The Winning Side of Low-Scoring Games

Posted by Don M, Thu, June 09, 2011 01:00 PM | Comments: 54

In a game obsessed with averages, the Phillies offense is averaging 3.97 runs per game through their first 62 games.  Yes, they’ve scored 3 or less, X amount of times, and that’s a problem… but when you score 4 runs a game, and your pitching staff allows less than 4 runs per game, you should win more than you lose.  And that is exactly what the Phillies have done thus far in 2011 (a team ERA of 3.17 combined with an offense that averages 3.97 runs per game).  Maybe that gap between ERA and Runs is too close… and maybe we are getting away with wins… but maybe that was the Front Office’s plan all along?

I also noticed that the Phillies trail only the St. Louis Cardinals for fewest strikeouts in the National League with 394, to the Cardinals’ 387 K’s.  When you look at our team batting average, it is… well, average… ranked 10 -of-16 in the National League at .247.   So we’re not making our outs via the Strikeout, which has been the impression of our offense in year’s past -I wonder what our “team batting average for ball in play” is?  My guess is that it would have to be low… or as some would say, “Unlucky.”  (*I checked Fangraphs.com and found that its 3rd lowest in the NL at .281, ahead of only the Braves .279, and the Nationals .275)

How much does that have to contribute to our runs scored?  If the luck turns around a little, would we start to see a direct correlation to runs on the board?

Don’t get me wrong, we ALL want the Phillies offense to start clicking, and resemble the lineup that used to frighten teams and pitchers, but it seems they made a calculated risk to spend a large portion of payroll on starting pitchers instead of keeping Jayson Werth.  Neither Werth nor Cliff Lee is having great starts to 2011, but I would still imagine the majority of Phillies fans would rather have #34 than our old #28 come playoff time?  I know that I’m more than comfortable with that decision.

This is basically another one of my pleas to the Phillies phaithful to be happy with what you’ve got, a first place team, and realize that it’s still a long season.  We’ll have our ups and down, but the way this team is constructed, we were pegged as the National League favorites by most baseball executives, experts, and fans for a reason, and people shouldn’t forget that this early in June.  I would still pick us to win a 7-game series against any team in baseball that doesn’t play their home games in Fenway Park.

Avatar of Don M

About Don M

Don M has written 21 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Your best piece yet Don, great job. I agree with your assessment that we are making contact and having some bad luck, but there is more to it than that. The Cardinals, Reds and Brewers, the three best hitting teams in the NL so far don’t scare me at all. In fact great offense in general isn’t going to win more games/ series than great pitching and defense.

    I have come to accept that this is our team this year. We are what we are, a light hitting team with great pitching that wins as many or more games than all other teams. Would I like to see a prolific power offense? Sure, but I’d rather win. The best hitting team in the Majors, the Reds, are averaging 4.95 runs per game. So the very best scoring team is averaging less than one run per game more than us. And most teams are in the middle, very close to our average. We’ll close the gap over the next couple months, Every team isn’t going to make a Nix/ Ethier etc., etc. play against us. And Amaro may tinker a bit to help as well. I just hope he doesn’t spend much or skew older in a desperation move.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don M. – I love you, man. I really do. You are a true fan. There thru thick and thin and willing to die for your squad.

    What makes you think that after 2 1/3 seasons of poor to midland offensive play that anything is going to change? Phillies fans are divided into two camps regarding the offense: Those that feel the offense has great potential, is underperforming, and are just a game away from shaking off the cobwebs and exploding into the juggernaut everyone knows it is. A beautiful butterfly ready to emerge forma cocoon, if you will. Then there are those that see the offense as made up of players that just aren’t as good as everyone thinks. That its an offense that just doesn’t work on a scale that will win you a WS. Its not a horrible offense. Its just not a good one. These fans wanna see a change. I’m in the latter group.

