Is The Phillies Offense Good Enough?

For much of the past decade, the Philadelphia Phillies had one of the best offenses in baseball. But that was not the case last season, and the biggest question facing the Phillies this season is whether the offense rebounds, or continues a regression that could threaten to leave them on the outside of the postseason for the first time in six seasons.

Philadelphia’s offense began to make some noise in 2002 and 2003, and in 2004, the core of their playoff teams began to take shape. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Pat Burrell were already on hand to start the season, and then Chase Utley came along in May and Ryan Howard in September. The group would finish in the top six in wOBA in 2004, 2005 and 2006 before punching up to second-best in the game in 2007. By 2007, Shane Victorino was on hand, and ’07 was the season that Jayson Werth stormed onto the scene as well, with a nifty .385 wOBA. That season, their wRC+ of 107 as a team was fourth-highest in the game. It would also be their pinnacle as an offense, as would be their .354 wOBA.

While the offense slumped the following season — their World Series championship season — they came raring back in 2009, placing fifth in both wOBA and wRC+. But the past two years have seen the start of a decline. To wit:

Year wOBA Rnk wRC+ Rnk
2007 0.354 2 107 4
2008 0.337 8 99 t-11
2009 0.340 t-5 104 5
2010 0.328 t-11 100 t-11
2011 0.316 15 96 t-13

After placing fifth in both categories in 2009, the team dropped out of the top 10 in ’10, and the descent back to the middle of the pack continued unabated last season. And the Phillies have done very little to bring new faces to the mix. Yes, they were smart to wait out Jimmy Rollins and get him back in the fold given the other alternatives, but the team’s other prominent free-agent signees on the position player side — Jim Thome, Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton — aren’t going to bring much to the table. Thome should be good, but back in the National League he will have a limited role, and neither of the other two compiled a wOBA better than .322 last season. Any improvement will have to come internally.

Looking at xBABIP, there is some hope that the Phils will see better results this season:

Player BABIP xBABIP Diff
Rollins 0.275 0.320 0.045
Utley 0.269 0.306 0.037
Howard 0.303 0.322 0.029
Polanco 0.292 0.322 0.029
Nix 0.284 0.312 0.028
Mayberry 0.293 0.315 0.022
Victorino 0.292 0.311 0.019
Ruiz 0.308 0.306 -0.003
Pence 0.361 0.322 -0.039

Aside from Hunter Pence, that’s a whole lot of BABIP underperformance. There’s a good chance that some of those numbers will even out this season. But will they be enough to turn the Phillies back into a powerhouse offense? Doubtful.

The other problem with the lack of fresh faces is that the returning faces aren’t all that fresh. As Joe Posnanski reminded us last week, the chances of putting up a truly elite season go south once players go north of age 30. And that’s a big problem for the Phillies. The team has led the Majors in batter age in each of the past two seasons, and they figure to be at or near the top of that list again this season. Using Baseball-Reference’s method for calculating batter age (which is just at-bats + games played) and cribbing together both Bill James and FANS projections for the 14 Phillies hitters on the 40-man roster that figure to get the lion share of playing time, you get a team batter age of 31.92 years. That’s older than the club’s league-leading totals from 2010 (31.8) and ’11 (31.5).

The 31.92 figure includes 335 at-bats from 24-year old Domonic Brown, which at this juncture is probably a bit optimistic. The only other under-30 batters in the group are Pence, Michael Martinez and John Mayberry. And while Mitchel Lichtman points out over at the Book blog that the curve may need to shift to the right by a year to a year and a half, most of the Phillies hitters would still be on the down side of that slope. Victorino is 31 this year, Howard 32 and Rollins, Ruiz and Utley 33. The new guys aren’t much help either. At 31, Nix will be the youngest.

So will an aging offense that is already in decline drag down Philadelphia as they hunt for a sixth-straight playoff berth? Looking at the rest of the division, the Mets pitching will remain a cover-your-eyes mess, but the Braves, Marlins and Nationals will all feature formidable rotations, especially if Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson and Stephen Strasburg turn out full seasons (or in Strasburg’s case, as full a season as the Nats will allow him). The Phillies might not end up facing elite pitchers every time out, but they didn’t last year, and still turned out a below-average offense.

