Losing Faith in the Cody Asche Experiment

Third baseman Cody Asche hasn’t been in the Phillies’ starting lineup since Sunday’s series finale in Colorado against the Rockies. Asche has compiled a meager .567 OPS in 52 plate appearances and has been subpar defensively in the early going. As illustrated here, the Phillies have had the worst production at the hot corner out of all 30 Major League teams.

Two of the last three starters the Phillies have faced have been left-handed, so that may be why the switch-hitting Freddy Galvis has started twice and the right-handed Jayson Nix has made one start over those three games while Asche has sat on the bench. However, earlier in the season, Asche started against two left-handers in a row in the Rangers’ Robbie Ross and the Cubs’ Travis Wood.

Could the Phillies be losing faith in the Asche experiment already?

Asche could be back in the lineup tonight against the softer-throwing Dan Haren, as compared to last night’s starter Zack Greinke. At any rate, Asche has simply looked overmatched against Major League pitching.

Against lefties, Asche has only hit one ball hard, a fly ball out to left-center against Wood at Wrigley Field. Against right-handers, if Asche doesn’t get a pitch under his hands inside, he doesn’t do much with it:

Against both sides, he doesn’t handle breaking stuff well. He has swung and missed at 10.9 percent of fastballs, but 31.6 percent of “soft” pitches. He’s gone out of the zone much more often to do so, with a 12.8 percent “chase” rate against fastballs and 36.5 percent against “soft” stuff.

Shockingly enough, those rates were worse in 2013 when he had better results.

Pitches Miss% In Play% Chase%
FB, 2013 362 11.6% 49.4% 18.8%
FB, 2014 112 10.9% 47.8% 12.8%
Soft, 2013 230 43.6% 29.1% 39.9%
Soft, 2014 79 31.6% 28.9% 36.5%

Despite Maikel Franco‘s slow start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he still portends to be the Phillies’ everyday third baseman in 2015, meaning that Asche’s utility is limited to mostly 2014. The Phillies’ interest in having Asche grow is to make him a reliable back-up option and to increase his potential trade value.

If the true goal of the Phillies’ front office is for the Phillies to actively compete for the playoffs in 2014, then Asche’s leash should be very short. In fact, they should already be platooning him with Nix and Galvis, which seems to be what they have been doing on an infrequent basis. Furthermore, they should be searching for a trade partner to add a more productive platoon partner. (I suggested Danny Valencia of the Royals.) But if their goal is to extract future value from him, then they should continue to start Asche on a regular basis, letting him take his lumps and learn in the process.

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15 comments

  1. PastaDivingPartDeux

    April 24, 2014 04:46 PM

    Think it’s more his defense. If he were just even average out there, we can wait til the bat comes around, but his glove is just Turrible – not major league: no range – doesn’t get to balls, makes errors, & doesn’t make any spectacular plays to even out the errors. UZR & the like hating him are just part of the story: he’s turrible under the eye test & has no upside in sight where it makes sense to give hm more time.

    • PastaDivingPartDeux

      April 24, 2014 04:49 PM

      I would bet the team would get just as many WAR out of 3B by putting Ruf or Cesar out at third now.

  2. Scott

    April 24, 2014 07:34 PM

    The second sentence of this article says it all! 56 plate appearances. Play him!

    • LarryM

      April 24, 2014 07:47 PM

      Yes, play him. I think that, given what we know of Bill’s opinions expressed elsewhere, he would agree.

      But it really isn’t just 52 PA. He wasn’t any good last year either. The total sample is now 231 PA. Enough to at least be a bit concerned.

    • larry

      April 25, 2014 02:24 PM

      it is easy to yell “small sample size” everytime someone says something early in the season…but at what point do you risk your job over Asche,if you are Sandberg/Amaro? yes 1 or 2 wins could matter that much if they are near .500 or last years record for instance

      larry

      • hk

        April 27, 2014 07:07 AM

        And, if they had a credible back-up option, I’d be all for overlooking the small sample size and playing someone else. However, Galvis is a back-up middle IF with a career .616 MiLB OPS and a career .607 MLB OPS, Nix is, well, Nix and Franco’s not ready. I don’t expect much from Asche, but I do expect that he’s the 3B on the roster with the best chance of producing something. They should keep searching for better alternatives while giving Asche enough PA’s to either show he belongs or not.

