Who Are You: David Hernandez

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos
Charlie Morton
Vincent Velasquez


David Hernandez – RHP
Born: 5/13/85, entering age 31 season
Height: 6’3″, Weight: 245 lb.
2015: 1-5, 4.28 ERA, 33.2 IP,  22.9 K%, 7.6 BB%, 96 ERA+
Career: 25-35, 4.15 ERA, 414.1 IP, 23.2 K%, 9.8 BB%, 100 ERA+
Contract Status: 1-year/$3.9M

History

Drafted by the Orioles in the 16th round of the 2005 draft, David Hernandez came up through Baltimore’s system as a starting pitcher. His minor league numbers were rather ordinary — 28-27, 552.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 9.8 BB% — except for a notably impressive strikeout rate of 27.1 percent. A successful start to the 2009 season in Triple-A led to Hernandez making his major league debut and, ultimately, starting 19 games that season for Baltimore.

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Who Are You: Charlie Morton

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos


Charlie Morton RHP
Born: 11/12/83, entering age 32 season
Height: 6’5″, Weight: 225 lb.
2015 Stats: 9-9, 4.81 ERA, 129 IP, 17.1 K%, 7.3 BB%, 57.3 GB%, 21.5 FB%, 80 ERA+
Career: 45-70, 4.54 ERA, 875.2 IP, 15.8 K%, 8.5 BB%, 55.3 GB%, 23.9 FB%, 84 ERA+
Contract Status: $8M in 2016; $9.5M team option for 2017 with a $1M buyout

History

In the 2002 MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves took a local high school outfielder named Jeff Francoeur in the 1st round, a local high school catcher named Brian McCann in the 2nd round, and a high school pitcher from Connecticut named Charlie Morton in the third round. Francoeur and McCann went on to have success (and, in Francoeur’s case, failure) with the major league team, but Morton was traded less than a year after his 2008 MLB debut to the Pittsburgh Pirates with Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke for outfielder Nate McLouth.

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Looking Forward to the 2016 Season

In what is now an annual tradition for baseball stat nerds, FanGraphs has projected the standings for the upcoming season. It should come as no surprise that the Phillies are expected to once again put up the worst record in baseball, though they are at least projected to improve by three wins over last year at 66-96. Silver linings, right?

The Phillies haven’t made any real improvements on the major league roster, but full seasons from Maikel Franco and Aaron Altherr plus the continued progression of Aaron Nola and Odubel Herrera should help make up for the loss of Ken Giles and the makeup of an uninspiring starting rotation. Though the on-field product doesn’t portend to be great, the 2016 season may be the most entertaining and exciting season for Phillies fans since 2011. Here’s why:

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Who Are You: Peter Bourjos

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson


Peter Bourjos (OF) – RHB
Born:
3/31/87, entering age 29 season
Height: 6’1″, Weight: 185 lb.
Contract Status: Final year of arbitration; will be a free agent after the 2016 season
2015 Stats: 225 PA, 8.4 BB%, 26.2 K%, .263 BABIP, .200/.290/.333, 70 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR, -0.8 rWAR
Career: 1655 PA, 6.2 BB%, 23.4 K%, .304 BABIP, .241/.302/.380, 90 wRC+, 10.3 fWAR, 9.0 rWAR

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New Catching Metrics at Baseball Prospectus

Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus unveiled new metrics for quantifying catcher defense. I highly recommend reading the introduction for yourself, but if you’ll allow me to crudely summarize, there are four key metrics presented:

  • Swipe Rate Above Average (SRAA)
  • Takeoff Rate Above Average (TRAA)
  • Errant Pitches Above Average (EPAA)
  • Called Strikes Above Average (CSAA)

The first two metrics measure a catcher’s impact on the running game through the rate at which they throw runners out (SRAA) and the rate at which runners attempt to run on them (TRAA). EPAA measures pitch blocking and CSAA measures framing.

Their findings echo previous studies on the subject in that framing has, by far, the greatest in-game impact of these defensive skills. By these metrics, a catcher can add or subtract a couple runs of value through controlling the running game and/or blocking ability, but great pitch framers can add 20 or more runs of value while awful framers can lose 20+ runs. The best framing season on record (framing data now goes back to 1988) was Jonathan Lucroy‘s 2011 season in which he added 49.7 (!) Framing Runs Above Average. For the sake of comparison, by BP’s measure Mike Trout was worth 62.1, 60.9, and 73.5 Batting Runs Above Average (a measurement of offensive production at the plate before factoring in baserunning which uses a theoretically comparable value for “runs”) in the past three seasons.