Only one of the 32 teams to reach the playoffs over the past four seasons did so with a team wRC+ lower than 95. If the Phillies offense continues to decline that is a bar they may very well drop below. If they do, it will make it a lot harder for Philadelphia to reach the postseason. Their big three starters should be exemplary once again, but Joe Blanton may not be as good as Roy Oswalt and Vance Worley will be hard-pressed to duplicate his rookie success. Combine that with an offense that ain’t what it used to be and improvements from the Nationals and Marlins as well as a still-strong Braves squad, and the National League East race might be a lot more hotly contested than it was last season.




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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a writer and editor for FanGraphs. He has written for the Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


79 Responses to “Is The Phillies Offense Good Enough?”

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  1. ian says:

    “Only one of the 32 teams to reach the playoffs over the past four seasons did so with a team wRC+ lower than 95.”

    Had to be the Giants, yes? 2010?

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  2. Waluigi says:

    So you’re saying that the Phils should Joe Blanton, Shane Victoriono, Brody Colvin, and Trevor May for Matt Kemp?

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  3. John says:

    Is it just me or do those xBABIP figures look a bit optimistic?

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    • World B Free says:

      I second that. Utley, Rollins, aren’t getting their speed back any time soon…or ever.

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    • Jesse Smith says:

      Those figures match my independently calc’d expected BABIP figures very closely. Remember, speed is but a small component of BABIP skill.

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      • byosti says:

        Rollins hasn’t sniffed a .320 babip in any season throughout his career, I don’t think he’s going to start now. For some reason he’s just one of those players who vastly performs under xBABIP.
        For Utley, I think the knee affected his ability to pull the ball with power more than effecting speed, but who knows how the knee will truely respond this year.

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  4. NickH says:

    Rollins’ BABIP the last four seasons: .290, .251, .246, .275. The projections listed on Fangraphs (even the Fans projection) call for him to have a BABIP in the low .270s this year, which sounds about right.

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  5. schmenkman says:

    For what it’s worth, they led the NL in scoring from the day Utley returned in May, through the end of the season. Not all due to Utley, as others improved as well, but he replaced AAAA fill-ins Valdez, Orr, and Martinez, who had a combined .538 OPS at that point.

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    • Jesse says:

      Yeah, heard that one a bunch of times. For one, its not like the offense was really crushing it in September, October or the post season. And they were dreadful in april.
      Furthermore, how many games do you expect utley to play this year? The dudes knees can not take 162 game schedule if they want him to be effective down the stretch.
      And yes, Howard will be out till at least mid may.

      Still, barring injury to H2L, they’re making the playoffs.

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      • schmenkman says:

        How many games? Hopefully more than 103. He started 100 of the last 116. If he rests more often, something in the 130 range.

        And while Howard is out initially, they have Pence for the full year, they no longer have Ibanez (.306 wOBA), and they have better offense off the bench.

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      • Jesse says:

        Last year Howard and Utley combined for 250+ games. Howard was the better hitter (valued less because of position, defense, ect, but still higher wOBA), and i really doubt the two of them combine for much more than 260 games.

        John Mayberry was a top three woba on the team last year, and the man screams regression. If he gets no platoon help, they will find a hole.

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  6. Ken says:

    Wouldn’t NL only team rankings be more useful here? I believe before last year they were first or second in the NL in scoring since the beginning of their playoff run. Even taking their park into account that’s impressive.

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    • Fatalotti says:

      Citizens Bank Park has played very neutral over the last 4-5 years.

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      • cthabeerman says:

        Neutral field is a bit of a misnomer here…the park really suppresses triples (and doubles for LH hitters), but it’s still a homer haven. Statcorner puts its HR park factor at 116/120 for LH/RH batters. wOBA is just a tick higher than average at 103/101.

        -C

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      • schmenkman says:

        Fatalotti is presumably getting that from ESPN, which shows that for the past several years, HR/Game has been essentially the same in their home and road games.