    Good enough to make the playoffs. Not good enough to win the WS. Its a trap.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    And Lefty, shame on you for writing that. “accept that this our team for the year”???? I rebuke you, sir.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 Lefty

      Rebuke away sir, but you said the same thing I did ( a bit more poetically of course) . We are what we are, there is no butterfly emerging, or whatever the heck you said. We are what we are, and I – and 45,000 of my closest friends that keep going to the games every single night seem to agree, we must be doing something right.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    The thing that has changed is that, instead of praying that your guys will slug their way to a title, you add two pitchers in the past year to give you perhaps the best 4-man rotation ever assembled in Major League Baseball ….. which in my mind, is good enough to make the playoffs AND good enough to win the WS

    I’ve been saying since last year that the 2010 Reds were the 2007 Phillies…and the ’11 Reds had a chance to be the ’08 Phillies … Im might have even picked them to win it all on here just to be different from the only-Phillies picks

    The Reds and Brewers were both preseason picks of mine to make the postseason, with the Brewers seemingly a more complete team, better pitching, and a very good offense. … But when our team gets healthy, I don’t see how Victorino, Polanco, Utley, Howard, etc… all of a sudden isn’t a good offense? People act like these guys suck anymore

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Now Lefty thats not what I said and you know that. I want the Phillies to take any and all reasonable steps to improve the offense. We have plenty of trade chips. Ruben will do it too because he’s not gonna waste this pitching staff with a forshit offense. Lefty, I fear you are complacent. Please tell me I’m wrong.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 Lefty

      You are right Dipsy- I am complacent. For 50 years as a Phillie fan, i’ve witnessed some of the shi ttiest baseball that can be imagined, by the franchise with more losses than any in pro sports history.

      Now that we are one of the best teams in the league, I have become complacent.

      I agree with the comment you made about a month ago, Ruben should “tinker” a little to get an edge. But not on supposed saviors, or old expensive players. And let’s Puleeeeeze cease this mindless talk of trading people like Cole Hamels for a rent- a -bat when there are out there on the junk pile ready to be grabbed up. There is another Cody Ross and Pat Burrell out there, it’s matter of who is going to be smart enough to pick them up for nothing off the scrap heap. BTW Greg Dobbs is still batting .330- they are out there and can be had for nothing.

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Don its hard to say they don’t suck. The numbers speak for themselves. Watching them play at times is painstaking. Very rarely are their line drives or hard hit balls.

    Welcome to the post steroid era. Hope everyone is happy.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    My only problem is this

    If it was an offensive team scoring 20 runs a game they would write novels on scoring 20 runs a game is evil.

    Its what they do.

    They would incorprate stats and tell you how scoring 20 runs a game is evil and bad.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Pat, I agree… while watching games I often say… ___blank__ __blanking__ sucks at the plate!

    And maybe more than the fact that they average 3.97 runs per game.. we SHOULD focus on the fact that its those very rare 10-run-games that balance the average of the likely 2-3 run production …. but I feel like everyone tries too hard to say why we’re a bad team

    We’re on pace to 96.7 games this season….and with no offense yet, and lots of games lost to injury, I’d say that its more impressive where we are Overall, than where we’re not Offensively.

    Also, if this is what baseball is like…. ain’t it nice to be well ahead of the curve and to have the best pitchers in baseball to keep the other team off the board

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    They are all the bestest best
    You could never trade any of them

    You end up with every player being old and stale

    You cant even type trading Cliff Leee

    How dare I

    Chase is old and crippled but I dare to say trade him for a better player?

    Ryan Howard hits .300 here

    He didnt look at strike 3 vs Brian Wilson
    We didnt have to watch 6 months of commercials of him.

    In this land you sign Ibanez for another 3 years
    Because hes great

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Andrew from Space, what the hell are you talking about?

    I can’t tell when you’re actually ranting vs. when you’re being sarcastic.. but why would they consider trading Cliff Lee? Chase Utley’s value is probably the lowest its ever been, and trading him would create a huge hole… etc

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Is Beltran better than Victorino?

    Is it WAR related?

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      last year i said that I thought Beltran was defnitely better than Victorino . . . . but now that he may never be truely healthy again its tough to compare … In their primes, Beltran is way better

      • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

        It was at least 2 or 3 years ago.

        Is Delgado good?

        I am just trying to see where it comes from?
        WAR I assume

      • Posts: 0 Don M

        trying to see where WHAT comes from?

        Delgado is retired.. so no, he’s not good anymore

        I have no idea what the career WAR is for either Beltran or Vic…. or where the comparission/question came from?

        I believe Dispy that you’re bugged-out of your mind right now… I guess Im a little jealous

    • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

      Teams like the Mets get all that talent together.
      Delgado Beltran Reyes Wright K rod Johan etc etc

      But then they suck. But then you crown them.

      You could put Utley Rollins Howard on a bad team and say they are great.

      Its what you guys do.

      • Posts: 0 Don M


        Except that in the Phillies case… they actually did get crowned.. and then get damn close in the two seasons that followed .. so there is some justification. And they improved their pitching staff this year..

