Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

The graph above charts the number of pitches Roy Halladay has thrown at each velocity along the spectrum in which his cutter and sinker sit, from 2009-2011. On top of that, colored lines indicate his average velocity for the two pitches for the entirety of 2012 (yellow), his pre-DL stint (red), and his post-DL stint (blue).

This is another way of visualizing what we already know, but I thought it was worth looking at. While Halladay’s results have been undeniably better since his return (in particular, his strikeout to walk ratio has jumped back up to a Doc-ian 7.5), the underlying issue hasn’t necessarily been fixed. By itself, the fact that his velocity is lower after the DL stint shouldn’t be sounding any alarms. Splitting up the sample like this in the first place is nudging us toward Mike Fast no-no territory. More importantly, though, it’s only natural to expect flagging velocity when you drop a 6 week rehab period into the middle of a 35 year-old veteran starter’s season. Still, it would be comforting to the more worry-prone of us to see some immediate improvement, if only for the assurance that next season will be another 200 or so innings of the usual Doc.

There is also the possibility that the nagging lat injury is hampering Roy’s command. In comparison to previous seasons, Halladay has had problems getting his cutter down and in against left-handed batters, and his sinker down and in against right-handed batters (click for larger):

In the case of the cutter, lefties in 2012 are chasing less (21.1% in 2012 to 33.3% in 2011, putting it in play more (47.9% to 44.2%), and managing a .336 wOBA as compared to .209 in 2011. For the sinker, righties in 2012 are swinging more (49% to 43.1%), missing less (6.8% to 13.9%), and posting a .309 wOBA as compared to .219 in 2011. In all of these cases we’re talking about a sample of around 500 pitches, and we can’t say for sure that it’s linked to his back issues, but it’s not a comforting picture. Given where the Phillies are in the standings, having just decided against pushing Vance Worley any further, it’s still worth considering the merits of giving Halladay the extra rest, in the effort to dial his velocity back up to previous levels by opening day of 2013.

Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

It should come as no surprise that the Phillies are vastly ahead of every other team in baseball in offensive production from the catcher position. Before finding himself on the disabled list, Carlos Ruiz was posting MVP-caliber numbers, including a 154 OPS+. As soon as Ruiz went down, though, another incredibly productive catcher popped up for the Phillies in Erik Kratz, who has a 183 OPS+ in 26 games. 14 of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases. The lone wolf is Brian Schneider and his 76 OPS+.

Just how much production have the Phillies received from their catchers compared to the rest of Major League Baseball? Before we look at a pretty bar graph, let’s look at the ranks:

Rate Stats

  • Batting average: .311 (1st)
  • On-base percentage: .377 (1st)
  • Slugging percentage: .546 (1st)
  • On-base plus slugging (OPS): .924 (1st)
  • Weighted on-base average (wOBA): .391 (1st)

Counting Stats

  • Doubles: 40 (1st)
  • Home runs: 20 (7th; 3rd in NL)
  • Extra-base hits: 60 (1st)
  • Runs batted in: 75 (4th)
  • Strikeouts (fewest): 67 (4th)

This chart shows each team’s weighted runs above average (wRAA) from their catchers.

Team wRAA
PHI 32.0
SFG 25.5
MIL 22.0
STL 16.3
ARI 13.7
LAD 3.6
ATL 0.7
COL -3.4
PIT -6.7
CIN -7.0
HOU -8.7
WSN -17.4
MIA -19.6
CHC -20.1
NYM -22.5
SDP -23.4

The difference between the Phillies and Padres, just in terms of offensive production from their catchers, is about 55 runs, or roughly five and a half wins. Both Ruiz and Kratz’s seasons to date are total aberrations and we are very unlikely to ever see them approach this level of offense again, so it’s a good time to sit back and appreciate just how good they both have been in 2012.

Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

This was one of the more popular and most-heavily requested features last year. With the recent injury to Freddy Galvis, the latest of many, it’s time to break out the first injury chart of 2012.

