2015 Phillies Report Card: Jerome Williams
Sixteen years ago, in October 1999, the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets in the NLCS in six games. The Braves unleashed an unbelievable pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood. Oh, and Terry Mulholland! The Braves were then summarily dismissed by the New York Yankees in four games, and haven’t been back to the World Series since. That was the second consecutive World Series sweep for New York, and the second of two titles the Yankees won against Atlanta in the 1990s.
A few months prior, in June 1999, Jerome Williams was drafted 39th overall by the San Francisco Giants, 27 picks after the Philadelphia Phillies chose Brett Myers. Williams was chosen with a supplemental pick the Giants received as compensation for the departure of free agent Jose Mesa, who would go on to pitch for the Phillies in 2001. During Spring Training in March 2001, about two years after he was drafted, Jerome Williams lost his mom Deborah to breast cancer. That’s why Jerome wears a pink glove in games, pitching with his Mother’s memory in his heart and his hand.
October is national breast cancer awareness month. We all know someone affected. You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to do something to help the fight against breast cancer. Jerome Williams is awesome for helping to raise awareness of breast cancer, and he’s battled hard to stay in the majors for 10 seasons, and he’s probably a really good guy. It hurts me that the following evaluation of his season is not favorable.
Jerome Williams started 21 games for the Phillies in 2015 and, over the course of 105.2 innings, surrendered 72 earned runs. He allowed 146 hits, 21 of them home runs, and 29 walks.
*plugs numbers into super secret baseball nerd calculator*
Wow, that’s a 6.13 ERA. That’s an opponent batting line of .323/.367/.511. That’s Very Bad. On the bright side, his performance was still better than what Kyle Kendrick gave the Rockies. Plus, just like the 2015 Phillies, Williams can’t hurt you anymore.
Williams suffered a hamstring injury on June 16 that forced him to the disabled list. After compiling a 6.43 ERA in 14 starts, Williams returned on July 24 and managed a 5.55 ERA in seven starts. He had decent performances in the first five of those starts, but on August 20 he was rocked for eight runs in 1.2 innings against the Miami Marlins. In his next start on August 25, Williams gave up four runs to the Mets in 5.1 innings. The start would be his last for the Phillies, as Williams was moved to the bullpen thereafter. His ouster made way for Alec Asher — acquired in the Cole Hamels trade — and helped the team rest some of its overused and tired relievers. Williams’ numbers improved after the move to the bullpen, but not enough to save his disastrous season. As a reliever, he allowed hitters a triple slash line of .268/.333/.411, and finished the season with a 5.80 ERA in 121 innings. He’s now a free agent and even though he is listed on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, Williams has almost certainly thrown his last pitch for the organization.
Jerome Williams was a good soldier for the Phillies. A good soldier with a 1.61 WHIP in 2015, but … yeah. He was third on the team in innings pitched. Like Sean O’Sullivan, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Kevin Correia, and Roberto Hernandez, Williams was brought to Philadelphia to help bridge the gaping chasm between the old guard and the young guns. Like most of the other players in that list, Williams played baseball quite well relative to normal people, but unfortunately, played really poorly relative to professional baseball players. Among all 119 pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched in 2015, Williams had the third-worst (117th-best!) fWAR. He was two spots ahead of Kyle Kendrick. A look at retrodictors indicates Williams performed better than his 5.80 ERA, as his FIP was 5.24 and his xFIP was 4.45. Still, he was ineffective for most of the season, had an ERA- of 148, and only twice pitched more than six innings. His K-BB% of 7.2% was 109th out of 119 pitchers. His WHIP was dead last. To be fair, his .333 BABIP was seventh on the list and the worst of his career. His 17.1% HR-FB% was also the worst of his career.
The 2015 Phillies had very few good players, but the team is rising. The Cole Hamels trade was exactly the move the team needed, and in time will perhaps be seen as the moment when the franchise truly changed its fortunes. One of many byproducts of the trade was the removal of Jerome Williams from the starting rotation, and eventually from the roster. He’ll be replaced by a better player, one of the Phillies’ many promising young arms, who will hopefully not have to play on a team like the 2015 squad for a long time.