        Anyone know how to reconcile that with the StatCorner data, which is based on HR/FB rates?

        The conclusion seems to be there there are many fewer FBs per game at CBP, than in the Phillies’ away games, but I don’t know if that’s the case.

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  7. byosti says:

    As a Phillies fans, I hate the “Nix crushes right-handed pitching” assessment when, for their careers, right-handed Ben Francisco has done better against RHPs. Still can’t stand that they gave Nix a two year deal, don’t see how the demand for him could have been that high. I’m sure Charlie will even start him against a lefty a few times.

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    • hk says:

      Agreed. Of the three left-handed hitters the Phils acquired this off-season, Nix has the lowest lifetime OBP. Sadly, Dontrelle Willis is one of the three.

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  8. zeke says:

    “…you get a team batter age of 31.92 years. That’s older than the club’s league-leading totals from 2010 (31.8) and ’11 (31.5).”

    So they are returning all 8 starters (I’m including Howard) and getting slightly older? Shocking. Sarcasm aside, this team won 102 games last year, it’s going to take a lot keep them from another NL East pennant, color my skeptical that the team falls off a cliff offensively after turning age 31.92.

    Factoring in that they have rid themselves off offensive black-holes Ibanez and Valdez, assuming the regressions (to their individual means) of various starters will mostly average out (eg. Pence worse, Utley better..) and assuming average health (which for the Phils means someone misses at least 6 weeks and Victorino has two, separate 15-day stints) I don’t see how the offense is any worse. Seeing as how they were one of the top offenses in the NL from mid-May forward, were 2nd in MLB in run differential and won their division by 13 games I think the Phillies will be fine.

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    • cthabeerman says:

      Losing Ibanez is why the average age didn’t take a larger leap…most hitters are on the wrong side of 30 and added a year to their bodies.

      In this particular case, a slight bump in the average age is actually quite bad, because it’s spread throughout the entire lineup. The loss of a 40-year-old Ibanez should have caused the average age to bottom out to a degree, yet it still raised. I suppose Thome really helped kill the downward trend, but it’s still something a Phillies fan should be a little wary of.

      -C

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      • zeke says:

        I’m not discounting that an aging roster is a concern for future seasons, but for 2012 I don’t see the issue. And Thome will make the team “older” than Ibanez but without the negative war in ~550 PA’s

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  9. The Braves are relying on lots of regression and health too. The Marlins are only semi-serious contenders and the Nats are likely 1-2 years away.

    With the extra WC, it’s difficult to envision PHL not making the playoffs in 12. But there is a valid point that they’ll eventually need to add some young players. It turns out DBrown probably isn’t the next Strawberry, but the Phil’s core is still playoff good for 1-2 seasons (at least).

    Like almost every other team, staying healthy is a key. Seriously, every contender has health concerns and issues.

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    • Will says:

      Yes, health is a concern, but I think it’s a much greater concern to the Phillies, as they have so much more riding on three players (Halladay,Hamels and Lee). Losing any one of them for the season would be much more debilitating than the loss of any one player on the Nats, Braves or Marlins. I still foresee the Phillies winning the division, but their perch atop the division is a bit precarious (and anything but assured beyond 2012).

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      • free nova scotia says:

        no team could lose a 6 WAR starter for the entire year and expect to contend let alone win the world series.

        or…not.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Adam Wainwright is pretty close to a “6 WAR pitcher” and the Cards managed it.

        I think something else you have to factor in is the competition level. The Nats, Fish, and Braves are all, on paper, better than they were last year. Nats and Fish through trades. Braves through a mix of regression (progression?) from Heyward/Uggla, no Lowe, and having a generally young roster, especially their pitchers who should collectively get better.

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      • free nova scotia says:

        wainwright is exactly a 6 WAR pitcher. i was trolling :)

        my point was that the worries about the phillies age/injury histories are largely overblown. they’re still really good.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The Cardinals didn’t expect to make the playoffs without Wainwright.

        Obviously there was a chance, but it wasn’t an expectation.