Name DL Injury $/Game $ to Date Cost
Ryan Howard* 58 Ruptured L Achillies $123,457 $7,160,506 $7,160,506
Chase Utley* 58 L patellar chondromalacia $94,358 $5,472,764 $5,472,764
Cliff Lee 19 L oblique strain $132,716 $7,697,528 $2,521,604
Roy Halladay* 9 R latissimus dorsi $123,457 $7,160,506 $1,111,113
Jim Thome 36 Lower back strain $7,716 $447,528 $277,776
Laynce Nix* 26 Lower L calf strain $7,099 $411,742 $184,574
Michael Martinez* 58 R foot fourth metatarsal $3,003 $174,174 $174,174
Placido Polanco 4 L knee contusion
L ankle sprain
L finger laceration
$39,611 $2,297,438 $158,444
Michael Stutes* 42 R rotator cuff $2,994 $173,652 $125,748
David Herndon* 35 R elbow inflammation $3,056 $177,248 $106,960
Jose Contreras* 6 R flexor pronator $15,432 $895,056 $92,592
Carlos Ruiz 4 R thigh strain
L wrist sprain
$22,840 $1,324,720 $91,360
Hunter Pence 1 L shoulder contusion $64,198 $3,723,484 $64,198
Vance Worley 19 R elbow inflammation $3,056 $177,248 $58,064
Ty Wigginton 1 Shoulder soreness $24,691 $1,432,078 $24,691
Chad Qualls 2 R heel soreness $7,099 $411,742 $14,198
TOTAL 378 $674,783 $39,137,414 $17,638,766

* on disabled list

(click to enlarge)

As expected, Howard and Utley lead the way as they are two of the team’s more expensive players ($20 million and $15.3 million, respectively) and have yet to play a game in 2012. Lee and Halladay are the other two players who have cost the Phillies over $1 million through June 6. The data illustrates the risk of assigning large sums of money to aging, injury-prone players. GM Ruben Amaro’s gambling hasn’t paid off yet this season.

. . .

Unrelated, but I just want to thank you for continuing to tune in to the Crashburn Alley podcast, despite our erratic scheduling. If you have been enjoying the show, please rate it five stars and leave some feedback on our iTunes page. Make sure to click “View in iTunes” when you’re on that page.

Likewise, thanks to everyone who has purchased “100 Things Phillies Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die“. Due to contractual issues, a Kindle version of the book has been delayed but I have been told it should be available shortly. I will let you know exactly when it will go up on Twitter. In the meantime, don’t forget to get a gift for Father’s Day.

Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

The Phillies scored more late-inning runs tonight, scoring six runs in the ninth inning to cushion their lead in an eventual win against the New York Mets in the series finale. Their late run-scoring has become a trend as we move into June. It is an odd phenomenon, considering that the Phillies have one of the worst benches in the league (.611 OPS). Nevertheless, here is what their run-scoring distribution looks like:

The ninth-inning breakdown by player:

Shane Victorino 23 .227 .261 .591 .852
Freddy Galvis 23 .174 .174 .261 .435
Hunter Pence 19 .412 .474 .765 1.238
Carlos Ruiz 17 .400 .471 .667 1.137
Jimmy Rollins 17 .154 .353 .154 .507
John Mayberry 16 .133 .188 .133 .321
Placido Polanco 15 .357 .357 .500 .857
Ty Wigginton 14 .417 .429 .750 1.179
Juan Pierre 14 .538 .571 .538 1.110
Mike Fontenot 5 .667 .800 .667 1.467
Hector Luna 4 .333 .500 1.333 1.833
Laynce Nix 4 .250 .250 .500 .750
Brian Schneider 4 .250 .250 .250 .500
Pete Orr 4 .000 .250 .000 .250
Jim Thome 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Cliff Lee 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Cole Hamels 1 .000 .000 .000 .000

I tend to go with Occam’s Razor in explaining this — it’s merely coincidental. It will be interesting to see if this holds at the end of September, or if this has merely been a fluke.