        Im just really confused as to what you’re trying to argue here?? That the Phillies offense needs to play better and they aren’t going to be handed anything… I would agree

        But to try to say this isn’t a good team overall.. that just sounds foolish

  • Posts: 556 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    Last year (2010) was described by writers in general as the “Year of The Pitcher”. And without looking at the stats, my impression the YOTP is continuing into this season. Maybe as you suggested, the Phillies Front Office saw it coming and aquired the best pitchers available (Halladay, Lee and Oswalt).

    The stagnation of the offense will always be open to debate and the blame game. Regardless of whether or not the offense will pick up, the Phillies are winning games due to having the very best pitching in their rotation. Hamels, so far, is having a career year and along with Halladay are in contention for the Cy Young award. The bullpen has been exceptional and certainly helps win games. To quote Earl Weaver..”Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.”

    I’m not worrying too much about the offense especially if Utley can bounce back and Brown develops into an offensive threat in the lineup. And even if the offense continues to struggle throughout the season, their pitching will be there to prevent any long losing streaks and winning a majority of series vs clubs. BTW, example in point, note SF Giants without their star player, Buster Posey, continues to play winning baseball and in 1st place. Why? One word..pitching.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don…he’s messin with ya. He’s doin his post modern, broken verse, abstract poetry. Call it “Baseball Cubism”. Its noted not so much for its content but for it effect on the reader. I think he’s insinuating that we never think that anything is ever wrong with our team. I also happen to know that AFW smokes mega weed and likes to get wet, too. He might be hallucinating as we speak staring at his his 1992 Mike Piazza poster.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

      I did not inhale.
      And I am offended.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Why do bad players on bad teams seem great?
    Why does trading Hamels for Babe Ruth seem evil?

  • Posts: 0 G

    “but when you score 4 runs a game, and your pitching staff allows less than 4 runs per game, you should win more than you lose”

    How about 88% of the time… Phils are 24-3 when scoring 4+ runs.

    Phils SP, on average are allowing just about 2 runs per. When you factor in Charlies poor decisions on relievers, whether in high leverage situations or not… it will be a factor down the stretch. It’s already proven to have cost the Phils 5 games, give or take. You can imagine Charlies decisions will cost them another 5 loses, easily…

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    On a serious note, we should all ask ourselves one question: Why shouldn’t we improve our offense if we can without inordinately compromising the future?????

    If we can do it, lets effin do it! Why not? Cause you’re (the royal “you’re”) satisfied? You’ve accepted this sad sack offense as our lot in life and that it all rests on the pitching?

    Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 G

    This got left out, but in my opinion… Phils need another RH bat desperately, but will they go over the luxury tax to get who they want (if it comes down it)… My guess would be NO.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    It’s pretty clear that charlie isn’t the best decision-maker in the game… but the guys seem to love playing for him . . . to the point where guys like Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee desperately want to be a part of his team

    so you take the good with the bad.. I wish we still had Jimmy Williams as the bench coach and Lopes at 1st though

    and is it just me or is Juan Samuel completely too conservative as a 3b coach?? Not just Martinez last night, but multiple times this year he’s stopped guys – this team used to thrive on being aggressive and forcing other teams to make the plays … it seems like he’s scared to be wrong and run someone into an out

  • Posts: 0 G


    I don’t agree with Samuel most of the time, but when runs are at a premium, and the chance presents itself… he’s gotta send them…

    And to go back, being realistic… I think it’s going to be a BoSox-Brewers or Phils WS… A healthy Brew Crew may cause fits for the Phils (if they both make it), in postseason…

  • Posts: 0 Sandy Durso

    I agree with much of your assessment of the Phillies offense this year. However I always have trouble with the concept of “lucky” or “unlucky” when it comes to baseball. Although of course there are plays when a hitter gets robbed or gets lucky by where or how he hits the ball I don’t believe on average its luck that creates opportunities but rather the proper approach to an at bat and practicing fundamentals. I see far too few Phillies doing this …knowing when a flyball is enough or moving the runner over by hitting to the opposite field. They are often not selective in their pitches. This is to me not about luck but about approach.

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      I agree with you about the poor approach they have… it drives me nuts

      But I must also point out that the best approach doesn’t always yield the best results… there is something to be said for the St. Louis Cardinals playing well above their head right now

      In my piece about “averages” …. the Phillies are below the average for Batting Average for Ball Put in Play this year . . . . I wonder if they were even “average” in that category- how many more runs/wins would that have given us

      Im not usually a sabermetric guy, but as I’ve stated before… there is a lot that they can show

  • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Andrew from Waldorf is my hero.

    • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

      I resemble that remark.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    You are right Don.
    They won a title in 2008
    So when Howard has 0 RBI for 9 games in the playoffs
    First time ever in baseball
    ever since 1876

    I give them much credit.

    Think back
    Then understand that no player ever had 0 RBI batting 4th
    never ever
    The bestsest of the best thte bestest as he is

    But then you are a better fan then me and I am trading in my fan card
    Sorry you annoy me

    • Posts: 0 Don M

      its good to point out his 2010 NLCS as though its what to expect from Ryan Howard all the time… instead of the fact that his Career Postseason numbers in 41 games are:

      .278 avg, 7 HRs, 27 RBI, 21 Runs scored… .389 OBP, .517 SLG, .899 OPS

      I’d be willing to bet that since 1876 there aren’t a lot of players with numbers that look like that either?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    so what it basically comes down to… is if you think this team, and its players suck … why are you a fan of theirs ?

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    But hey

    You wouldnt trade any of those guys

    They are the best
    Like Beltran and Delgado and Reyes and Wright and K Rod and Johan

    You just sign them and sit back and enjoy the titles

    Its simple

    You didnt win? There is a blog where you are winners
    So enjoy

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Why do people like you come down on people like me and Jeff who realisticly look at the team?

    Why are you kool aid drinkers better fans then us?

    Why are you better? Why do the stat geeks see themsleves as better?

    I think this line up is old and tired and stale and sucks.

    But im not a fan for that. Trading in the fan card now.

    Its a terrible. One of the worst line ups in baseball.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I just still dont know what you’re talking about when you start ranting… if the Mets players proved they could win a title . . . then in the years to follow, I’d say they’ve proven it, and thus should get more respect (would anyone disagree with that theory?)

    I’ve stated on here many times that Jose Reyes is a joke, and if he’s their “team leader” they’re going nowhere.. which has proven to be the case thus far

    And if we’ve got, “one of the worst lineups in baseball” … isn’t it impressive that we’ve also got the best record in baseball !??

    I’m usually on your side with a lot of stuff, but I don’t even know what points you’re trying to make today – or who you’re trying to argue with – or what about ??….

  • Posts: 0 Mark

    All this trade talk is nonsense. Aside from the fact that the Phils are quite easily the best team in the NL, there’s no good deals to be made (unless Amaro can find a sucker for Howard).

  • Posts: 0 bfpsu

    Unfortunately if they don’t make a move for some offense this team will get shut down and lose in the playoffs. Look at last friday nights game. Cole gives up one hit and one run and still loses. If they don’t homer, they don’t score. Problem is, they don’t homer or even get xbh. Hell I would be happy with over 6 hits a night. At least it’s a start. At this rate we will lose games in the playoffs like 3-1, 4-2, just like last year’s NLCS.

    • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      I’m with you, it’s just a matter of obtaining someone. Who do you trade? Where do you put him? Logic points to left field, but who would replace Ibanez that would put this team over the top? And what trading chip do you have?

      This year’s Happ is Brown and he ain’t leavin’. There isn’t that top trading chip to use. The Phillies best prospects are still a few years away. That, and you’ll have to get the team to say, we’re done with Raul. He’s really the only one you can legitimately move.

  • Posts: 0 Mark

    San Fran’s offense was pretty weak last year and look how they fared. This offense is never going to mirror the 2007-2009 teams, but it doesn’t have to with their pitching. As Dom Brown continues to develop and Utley gets into game shape, I would think the offense will pick up a bit.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Yea Don
    Im glad you are happy with one of the worst line ups in baseball being in first.

    Come hold me when they lose to a team like the Giants in the playoffs.
    Another year of Brian Wilson commercials is distasteful to me.

    I was unhappy last year.
    And this year I am not buying into this first place with a team with 5 hits and 2 runs a game thing.

    By the way
    The Giants were better last year.

    And when Ryan Howard hits a homer tonight I am happy for it. Just a fan.
    Thats why they won.

  • Posts: 0 Mark

    Phils offense is slightly worse than Giants’ offense from last year and their pitching is slightly better than the Giants’ from last year. So why are they being so easily dismissed a true contender? As mediocre as the offense is right now, how the hell can anyone not consider the Phils one of the 3 or 4 favorites to win it all this year?

