Looking at the Phillies’ Offensive Production by Position
Through 21 games, the Phillies stand at 10-11, which is about where people expected them to be at this point in the season — perhaps slightly better for the pessimists. They’ve held their own with some tough teams: fighting tooth and nail against the Rangers in a 1-2 opening series; playing some close, low-scoring games with the Braves in a 1-2 series; and winning the first two games of a four-game set with the Dodgers.
The starting pitching has been great — the rotation has the third-best xFIP in baseball — while the defense and bullpen have left a lot to be desired. The offense has been a bit of an enigma, at times looking like it’s capable of taking on anyone, and at other times looking like even Adam Eaton (the former pitcher, not the White Sox center fielder) could shut it down.
Let’s take a look at how the Phillies have fared offensively position-by-position.
The obligatory chart:
The obligatory data table can be found at the right.
The column furthest right is the difference in weighted on-base average (wOBA) converted to runs over the listed amount of plate appearances. So, in 84 plate appearances, the Phillies have had a little over a run and a half better than they would have had with a league average catcher. The Phillies have been within 2.5 runs of average at six of eight positions, which is good in some ways (Carlos Ruiz bounced back) and bad in others (Domonic Brown hasn’t come around yet).
The two positions that pop out are second base and third base. Despite cooling off lately, Chase Utley has still been worlds better than other second basemen. In fact, the only second baseman who even comes close to his .459 wOBA is Dee Gordon at .395. Anthony Rendon is in third place at .369. On offense alone, Utley has already been about a full win better than the average second baseman over the span of just one month.
As good as Utley has been, the Phillies have been equally as bad at third base. They have had the worst production at the hot corner out of all 30 MLB teams with a .198 wOBA. The Giants are the next-worst, at .249. The Phillies have used three players at the position: Cody Asche, Jayson Nix, and Freddy Galvis. They’ve combined for four extra-base hits in 104 plate appearances. While some mean-regression should be expected, it will take a concerted effort to get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves.
Overall, the Phillies rank 20th out of 30 teams in wOBA at .310. They’re slightly above the average in batting average (.254), slightly below average in on-base percentage (.314), and slightly below average in slugging percentage (.388). The league average slash line is .248/.317/.390.
The Phillies were among the NL’s worst offenses last season, which contributed greatly to their finishing 16 games below .500. If the Phillies can maintain a league average offense while seeing some improvement on both ends of their pitching staff — getting Hamels back is a big plus, obviously — then .500 and being in the running for a Wild Card spot may be more reasonable than was expected going into the regular season.