Phillies Showing Tremendous Plate Discipline

You know about Chase Utley, but how about everyone else? After getting swept by the Brewers, the Phillies turned around and swept the Marlins in a three-game series in which they averaged five runs per game. More shockingly, they drew 15 walks in total over the set, bringing their league-leading walk rate over 10 percent.

It’s a serious 180 for the Phillies, as they had the league’s second-worst walk rate last season at 6.9 percent and were second-worst in 2012 as well, at 7.4 percent. Walks were a big reason why the Phillies had so much success from 2007-11. Starting from ’07, the Phillies ranked first (9.8%), fifth (9.3%), eighth (9.3%; only 0.6% away from ranking second), fourth (8.9%), and sixth (8.6%).

The Phillies’ latest success with plate discipline is also shocking considering the comment GM Ruben Amaro made entering last season. Defending the Delmon Young signing — Young is famous for his extremely low four percent career walk rate — Amaro said, “I don’t care about walks; I care about production.” By average runs scored per game, the Phillies’ 3.77 was third worst in the league and their 610 total runs scored ranked among the worst in franchise history in the live ball era, excluding strike-shortened seasons.

It’s been a fairly obvious analytical point for decades that walks correlate to better offense, but even taking the Phillies’ offensive production since 2007 in isolation, it’s still obvious:

Who are your key contributors? Eight players, minimum 10 plate appearances, have a double-digit walk rate:

Name PA BB BB% K% BB/K OBP
Ryan Howard 54 9 16.7% 27.8% 0.6 .352
Carlos Ruiz 45 7 15.6% 15.6% 1.0 .378
John Mayberry 13 2 15.4% 23.1% 0.7 .385
Tony Gwynn 21 3 14.3% 28.6% 0.5 .450
Cody Asche 38 5 13.2% 31.6% 0.4 .316
Chase Utley 46 5 10.9% 4.3% 2.5 .565
Jimmy Rollins 48 5 10.4% 12.5% 0.8 .354
Domonic Brown 48 5 10.4% 20.8% 0.5 .375
Cesar Hernandez 14 1 7.1% 35.7% 0.2 .286
Marlon Byrd 53 3 5.7% 28.3% 0.2 .302
Ben Revere 47 2 4.3% 19.1% 0.2 .304
Jayson Nix 18 0 0.0% 38.9% 0.0 .176

If the Phillies, as a unit, were hitting for more power — their .416 slugging percentage is sixth-best in the league, but matches Brett Gardner‘s 2013 SLG — they would be an offensive juggernaut. Only four Phillies are slugging above .400: Utley, John Mayberry, Jr. (in 13 PA), Jimmy Rollins, and Tony Gwynn, Jr., whose SLG is very average-heavy. When the power comes along, they’ll be tough to deal with as long as they can keep working the count the way they have been through the first four series of the season.

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6 comments

  1. Ryan

    April 14, 2014 11:09 AM

    Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks? It makes me wonder wtf was going on in the Charlie Manuel club house. Also, this could stabilize and go down as this is a small sample size. When do walk rates stabilize anyway?

      • Beez Nutz

        April 14, 2014 11:30 AM

        LOL +1

    • NavyJoe

      April 14, 2014 11:58 AM

      Well, for starters, Michael Young, Delmon Young, and Ben Revere all happened in 2013.

  2. simplefacts

    April 14, 2014 03:45 PM

    Yes and for some reason, CM wasn’t excited bout signing them. We also lost Jayson Werth and Shane Victorinio for 2013 plus Chooch missed quite a few days and Kratz wasn’t much of a OBP upper. Really, Charlie, for all his faults was doomed to failure by the inept GM.

  3. Brian

    April 15, 2014 01:35 AM

    Let’s just hope its sustainable.

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