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2014 Top Moments: #1 J-Roll Breaks Hit Record

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, October 29, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 5

We are finally at our top moment of 2014. This time, we look at when Jimmy Rollins broke the franchise hits record.

We all knew it would happen. Barring injury, Jimmy Rollins was sure to break Mike Schmidt‘s franchise hits record in 2014.

And he did just that.

IMG_3176.JPG

PHOTO: AP

Schmidt’s record was 2,234 hits. J-Roll notched his 2,235th on Saturday, June 14. He lined a single off Edwin Jackson in the 5th inning in front of 31,524 fans at Citizens Bank Park. The game was then delayed while celebrations took place. Schmidt came out and got Jimmy’s bat and gave him a hug. The entire Phillies team also came out to celebrate with J-Roll.

Rollins has been with the club since 2000, and is a potential Hall-of-Famer. He’s been the face of the Phillies for several years, and has given us countless memories. He provides a unique combo of power and speed from the shortstop position, and is an exceptional fielder. He won an MVP in 2007, and is at or near the top in almost every offensive category in Phillies history. This moment is more of a result of what Jimmy has given us over the years, which is a ton. If we did a countdown of top moments of the last 10 years for the Phillies, this one would still be near the top.

This concludes our top moments countdown. Hope you enjoyed! Here are the others.

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2014 Top Moments: #2 The Combined No Hitter

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, October 28, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 1

We are continuing with our 2014 Top Moments countdown, this time with our #2 moment: The first combined no-hitter in franchise history.

The Phillies bullpen was a bright spot for the team in 2014. While they only held the 11th-best ERA in the NL, a lot of that had to do with the fielders behind them. Their FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching), was good for sixth in the NL, and they had the highest strikeout rate (K%) in the league as well. Their 7753 pitches were good for 8th in the NL, and, while they gave up fly balls at the highest rate (38.2%), they usually kept it in the ballpark. Only 7.5% of those fly balls reached the seats–good for sixth-lowest.

Why am I saying this? Because the bullpen was a huge part of the combined no-hitter back on September 1.

Starter Cole Hamels threw just six innings before being pulled. He had 108 pitches and it was a hot day in Atlanta. He gave up five walks and had seven strikeouts. Jake Diekman relieved him, followed by Ken Giles, and finally Jonathan Papelbon to close it out. They each threw a perfect inning, combining for five strikeouts in the process.

There have been just five combined no-hitters that used four pitchers. They allowed four stolen bases, which is the most ever for a combined no-hitter. At 190 minutes, this was the longest no-hitter in history. Carlos Ruiz has now caught three different no-hitters–two of them being Roy Halladay‘s. Read more about the stats behind the no-hitter here.

The Phillies won the game 7-0, and, for a team that was out of the playoff race and playing a division rival, the combined no-no was a huge win an amazing moment.

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2014 Top Moments: #3 T-Mac’s Catch

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, October 27, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 0

We are continuing with our 2014 Top Moments countdown, this time with our #3 moment: When T-Mac caught a home run.

Back on June 27, the Phillies broadcast crew of Tom McCarthy, Jamie Moyer, and Matt Stairs were stationed in center field for the game’s broadcast. It was the first time in Citizens Bank Park history that the game would be called from a location other than the booth behind home plate. Their “booth” was set up just left of the “409″ sign in center field.

Kyle Kendrick was on the mound, and immediately allowed the first two runners of the game to reach base–a B.J. Upton single and an Andrelton Simmons walk. The third batter to step in the box was Freddie Freeman. He took the first pitch he saw, a 87 MPH cutter, deep to center. “Out toward our vantage point!”, said T-Mac, just before he caught the ball, to the delight of his booth partners and the fans around him. As soon as he caught it, Jamie Moyer told T-Mac he had to throw it back.

And he did.

The Phillies would go on to lose the game 4-2, but T-Mac’s catch was all over ESPN, MLB Network, and the Internet. It was an awesome moment, and certainly worthy of our #3 spot.

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Rollins Wins Clemente Award

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, October 24, 2014 07:35 PM Comments: 3

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PHOTO: Phillies Twitter

Jimmy Rollins and Paul Konerko are this year’s winners of the Roberto Clemente award, which is awarded to the player(s) that “demonstrate the values Clemente displayed in his commitment to community and understanding the value of helping others”. They are the first ever players to be co-winners of the award.

