One of These Things Is Not Like the Others: 2017 Odubel Herrera

I wanted to write about Odubel Herrera even before we had to have inane discussion of trading him because of two aesthetically unpleasing plays in Tuesday’s game. Entering Wednesday, Odubel Herrera is now batting .272/.316/.438, and when you combine that with his excellent outfield defense, he is also sporting a 1.8 to 1.9 (f)WAR(P). That is just off of the roughly 4 wins a year he has put up the the previous two seasons, but is on pace to be a valuable major leaguer.

Herrera having a good, but not great season, is not really a reason to write an article, so this is obviously about more than that.  So now for a game. Can you spot the difference?

AVG OBP SLG
A .286 .361 .420
B .262 .340 .417
C .183 .196 .257
D .321 .351 .519
E .348 .408 .623

Continue reading…

Monday Morning Roundtable: Fact or Fluke

Each Monday morning I ask the writers a series of questions about current topics facing the Phillies and baseball. This week, the Phillies record is still bad, but they are playing much better. Which of these trends are real, and which ones are setting us up for disappointment?

Luis Garcia has not given up a run since June 13 and since then has gone 17.1 IP with 7 hits, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts, and a ground ball rate over 60%. Is Luis Garcia good?

Michael: Fact. Garcia’s strikeout rate is down, but his walk rate is way down to just 8.1%. If you take out the one game where he allowed 5 ER in 0.2 innings, his ERA would be just 1.14.

Adam: Fact. Because just like in the NBA, everyone makes a run. Relievers are notoriously volatile and if Garcia is getting whiffs, he’s good (for this team). Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 29: Looking to the Future, Because the Present Sucks

First of all, thanks everyone for helping us keep the lights on here. Writing for Crashburn Alley has been amazing, and thanks to you wonderful readers, I get to keep doing it. It really warms the cockles of my cold sabermetric heart to see such a robust and immediate response to our pleas.  You guys and gals are awesome.

Most of the questions this week focused on the Phillies future. 2019 records and 2020 starters; trades and prospects. The present is bleak, but there’s nowhere to go but up.

@TylerSmithEtown: What will the Phillies win differential be from the 2017 season to the 2019 season?

This is really two separate questions with a simple math step at the end. I’ll start with the 2017 team. Continue reading…

Bad Luck Continues, Aaron Altherr Out For Longer

I feel like I keep repeating this, but the 2017 Phillies are a bad baseball team, but they also are a really unlucky one. Before the weekend, they were poised to have Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Cesar Hernandez healthy, and have Howie Kendrick out on a rehab assignment. Then Aaron Altherr hurt his hamstring, and today Matt Gelb rained on the parade some more by reporting that the injury was more serious than initially diagnosed and that Altherr would be out for 3-4 weeks. The injury robs the Phillies of one of their best bats and ruins the Williams-Herrera-Altherr outfield that gave fans a reason to watch every night. With the Phillies now down another bat, it was natural to turn to farm to look for another prospect to come join the Phillies. Continue reading…

Two Six Year Minor League Free Agents May Alter 40 Man Plans

It is rare that a player sticks around a major league organization for 6 full years without once encountering the 40 man roster. For those that make it that far in their minor league career, free agency awaits. Their team may add them to the 40 man roster before the end of the league year to prevent this. For the most part, players that reach this distinction are players like the Phillies’ Carlos Tocci who were young international signings who developed late. While Tocci is probably the highest ranked prospect who could be a free agent, a pair of relievers offer the most intrigue.

The Phillies kicked off the 2011 draft with a complete dud in Larry Greene Jr, but the class will always be considered a success because of the reliever they took in the 7th round, Ken Giles. The rest of the class has marginal major leaguers (Adam Morgan, Cody Asche, and Colton Murray), a feel good story who is also a major leaguer (Brock Stassi), and an oft injured athlete (Roman Quinn). While the dust has settled on most of those players, it is the 18 year olds the Phillies took in the 12th and 17th rounds that are on the verge of making the majors. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 28: The Mighty Contract Of Giancarlo Stanton

The Phillies have not lost a baseball game in almost a week. It’s a good time to be a fan.

@MisterZoomer: I still have faith in Franco being at least league average at 3B. Am I delusional? At what point do I accept this is what he is?

Let’s walk backwards in the Maikel Franco timeline.

The 2017 disaster is about the ground ball. Franco has a .132 average on ground balls this year, and he hits too many for a player of his skill set. No slow-footed hitter is going to excel by killing worms. But there is a large dose of bad luck in this number. The league as a whole has a .249 average (.256 for right-handed batters) on ground balls spanning the last three years. And here are the career marks of some other locomotively-challenged hitters from the right side.

