In Case You Were Worrying about the Offense

As has been widely reported, the Phillies entered today’s game against the Yankees with the lowest team OPS this spring at .606. They also trailed in batting average at .198 and doubles with 14. I’ve already written about why spring stats don’t matter, but I wanted to quickly put the issue in another light.

I sorted the Phillies’ players by at-bats taken in the Grapefruit League (MLB.com doesn’t keep track of plate appearances for some strange reason). Then, I classified them into one of four groups: starter, bench player, non-roster invitee, or Minor Leaguer (AAA). Entering today’s action, the Phillies had taken 470 at-bats. 181 were taken by starters (38.5%), 113 were taken by bench players (24%), 89 by non-roster invitees (19%), and 87 by a Minor Leaguer (18.5%).

The stats and the summary for your perusal:

Player AB Type
Darin Ruf 29 Bench
Maikel Franco 29 AAA
Domonic Brown 28 Starter
Ben Revere 27 Starter
Ryan Howard 27 Starter
Freddy Galvis 27 Bench
Marlon Byrd 26 Starter
Kevin Frandsen 24 Bench
Bobby Abreu 23 NRI
Chase Utley 22 Starter
Cody Asche 21 Starter
John Mayberry, Jr. 20 Bench
Cesar Hernandez 16 AAA
Carlos Ruiz 15 Starter
Jimmy Rollins 15 Starter
Cameron Rupp 14 AAA
Tony Gwynn, Jr. 14 NRI
Wil Nieves 13 Bench
Clete Thomas 12 NRI
Andres Blanco 11 NRI
Zach Collier 10 AAA
Ronny Cedeno 9 NRI
Reid Brignac 8 NRI
Leandro Castro 8 NRI
Tyson Gillies 8 AAA
Kelly Dugan 5 AAA
Tommy Joseph 5 AAA
Lou Marson 3 NRI
Sebastian Valle 1 NRI
Albert Cartwright 0 AAA

The summary:

Type AB %
AAA 87 18.5%
Bench 113 24.0%
NRI 89 19.0%
Starter 181 38.5%
Total 470 100.0%

Starters have taken fewer than two out of every five at-bats this spring. Combined with bench players, they have accounted for fewer than two-thirds of all at-bats taken. This is compared to, say, 75 and 90 percent, respectively, during the regular season.

How the Phillies perform as a team during spring training has little to no bearing on how they will perform during the regular season. A significant portion of the at-bats in the Grapefruit League are being taken by players who will make virtually no impact on the team between April and September. The Phillies may be at the bottom in terms of OPS, but the Red Sox, Reds, Dodgers, and Rangers can also be found in the bottom-third as well, and no one’s writing them off because of it.

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