Analyzing Domonic Brown’s Base Running Gaffe

The Phillies swept the Washington Nationals out of Philadelphia with an easy 8-4 victory last night, making them winners of six of their last seven games. Though the Phillies pounded out 15 hits, three of which were home runs, the game wasn’t without mistakes.

One of those mistakes occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning. Domonic Brown had doubled in a run, reducing the Phillies’ deficit to 4-3. In the next at-bat, Wil Nieves went ahead 2-0, then fouled off three consecutive pitches. On Nats starter Doug Fister‘s sixth pitch of the at-bat, Wil Nieves hit a ground ball to shortstop Ian Desmond. Brown went on contact and was easily thrown out at third base for the first out of the inning.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 112: Evaluating Ben Revere

Sorry for the service interruption–last week I was driving through Pennsyltucky en route to seeing the beloved Taney Dragons get their heads bashed in by a bunch of enormous blond kids from Nevada. Here’s what I wrote about the spectacle, in case you’re interested in reading. If not, you can just head down to the question part.

@tssmythe: “Revere is young & cheap, has skills (avg, speed) and flaws (OBP, SLG, Def). Is he a good fit as CF on rebuilding team?”

Long have I been fascinated by Ben Revere. He’s not exactly a unique player–once we get past the pre-K “everyone is a snowflake” nonsense, there’s probably not such a thing as a baseball player who is beyond comparison. But Revere is fairly special in terms of how he plays the game, and for that reason I’ve always found him interesting, and for that reason, conventional stats aren’t particularly good at painting the whole picture. (Note: I wrote this before Tuesday night’s games, so these numbers might have changed slightly between then and now.)

For instance, the way you framed the question is instructive: Revere has a high batting average and speed, but has a low OBP and SLG and is a bad defender. That’s not actually true, or at least isn’t the best way of stating it. Revere is hitting .311/.330/.364, against a National League average of .249/.312/.384. So OBP is actually an asset, and SLG isn’t actually that much of a drag–20 points isn’t trivial, but neither is it too low for him to hold down a major league job. If we’re using SLG alone as a measure of power, how come we still consider Ryan Howard to be a power hitter with a .379 SLG, while Revere’s .364 SLG represents a lack of power so severe it renders him unplayable? The same is true with OBP–Revere’s actually got an above-average OBP. What people mean by that is that he’s not walking. Personally, in this run environment and with this roster, I’m cool starting a really fast guy with a .330 OBP in the leadoff spot–he’s getting on base, and for all practical purposes, it doesn’t matter how he does it.

What Revere represents (and this is why I find him so interesting) is the limit of batting average as an evaluative tool. SLG and OBP are far better descriptors of a player’s offensive value than batting average, but the primary determinant of both stats is batting average. That’s why the triple slash line is so great as a shorthand–whether those numbers are high or low tells you how good the player’s been, and the difference between those three numbers actually gives you a good feel for what kind of hitter he is without using any math more advanced than division of three-digit numbers.

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Ryan Howard Could Have One of the Worst 100 RBI Seasons Ever

On Saturday night’s broadcast of the Cardinals-Phillies game, Mike Schmidt said (paraphrasing) that you can’t get to 100 RBI and have a bad season. In the eighth inning, as if the baseball gods wanted to put on a live demonstration of teammates’ effect on a hitter’s RBI total, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning. They then reached second and third base on a double-steal. Howard was later hit by a Randy Choate pitch, but he was in a great position to knock in two runs with a bloop single (which Marlon Byrd then did immediately afterward).

According to Baseball Prospectus, Howard has taken 288 plate appearances with runners on base, representing 54.4 percent of his total plate appearances. Howard’s rate of driving in other runners, however, is 15.5 percent, the 68th-highest rate (min. 300 PA), sandwiched between James Loney and Aaron Hill.

