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:
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.