyone wants to talk about last year as a regress to the Norm, what if it is somewhere between 2012 and 2011, that will not cut it for the lack of what he brings.
    If you are going to grade EK so harshly, he is a backup catcher who, unfortunately, proved he is a backup, I think he rates more of a “D,” I would have to rate our BP trio of PA, Raul and JH as all “F.” This is the best RAJ could do. They have cost the team, at least, 4 wins in one month. I probably could find 2 or 3 more without much effort. The balls have been it hard which increase BABIP. They aren’t missing many bats unless they are missing the strike zone with a ball.

    Roy really put the exclamation point on a bad month against bad teams, it certainly does not bode well for May.

  5. Richard

    May 01, 2013 07:56 AM

    Did people really expect Revere to be a ‘true’ ‘leadoff guy’? Even when he’s as good as he was last year, you still want him lower in the lineup.

  6. Steve

    May 01, 2013 08:13 AM

    Bill, seriously a “C” for Roy yet a D+ for Cole. We can not grade Roy on the scale of KK or Petibone, he is graded on the scale of a 20 million a year pitcher (CH, Lee, Sabathia, Kershaw …..) as that is his spot on the Roster. He sits at the big boy table and right now he sucks. The games he pitched “well” Marlins, Pirates and St Louis, were against two AAA rosters and St. Louis was a magic act. That will happen if you can keep the ball in the park. Anyway you split it, he has been horrible at his price.

  7. Richard

    May 01, 2013 08:15 AM

    You’re right Steve, games against the Pirates, first place in the NL Central, do not count in the standings.

  8. Richard

    May 01, 2013 08:22 AM

    Incidentally, I was curious how Mayberry already rated at -1.1 UZR in the early going, so I looked him up.

    He’s played 9 innings at first base, apparently missed the one play in his zone, so that’s a -0.3. Played 3 innings in LF, no balls were in his zone, but somehow his arm and range ratings are still poor enough to get him a -0.9. His 27 innings in CF have resulted in 10 balls in his zone, he’s made 9. Comes out to +0.4. The rest of the time he’s been in RF, where he’s made plays on 16 of 17 balls in his zone, 5 out of zone, has a plus arm rating there, and somehow it comes out to -0.3.

    I need to dig into how the input produces the final rating, but it seems to me that these are pretty effective cautionary tale for reading too much into UZR at such small samples, especially for outfielders.

  9. Steve

    May 01, 2013 08:25 AM

    Richard, that was what the expectations were,
    CF Ben Revere: A rangy center fielder, Revere is a contact hitter who puts the ball in play, walks very little and steals bases in bunches. Revere, a former first-round pick of the Twins, hit .294 with a .333 on-base percentage and 40 stolen bases last season. Don’t be surprised if he permanently unseats Jimmy Rollins as the team’s leadoff hitter.

    The Phillies hope they are getting a younger, cheaper version of Michael Bourn.

    “I think he’s a similar type of player,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He doesn’t have much power. He’s much more of a singles hitter. He’s not going to drive the ball consistently. But the defense and speed were important to us, particularly at that position. We felt like this would be a good, solid, controllable acquisition for us.”

    Get on base, catch the ball, score some runs. That’s what they want from Revere

    and, yes, there were other articles where he was touted as the number 7/8 hitter at best but I still grade him an “F” for April. He hasn’t hit, if you don’t hit you have to get on base so your speed plays and he doesn’t walk. It is not like Bill and I are grading him much different, Bill gives him a D- so anyway you slice it, it wasn’t a good April.

  10. Steve

    May 01, 2013 08:37 AM

    Richard, all I am saying about Roy, is he has sucked. W/L record is not indicative of how well a pitcher pitched, it is indicative of whether the team you play for happened to score more runs on that given day and when they scored them. Other then making a snide remark on one team try backing something up with a STAT. By the way the Pirates are 15-12 and in 2nd place, with a below average/avg offense and avg SP/good BP. They are a young team that Roy was able to exploit but we are only talking about April and Roy is at:
    32.0 29 24 8 13 31 8.72 93.5 -0.5 1.31 6.75
    for 20 million, you consider this avg?