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In A World Without Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels A Cy Young Candidate

It’s Clayton Kershaw‘s world; Cole Hamels is just living in it. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty seems well on his way to a third career National League Cy Young award, leading the league with 15 wins, a 1.82 ERA, six complete games, a 0.83 WHIP, a 32 percent strikeout rate, a 195 adjusted ERA, an 8.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a 1.84 FIP. Assuming Kershaw doesn’t completely fall apart, he will lead the league in ERA for the fourth consecutive season. He is the Pedro Martinez of our generation: a pitcher so obviously dominant and so far ahead of his peers, even at the top.

If we can engage in a thought experiment, though, let’s imagine the National League existed without Kershaw and was otherwise unchanged. In that world, Hamels is a contender for the Cy Young award.

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Ken Giles Has Emerged As A Top-Shelf Reliever

Before Ken Giles‘ mid-June call up to the Major Leagues — after throwing all of 13 2/3 innings in his first taste of Triple-A competition — some space was devoted here to urging caution and patience with the talented right-hander. It was not misguided, as Giles was displaying control problems reminiscent of Phillippe Aumont. He walked 13 of 114 batters he faced prior to his promotion to the majors. The 11.4 percent walk rate would be the 33rd-highest out of 201 relievers with at least 25 innings pitched this season.

Additionally, with the Phillies in the midst of another lost season, it made little sense to rush a rough-around-the-edges reliever to the majors and start his service time clock earlier than necessary. There was reason to want to see more than 28 2/3 innings above Single-A from the right-hander. In short, there were a lot of reasons to keep Giles away from the major leagues.

The Phillies didn’t, and they got it right.

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There Are 41 Games Left, and the Phillies Need Information

Tonight, the Phillies open up a three-game series against the Giants in San Francisco. With a 53-68 record and 11 games out of the second wild card, the season is realistically over and has been for quite some time.

The journey that has left them 15 games under .500 hasn’t been entirely fruitless, however. The Phillies learned a lot about some players: Domonic Brown still needs work, Ryan Howard is over the hill, Ken Giles is pretty good, and the bullpen in general has the potential to be great. That’s vaguely-stated, but those are some of the overarching themes the Phillies will take with them into the off-season, when there will be plenty of roster turnover.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 111: Lists and Counterfactuals

Oh, God, I’ve done 111 of these. What have I done with my life?

@benafflaco: “Robin Williams was the first celebrity’s death that actually caused me sadness. I haven’t experienced this with an athlete. My question is, who of current or recent Phillies, is going to cause all teh tears, when he croaks, for our generation?”

I think we’ve experienced that with Harry Kalas. One of the first open-a-vein big feelings sports columns I ever wrote was a column for my college newspaper mourning Harry Kalas. That really was like a death in the family, probably because if you were born in the Delaware Valley between 1975 and 2000, odds are Harry Kalas is your father anyway. But that whole Kalas/Ashburn/Musser crew was like the surrogate uncle to a generation of Phillies fans, and while there have been beloved Phillies players in recent years, it’s tough to imagine any of them meriting that kind of reaction. I mean, Harry was the voice of the Phillies for multiple generations and was beloved almost universally in a way that’s hard for any player to match. There is nothing anyone can say that will convince me that the Tom McCarthy hate is rooted in a frustration that he’s not Harry Kalas. You could’ve brought Red Barber over and Phillies fans would’ve hated him. Continue reading…

Raising the White Flag

Last Thursday’s trade of Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers is both troubling and encouraging. The deal sparked a series of events and renewed old questions that bear heavily on the future of the Phillies. Josh Beckett‘s going on the disabled list, possibly for the remainder of the season, certainly factored significantly in the specific timing of the trade, but that’s really only relevant from the Dodgers’ perspective. The trade’s immediate impact was that it forced the Phillies to call up emergency starter Sean O’Sullivan, a replacement player if there ever was one, to take Hernandez’s turn in the rotation. (Sorry, Sean.) From a broader viewpoint, Thursday’s interrelated events were an indelicate signal that the front office really has given up on this season.

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