Phillies Reliever Usage, Graphically

Much has been made about the sub-optimal usage of relievers by manager Charlie Manuel lately. The Phillies are 0-4 in extra-inning games and in each of those four games, their $50 million reliever Jonathan Papelbon was never used. The Phillies also lost in nine innings on April 8 in Pittsburgh when Papelbon could have — and some would argue should have — been used. How, exactly, have the relievers been applied, though?

I arranged each plate appearance for each Phillies reliever from the beginning of the season through last night and created bar graphs indicating the leverage index. (Last night’s data not included as this post was compiled prior to the game. Unfortunately.)

As you can see, Jonathan Papelbon has had yet to face a batter with a leverage index greater than 4.00. The only other relievers in that same group are Jose Contreras, Joe Savery, and Mike Stutes. In fact, Papelbon’s highest-leverage plate appearance (3.78 on April 12) is the 20th-highest among Phillies relievers. The 20 ahead of him have all come on the road, however, and due to Manuel’s insistence that closers cannot be used in tie games on the road, he has been left to rot in the bullpen while inferior relievers stood on the mound only for the Phillies to lose the game.

Pitcher Date Inning H/A bHWE aHWE bLI aLI
Sanches 5/2/2012 9 A 0.65 0.50 6.40 2.18
Schwimer 5/4/2012 11 A 0.65 1.00 6.38 0.00
Schwimer 5/2/2012 8 A 0.34 0.75 6.07 4.49
Qualls 5/4/2012 8 A 0.63 0.50 5.44 2.22
Qualls 5/4/2012 8 A 0.38 0.78 5.37 3.34
Bastardo 4/8/2012 8 A 0.38 0.27 5.34 4.75
Qualls 5/4/2012 8 A 0.77 0.63 4.95 5.44
Herndon 4/8/2012 9 A 0.82 0.62 4.90 4.56
Bastardo 4/8/2012 8 A 0.27 0.59 4.75 3.46
Herndon 4/8/2012 9 A 0.62 1.00 4.56 0.00
Schwimer 5/2/2012 8 A 0.75 0.87 4.49 0.42
Bastardo 4/18/2012 11 A 0.68 1.00 4.42 0.00
Sanches 5/2/2012 9 A 0.69 0.60 4.36 4.21
Schwimer 5/2/2012 8 A 0.21 0.34 4.32 6.07
Bastardo 4/7/2012 9 A 0.61 0.50 4.28 2.24
Schwimer 5/4/2012 11 A 0.60 0.65 4.26 6.38
Sanches 5/2/2012 9 A 0.60 0.65 4.21 6.40
Qualls 5/4/2012 8 A 0.38 0.34 4.08 3.58
Kendrick 4/8/2012 8 A 0.38 0.29 4.04 3.32
Papelbon 4/12/2012 9 H 0.85 1.00 3.78 0.00

Note: A lower-case b indicates the stat before the PA was started and a lower-case a indicates the stat after the PA was completed. LI stands for Leverage Index and HWE stands for the home team’s Win Expectancy.

The following chart shows the percentage of a reliever’s own total PA have come in each leverage bucket. Two out of every three (66%) of Jonathan Papelbon’s PA have come with the leverage index under 1.00. As the leverage goes up, Papelbon’s appearance percentage goes from 66% to 20% to 7% to 7%.

This chart shows each reliever’s share within each leverage bucket. Jonathan Papelbon has had 30% of the Phillies’ bullpen’s PA in the 0-0.99 and 1-1.99 buckets.

Papelbon has shown to be the Phillies’ best reliever so far, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and more than three strikeouts for every walk. Why one wouldn’t consistently use him in the most important of situations is mind-boggling.

Special thanks to David Appelman of FanGraphs for providing me the data to play with, and to Matt (@Slap_Bet) for Excel help.