  11. Richard

    May 01, 2013 08:45 AM

    Steve – Halladay’s pitched three good games and three horrible games. The three good games count. How would I grade that? Beats me, but ‘C’ sounds about right. I’m not saying he’s been great. I didn’t say shit about his W/L record, nor would I ever. I don’t need to cite stats that are readily available elsewhere.

    And his salary is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion. No, they do not get graded on a different scale.

    As for Revere, by “people” I meant people smarter than Ruben Amaro.

  12. TomG

    May 01, 2013 09:00 AM

    Instead of disagreeing with any of your grades, I’m just going to encourage you to get under a few warm blankets and drink plenty of liquids, since you went into shock a full three times in the post above and I suspect, after last night’s performance by the Phils, a fourth episode of shock is likely to have hit you. It did me.

    That said, I can truly state that last night was the first time this year I was glad we had Durbin and Valdes in the BP because we needed guys to just eat innings and, since it was already 8-1, who cares if they give up more runs? (Which both CD and RV obligingly did.) So it was nice – a luxury, if you will – to have Durbin to throw out there instead of a real pitcher whom we might want to use on another night when the Phils decide to show up for the game.

    But yeah, it’s time to let him go – you’re right about that. In fact, if I had a time machine, my to-do list, in order, would be:

    1. Go back to 1933 and kill Hitler (assuming reasoning doesn’t work)
    2. Go back to January and kill Durbin (fuck trying to reason)
    3. Get BIZ-ZAY with circa-1957 Marilyn Monroe

    The Marlins have this guy who threw two scoreless innings the other night in a 15-inning game and managed to keep them in it until they could walk it off against the Mets. Maybe they’d be willing to part with him? His name was Chad something-or-other.

  13. Mister Twine

    May 01, 2013 09:53 AM

    Have to agree with Steve about Halladay as he is very deserving of an ‘F’ so far this season. To dig a little deeper into my reasoning why, going beyond simple box scores (the win against STL, while an OK pitching performance, Halladay was staked 5 runs in the first, 2 on an error, and the game was called short. Cards were also without Yadi.) and actually looking at his production. As it’s been mentioned, when batters are making contact against him, they’re making very good and hard contact.

    Halladay sports the luckiest BABIP of his entire career at .250 and despite that, he still has career lows in LOB% & second lowest GB% (only to last season). His HR/FB rate is double of any other year in his career. What this truly means, is, sadly, it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. When that BAPIP gets back to his .286-.306 norm, he’s going to be in real trouble. The 9.4 BB% is also not good. At all, for Halladay.

    For the poster earlier who said the expectation should be on the same par as KK or Pettibone just baffles me, frankly. If that were the case, they’d all be making the same salary. It’s simple baseball economics. KK & Petti are relied on to “keep their team in the game,” whereas Halladay is expected to “pitch well.” There is a chasm of a difference between the two. Just as there is a chasm of a difference between talent level and compensation.

    I, like many, want nothing more to see Doc turn it around but with watching every one of his starts, and digging into the micro numbers, I personally believe his skill set has deteriorated too much to ever come close to his salary’s level of expected play. And because of that, that’s an easy “F.”

  14. LTG

    May 01, 2013 10:06 AM

    So, if you were a very smart student in a class who had a bad night and made some mistakes on your math test in the morning and these mistakes were the same as some average or poor student, you would be fine with the teacher giving you a C and the other student a B?

    Having different expectations is fine, and feeling differently about a performance on the basis of those expectations is fine (e.g., feeling more disappointed). But conflating your feelings with an evaluation of the performance is simply a mistake. If the grade is about the performance on the field, the same performance merits the same grade regardless of who performs that way.

  15. TomG

    May 01, 2013 10:45 AM

    I buy LTG’s explanation.

    So then the question is … did BB grade, say, KK on a curve of some sort? I.e., if Doc had pitched like KK in April, would Doc have earned an A+ from BB?

    I think KK, evaluated objectively, deserved at least an A. And Doc’s C seems about right to me, too.

  16. amarosucks

    May 01, 2013 10:52 AM

    Here’s my analysis…

    All of their OFs stink

    Fire everyone

  17. Jerome

    May 01, 2013 11:22 AM

    …and Delmon Young gets an A+ for being injured all month (minus one day at DH) and therefore helping the Phil’s defense substantially.

