2015 Phillies Report Card: Darnell Sweeney
The 2015 Phillies are history. In a franchise with no shortage of truly awful teams, this season’s group will someday fade into its place within a beautiful tapestry of failure. The 2007-2011 years were but a dream. Yes, there’s 1980 and 1993 and many other adored teams, but the Phillies as a franchise are the worst overall in the history of baseball. The image of losing on the back of the cave wall may as well be this video.
ME: would you like to go out on a date with me? HER: no. ME: pic.twitter.com/ztyCBSpaKY
— John Wicca (@andymoney69) October 7, 2015
Of course, there’s plenty to like about the 2015 version of Phillies baseball, particularly the emergence of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff. Somewhere, between high hopes for the future and a dull, dismal reminder of the pain of being a Phillies fan, is Darnell Sweeney.
Oh. He’s one of the two guys the Dodgers traded to the Phillies for
(muscles cramping up)
Darnell Sweeney is a man, a major leaguer, and if nothing else, a Quizzo answer. A switch-hitter from Florida with a reputation for speed, Sweeney played five positions for the Phillies, but spent most of his time at second base and in left field. He finished 13th on the Phillies in homers and slugging percentage (SLG) this year by hitting THREE home runs. That’s hardly an indictment of Sweeney, who only had 98 plate appearances (PA) this season. His .286 on-base percentage (OBP) and .353 SLG were both (barely) better than the production the Phillies got from Chase Utley.
But 98 PAs is, in nerd-speak, not a sample meaningful enough to analyze. Sweeney had a .218 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which is silly low for a fast runner. Dee Gordon, who is above the top end of the range of expectations for Sweeney, has a career .346 BABIP. That’s just one indicator of how Sweeney’s 2015 stats aren’t particularly instructive of his value. From a more holistic standpoint, Sweeney has a solid plate approach and sneaky pop, has some speed that hasn’t fully translated to the field, and offers positional flexibility. He can do a little bit of everything, and seems to have an outside chance of becoming a semi-regular player with 15 homers in his bat. Eventually, his realistic role seems to be as a utility player.
While the bat seems decent (.353 OBP/.441 SLG in four minor league seasons), Sweeney has been slightly old for his levels, and minor league stats are not to be taken without a healthy pinch of salt. For example, his 2015 OBP/SLG of .332/.409 in 522 PAs in the Pacific Coast League isn’t particularly exciting for a 24-year-old. If he doesn’t hit very much in the bigs, Sweeney won’t be useful in the outfield. Still, he’s going to be 25 next season, and he’ll have a fightin’ chance of making the Opening Day roster as the starting second baseman. He’ll stick around town for a while because the Phillies traded Chase Utley for him, and they have the time and obligation to find out just how good Darnell Sweeney can become.