Regarding last night’s debacle involving Papelbon, my only comment is a link to this Wikipedia entry.

The Phillies Offense, Visually

By now, everyone is firmly aware that the Phillies haven’t been hitting. They’ve managed two or fewer runs in five of their last six games and, looking at the personnel, it doesn’t portend to get significantly better until Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return from the disabled list, which may not come for another two or three months.

Just how bad has the offense been? I compared the Phillies’ wOBA by position to the National League average, then converted the difference into runs.

C .277 .320 -2.1
1B .335 .331 0.2
2B .251 .316 -3.1
3B .219 .308 -4.9
SS .272 .310 -2.1
LF .304 .298 0.3
CF .342 .355 -0.7
RF .305 .332 -1.5

It ain’t pretty. Note that the run values are through roughly 70 plate appearances, so for a fun mental exercise, you can multiply by 10 for a full season’s performance.

If the offense continues to flounder — and we have good reason to expect it should improve slightly, at least — then the Phillies will have a tough remaining five months of the regular season, and they will have to rely even more on their starting rotation.

The positions that stick out are second base and third base. Freddy Galvis, known for his glove and not his bat, has been filling in at second for Chase Utley, someone who twice posted a wOBA north of .400 (2007 and ’09). By comparison, the .250 wOBA of Galvis looks like a steep fall — and it is. Third baseman Placido Polanco has had a terrible start to what may be the end of his career. Now 36 years old, Polanco has had difficulty with just about everything opposing pitchers have thrown at him, and while he has never been known for his plate discipline, he has only drawn one walk in 54 plate appearances.

With the aging roster and the potential escape of soon-to-be free agents Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, 2012 may be the Phillies’ best shot to win another championship. If it’s going to happen, they will need the offense to pick itself up by the bootstraps and score some more runs.

Phillies Opening Day Trivia

In today’s Opening Day start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roy Halladay allowed a paltry four base runners in eight innings of work. He served singles to the first two hitters he faced in the first inning, then held the Pirates hitless the rest of the afternoon. The only two times the Pirates reached base after that was when Halladay hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch in the fourth inning and Clint Barmes in the eighth.

What does that look like in graph form? The following graph shows how many base runners were on at the time of each at-bat. There’s not a lot to show.

Halladay used his curve 22 times out of his 92 total pitches (24 percent). One of them was this beauty:

Halladay’s game score of 83 is his best Opening Day start of his career, in which he has made ten. The nine prior to today:

Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H ER BB SO HR Pit GSc BF
2010-04-05 PHI WSN W 11-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 6 1 2 9 0 88 68 27
2011-04-01 PHI HOU W 5-4 GS-6 6.0 5 1 0 6 0 101 64 24
2006-04-04 TOR MIN W 6-3 GS-8 ,W 7.2 5 2 0 4 2 88 63 29
2005-04-04 TOR TBD W 5-2 GS-8 ,W 7.0 9 2 0 7 0 91 58 29
2007-04-02 TOR DET W 5-3 GS-6 6.0 6 2 1 4 0 104 53 26
2008-04-01 TOR NYY L 2-3 GS-7 ,L 7.0 7 3 2 3 1 95 52 27
2009-04-06 TOR DET W 12-5 GS-7 ,W 7.0 6 5 1 2 2 99 46 27
2004-04-05 TOR DET L 0-7 GS-7 ,L 6.2 10 6 2 9 3 111 35 32
2003-03-31 TOR NYY L 4-8 GS-6 ,L 5.2 7 3 4 2 2 103 31 28
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/5/2012.

Additionally, today’s 1-0 win marked the 22nd time the Phillies were held scoreless or to just one run on Opening Day, but just the third time they emerged victorious.