J-Roll is the third Phillie to win the award, joining Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox.

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Phils Re-Sign Sizemore, Jimenez

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 23, 2014 05:51 PM Comments: 9

The Phillies announced on Thursday that they have re-signed outfielder Grady Sizemore and relief pitcher Cesar Jimenez, both to one year contracts.

The Sizemore experiment was fun, but he clearly doesn’t have much left in the tank, at least from what he showed us last season. Jimenez ended up having a pretty good 2014 season, with a 1.69 ERA in 16 appearances.

Still, I’m not sure this is the best way to be allocating money this offseason. Pat Gallen sums it up perfectly.

  • 9 Comments
 

Phillies Frontrunners for Yasmany Tomas

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 23, 2014 01:20 PM Comments: 4

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

According to this report, the Phillies are linked–and are frontrunners at this point–for 23 year old Cuban talent Yasmany Tomas.

The right-handed outfielder would make sense for the Phillies, who have some money and are in desperate need for some outfield help. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. personally flew to the Dominican Republic to scout Tomas, who has also been linked to the Dodgers, Padres, Twins, Rangers, Giants, and Tigers.

He stands at 6’1, 230 pounds and is considered one of, if not the best power hitter coming out of Cuba right now.

Amaro made a gamble on a Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, and the jury is still out on that move. Still, with the Yasiel Puig‘s and Yoenis Cespedes‘s of the world, looking for Cuban talent is certainly worthwhile for the Phillies.

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2014 Top Moments: #4 Ben Revere’s First Home Run

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 23, 2014 10:05 AM Comments: 6

We are continuing with our 2014 Top Moments countdown, this time taking a look back at Ben Revere‘s first MLB home run.

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Ben Revere had over 1,400 major league at-bats coming into the game against the Rockies on May 27. There were 23,159 in paid attendance that night at Citizens Bank Park, but an hour-and-22 minute rain delay subsequently caused fans to leave and the stadium to be nearly empty.

Revere had grounded out three straight times–one to first and two to third.¬†Coming into his fourth at-bat in the seventh, the situation was this: The Rockies had just taken the lead on a three-run home run by Wilin Rosario. Revere, the second batter of the inning, was facing lefty¬†Boone Logan, who was usually pretty darn good against lefties–a 1.71 ERA and 1.58 xFIP against lefties in 2013.

It was a 1-1 count, and Logan threw an 91-MPH inside fastball. Revere turned on it perfectly, sending it over the right field fence into the first row. As expected, the entire Phillies dugout ignored him at first before celebrating. It broke the longest homerless drought for an MLB player since Frank Tavares for the Pirates in the 70′s.

ESPN’s home run tracker had the home run at 357 feet, and, in the part of the ballpark it was, would’ve been a home run in just six MLB ballparks. What makes his home run even more surprising, outside of the fact that he’s never hit one before, is that he doesn’t usually have success hitting the ball to right field. Most of his success is up the middle or to left field. He also doesn’t typically hit fly balls, as the majority of his hits are grounders or line drives. He even said that he “usually gets in trouble” when he hits fly balls. Here’s a chart from Fangraphs:


Source: FanGraphs

Over his career, he has a .178 average on fly balls, a .242 average on grounders, and a .676 average on liners. For comparison, the MLB average in 2014 was .202 on flies, .212 on grounders, and .712 on liners. Revere hits .280 when pulling the ball (2014 MLB average .319), .327 when hitting it up the middle (2014 MLB average .324), and .358 to the opposite field (2014 MLB average .298).

Revere would go on to hit another home run, this time against the Nationals on September 5. This home run tied the game for the Phillies in the top of the ninth–a game they would eventually win. It traveled 401 feet–would’ve been out in all 30 ballparks–and came off of Washington’s closer Rafael Soriano.

His two home runs ended up being a part of a special season for Revere, who would compete for the NL batting title and finish with 49 stolen bases. His first home run was a treat for Phillies fans, and a sigh of relief for Revere, who was just waiting for that moment to happen. He said he wants to get 400 more, but somehow I don’t think that will happen.

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How The Braves Could Impact Amaro’s Future

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, September 23, 2014 09:00 AM Comments: 11

On Monday, the Braves fired GM Frank Wren after being officially eliminated from the 2014 Postseason. Wren spent 15 years in the Braves organization, and was GM since 2007.