        With Wainwright, the expectation was that StL would win the division.

        I don;t know that there’s ANY team that has such a lead in their division or wild card that they could lose a 6 WAR and expect to make the playoffs. Could they still make the playoffs? Of course. But expect to? Not IMO.

        Losing any one of them for the season would be much more debilitating than the loss of any one player on the Nats, Braves or Marlins.

        I don’t think it’s that simple.

        If the 95 win Phils lose 6 WAR, they’re an 89 win team.

        If the 90 win Braves lose a 3 WAR player, they’re a 87 win team.

        It goes without saying that losing a 6 WAR player is worse than losing a 3 WAR player (all other things equal), but it also depends on the overall talent of the team and the talent of the player replacing the lost player.

        IMO, Philly could lose Halladay or Lee, and still have a decent shot for the playoffs, given the team’s overall talent as compared to the overall talent of their competitors for a playoff spot.

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      • cable fixer says:

        @ CC http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-financial-cost-of-losing-adamwainwright/

        “The Cardinals didn’t expect to make the playoffs without Wainwright. Obviously there was a chance, but it wasn’t an expectation. With Wainwright, the expectation was that StL would win the division.”

        That’s only partially correct. They were 35% to win the division before the Wainwright injury and 20% to win the division after. That may seem like a lot, but it’s not and in neither situation were they favored to win the division. In terms of raw wins, remember that WAR doesn’t equal wins. the projections pushed them down from 87 wins to 83 wins.

        As for this discussion, the phillies outscored the braves by 70 last year and gave up 100 fewer runs. IMO, the wainwright outcome might be the exception, not the norm, but the phillies are certainly one of the teams who are eligible for such an outcome.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        My feeling was that the consensus was that the NLC would send one team to the playoffs and that losing Wainwright mean the Brewers jumped the Cardinals in terms of “projected finish”.

        As it turns out the Braves collapsed (and underperformed with injuries), the cards improved and played well and they made the playoffs on the last day.

        It’s baseball and you can’t really say that there is a zero chance of something happening. I think, even as a Cards fan, that StL really had no business being in playoff contention in 2012, especially considering AW50’s injury and AP5’s bad start.

        I think we’re in agreement that Philly can experience injuries in 2012 and still make the playoffs reasonable because they are overall more talented than the teams they’re competing with.

        IMHO, some are so anxious and excited for Philly to get old already and suck … that we jump the gun in predicting their ultimate doom.

        They also have financial clout which means they could sign guys like McCutchen when he’s a FA and things of that nature. We have little idea of the player turnover between now and 2014.

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  10. Chris says:

    Phillies were #15 in baseball in wOBA last year, but the Marlins, Nationals, and Braves were 19, 22, and 23 respectively.

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  11. zeke says:

    “but the Braves, Marlins and Nationals will all feature formidable rotations, especially if Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson and Stephen Strasburg turn out full seasons”

    while,

    ” Joe Blanton may not be as good as Roy Oswalt and Vance Worley will be hard-pressed to duplicate his rookie success”

    DOOMED!

    If only somewhere there were 3 starting pitchers who had more fwar than all but 7 teams entire pitching staffs..

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      ….who are about to have their age 33, 35, and 28 season. Hamels, I predict, will have some sort of arm injury before his career is over because of how high his elbow is when he throws. Pitchers, get injured and/or fall off a cliff all the time, and that risk gets higher the older they get.

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      • bstar says:

        We’re not talking about three regular pitchers here, though. They have proven track records, which makes their falling off the cliff a lot less likely. In fact, looking at Halladay/Lee/Hamels over the last four years, only once in those 12 player seasons did one of these pitchers not finish in the top 10 in their league in bWAR(Hamels in 2009).

        I’d feel a lot more comfortable projecting injuries and dropoffs in production if these guys were all 24 or 25, but not now.

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  12. cable fixer says:

    I get why you’re using wOBA and wRC, but it should be pointed out that last year the Phillies scored 713 runs. Atlanta scored 641. The Nats scored 624.

    Were one–or both–offenses made significantly better this offseason? Are the Phillies really 50 runs worse?