Date W / L RS RA Season Postseason
April 9, 1913 W 1 0 88-63
April 15, 1930 W 1 0 52-102
April 5, 2012 W 1 0 N/A
April 17, 1902 L 0 7 56-81
April 14, 1908 L 1 3 83-71
April 14, 1910 L 0 2 78-75
April 14, 1925 L 1 3 68-85
April 17, 1934 L 1 6 56-93
April 14, 1942 L 1 2 42-109
April 14, 1953 L 1 4 83-71
April 6, 1973 L 0 3 71-91
April 8, 1975 L 1 2 86-76
April 7, 1978 L 1 5 90-72 Division Champ
April 6, 1979 L 1 8 84-78
April 5, 1983 L 0 2 90-72 NL Pennant
April 9, 1985 L 0 6 75-87
April 7, 1987 L 0 6 80-82
April 10, 1990 L 1 2 77-85
April 8, 1991 L 1 2 78-84
March 31, 1998 L 0 1 75-87
April 5, 2004 L 1 2 86-76
April 5, 2009 L 1 4 93-69 NL Pennant

Finally, Freddy Galvis became the 41st player to ground into at least two double plays on Opening Day. With two in his first two at-bats, he had the opportunity to join Albert Pujols as the only players to hit into three, but Galvis was able to avoid joining that infamous club. Pujols accomplished his feat last year on March 31 against the San Diego Padres.

A bit of trivia from the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb:

Terrifying Thought Experiment #1

Earlier today, Ryan Lawrence posted his best guess at the Phillies’ opening day roster. Everything about the offense, including the starting lineup, looks pretty grim:

C Carlos Ruiz
1B Ty Wigginton
2B Freddy Galvis
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
LF John Mayberry, Jr.
CF Shane Victorino
RF Hunter Pence

BN Jim Thome
BN Laynce Nix
BN Brian Schneider
BN Pete Orr
BN Juan Pierre

SP Roy Halladay
SP Cliff Lee
SP Cole Hamels
SP Vance Worley
SP Joe Blanton

RP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Chad Qualls
RP Antonio Bastardo
RP Mike Stutes
RP Kyle Kendrick
RP Jose Contreras
RP David Herndon

(I took out Lou Montanez and subbed in David Herndon, as Lawrence was planning for 6 relievers instead of 7 only because a fifth starter won’t be needed until April.)

Last season, the pitching staff allowed 529 runs, which is very good. Historically good, in fact. If you put every team since 1947 in the same 4.5 runs per game environment, the 2011 Phillies staff ranks 18th out of 1550 post-integration pitching staffs in runs allowed. And that’s without a park adjustment; 14 of the teams ahead of the Phillies had pitcher-friendly park factors on their side. The brightest beacon of hope for 2012 is that the pitching staff will still be extremely good, but it probably won’t be as good as it was last season. The simplest reason is that it is very difficult, even in the more pitcher-friendly environment of late, to allow as few as 529 runs. Beyond that, there are a few candidates for regression, like Cole Hamels and Vance Worley.

If you take the ZiPS projections for the pitching staff that Lawrence came up with and adjust it to fill, say, 1450 innings (this is about what most teams needed last year), you get a runs allowed total of 606. On the one hand, ZiPS is probably a bit bearish with regards to some of the best pitchers on the staff, but, on the other, we’re assuming no injuries or bad fortune will take their toll. So 606 is a reasonable enough estimate. Assume, furthermore, that the National League run environment will be the same as it was last year: 4.13 runs per game. With these two numbers, we can use the Pythagenpat formula to get a picture of what is needed from the Phillies offense in 2012 (click for large):

The upshot is, in a tougher NL East, the Phillies need to score around 730 runs to be in the 95 win ballpark and be reasonably certain of winning the division. Keep in mind: last season they scored 713 runs, and, thanks to an inordinate amount of success with runners in scoring position, that total was probably higher than their team OPS of .717 portended. Without delving deeply into hitter projections, the opening day offense predicted by Ryan Lawrence above is not nearly as good as the sum contributions that the Phillies got last season. Per Fangraphs, Ryan Howard produced 92 weighted runs created last season, and has not yet even resumed baseball activities since the setback with his surgery wound; his ETA right now is indeterminate, as is his 2012 effectiveness. Chase Utley, missing to begin 2011, produced 61 weighted runs created. He returned on May 23rd last season, and I think most people would count that as an optimistic projection for 2012 given the tone of the updates we’re being given on him.

