Take it away, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) September 1, 2014
A look at his meager .242 batting average, unexciting .324 on-base percentage, and a sub-.400 slugging percentage and it’s easy to conclude that Jimmy Rollins has had a mediocre season. Even by adjusted OPS, of which Rollins has an even 100, he’s simply average.
If we go a little deeper, though, and use a better stat — weighted on-base average — we see that Rollins’ .320 mark stacks up well against his competition at shortstop in the National League, even if we set the plate appearance minimum so low (375) as to include Troy Tulowitzki. Rollins ranked sixth in the league, just a smidge behind Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and far ahead of number seven, Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants at .297.
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.
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.
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.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Erik Bacharach, and Greg Johns report that Phillies president David Montgomery said that GM Ruben Amaro “is not on the hot seat” at the Baseball 101 Clinic and Luncheon for Women at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday.
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.
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.