    As one of the above commentators pointed out–Utley does make a big difference in the lineup, not only because he’s good (he is) but because that means Wilson Valdez doesn’t get 300 ABs this year. Which brings up another point. The Phillies are, as you correctly noted, old. Geriatric teams need to have a better bench. The Phillies were widely panned last offseason for having a really shallow bench. Can the same be said now?

    I guess it’s possible that their offense depreciates more relative to leaguewide offenses… but I think it’s also possible that the Mayberry/platoon works and the team offsets the loss of Howard for a month with better production from LF, RF, and 2B…

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  13. MG says:

    Too early for this kind of article. Need to have a better idea of when Howard might be back, who is going to be slated to get most of the PT at 1B/LF in his absence, how some players look in spring training coming off serious surgery (e.g., Polanco), and to see if some of the aging players the Phils brought back for the bench might be ‘done’ offensively or at risk for a collapse in their numbers (e.g., Schneider, Wigginton).

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  14. jpg says:

    The Phillies could probably win the division with Seattle’s 2010 offense because of their pitching. So to answer the question, yes they have enough offense.

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    • cable fixer says:

      Ms scored 556 (yikes!). Phillies pitching allowed 529.

      Pythagenpat projects that team will win 84. Moreover, that differential of 27 runs would be good for 7th in the NL, and only 9 runs behind Atlanta, who was +36.

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      • cable fixer says:

        oops, i used Ms in 2011 (556 RS).

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      • Will says:

        In that case it would be 513 runs (M’s in 2010). Phillies pitching allowed 529 runs, putting them at 80-82.

        So, no, even the Phillies pitching staff couldn’t carry a team with the Mariners offense to the playoffs.

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    • ben says:

      As nasty as the Phils pitching is, I’m gonna go on record and predict that they don’t win the NL East.

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  15. I have said it from the day they lost Werth that Amaro hasn’t brought that big RH Power Bat to Philly. Tinkering got him bounced out of the playoffs last year and it will do the same this year. Amaro is turning into the Andy Reid of Baseball.

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    • Richard says:

      “Tinkering got him bounced out of the playoffs last year and it will do the same this year.”

      Nonsense. They got bounced in the playoffs early last year because baseball is unpredictable and shit happens.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It’s interesting that they also got beat by an old team that’s one injury away from missing the playoffs.

        Somewhere in the NL there must be all of these teams with young stars that are making the playoffs and getting ready to take over the world.

        I know, I know. The Washington Nationals are going to rule the world in 2013. If not 2013, then 2014. If not 2014, then 2015. If not …

        *smirk*

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    • Nik says:

      You mean a right-handed bat that plays right field…. Kind of like Hunter Pence?

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    • zach says:

      Why not petition Louisville Slugger to make a bunch of “RH Power Bats” and pass them around the team? Now that’s tinkering!

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  16. JC says:

    Wouldn’t the next obvious comparison (after looking at an individual team from year to year) to compare the trends between teams?

    The Phillies wOBA (wRC+) from 2009-2011: 0.340 (104), 0.328 (100), 0.316 (96)
    The Braves wOBA (wRC+) from 2009-2011: 0.326 (97), 0.327 (101) , 0.304 (90)
    The Marlins wOBA (wRC+) from 2009-2011: 0.331 (97), 0.319 (93), 0.311 (91).

    So while the Phillies decline seems more precipitous in a vacuum, the same trends are seen in the division (sorry left Mets out). I haven’t looked at other teams in the ML, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some similar things- as others pointed out above offense is trending downward.

    I agree that the Phillies are getting older and that will eventually translate into offensive concerns (that are already visible) but it shouldn’t cost them a playoff spot, at least in 2012.

    “The Phillies might not end up facing elite pitchers every time out, but they didn’t last year, and still turned out a below-average offense.”

    I see this claim a lot- essentially that the Phillies don’t produce well against elite pitchers. 1) Most offenses don’t- that’s why those pitchers are elite and 2) has anyone looked at this? I haven’t seen the data to back this up. If I missed it, could someone direct me to it?