  18. Steve

    May 01, 2013 12:25 PM

    Okay, I will try a different analogy as to why I completely disagree as to how I grade players on a team. Since you want to use a classroom where all the students pay the same fee to attend the class and are taught the same information and their grades are completely based on performance against each other I will compare the team to a corporation where you have CEO, VP’s, Directors on down to the Janitor who are needed to make the company work. I expect a hell of a lot more from my CEO and VP’s (Doc, CH, RH, Utley, Lee, Paps…) who are paid big money to produce to the mid level managers (Ruiz, MY, JRoll, KK…) to the janitors (DY, JMJ, DB, CD, PA, Revere…). I don’t expect the Janitor to do more then make sure the place is clean when I come to work in the morning and that he performs to level of his job and pay. Students are not paid to perform, the Students are in the minor leagues. If they fail, the team cuts them and moves in the next piece. You fail in the classroom, same thing. The MLB players are Guaranteed contracts (most), High Paid to medium to low paid (all relative) and should be compared to their performance expectations. So I have much different expectations for Roy then KK. Hey, if Roy says, I suck and should be paid as a fifth starter, I’d give him a “C” but he is paid to be a stud and keep us in most of the games he pitches. He hasn’t given us a chance in three. None whatsoever. The janitors I rate an “F” – CD, BR, PA, Horst….as the toilets were overflowing and they were out to lunch.

  19. LTG

    May 01, 2013 12:38 PM

    In your analogy, you are comparing vastly different jobs to one another. Halladay and KK have the same job. Of course, different jobs have different criteria for success. But the same job has the same criteria.

    Look, you can have your own evaluative perspective where you grade the players based on what you expected them to do, or how well they justify the compensation they receive. But then you are taking a different evaluative perspective than BB and have no claim against BB’s perspective. They are just different.

  20. AG3

    May 01, 2013 02:41 PM

    One thing that bugs me is when Charlie starts Galvis, a great defender, in LF while leaving MYoung at 3B. I get that MYoung had his beefs in Texas when they would move him all over the field to get him regular playing time but if he is unwilling to play 1B(or if management is unwilling to even bring up the subject out of fear of how Young would react due to his previous comments in Texas) for a game every now and then when Manuel decides to sit Howard then we ain’t talking about a ‘consummate professional’ that the media loves to portray Young as; we are talking about a internal problem. The defense would be a lot better with Galvis at 3B, Young at 1B and Mayberry in LF. Now, I don’t know if the idea has ever been brought up but it should be.

  21. AdifferentSteve

    May 01, 2013 04:17 PM

    Ok so lets be realistic about Halladay. He gets a D for a few reasons. First when he has been bad the game has been over by what, the 3rd inning. Next, I think we can all agree if he finishes the season 12-12 with an ERA arond 4.75 it will be a failure for him and the team. I also think Howard’s grade is a bit unfair. Achilles surgery is a big deal. As a life long Phillies fan I know I have bitched about his batting average being around .220 for fair to long. He’s hitting around .275 and when the power hopefully returns he may show us a really good year. Lets say B- but hopefully trending up.

  22. Send Ben Revere Down Poll

    May 01, 2013 04:55 PM

    I have no idea how BB designed his grading system ,of course it’s subjective, it’s his grading. He asked for opinion and I stated mine and I explained why I see it the way I see. Actually, Bill never really commented, he probably has more important things to do as so I but I’ve been killing time on hold with India. I love our technical support outsourcing, it makes life soooo much better. I just see the pay for play differently than you do LTG. I don’t see your school analogy as having much merit, you don’t see my expectations due to pay and status as affecting grades. Hey, next time you are looking to overpay for something with little expectations on the result, i’m your man 🙂 =

  23. WayneKerrins

    May 01, 2013 05:51 PM

    KK’s job is No 4 pitcher in the rotation. Halladay’s was no 1 but as a corollary of his recent decline is now No 3. I’m a limey but I know enough about baseball that to say an ace paid 25m should be judged on the same criteria as a back end rotation guy paid c 25% as much is, well, just plain wrong. Son.

  24. LTG

    May 01, 2013 06:13 PM

    So I guess Steve = Send Ben Down?

    What’s with the ad hominem?

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