The Phillies’ Base Running Has Been Disastrous

John Mayberry, Jr. went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a three-run home run in Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the San Diego Padres. All in all, a pretty good day for him in what has been quite a productive season. Mayberry’s performance at the plate, particularly the home run which came in the seventh inning and bolstered the Phillies’ lead to 7-2, erased two base running blunders in which he was thrown out at home plate.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mayberry was at third base when Wil Nieves hit a sharp ground ball to a drawn-in Everth Cabrera at shortstop. Mayberry was only 10 feet off the bag when Cabrera gobbled up the grounder, so it was no surprise when he was thrown out by 15 feet even though Cabrera made an awful throw home.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies had runners on first and third base with no outs with Nieves up again. Nieves chopped a ground ball to third baseman Chase Headley. Mayberry had a slightly better head start and Headley would have had him easily if he made a decent throw. The throw was high, so catcher Yasmani Grandal had to leap for it and then apply the tag to a sliding Mayberry. Mayberry was called out and the call was confirmed after a replay review.

Lest this be taken as a specific criticism of Mayberry, the two base running outs were the only two times he has been thrown out at home plate this season.

The Phillies as a whole, though? They were the 10th and 11th times a player has been nabbed at the plate, moving them up to second place in the National League for the most outs at home made this season, trailing the Cincinnati Reds at 12.

It’s not just plays at home plate. According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies have made the third-most outs at first base with five and the fifth-most outs at second base with six. In total outs made on the bases, they tie for fourth with 25. They are dead last in the percentage of extra bases taken — going first to third on a single to right field, for example — at 33 percent.

Six Phillies have made multiple outs on the bases.

Player OOB XBT%
Marlon Byrd 5 13%
Carlos Ruiz 3 24%
Chase Utley 3 56%
John Mayberry, Jr. 2 22%
Domonic Brown 2 54%
Jimmy Rollins 2 35%

Only Chase Utley and Domonic Brown are noticeably above the league average for extra bases taken (35%).

Baseball Prospectus ranks the Phillies as the third-worst base running team in all of baseball, surrendering nearly six runs as a unit. Their aggregate base running stat, called Base Running Runs (BRR) is made up of Stolen Base Runs, Ground Advancement Runs, Air Advancement Runs, Hit Advancement Runs, and Other Advancement Runs. Here’s how they break down by each stat:

  • SBR: -0.33, 20th
  • GAR: +1.01, 12th
  • AAR: -2.31, 28th
  • HAR: -4.33, 29th
  • OAR: +0.11, 16th

Here’s a chart showing BRR for each Phillie:

The days of Davey Lopes are long gone. Under former first base coach Lopes — and, of course, with a youthful Rollins and Utley, as well as Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth — the Phillies were baseball’s best base running teams for several years running. But now, with a cast of mostly old and injury-riddled players, the Phillies have begun giving away plenty of outs on the bases. The issue isn’t easily fixable, either. The Phillies will simply have to make a conscious effort to bring aboard good base runners as they infuse their roster with youth over the next couple of seasons.

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5 comments

  1. EastFallowfield

    June 13, 2014 02:08 PM

    Think Headley made the throw on purpose to avoid hitting Mayberry.

  2. Richard

    June 13, 2014 02:18 PM

    Byrd is really bad out there. He always looks like it’s a real struggle for him to move around the bases. And yet he’s not bad in right-field; curious.

  3. crow

    June 14, 2014 09:14 AM

    *The issue isn’t easily fixable, either. *

    I’ll tell you one thing that is easily fixable: stop automatically calling the contact play with runners on third. They’d have a higher success rate running squeeze plays on all those contact plays. There are few things more disheartening than watching some poor shlump take off from third when a routine one-hopper is hit to a drawn-in third baseman– unless it’s a one-hopper to the pitcher.

    The judgment of the third base coach has frequently been generally abysmal, as well.

  4. Carmine Spellane

    June 16, 2014 09:09 AM

    Byrd has done well this year, but this piece shows that his poor base running is another byproduct of getting a 36-year-old player.

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