This is to say nothing of the potential for regression facing John Mayberry, Jr., the likely ineffectiveness of Ty Wigginton, and the fact that Juan Pierre, who by wRC+ was the 10th worst qualified hitter in baseball last season, is penciled in as a bench contributor. The offense above is likely to score significantly less runs than in 2011, which could put the Phillies in the 92 win range or worse. Particularly now that two wildcard spots are available, this will probably still be enough to make the playoffs. But with the substantial improvements made by the Marlins and the Nationals, and with the Braves still being a contender, the division is by no means the guarantee that it was in the last two seasons. The Phillies, who know the sting of a short series so very well, may be facing a single game win-or-go-home proposition if they don’t look outside the organization for reinforcement.

Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

Over at the Sweet Spot blog, David Schoenfield takes a stab at how the post-season rotations will line up. The Phillies will need to wait until the end of the day to be assigned an opponent, but regardless of which team it is, the Phillies will enter the playoffs with the best starting rotation, bar none. Here’s a graphical look at how the Phillies compare with the other two known playoff entrants in the National League, going by SIERA.

With Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the Phillies have the best starter by far in the #1 and 2 spots, and have a slight edge at #4 with Roy Oswalt. The Brewers beat the Phillies at #3 because they’re using Zack Greinke behind Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum, even though Greinke has been significantly better by defense-independent metrics. He has been significantly worse with runners on base: batters are hitting for a .908 OPS against him when runners are on, compared to .695 when the bases are empty.

The Phillies are slightly behind the Brewers and D-Backs in offense, but make up for it with their elite starting rotation. While anything can happen in the post-season, as last year’s San Francisco Giants can attest, there is no reason to bet against the Phillies going into October. It will be a real treat to see how this much-heralded rotation fares in the playoffs.

The Cost of Loyalty

The graph below takes Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry, Jr.’s performances in favorable (vs. opposite-handed pitching) and unfavorable (vs. same-handed pitching) platoon scenarios and compares them to an average NL batter in those same splits.

Notes: wXB/H is “Weighted Extra Bases per Hit,” a contact skill-neutral measure of power that I Frankenstein’d together here. Strikeout rate is inverted, so that lower strikeout rates are higher above league average.

As you would expect, Mayberry bests Ibanez in every category except for walk rate versus opposite-handed pitchers. His overall output, plate discipline, and power are all superior to those of Ibanez. The best thing that can be said for Raul Ibanez is that he has streaks of passable to good performance. When you stop creating generous endpoints for him, he is just a corner outfielder with poor defense who is hitting 10% below league average at the moment by wRC+. On many other teams he would be a bench bat — and blessed to hold on even to that role. Front offices less prone to considerations of loyalty and character, on teams whose fates were less assured, would have looked elsewhere for production weeks ago.

Still, we’re a few days away from the official submission of playoff rosters, and I can say with reasonable certainty that Charlie Manuel will start Raul Ibanez in left field for every playoff game. Granted, it’s more complicated than the above graph makes it seem. Ibanez has nearly twice as many plate appearances as Mayberry, and it will be a while before we can be certain that Mayberry’s improvements are the real deal. It’s also questionable how much their skill differential will really matter in the playoff rat race, where a good four or five plate appearances can turn an entire series.

But suppose the Phillies are knocked out shy of their ultimate goal. While we’re sitting around building narratives after the fact, as FuquaManuel detailed, will we at least consider this, a decision predicated entirely on non-baseball factors that objectively lowers the team’s offensive potential? Or will we brush it aside, credit Charlie Manuel again for being the “player’s manager,” and turn our attention to some other scapegoat?