Phillies’ Middle Infield Among Most Productive in Baseball

The production of the Phillies’ middle infield has been no secret. Chase Utley has been the game’s best-hitting second baseman and is on his way to a sixth career All-Star Game if he can stay healthy. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been resurgent after five consecutive years of mediocrity, chasing the Phillies’ franchise hits record. Both are 35 years old, making their success all the more surprising.

Just how good has the duo been? I decided to run the numbers.

The methodology: I sorted all players at each position by plate appearances and used the player with the most playing time as his team’s position representative. This is obvious for most teams, but a few teams had a few players with similar amounts of playing time — for instance, the Blue Jays at second base with Ryan Goins, Steve Tolleson, Maicer Izturis, and Chris Getz. Then, I converted each player’s weighted on-base average (wOBA) to weighted runs above average (wRAA). Finally, I added up each team’s wRAA at second base and shortstop.

The chart:

With the exception of an out-of-this-world Troy Tulowitzki, the Phillies have had the most productive middle infield combination, offensively speaking. Utley and Rollins have combined for 23.5 weighted runs above average, about seven runs better than the next-best combo owned by the Twins. It’s a sight Phillies fans got used to in the mid-2000’s and which has been noticeably absent over the last five years or so due to injuries and substandard production.

There hasn’t been too much to get truly excited about this season as it pertains to the Phillies, but Utley and Rollins have been it, hearkening back to the glory days of 2007-11.

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4 comments

  1. George Callanan

    May 24, 2014 08:25 AM

    I would think without researching the Phillies entire history that JRoll and Chase are the most productive combo of SS and second basemen. Jimmy will break the hitting record soon. Both of their numbers will be retired. These two deserve all the accolades they get. True Philly heroes. Hopefully the statues come one day.

  2. Jesse

    May 24, 2014 10:55 AM

    It’s been gratifying to see these guys get to have another run at greatness. Even if it’s just one season (or a half a season) it’s nice to see them recognized and remembered for their contributions to this franchise.

    The oddity of this season is that after all the complaints about how much the Phillies are aging, it’s been the younger players who have disappointed the most.

  3. Fatalotti

    May 24, 2014 03:36 PM

    I don’t know where you got 5 consecutive years of mediocrity for J-Roll. In 2011 and 2012, he amassed 3.5 and 4.7 fWAR respectively, while averaging 20 HR, 95 R and stealing 30 bases each season, with above average success rates in each season. I know he wasn’t an MVP caliber player in those years, but he was still a very good player and arguably a top-tier shortstop in those years. In the other 3 years:? He was at least average, if not above average, in 2 of those years. Yes last year was mediocre, but 5 consecutive years of mediocrity? I don’t agree.

  4. Romus

    May 27, 2014 09:40 AM

    The Utley/Rollins duo……are in the top five in all baseball history…offensively and defensively, combined, not just Phillies history….in longevity and WAR.
    Trammel/Whitaker
    Reese/Robinson
    Utley/Rollins
    Concepcion/Morgan
    Rogell/Gehringer
    Wagner/Ritchey
    Tinker/Evans
    Berry/Collins
    Jeter/Cano
    Aparicio/Fox

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