  3. tony kaye

    April 25, 2014 03:35 PM

    I am puzzled over the use or misuse of Asche. His hitting average is higher than the two that he has been sharing 3rd base with and he proved to me that he is no slough based his play last year and on the number of HRs he hit last September after he was called up. The play he made on the grounder hit down the 3rd base line and his throw to home to cut the runner down trying to score was an outstanding play and proves to me he is no handicap to the team on defense. He was robbed of one hit and he got the leadoff single in the ninth and scored the lead run in that inning to help the Phillies. I was at ST and the game in which Asche got hit on the wrist. I though the lack of his playing time after that was a result of his injury but apparently there is something else bothering our manager. I am not sure what it may be but I think it has had a negative affect on Asche. He appears to a lack confidence and does not seem to be the same young man he was last year after he came up, and I assume much of that comes from how he is being used. I would like to see him start and play 10 or 12 games in a row to see if he regains his batting eye and confidence. He deserves that much. And that brings up another matter. Galvis appears to be recognized as a slick defensive player (we know he is no offensive player) and I believe that defensive impression comes often from his flashiness. But he makes mistakes defensively and is not pulled for defensive reasons. The routine ground ball that was hit to him in the 6th or 7th inning last night when he double pumped and failed to throw out a runner on that grounder indicates that he is far from perfect and makes mistakes defensively. Bu t if the coach wants to play Galvis before Asche I will still root for the Phils but I will remain disappointed in the coach’s handling of a kid that many sports authorities felt he was the future Phillies 3rd baseman.

    • Bob

      April 25, 2014 08:18 PM

      Asche isn’t good defensively.

  4. Vernon Dozier

    April 25, 2014 03:43 PM

    He had an awful September, and his April has been even worse. It speaks to the lack of talent the organization has been able to draft and develop lately that he’s been getting regular playing time at the big league level

  5. ITP

    April 25, 2014 04:13 PM

    The fact that Galvis is getting as many ABs as he is, is extremely puzzling. They need to get a platoon partner fast if they think Asche can’t cut it and they want to stay close in the race. Bill, all of your batting average computations, WArs and metrics should all compute the same thing — Freddy Galvis can’t hit, period. He never hit in the minors (or majors) and his defense while better than Asche should not warrant the near starter status he has gotten this past week subbing for Asche, Utley and Rollins. Hopefully the fanbase who has pandered for Amaro to trade Rollins is realizing that if Galvis is the future replacement for Rollins at short the Phils are in deep trouble. He is a utility player at most in the majors and really shouldn’t get more than a few innings a week as a defensive replacement.

  6. Mark66

    April 25, 2014 05:08 PM

    Play Asche regularly and see once and for all if he can or can’t. The others that have played there have done nothing so stick with Asche and the make a decision once and for all.

  7. GB

    April 26, 2014 11:09 AM

    Asche’s track record in the minors was one of early struggles, a settling in and then success…if the Phils keep yanking him in/out, they will never see what Asche can do. They must support him and be patient if they want him to develop; if not then you might as well ship him out and go with Galvis/Nix….lol, no seriously Nix is nothing but a warm body and Galvis is the utility guy who can play many positions. Asche should play consistently at 3B, no one on the roster is better than him. If the Phils seriously think they will compete this year, they are delusional and if they sacrifice Asche in the pursuit of that delusion it will be a true shame

    • mark66

      April 27, 2014 12:10 PM

      I agree 1,000%

  8. mark66

    April 27, 2014 12:08 PM

    Sandberg needs to give up on the platoon, it has failed. Galvis avg .033 obp .091 Asche avg .214 obg .291 Give Asche more of a chance at 3B. No way does an avg of .033 justify playing. An avg of .033 should actually get you a demotion down to AAA. Galvis is good defensively but he is not great to justify taking a roster spot with such a meager avg & obp

  9. Brian Werner

    May 29, 2014 11:33 PM

    I was wondering why I havent seen Cody Asche playing? So checked google and i found out there was some kind of cody asche experiment. well i hope they have decided that the experiment is over cause when i heard them say that every time the phillies have 5 games series with the mets the mets always come out on top on the phillies own field that sounded like the phillies should do whatever they can. to not let that happen again. and with cody asche playing the phillies are more likely to score. nothing against the rest of the team of coarse, but he was putting points on the board. the phillies should have cody asche play again, you will be happy you did.

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