2014 Phillies Report Card: Cole Hamels

From way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Cole Hamels. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Hamels, he called himself “Hollywood”, (does anyone still call him that?). Now, “Hollywood” – there’s a name no man would self-apply where I come from, (no politician here in DC ever wants to be labeled as “Hollywood”). But then there was a lot about Hollywood that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, (his baffling change-up, for the most part). And a lot about where he played, likewise, (their reluctance to come into the modern age of player analytics, among many, many, many other things). But then again, maybe that’s why I found the place so darned frustratin’. 

See, they call Philadelphia the “City Of Brotherly Love”; but I didn’t find it to be that, exactly, (what with all the fans booin’ and battery chuckin’ and security guards tasin’ folks and closers crotch grabbin’). Continue reading…

dog in uniform

A Pointer In Heat (Eww…sorry)

The image I was hoping to find was a Pointer holding a baseball. Instead I found what you see here. I’m a huge fan. And it’s only $10 on Etsy. Anyway…

Sometimes guys get hot. Sometimes it means nothing. Sometimes it means everything. Sometimes you have no way of knowing until a scout gets there and gets a look, or two or three. But there’s plenty for the rest of us to look at in the meantime.

Brian Pointer is a 22-year-old, lefty-hitting corner outfielder. He was a relatively high dollar sign in 2010, out of the 28th round of the draft. He took a $350k bonus to skip his commitment to Oregon State (and perhaps saved himself a snitching to the NCAA). Continue reading…

Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

After winning back a ton of good will from fans with a five-game winning streak to begin a seven-game road trip, the Phillies dropped the final two games in St. Louis against the Cardinals, then came back to begin an eight-game homestand and were promptly shut out by the Miami Marlins for the tenth time this season. Only the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres have been shut out more times this season (11). The Phillies scattered six hits (five singles) and two walks as they dropped to seven games below .500 and six games out of first place in the NL East.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

The Phillies were swept in a short two-game series by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or as the series has been more commonly referred to, “Mike Trout‘s Homecoming. Did you know that he is From Around Here? He lived in New Jersey and likes the Phillies and the Eagles. Maybe one day he can sign here, because he is from around here.”

It wasn’t exactly the Phillies’ finest showing. In game one, Cody Asche committed three errors, helping bork an otherwise wonderful start by Cliff Lee, who wound up losing to a guy who won his first Major League game. And in game two, the Phillies were shut out for the third time since May 5. Though there is no shame in being dominated by Garrett Richards because he’s a pretty good pitcher.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

Last night, the Phillies made two base running blunders against the Marlins. In the second inning, Darin Ruf was on first base when Kevin Frandsen hit a ground ball single to right field. Ruf decided to test Giancarlo Stanton, well-regarded around the league for his cannon of an arm, by attempting to advance to third base. Stanton’s throw reached third baseman Chris Coghlan on the fly and Ruf was a dead duck.

In the bottom of the third, starter Brian Flynn uncorked a wild pitch with Carlos Ruiz on first base. Ruiz easily advanced to second, but upon seeing that catcher Jeff Mathis hadn’t yet corralled the ball, attempted to get to third base as well. First baseman Ed Lucas retrieved the baseball and fired to Coghlan at third. Ruiz was out with plenty of room to spare.

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A Chase Utley Replacement Flowchart

Starring: Chase Utley (not pictured), Michael Martinez, Pete Orr, Darin Ruf, Josh Fields, and Cesar Hernandez.

The Phillies, stunningly, opted to bring up Michael Martinez to replace Utley. The switch-hitting Martinez is carrying a .226/.297/.274 line through 118 plate appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As the following flow chart will show you, the decision doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

It is May 13. The Phillies have played 39 games and only three players have crossed the double-digit walk plateau. Michael Young is the team leader in walks with 17 and he has a career-high of 58 in a single season (2005). As a point of comparison, former Phillie Pat Burrell walked 114 times by himself in 2007 — nearly double Young’s career-high. Burrell crossed the double-digit plateau on April 19 in his team’s 14th game in ’07. The Phillies have the third-lowest on-base percentage in the National League, and they have scored four runs or fewer in each of their last five games and in 28 of their 39 games overall (72 percent).

Yeah, it’s bad.

A cursory glance at the Phillies’ individual walk rates might make you think it’s not so bad as six of 13 players (min. 30 PA) have a walk rate above the 8.1 percent National League average. As the following chart shows, however, when you look at who is getting the majority of the plate appearances, it isn’t players prone to take a free pass.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

As you’re well aware, the Phillies’ offense hasn’t been great to start the 2013 season. They rank fourth from the bottom in average runs per game at 3.47 compared to the National League average 4.33. They rank in the bottom-third in all three triple-slash stats as well as weighted on-base average (wOBA).

You’ll hear this a lot over the next month-plus, but it’s worth repeating over and over: it’s still very early. No Phillie has logged his 70th plate appearance of the season yet. To put this in perspective, if Chase Utley has a 2-for-4 night tonight against the Cardinals, he will raise his batting average 15 points to .298.

That being said, we can still use what little stats we have descriptively rather than predictively. The following chart compares the Phillies’ wOBA by position to the league average.

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