    Crashburn had a similar article back in November on their site. It’s worth checking out.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Maybe pitching in the division is getting better?

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      • JC says:

        Yea I think that’s definitely part of it.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Not that it’s an exhaustive study or anything, and it’s hard to tell without looking further whether NLE staff’s are getting better or offense’s getting worse (and the scoring environment overall is decreased), but here’s the NLE teams’ FIPs over the last 3 years:

        TM … 2011 … 2010 … 2009
        ——————————-
        PHL … 3.24 … 3.39 … 4.36
        ATL … 3.49 … 3.65 … 3.66
        WAS … 3.83 … 4.12 … 4.82
        FLA … 3.79 … 3.92 … 4.15
        NYM … 4.19 … 4.00 … 4.50

        Scoring is down everywhere.

        DIV … RS/RA ’11 … RS/RA ’10 … RS/RA ’09
        ————————————–
        ALE … 4.8/4.5 … 4.8/4.4 … 5.1/4.8
        ALC … 4.3/4.6 … 4.4/4.6 … 4.6/4.9
        ALW … 4.2/4.1 … 4.1/4.2 … 4.8/4.6
        NLE … 4.1/4.0 … 4.4/4.2 … 4.6/4.6
        NLC … 4.2/4.4 … 4.3/4.6 … 4.3/4.5
        NLW … 4.0/4.0 … 4.3/4.2 … 4.4/4.3

        The NLE and ALW have experienced the greatest reduction in runs scored per game since 2009.

        The teams, in general, are significantly better in 2011 than they are in 2009, with the Nats making major improvement, and Philly as well.

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  17. Antonio Bananas says:

    Something to consider about Atlanta is a new hitting coach. I know this is fangraphs and “lol @ coaches” but they went from having one of the highest OBP to having one of the lowest. It was well documented that their hitting coach last year was too focused on power and that’s why there was that lack of discipline.

    So what do the Braves, Phillies, Nats, and Marlins look like over the last three years (or more importantly, the players on their current roster over the last 3 years) look like and how can we project their offenses that way?

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    • cable fixer says:

      talent–especially young talent–doesn’t always get better in a linear or stepwise fashion. maybe that’s the fault of the hitting coach, maybe that’s just the normal growth process. idk.

      but either way, anyone overlooking atlanta in the division should be doing so at their own peril. they’re already very good and could be excellent.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        obviously young talent doesn’t always get better, likewise, old talent doesn’t always get worse. If that were the case, the Cards and Phillies would have missed the playoffs last year and Atlanta would have been in. Instead, Lee, Halladay, and Berkman had great years and Heyward sucked.

        In general that’s how it seems to be. I really think the hitting coach had a lot to do with it. That much of a drop in OBP can’t be “just variance” can it?

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  18. redbean7 says:

    Odds to win WS as per 5 Dimes: Phils +500, Yanks +600, Angels +800, Red Sox + 950, Tigers +1000,Rangers +1050,Rays +2000,Giants and Cards +2200, Marlins + 2300, Braves +2400, Nats +3100. That’s nuff said for me.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      So wait, the Red Sox are a better shot than teh Rangers, Rays, Giants, and Braves? Then again, I guess odds are also based on people’s expectations, which Red Sox fans, and east coasters in general always boost their odds.

      Odds are based more on what will get people to bet an even amount, not necessarily actual likelihood. Let’s see, Phillies, most popular NL power team, Yankees, most popular AL power team, Angels, made the biggest splash, Red Sox, every frat boys’ favorite team and they love to bet mommy and daddy’s money, Tigers, made a big splash, Rangers, grossly underrated in the odds, Rays, equally underrated given their superior talent to many teams ranked ahead of them, Cards, always have optimistic fans, Marlins, made huge splashes with big names everyone knows, no way in hell they finish with a better record than Atlanta unless something catastrophic happens to Atlanta and everything goes perfect for the Fish.

      In other words, no, not “nuff said”. Odds makers want equal money on every team that way they make money.