Continue reading…

What Does a Successful Second Half Look Like?

To say this season has not gone according to plan would be a huge understatement. We all remember the now-infamous prediction by Pete Mackanin that the Phillies could be a .500 team this year. Well through just over 50% of the season, they’ve got a .333 winning percentage. In order to finish the season at .500, the Phillies would have to win 52 of their final 75 games, and, well, that’s just not going to happen.

Some would say this was a lost season. The team obviously hasn’t won a lot, but more alarmingly, several presumed key pieces to the next Phillies playoff team have taken significant steps backward. Odubel Herrera has a 76 wRC+. Cesar Hernandez has been hurt. Tommy Joseph has been replacement level. Maikel Franco has been well below replacement level. Jerad Eickhoff has taken a step back. Vince Velasquez has been hurt. Hector Neris has taken a step back. The revolving door at the back of the rotation has been more like a Tilt-A-Whirl. But you knew all of that already.

I’m here to tell you that the storm clouds can pass. There are a few things that need to happen to salvage this so-far lost season and keep the rebuild going in an upward trajectory.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 27: Equal Opportunity Uselessness

Let’s peer into the depths of a bleak future.

@Wzeiders: After the trade deadline, what does a failure for the Phillies look like?

Pat Neshek is still their best reliever come August.

But this is a failure on par with not claiming the free ticket you won on a lottery scratch-off. The real failure is not that you missed out on another one in a million chance to win big. It’s that you weren’t paying attention to the ticket expiration date. Or that you thought framing the winning ticket and hanging it next to the motivational cat poster in your room would be good for morale.

Continue reading…

Alberto Tirado the Latest Bullpen Conversion for the Phillies

The Phillies entered the year with a thin bullpen. A 40 man roster stocked with prospects, and in particular starting pitching prospects had left the organization with only 8 relievers on the 40 man roster. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that at some point the Phillies were going to need to move some starters to the bullpen to make the math work long term. Before the 2017 season, the Phillies had been hesitant to move starters to the bullpen with only marginal pitchers or those that had failed in the rotation like Adam Morgan, Mark Leiter Jr., Joely Rodriguez, Tom Windle, and Hoby Milner making the change (Leiter has since transitioned back to the rotation due to the Phillies’ pitching injuries). This year the Phillies have started to move some of their more highly thought of pitching prospects into the bullpen.

The big new addition to the bullpen is RHP Alberto Tirado. The Phillies acquired Tirado at the 2015 trade deadline in the deal that sent Ben Revere to Toronto. Tirado had long had an electric arm and Toronto had already moved him to the bullpen for their Hi-A team. The Phillies kept him in that role, but he walked 18 in 16 games for them. Last year he ended up back in the bullpen to start the year, but after a stint in Extended Spring Training, he emerged as a starting pitcher with Lakewood. In the rotation he started 11 games with a 2.19 ERA over 53.1 IP, with 25 walks to 83 strikeouts. This earned him a spot on the Phillies 40 man roster this off season and a spot in Clearwater’s opening day rotation. Continue reading…

Phillies Calling Up Nick Williams

In addition to just being bad, the Phillies have been unlucky this year. Due to uncertainty over the CBA, they protected 11 players from the Rule 5 draft. This move severely depleted the Phillies fungible call up depth, as well as giving them almost no flexibility in making call ups over the course of the season. Injuries to Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Clay Buchholz, and Cesar Hernandez along with ineffective performances from Michael Saunders, Jeanmar Gomez, Joely Rodrguez, and Edubray Ramos have already stretched the roster to it’s breaking limits. When you add in injuries to Zach Eflin and Jesmuel Valentin, and a PED suspension for Elniery Garcia the Phillies are out of warm bodies to throw in front of promoting prospects. So when the Phillies were forced to send Hwie Kendrick to the DL for the second time, they had no choice but finally turn to one of their big time prospects and call up outfielder Nick Williams.

Williams isn’t just a random call up. After 9 months and 203 games in AAA, Williams has shown that he deserves to be in the major leagues. His season stat line of .280/.328/.511 hides a poor walk rate and an astronomical strikeout rate, hallmarks of all of his bad traits. However, Williams is finishing up a June with a much improved walk rate and a continuation of the power he showed in a hot homer stretch in May. Overall this month, Williams is hitting .282/.351/.524 with 6 walks in his last 6 games. Continue reading…