Five Things We Learned About the Phillies This Season

The Phillies are in Miami to face the Marlins in their final road series of the season. Then, they’ll head back to Philadelphia to wrap up the schedule at home against the Atlanta Braves. Most likely, they’ll finish in last place in the NL East with around 75 wins, another unremarkable season and the third consecutive season in which they’ve failed to reach the playoffs.

The front office will watch the playoffs from home before putting pen to paper to begin restructuring the team for a better outlook in 2015 and beyond. They can’t do that without first looking back and taking stock of everything they learned throughout the 2014 season. Here are five things we learned about the Phillies this season.

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David Buchanan Could be the Next Kyle Kendrick

Kyle Kendrick will likely make his final start as a Phillie on Wednesday when the team will be in Miami to take on the Marlins. Kendrick is eligible for free agency after the season after earning $7.675 million in 2014 in which he was arbitration-eligible for the final time. Considering Kendrick’s poor performance over the course of the season and the money he’d be requesting, it’s hard to imagine the Phillies would pay millions of dollars to keep him around.

In eight years with the Phillies, Kendrick as compiled a 4.44 ERA (91 ERA+) over 1,131 2/3 innings. While he has by no means been a key contributor, he has provided value at the back end of the starting rotation — and, at several points in 2011-12, out of the bullpen — by being healthy and consistently being able to soak up six innings on average every time he took the mound.

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Jerome Williams Proving to be A Good Find for the Phillies

Starter Jerome Williams dominated the San Diego Padres last night, holding them to just one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings en route to a 1-0 loss. The right-hander surrendered just three hits and walked two while striking out six. Now with seven starts as a Phillie under his belt, Williams sports a 2.84 ERA over 44 1/3 innings.

It’s a surprising performance for Williams over the past month and a half, as he owns a career 4.43 ERA and posted a combined 6.71 ERA in 26 relief appearances with the Texas Rangers and two starts with the Houston Astros. How legitimate is his success and is he worth keeping around in 2015?

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Cole Hamels Continues Dominating

Cole Hamels was on point once again, limiting the Miami Marlins (though Giancarlo Stanton-less) to one run over seven innings last night. He allowed nine hits and walked one while striking out six. As usual, though, the Phillies gave him little run support and didn’t get the win until Cody Asche broke a 1-1 tie with a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Hamels has now gone at least five innings and allowed three or fewer runs in 20 consecutive starts, setting a modern Phillies record as Paul Boye pointed out on Twitter. The streak dates back to June 1. Hamels also now has the third-best ERA in the National League. If Hamels hadn’t missed four April starts — and if Clayton Kershaw didn’t exist — he would be a legitimate contender for the National League Cy Young award.

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Domonic Brown’s Improved Second Half

There is no doubt that the 2014 season is one Domonic Brown will want to forget. That said, much of his statistical struggles can be traced to a truly horrific May at the plate. His 40 OPS+ that month indicates that his offensive production was 60% worse than that of an average MLB player.

Split PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS sOPS+
April/March 105 8 24 3 0 1 10 9 18 .253 .314 .316 .630 80
May 95 7 13 3 1 3 17 6 18 .146 .200 .303 .503 40
June 106 11 25 5 0 1 11 7 19 .260 .302 .344 .646 86
July 75 8 19 4 0 2 12 4 15 .268 .307 .408 .715 103
August 61 4 15 6 0 1 8 4 12 .263 .311 .421 .733 110
Sept/Oct 22 5 3 0 0 1 1 2 1 .158 .273 .316 .589 67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2014.

After his disastrous May, Brown’s numbers have been on an upward trajectory. (*Warning: Arbitrary Endpoints Ahead*) His slash line since July 1st: .252/.304/.401. While a .705 OPS doesn’t represent a player tearing it up, it’s been good for a .313 wOBA and 98 wRC+, indicating that Brown has been producing runs at roughly a league average pace over the past couple months. Is league average production from Dom the answer for the Phillies going forward? Of course not, but it is a sign that he may still be a player with real value.

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What Got Into the Phillies’ Bullpen?

Ken Giles, obviously. But the Phillies’ bullpen overall, even excluding Giles, has been much improved following a rough start to the season. There has been a lot of turnover, as Jeff Manship, B.J. Rosenberg, and Phillippe Aumont have been eschewed. Meanwhile, Justin De Fratus has come on strong and Jake Diekman has been on the up-and-up while Giles has steadily been among the most dominating relievers in baseball.

On a month-by-month basis, here’s what the changes have looked like with the bullpen as a whole:

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The Race to the Bottom

The Phillies’ recent hot streak, in which they have won nine of 13 games, has them tenuously close to falling out of the bottom-ten in the overall standings. At 64-75, they have the ninth-worst record in baseball, just ahead of the 66-74 New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds. They’re on pace to finish 75-87.

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Jimmy Rollins Has Quietly Had A Good Season

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.

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