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  19. lol says:

    No, it’s not. Among educated Phillies fans, confidence was lost in our Offense to consistently score runs ~2 years ago. The truth is Jimmy and Chase are totally done offensively, and are just there for defense and name/leadership. Ryan Howard is also arguably done offensively, and will just see LHP at all important ABs.

    Something else needs to be done offensively because this hitting goes cold easy and often and we pay too much fucking money and pitch too well to score 0 runs in an elimination game.

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    • Nik says:

      Ok you and your “educated Phillies fans” might as well pack it in and watch lacrosse.

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      • lol says:

        Lacrosse is very popular here in the Delaware Valley, there are many good teams. The Sixers, Flyers and Eagles are false prophets, the Phillies reign supreme.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Educated Phillies fans?

      At WORST Chase Utley is a LEAGUE AVERAGE bat at a defensive position, with positive defense and baserunning. That’s VALUABLE. As a cradinals fan I’d dive into shark-infested waters to save a bleeding kitten for a league average bat at 2B with PLUS defense.

      Ryan Howard is a league average hitting 1B (below average fielder), and an average 1B is a good hitter. But, no he’s not worth 27M/y.

      I don;t think so-called educated Philly fans are all that intelligent if that be the case. Sounds like “educated” Philly fans have just gone with the flow of some of the others and view anything other than 5 WAR as crappy.

      Chase Utley at his worst at the plate and even injured for 60 games was worth 4 WAR. That’s ruckin’ fidiculous. If you don’t view him as an offensive weapon, or think he’s only their for leadership and name only, you don;t know *** from chocolate pudding.

      [quote]Something else needs to be done offensively because this hitting goes cold easy and often and we pay too much fucking money and pitch too well to score 0 runs in an elimination game.[/quote]

      You could sign Delmon Young. He’s clutch in the playoffs.

      Philly fans are started to sound like Yankee fans. I liked them both so much more in the mid 80s. *friendly grin*

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      • hk says:

        Educated Phillies fans love what Chase Utley brings to the team and recognize that Ryan Howard is about to be one of the most, if not the most, overpaid players in baseball. They also know that Howard was 22nd in the league in wOBA last year and had a higher WRC+ than he did in his 48 HR 2008 season. If Howard gets healthy, educated Phillies fans expect him to produce more .350+ wOBA seasons. Educated Phillies fans are also content with Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino (even with the expected offensive regression), a full season of Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz. Educated Phillies fans are a little unsure of what they will get from LF this year, but they’re also not so quick to write off Dom Brown yet.

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      • nik says:

        hk is an educated fan

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    • bflaff says:

      /WIP’d

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  20. Phils_Goodman says:

    “And the Phillies have done very little to bring new faces to the mix.”

    Hunter Pence is a major new face. He’s only mentioned in this article as a potential BABIP-regressor, but he hasn’t even contributed 250 plate appearances in his Phillies career. The fact that he’s taking over full-time duties in right field for Francisco and Brown is an important development.

    “the team’s other prominent free-agent signees on the position player side — [Juan Pierre], Jim Thome, Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton — aren’t going to bring much to the table.”

    Look at the at-bats they are replacing — Ross Gload, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr. Raul Ibanez, Wilson Valdez and Ben Francisco got bounced from the lineup as well.

    Looking at the new faces and saying, “Oh wow, they’re old/declining” is a superficial analysis. Suppose these new players combine to give the Phillies roughly league average production. That’s a huge upgrade over 2011 Gload (62 WRC+), Valdez (67), Martinez (49), Francisco (94), Ibanez (90), Orr (46)… The offense should improve considerably on the basis of adding depth and scrapping their weakest performers.

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  21. alex says:

    with halladay and lee in a rotation, anything is possible

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  22. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    I hope the Phils suck this season so badly they are trading pitchers at the trade deadline!

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  23. Lucky_Nucky says:

    More important than the Bench coming through will be Utley having a very good year. Count on Howard to do the same stats, but Chase will have a defining year, good or bad. The injury excuses are a mute point now. He can either play with expectation, or the Phils will be in a offensive rebuild mode. The core needs to turn this into the WS Year.

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