Last night’s extra-innings loss to the Chicago Cubs was about as frustrating as they come. The offense once again did not contribute — a Raul Ibanez hit in the 10th inning was the team’s first since the fourth inning — while the bullpen finally had a meltdown. Adding to the frustration was a rain delay lasting longer than an hour and the prospect of having to use another position player on the mound as the Phillies were ill-prepared for a long extra-innings game. At the Good Phight, FuquaManuel recaps the game about as well as one can expect after that sordid affair.
While tweeting during the game, I came across an interesting stat on Baseball Reference. Also depressing, but interesting.
Coming into tonight, the Phillies had managed just a .452 OPS in extra innings, worst in the NL. League average is .701.
With two walks and two singles in the 10th and 11th innings last night, the Phillies actually raised that OPS all the way up to .473, still last in the league.
* Phillies stats updated for last night’s game; other teams were not updated.
The Phillies also rank last in the league in OPS in situations deemed “late and close”. They have a .573 OPS, well under the league average .693 and still well behind the 15th-place Washington Nationals at .627.
In tie games, the Phillies have posted a .634 OPS, which ranks 15th out of 16 in the NL, under the .710 league average.
They are great front-runners: when they are ahead, they have the league’s best OPS at .770, more than 70 points higher than the .699 league average. When they’re behind, they leave no hope as their .645 OPS is 14th out of 16.
While the stats would indicate to a layperson that the Phillies aren’t clutch, the real problem lies with the personnel. As mentioned several times here on the blog, Ryan Howard is the team’s only legitimate power hitter left now that Jayson Werth is gone and Chase Utley is on the mend from patellar tendinitis. Few players have a significant on-base skill, such as hitting for a high average or drawing a lot of walks. Most of the players are slow; Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have accounted for more than half of the team’s stolen bases just by themselves.
The goal in baseball, in terms of offense, is to get on base and to advance around the bases as efficiently as possible. In the past, the Phillies had the personnel to do this. In 2007, when the Phillies paced the National League with 892 runs scored, four of eight regulars had an on-base percentage at .370 or higher. Five of them had a slugging percentage at .500 or higher. The Phillies’ current on-base percentage leaders are Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz at .362 and .361, respectively. The slugging percentage leaders are Ryan Howard at .479 and Shane Victorino at .472.
If the Phillies want to start scoring runs again, they need to make personnel changes. Whether that involves making a call to Lehigh Valley or making a trade for a bat remains to be seen. We do know, however, that if the Phillies stand pat, they will continue to struggle to score runs. They are currently on pace to score 640 runs. With the great starting rotation, that may just be enough, but it’s a risky proposition.