Let’s take a look at how the Phillies catchers measure up.

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Who Are You: Jeremy Hellickson

This is the first post in a weekly series which will run each Thursday. Over the next several weeks, I’ll take a deep dive look at new members of the Phillies roster including guys like Peter Bourjos, Charlie Morton and, today’s subject, Jeremy Hellickson. We’re just a couple months away from settling down to watch these guys day-in and day-out for half a year, so let’s try to find out who they are and what to expect from them in 2016.


Jeremy Hellickson – RHP
Born:
4/8/87, entering age 29 season
Height: 6’1″, Weight: 190 lb.
2015 Stats: 9-12, 4.62 ERA, 146 IP, 19.0 K%, 6.8 BB%, 42.4 GB%, 36.5 FB%, 88 ERA+
Career: 49-48, 3.94 ERA, 786 IP, 17.6 K%, 7.6 BB%, 39.2 GB%, 40.5 FB%, 98 ERA+

History

A fourth round draft pick by Tampa Bay out of high school in 2005, Hellickson steadily rose to prospect stardom. Prior to his 2011 rookie season, he was ranked the #6 overall prospect by Baseball America, #9 overall by Baseball Prospectus, and #14 overall by Keith Law at ESPN. Scouts raved about his pin-point command, stellar changeup, solid fastball, and developing curveball.

He rode that prospect hype to an outstanding rookie campaign (189 IP, 2.95 ERA, 3.8 rWAR) which won him the AL Rookie of the Year award. His sophomore season was nearly as successful (177 IP, 3.10 ERA, 3.2 rWAR), but his initial success was riddled with red flags. The reason I used ERA to illustrate his success is that his peripheral stats told a remarkably different story. Including his 36.1 inning cup of coffee at the end of the 2010 season his 2010-2012 MLB stats were as follows:

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The Phillies Should Pass on Kenta Maeda

The Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Central League will post right-hander Kenta Maeda, as Jason Coskrey pointed out on Twitter on Thursday. Interested teams will have to submit a $20 million posting fee for the right to negotiate with Maeda. Teams which fall short in the bidding war will have their posting fees returned. The $20 million will go to the Carp as compensation; it is not considered part of Maeda’s actual contract.

There has been a run on starting pitching in free agency lately, with Jordan Zimmermann, David Price, Zack Greinke, John Lackey, and Jeff Samardzija all coming off the board. With some salary boundaries now defined and some competition out of the picture, Maeda should draw a fair amount of interest. Some have suggested that the Phillies, firmly in the next phase of their rebuilding process, should pursue Maeda. They should instead stand pat on this particular international talent.

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Phillies Willing to Trade Ken Giles

Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Phillies have made closer Ken Giles available in a trade. GM Matt Klentak confirmed Heyman’s report, per Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Giles is 25 years old, under team control through 2020, and has put up back-to-back stellar seasons. That teams might be interested, and that the Phillies would make him available, should come as no surprise. As Heyman points out, the free agent market for relievers is notoriously weak, which has prompted the trade market to perk up. The Reds are expected to make Aroldis Chapman available, as are the Padres with Craig Kimbrel, the Nationals with Jonathan Papelbon, and others.

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Free Agent Pitching Targets for the Phillies

Despite having made several headlines in recent months as the front office has molted, the Phillies portend to have a relatively quiet off-season. Nearly all of their trade candidates have already been moved — Cole Hamels to Texas, Chase Utley to Los Angeles, Jonathan Papelbon to Washington. Many roster spots are now spoken for by younger, less-proven players and the next stage of the Phillies’ rebuilding process is to help these players develop into major league-caliber players.

It is enticing to pore over the list of free agents and envision many of them donning Phillies red pinstripes, but the David Prices, Zack Greinkes, and Jason Heywards of the world will be getting their contracts elsewhere. The Phillies, as has been common for them over the past couple of years, will be hunting for bargains — inexpensive, risk-free targets not to star, but instead to support their youth.

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Looking Back on the Cliff Lee Era

The Phillies officially ended the Cliff Lee era in Philadelphia on Tuesday, buying out the lefty’s contract for $12.5 million rather than picking up his club option for $27.5 million. As Justin Klugh pointed out at The Good Phight, that transaction has become something of a joke, as many have responded with a joke to the effect of “they’re paying him an obscene amount of money not to pitch”. In reality, they’re simply saving themselves $15 million.

Lee may be 37 years old, but if his elbow hadn’t died, the Phillies most likely pick up that option if for no other reason than to hopefully flip him for younger players at the trade deadline. Alas.

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