Similarly, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been with the Phillies since 1998, and GM since 2008.

The Braves made the playoffs three times under Wren, and were up near 90 wins several times. Under Amaro, the Phillies also made the playoffs three times, and averaged 97 wins from 2009-2011 before the team fell off.

Wren gave out big contracts to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton–both who have greatly underperformed. Amaro gave big contracts to Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee. Howard hasn’t performed anywhere close to as well as he should based on his contract, and Lee–who is injured right now–has done well, but his contract has hurt the Phillies in trade discussions and in money allocation for the rest of the team.

Amaro also handed out difficult contracts to guys like A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd, and has had several failed signings like Delmon Young and Jim Thome (still love ya, Jim), among others.

The point here is that the Braves firing Wren during a poor season, after a rather successful stretch of seasons, sends a message throughout Major League Baseball and fans alike. Especially fans of the Phillies. I think the pressure on Amaro and the Phillies has gotten that much more intense with the firing of Wren.

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Jonathan Papelbon Suspended Seven Games

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, September 15, 2014 09:10 PM Comments: 33

After giving up a career high four runs while blowing a save on Sunday, Jonathan Papelbon appeared to grab his crotch while walking back to the dugout in response to fans booing him. Umpire Joe West thought the gesture was worthy of an ejection, and now we have learned that MLB thinks it was worthy of a seven game suspension. He will begin serving the suspension tonight, and will not appeal. He was also fined an undisclosed amount.

Video of the crotch grab didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary, although it’s tough to really tell from just a video. Papelbon told reporters he was “adjusting himself”–which isn’t farfetched. But seven games, even if Papelbon was doing it in an intentionally rude manner, is an absurd amount. Pitchers who throw at hitter’s heads or players that get into brawls are often suspended for five games. On top of that, Joe West actually grabbed Papelbon by the jersey and, as of now, has not received any punishment. Contact with an umpire is usually a big deal. Not so when it’s the umpire initiating the contact, I guess. I think MLB got this one wrong.

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The Phillies Bullpen is Really Good

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, September 11, 2014 10:00 AM Comments: 8

tabs-bullpenThe 2014 Phillies season is nearing its end, and barring a disastrous September, the Phils should end up with more wins than 2013. Part of the reason is due to the offense scoring slightly more runs per game–3.96 in 2014, 3.77 in 2013–but the pitching staff as a whole has done much better, as well. They are allowing 4.34 runs per game, compared to 4.62 in 2013, and their ERA is 48 points lower than last year (3.84 in 2014, 4.32 in 2013).

The starters, as a whole, have a lower ERA than 2013–3.96 to 4.41–but their other stats don’t much support that. They are walking more hitters and notching less strikeouts, both which support the fact that their FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) is actually slightly higher than last year’s.

The bullpen, however, is a different story. They surrender less walks and strike out more batters, and both their ERA and FIP are lower than last year’s. Still, the bullpen’s ERA is only 11th in the NL, and their FIP is 7th. So what makes them good, exactly?

The answer is in their top four guys: Jonathan Papelbon, Ken Giles, Jake Diekman, and Justin De Fratus.

Giles and Papelbon are especially good. They both have outstanding ERA’s, and rarely allow baserunners. But they are also really good at avoiding the home run. They are the only two reliever teammates in NL history (min 39 IP each) to have an ERA below 1.61, a WHIP below 0.87, and a HR/9 below 0.30. And there are only 12 such player seasons that meet that criteria. The Phillies have two of them in the same season.

Giles has a 1.13 ERA with a 0.81 WHIP, and Papelbon has a 1.61 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP. If we bump those numbers up to a 3.74 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP, the Phillies would be tied for third in the NL with four such players.

The problem is that three out of seven players with at least 23 innings pitched for the Phillies in relief have ERA’s above four. And then there’s guys like Phillippe Aumont and Luis Garcia, who’ve thrown only a handful of innings, but have given up a bunch of earned runs.

The top six relievers in innings pitched for the Phillies (Diekman, Papelbon, Bastardo, De Fratus, Hollands, and Giles) have a combined 3.45 ERA. The rest? 6.46–a steep dropoff.

So while the team stats may lead you to believe that the bullpen is near the bottom of the NL, that isn’t the case. The top four guys in the ‘pen are right up there with the NL leaders, and the top two are having a historical season together. The 2015 bullpen is looking mighty strong.

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