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.
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.