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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.