2017 Phillies Report Card: Nick Pivetta

“Neva” (NEE-vuh) is not a name you hear a lot. Or ever. But she was the nurse in charge of our birthing class in the summer of 2015. It was a glorious time to be a prospect-head and a Phillies fan, because as the trade deadline approached, the club was sooooooooooooo bad, putting them in line for a very high draft pick in 2016, and leaving them poised to trade away a bunch of talent, from all-around funster Ben Revere and ace Cole Hamels, to (god willing) the club’s jerk of a closer.

And so on July 28, when Neva called for a potty break, I was quickly on my phone in the hall of Holy Cross Hospital’s administrative wing, checking the Ol’ Twitter for Phils’ news. I wandered towards the chapel and before my eyes came a vision. A vision of Jonathan Papelbon being an A-hole for some other team – my adopted hometown team, The Washington Nationals! The return was a tall Canadian minor league starter with a reliever’s profile. Thankfully, it wasn’t Phillippe Aumont again.

Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Odubel Herrera

The overall numbers for Odubel Herrera this season are not particularly inspiring.

A 100 wRC+, while impressive for a Gold Glove-caliber fielder, represent a step back from where Herrera was in his first two seasons. Over nearly 1200 PAs between 2015 and 2016, Herrera, fueled by a 110 wRC+, produced 7.7 WAR. That placed him in a virtual tie with Dexter Fowler for tops among National League centerfielders.

I should note that Herrera’s season-long wOBA hasn’t varied much for a player viewed to be inconsistent. The past three seasons, his marks have been .333, .338, and .329. Considering the relatively small dip in wOBA and the notable dip in wRC+, that should demonstrate the extent to which the league is tilting towards offense in the post-Juiced Ball era. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Jeremy Hellickson

In an ideal world for the Phillies, Jeremy Hellickson would have been on another team going into the 2017 season. However, the righty did not find the market he was looking for this offseason going off a solid 2016 campaign, and so returned to the Phillies on the qualifying offer tender of $17.2 million. For the Phillies, if Hellickson repeated his 2016 he would be worth the price, but if not, the young team still needed innings.

Innings is what they got from Jeremy Hellickson. 112.1 of them before they shipped him off to Baltimore at the deadline.

Things were off from the start for Hellickson. He had a 1.80 ERA through 5 April games, but he had also only managed to strike out 11 in 30 innings. Jeremy Hellickson has never been a strikeout pitcher, but coming into 2017 he had average 6.8 strikeouts per 9 for his career, including 4 straight years over 7.

The good news is that after April, Hellickson struck out more batters, the bad news is everything else. From May to July, Hellickson had a 5.79 ERA, he gave up 20 home runs in 15 games, and allowed a .909 OPS to opposing batters.

So what went wrong? Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Rhys Hoskins Crashbag

I met the man at a pretty good tapas joint in Barcelona on the eve of the Catalan Secession Referendum. He was having a Sangria, of course, and talking up the Ibérico he’d earlier sampled at the all-too-brightly-lit spot around the corner. I wondered if he really knew what he was talking about, or if he was just halfway drunk already, because that place, I’d been told just the day before, always, *always* passes off their lower-end Jamóns to tourists.

Rhys Hoskins stood out like a sore thumb, what with his imposing physicality, and the fact that he clearly learned the broken Spanish he was mustering from spending last winter as a line cook at Distrito. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Michael Saunders

Before going into the 2016 offseason Pete Mackanin asked for the Phillies’ front office to get him a few bats to help out the young Phillies pitching staff. The two big spots of need were the two corner outfield positions. In 2016 Phillies right fielders hit .231/.291/.350 (70wRC+) and their left fielders hit .207/.278/.316 (59 wRC+). Early in the offseason the Phillies traded some spare parts for Howie Kendrick and declared him their opening day left fielder. With Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Josh Reddick, and Jose Bautista coming with large salary numbers attached, the Phillies decided to step into the second tier and sign Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders has been a bit of a decisive player in his career. His talent always was larger than his output, and when combined with a habit of never being healthy, it left him as a bit of an enigma. In 2016, Saunders had been an All-star based on a first half where he hit .298/.372/.551, but a second half swoon (.178/.282/.357) had dragged his value down. Even with the swoon, Saunders had posted a 117 wRC+ with the Blue Jays over 140 games, which looked to be a massive upgrade for the Phillies. Even if Saunders didn’t quite reach the heights of his 2016 season, from the 2012 to 2016 Saunders had played in 482 games and put up a 110 wRC+. The Phillies also didn’t spend big on Saunders, giving a him a 1 year contract worth $8M with a $10.5M club option with a $1M buyout. This put the Phillies total commitments at $9M for what seemed like a massive offensive upgrade in right field. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Andrew Knapp

2017 was the season of the rookie for the Phillies. The late season headlines were dominated by top prospects like Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams, but the first prospect up was forced into major league action by roster need. It is well documented that the Phillies had a roster crunch that forced them to have more prospects than could be sent to the minors. Enter Andrew Knapp, backup catcher.

Knapp was the Phillies’ 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft. He struggled at times, but burst on to the scene with a breakout second half in Reading during the 2015 season. A down year in AAA in 2016, caused him to lose some shine, but Knapp was widely expected to be a major leaguer. It just happened sooner than expected.

With the Phillies in need of prospects to open the year on the major league roster, Knapp started as the backup to Cameron Rupp. By the middle of the season, Knapp had become the primary catcher in the time share. However, a hand injury caused Knapp to miss a month and a half, and he received only limited playing time when he returned.

It is not a stretch to say that rookies are not the baseball player they will become, but Knapp seemed to take every part of this to the extreme: Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Nick WIlliams

Coming into 2017, Nick Williams’ stock was down. Critics saw a sputterring offensive game in the second half of 2016, and conflict with coaches in Lehigh Valley, and couldn’t help but conclude Williams was starting down the road to ruin. But throughout 2017, Nick Williams put ruin in the rearview and stood on the gas.

No one will confuse Williams’ offensive game with that of his rookie cohorts – a patient power hitter like Rhys Hoskins, or an on-base machine like JP Crawford – though you could find similarities to Jorge Alfaro. Williams’ tendency to swing freely was on display in 2017, as he posted a 44.6% swing rate outside the zone, (O-Swing% league average was 29.9%), and his K Rate was 28.3%, well above his most promising minor league season in 2015, where he kept that rate below 20% at AA. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Pedro Florimon

Baseball is weird.

Pedro Florimon made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles on September 10, 2011. Since then the Dominican infielder has appeared in 256 major league games and recorded 742 plate appearances. In that time he hit .200/.261/.297 with 2.4 WAR. Most of that came in 2013 when he hit .221/.281/.330 with great defense for the Minnesota Twins. He then bounced around the league, mostly in AAA and as a September call up. That is the job the Phillies brought him in this year to perform. Florimon went down to Lehigh Valley and hit .265/.347/.410 for the IronPigs.

On August 17 the Phillies called Florimon up to the majors. Odubel Herrera was about to go on the DL and the Phillies desperately needed someone who could play center field.

Florimon went on the greatest cameo appearance of the 2017 Phillies season. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Jerad Eickhoff

Since his strong rookie season, Jerad Eickhoff’s stats are basically all trending down. His share of “automatic outs”, or strikeouts plus infield fly balls, has gone from 36.6% in 2015 to 33.3% in 2016 to 28.1% in 2017. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that his BABIP has increased every year as well. His walk rate is up, his swinging strike rate is down. There’s no other way to slice it; he just didn’t look good this season.  Continue reading…