Nick Williams is Thriving as a Pinch Hitter and Showing Meaningful Growth at the Plate

With the signing of Carlos Santana the Phillies opened themselves up to a playing time crunch in right field. A big question entering the year was how the Phillies would split the playing time for Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams. Through 47 games, Williams has 19 starts and Altherr has 30. So far that split has not gone well for either, with Altherr batting .198/.333/.379 and Williams at .231/.307/.374. Both players have been streaky throughout their careers and it as seemed like the Phillies are half a step behind in dividing the playing time. Right now the Phillies are going with more of a 50/50 split to playing time as Williams has surged in May. Continue reading…

21 Games In; (Re)Visiting Two Early Storylines

With today’s 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies have now played 21 games in 2018, which means we are somehow already through about an eighth of the season.  Hard to believe, Harry.

At 8-2 in their last 10 games and 13-3 since their embarrassing showings vs. Atlanta and New York to start the season, there are few teams in baseball hotter than the Phillies.  Now, with almost a month’s worth of games on record, let’s look at a pair of the key Phillies storylines from Spring Training and the early regular season. Continue reading…

Nick Williams: A Comparison, and What Should We Expect?

I’ll be completely honest right from the beginning; I love Nick Williams.

When he was announced in the Cole Hamels trade, my heart leapt in my chest and I envisioned a Phillies lineup with Williams batting 3rd or 5th, a left-handed outfielder with tools who could be an anchor to the tune of 25 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .290 batting average, and who could play sound defense.  Maybe he’d even chip in a double-digit amount of stolen bases.  Basically (at the risk of nauseating you readers), he’d be what Dom Brown was supposed to be.

When I saw him in person for the first time later that summer, the Reading Phillies were in Trenton to play the Thunder.  Mid-way through the game, Williams hit a laser – and I mean this thing was on a frozen rope – off the centerfield wall for a triple.  My expectations were gratified.  The Phils had their lefty outfield slugger waiting in the wings; we’d finally see a player of a caliber that had largely gone missing since Raul Ibanez left. Continue reading…

A 30 Game Nick Williams Check Up

On June 30th the Phillies finally called up a major hitting prospect. Since then, Nick Williams has hit .289/.325/.535 in the majors with 5 home runs in his 30 games. Williams’ arrival in the majors coincided with an improvement in the Phillies offense (it turns out everyone in the lineup was better in July). With Aaron Altherr’s repeated injuries, Williams looks to have a hold on an outfield spot for the rest of the season. So now 30 games into his season, how is Nick Williams holding up? 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…

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…