Cesar Hernandez Is on Fire, But It Won’t Last

Cesar Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 10 games and stole two more bases in a 3-for-4 performance on Sunday, helping the Phillies end a six-game losing skid in a 4-0, 10-inning victory against the Atlanta Braves. He also made a stellar defensive play in the bottom of the 10th in support of Jonathan Papelbon. Hernandez is hitting .299/.385/.385 with 11 stolen bases in 202 plate appearances on the year, doing an admirable job filling in for the injured Chase Utley at second base.

Hernandez has quickly become a fan favorite as he’s one of a select few hitters in the lineup that has actually done anything productive at the plate over the course of the season. Among Phillies with at least 150 plate appearances, only Maikel Franco has posted a better weighted on-base average than Hernandez’s .345. Hernandez has a 34-point lead over Ben Revere in third place. He has also emerged as a speed threat with Revere, as the duo are the only Phillies with double-digits in stolen bases.

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Maikel Franco Will Have to Wait for An All-Star Nomination

Maikel Franco earned a promotion to the major leagues in mid-May and hasn’t looked back, ranking among the league’s best-hitting third baseman while playing adequate defense. He went on a particularly torrid streak to begin the month of June, hitting consecutively in 11 games while smacking four home runs. Later in the month, he knocked in five runs in back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium while homering three times.

There has been some thought that Franco might be the Phillies’ representative at the 2015 All-Star Game, hosted at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Starter Cole Hamels has had another great year, but he hasn’t been among the 10 best starters in the National League. As a result, it would be justifiable to omit him from the All-Star roster. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has had a career year, sitting on a 1.71 ERA, but the floundering Phillies have only given him 14 save situations. As good as Papelbon has been, there are closers who have been just as good as him or better while racking up more saves. One could also justify leaving Papelbon off of the All-Star roster.

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Aaron Harang Is Regressing, But His Trade Value Isn’t

Well, yeah. That tends to happen when one ends May with a 2.02 ERA but holds a 4.18 career ERA. Through his first 11 starts, Harang had a 53/15 K/BB ratio, which is nice, but didn’t begin to explain his level of success. He allowed four home runs over 71 1/3 innings and benefited from a .255 BABIP.

June was another animal entirely. He allowed no fewer than four runs and went no deeper than six innings in any start, compiling a 7.28 ERA with a 19/11 K/BB ratio along with seven home runs and a .293 BABIP. He added to the disaster in allowing eight runs on 14 hits (including one home run) in five innings to the Brewers last night.

Update (1:50 PM EST): The Phillies announced that they’ve placed Harang on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Chad Billingsley has been activated and will take his place in the rotation.

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Ben Revere Quietly on His Way to a Career Year

Pretend you didn’t read the title. Who, among hitters to have come to the plate at least 170 times entering Sunday’s action, leads the Phillies in weighted on-base average? Who is the only Phillie to reach double-digits in stolen bases (and is doing so with an 82 percent success rate)? Who leads Phillies position players in Wins Above Replacement, according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs? Who is tied for the major league lead in triples with six?

All right, cheaters, you win. It’s Ben Revere.

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Maikel Franco’s White Hot Philadelphian Summer

Phillies third base prospect Maikel Franco has always had qualifiers attached to any praise he had garnered over the past few years. Yeah, he can hit homers, but he has trouble with off-speed stuff. He has a strong arm at third base, but he doesn’t have the instincts of a great defensive third baseman. Not that those qualifiers didn’t have good reason behind their application, but it tamed an optimism for Franco that could have otherwise floated into the clouds and beyond.

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Ken Giles Returning to Form

Towards the end of April, Ken Giles looked like an alarmingly diminished form of his 2014 self. At the time, I wrote about his decreased average fastball velocity, the corresponding increase in the quantity of contact he allowed, and a small sample size horrendous walk-rate. Fortunately for the Phillies, their presumed future closer has been gradually regaining his form over the past month and a half.

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Maikel Franco Has Been Timely with His Hits

Maikel Franco has only logged 21 games thus far this season, but he’s made the most of it even with an ugly 2-for-27 stretch in the final week of May. He homered in three of four games to open the month of June, contributing to two comeback wins against the Cincinnati Reds. Those two contributions, plus one earlier in the year in Colorado against the Rockies, have him taking up three of the top-six spots for the biggest contributions in terms of Win Percent Added (WPA).

WPA, simply put, tells you how much a player contributed to his team’s odds of winning. It can be used for a singular play or for contributions across an entire game or any select period of time. The aforementioned list references total game contributions:

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The New Freddy Galvis

Just nineteen days ago, Freddy Galvis was hitting .355/.414/.413 leading some to speculate that he’d be the Phillies representative at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati next month. Since that high point, the bottom has fallen out. He’s batting .125/.155/.143 in his last 13 games while striking out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances and drawing just two walks. While it may have been predictable that a player who entered the season with a career .621 OPS was unlikely to maintain an .800+ OPS, the rapidity of the regression has been painful to watch. Was the New Freddy Galvis of the first six weeks of the 2015 season a complete mirage? Is the Old Freddy Galvis back? What can we expect going forward?

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Curb Your Enthusiasm on Chase Utley

Over at The Good Phight, John Stolnis looked at second baseman Chase Utley‘s recent surge, which was propelled his batting average over the Mendoza line, something that was merely an acid-induced hallucination when he was hitting .099 as recently as May 8. As High Heat Stats noted on Twitter, Utley is hitting .342/.415/.493 over his last 22 games. Pretty good.

Stolnis digs a bit deeper into the numbers, finding that Utley has been swinging and missing less and making better contact with baseballs. Certainly, these are things that have positively contributed to Utley’s success. However, I respectfully disagree with Stolnis saying that Utley “is back” (ostensibly to his old self) with a three-week hot streak.

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