This latest era of Phillies ignominy was, for me, inaugurated by Ryan Howard. Specifically, it began as he collapsed to the ground in agony, clutching at what turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon, as in a blur, out of my focus, the Cardinals completed the force at first and began celebrating their trip to the 2011 NLCS on the field.
You can say this about quite a few of the players that donned Phillies pinstripes in 2013: they’ll be trivia in a game of “Name that Obscure Phillie”. Ezequiel Carrera will be right up there with Pete LaForest and Danny Tartabull. The Phillies picked up Carrera on waivers from the Indians in early April. He found his way into 13 games, taking 16 trips to the plate. He had one hit and one walk and nothing else.
Bill James once wrote that batting average represents about half of a player’s value (he might have said “offensive value,” but this post isn’t worth my going to look it up). That’s not true for every player–Sean Casey‘s batting average was a much higher percentage of his value than half, while the opposite is true for J.J. Hardy–but it’s an interesting way to look at how offense is created, and that framework informs a conception of why certain players are valuable.
In that same vein, I remember a while back, someone wrote to the Fringe Average podcast with the following question: imagine a player whose defensive value is nil or close to it, who never walks and only hits singles. How high would this player’s batting average have to be in order for him to break a lineup? How high would it have to be for him to be a Hall of Famer?
Jason and Mike mulled this over and decided the closest we’ve come to seeing this player was Tony Gwynn, a bad defensive corner outfielder who didn’t walk a lot and didn’t hit for much power. But even Gwynn’s career line was .338/.388/.459–even the supposed archetype had 135 career home runs, 543 career doubles and 315 career stolen bases. Someone who had literally no patience, power or defensive value would have to hit something like .375 to be a valuable everyday player, and over .400 to make the Hall of Fame, again, depending on how many of the outs he made were strikeouts and so on.
This brings us to Michael Martinez.
Pete Orr, much like Michael Martinez, just completed his third year in the Phillies organization. Unlike Martinez, the perception of Orr is that he could be a contributor of something positive; at least, that he could contribute more than Martinez, which shouldn’t be difficult. Like, at all.
Luckily, Orr does have an OPS roughly .100 better than Mini-Mart, but that’s more damning with faint praise than exculpatory. Consider the two players since the start of the 2011 season, when both arrived in Philly, at the Major League level:
Two things here: 1.) Michael Martinez is irreperably terrible and 2.) Orr shouldn’t even make it look that close a comparison. Orr hasn’t hit a home run for the Phillies and has still managed to strike out at a clip above 20 percent in red pinstripes (45 times in 160 PA).
But back to 2013 on its own for a second. Orr did not drive in a run. He was on base six times in 22 PA (.273 OBP), managed to still commit an error in just 35.1 innings in the field because of course he did, and was a non-factor in almost every way. He didn’t drive in a run with any of his four singles – he also only had four PA with men on base – and none of those singles came after the sixth inning despite nine of his 22 PA coming in innings seven on.
It’s a tragedy of small samples, but what’s done is done. You could point to Orr’s .258/.300/.385 line in Lehigh Valley as some sort of saving grace if minors performance is included (something I’m not doing with any of these), but that’s just more faint praise.
It didn’t work, and it hasn’t worked, save for a .472 BABIP-fueled 2012 which still saw Orr strike out in nearly a third of his PA. The rest of the staff is forgiving; I am not.
Freddy Galvis is rooting around the Venezuelan Winter League right now, playing shortstop for los Aguilas de Zulia. When he returns stateside, he’ll almost certainly have a spot with the big league club in 2014. Galvis has two seasons of non-arbitration team control remaining, and has established himself as exactly the kind of utility player any manager would love to have in reserve for the league minimum (or possibly more).
Cameron Rupp’s ascent from the Reading to the Majors was one of the few overwhelmingly positive aspects the Phillies organization experienced in 2013. The rotund Texan got his first sip of Major League sweet tea with four September starts in which he reached base five times in fourteen trips to the plate. Continue reading…
I keep this line in my mind: .332/.410/.566. That was Chase Utley‘s triple slash line in 2007, which was, broken wrist and playoff oh-fer notwithstanding, his greatest year. An elite defensive up-the-middle player producing that much with the bat, running the bases as well as Utley did…it was really something to see. Perhaps Prime Utley wasn’t as spectacular to watch as Prime Iverson or Prime Lindros or Prime Dawkins, but in terms of being the best player in the game at a given moment, he was in that neighborhood.
Casper Wells came to the plate 76 times in 2013, 26 of those as a member of the Phillies. He arrived via waivers in early August, making Philadelphia his third club of the season. Perhaps the greatest thing about his arrival is that the concurrent move was designating Delmon Young for assignment, a transaction greeted with much joy and reverence (more on Delmon a little later in this series). As for Casper himself, he was about as unremarkable as many of the other 17 outfielders the Phillies employed at some point during the year.
In red pinstripes he had one hit, a double, and eight strikeouts. His most spectacular performance as a hitter came in the form of an 0-for-7 sombrero in the maddening 18-inning affair against the Diamondbacks on August 24. He also took the mound as an emergency reliever in that game, surrendering five runs on three hits and three walks (one IBB). He was DLed with vision problems two days later and would make only one additional appearance after returning. He elected free agency as won’t be back.
Many years ago, when I first started dating the woman who is now my wife, we were driving on a highway and passed a B.J’s Wholesale Club (pretty much a Costco as I understand it) that was under construction. Her father is apparently fond of shopping there for things, and, accordingly, she exclaimed “Oh! My dad loves BJs!” I laughed, a lot.