2015 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Harang

Seventy-eight starting pitchers threw enough innings in 2015 to qualify for the MLB ERA title, from Yordano Ventura and Erasmo Ramirez, squeaking in with 163.1 innings, to Clayton Kershaw, leading the league with 232.2 innings. Only one of those 78 finished the season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and it wasn’t Cole Hamels, who was traded to the Texas Rangers in a franchise-altering deadline deal. Let’s talk about Aaron Harang.

He led all Phillies hurlers in innings pitched (172.1), games started (29), and batters faced (748), and allowed the most hits (189), runs (100), earned runs (93), homers (26), and walks (51). Among those aforementioned 78 starters, Harang was 74th with 0.8 fWAR. Now, WAR isn’t an infallible statistic that explains everything about a player, but it does provide helpful context for comparing players. In this case, Harang was good enough to pitch the requisite number of innings, but finished among the bottom five in fWAR, ERA (74th), ERA- (77th), FIP (78th), xFIP (77th), SIERA (77th), and K% (74th). Somewhat admirably, he ate the innings the Phillies paid him to eat when they signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal last winter.

Because you’ve heard enough about Jerome Williams and Sean O’Sullivan, and because the story’s not much different for Harang, let’s get to some numerology, at your request. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf

Darin Ruf is one of the more polarizing players the Philadelphia Phillies have had in the Citizens Bank Park era. To some, he’s an underutilized power bat with untapped potential, while to others he’s (at best) a replacement player who gets a lot of hype because he’s Not Ryan Howard. In the past, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m in the latter camp in the Ruf debate. I want to be wrong about him, and I’m happy to change my opinion if there’s a good reason to do so. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Jerome Williams

Sixteen years ago, in October 1999, the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets in the NLCS in six games. The Braves unleashed an unbelievable pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood. Oh, and Terry Mulholland! The Braves were then summarily dismissed by the New York Yankees in four games, and haven’t been back to the World Series since. That was the second consecutive World Series sweep for New York, and the second of two titles the Yankees won against Atlanta in the 1990s.


Ken Sakamoto / Star-Bulletin

A few months prior, in June 1999, Jerome Williams was drafted 39th overall by the San Francisco Giants, 27 picks after the Philadelphia Phillies chose Brett Myers. Williams was chosen with a supplemental pick the Giants received as compensation for the departure of free agent Jose Mesa, who would go on to pitch for the Phillies in 2001. During Spring Training in March 2001, about two years after he was drafted, Jerome Williams lost his mom Deborah to breast cancer. That’s why Jerome wears a pink glove in games, pitching with his Mother’s memory in his heart and his hand.

October is national breast cancer awareness month. We all know someone affected. You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to do something to help the fight against breast cancer. Jerome Williams is awesome for helping to raise awareness of breast cancer, and he’s battled hard to stay in the majors for 10 seasons, and he’s probably a really good guy. It hurts me that the following evaluation of his season is not favorable.
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2015 Phillies Report Card: Odubel Herrera

Last December, the Phillies selected Odubel Herrera in the Rule 5 draft, using the eighth pick on the second baseman from the Texas Rangers organization. Although Rule 5 draftees rarely turn out to be as successful as Shane Victorino or even Ender Inciarte, and although the Rangers had a deep farm system, it was a bit surprising when the Rangers did not protect Herrera. As a member of the Rangers’ organization, Herrera played mostly second base and finished the 2014 season in AA. Between A+ Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco, in 2014 Herrera hit .315/.383/.388. He led the Texas League in batting average and was named that league’s best defensive second baseman, according to a Baseball America survey. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Sean O’Sullivan

Well, here we are. Here is, specifically, the place where the Phillies slowly, surreptitiously decline year after year, then become the laughingstock of the baseball world, then finish in dead last. It’s the bottom of the barrel and it’s a dark place, and it’s Sean O’Sullivan‘s place, and no, you can’t come in because you laughed (a lot) at that .gif of Sean getting hit in the throat. There are plenty of players who represent this particular version of terrible Phillies baseball — players who fairly or unfairly embody the ineptness of the team, including Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, and Cody Asche — but none of them fit the description quite as well as Sean O’Sullivan. It’s not his fault and he’s probably a nice guy, but here we are.

Sean O’Sullivan started 13 games for the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies. In those 71 innings, he registered a 6.08 ERA and a 1.606 WHIP. In his final three starts, culminating in a July 6 loss in Dodger Stadium, he gave up six runs in each game. He gave up 16 home runs and only had 35 strikeouts. He was Bad. Even for the Phillies.  Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Jake Diekman

When I evaluated Jake Diekman‘s season last year, I gave him an A- on the strength of unmistakable strikeout prowess. In 2014, Diekman struck out 100 batters in 71 innings, and finished the season seventh in the majors in strikeouts among qualified relief pitchers. He made a lot of appearances, ninth in the National League in that category. Manager Ryne Sandberg showed no mercy on the lefty, and also exposed Diekman by having him face too many righties. Though his strikeout numbers were elite, he had a 1.42 WHIP and a 104 ERA-, both of which were bad enough to place Diekman in the bottom quartile of relievers. In my 2014 report card, I argued that if Sandberg protected Diekman a little bit more in 2015 and didn’t have him face so many righties, it would help Diekman take the next step.  Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Darnell Sweeney

The 2015 Phillies are history. In a franchise with no shortage of truly awful teams, this season’s group will someday fade into its place within a beautiful tapestry of failure. The 2007-2011 years were but a dream. Yes, there’s 1980 and 1993 and many other adored teams, but the Phillies as a franchise are the worst overall in the history of baseball. The image of losing on the back of the cave wall may as well be this video.

Of course, there’s plenty to like about the 2015 version of Phillies baseball, particularly the emergence of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff. Somewhere, between high hopes for the future and a dull, dismal reminder of the pain of being a Phillies fan, is Darnell Sweeney.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 2: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Well, that was unexpected. At the beginning of the season, do baseball players consciously plan on playing every day? Do elementary school kids decide in September that they’re going to have 100% attendance that year? I foolishly thought I would start my own Baumann/Ripken streak and rattle off weekly Crashbags. Hey, maybe I still can. But it’s not as easy as running in the ball from the 1-yard line on second down with Marshawn Lynch.

Baseball season is currently wiping the sleep out of its eyes and deciding whether to hit snooze again, or maybe think about getting out of bed. There’s a tastefully small amount of the offseason left. The Best Shape of His Life stories are stacking up, and the stack is getting bigger each day. Before you know it, it’ll be time to hit the back fields in Clearwater. So let’s get to work.

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Rollins Retrospective: The Minors and Rookie Campaign

Sometimes a guy comes into the minors with high hopes and fails. Sometimes a guy comes in with little hope, or no hope at all, and fails. The successes are all rare, expectation or not. And careers like Jimmy Rollins‘…well…every year over 2,000 guys are drafted or sign internationally. Two win an MVP, like Jimmy did in 2007. He’s been the rarest of the rare. Continue reading…