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Pat – I think the move is clearly in the OF. I’m sorry but Ibanez has got to go. If you are going to keep Shane, and I think he’s tradeable, then you can look at trading some of the A and AA pitching. You have to consider Singleton as a trade piece now that he’s not in the OF anymore. The Phils could offer a very nice package of minor leaguers at the deadline to get a guy. If Blanton comes back then Oswalt could go to. A right handed line drive machine to put in LF would look real nice.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    A good post in the near future might be . . . Who will be available at the trade deadline …

  • Posts: 97 Bart Shart

    Avatar of Bart Shart

    An optimistic and effective article by Don M. However, this offense worries the dickens out of me. I know in my heart of hearts that we need a reliable right-handed bat. Today I think of Josh Willingham of the A’s. What would it take to land this respectable right-handed bat?. How about the big Italian kid in Reading plus Joe Blanton and a minor league relief pitcher?
    Hell, I don’t know, but we desperately need a little more power and contact from the right hand side. Amaro has to do something, I believe.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Ibanez and his
    .163 average on the road?

    You guys are nuts

    Enjoy first

    And never bring up that they may be lacking in any way.
    Or you arent a fan

  • Posts: 97 Bart Shart

    Avatar of Bart Shart

    I read recently that Ruben Jr. said that he will not make any major moves this year. Frankly, this really concerns me (pisses me off, too) that a GM would make such an comment to an offense-eager fan base like ours. Doesn’t he smell the roses? He must know that come playoff time, we will be softer than jello offensively. Damn !@!##!

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    Who could you trade?

    Rollins Howard Utley Hamels Halladay

    Its all taboo

    All of them to good to ever be traded.

    You cant trade the best of the best. But then I am not a fan.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Andrew…. I think Midol could help you..

    Nobody ever said they aren’t lacking anything… you’re acting like a little girl, and driving people away from actual conversation with your crying and moaning

    If you come up with actual ideas – we can talk… but you throw out this nonsense about trading Hamels and Halladay and Howard, and whoever else and act surprised, and get defensive when people say it won’t ever happen

    The Phillies could use some extra offense, but the point is… the way the game of baseball has shifted is back to a pitching a defensive league … and we have the best pitching out there, so if our offense gets to “average” we’re going to be damn tough to beat.

    Nobody said you weren’t a fan . . . and nobody said any of these players were the greatest of all time …. take a deep breathe and join the rest of us here on planet earth and phillies nation

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Don – Lest we not forget that this team is merely an average defensive team, not a stellar one in years past. Lets read the roll. Polanco is very good. Jimmy has lost a step but is still very good. Chase is now probably just below average but not in Uggla territory. Ryan is …god..just average. Chooch is great. Shane is very good and Dom will be very good but is not good now. Ibanez is an abortion in left. The right side of the infield is not good and leftfield is an amusement park for opposing hitters and runners.

    You wanna a trade idea? Vic, Worley, Singleton for Bautista? Oh, the Jays wouldn’t do it? Why not? They’re not gonna be in it….and they get a gold glove CFer and a promising SP and stud offensive prospect back. They’re a young team and they’re building.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    *as in years past.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    No one ever really wanted Bautista

    I know I am commentariet but I have to say this

    There are drugs in horse racing that no one can detect.
    People put up numbers like this 1.225 and you cant explain it

    There is this drug Arensept that for whatever reason makes horses run longer and faster.

    Who would ever even give it to a horse to find out? Its for Alzheimers.

    But they did.
    When you look at this it doesn’t make sense.


    Also I have no issue with people doing it to themselves. Although it does distort some records like McGwire and Bonds and Clemens .

    Arensept kills horses so I have an issue with that. If someone wants to take it to hit a baseball further. So be it. Horses dont have free will.

  • Posts: 0 bfpsu

    I am pretty sure Raul has a no trade clause, he isn’t going anywhere. Who are some trading chips? Maybe Defratus? Look at last night, 3 run homer and then nothing. You can bang on Manuel all you want but he went to his horses in the 8th and 9th with a 3-1 lead. Bottom line is we went 8 innings of not scoring after Rollins homer. I am hearing a lot of people complain about Kendrick not coming back after the rain delay. How about we hit their bullpen and make it a non-issue. This team is soooo aggravating right now. Oh believe me I am a real fan. I don’t wear red and pin striped glasses all the time.

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