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2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Cole Hamels

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, November 26, 2012 04:00 PM Comments: 8

We all thought this was the last start at CBP for Cole Hamels.

Cole Hamels came into 2012 in a contract year, and many, many people expected this to be his last year in Philadelphia. To start the season, Charlie Manuel even elected to skip a day for Hamels so that he could pitch in the home opener.

With the contract undoubtedly on his mind, Hamels still started the year great. Aside from his poor performance in the home opener that I and the rest of the PN Crew witnessed, he had an ERA under 3 up until June 7. And then, in June and July, he posted an ERA of 4.21. This was also a time when the trade rumors–with Hamels’ name being thrown around everywhere–were swirling. It was pretty clear that he was more than a little distracted by it all.

On July 21, he took the mound in what a lot of people thought would be his final start at Citizens Bank Park in a Phillies uniform. He hit his first career home run, gave up a home run to opposing pitcher Matt Cain, and, in 2012 Phillies fashion, blew an 8th inning lead after giving up a home run to Melky Cabrera.

When he walked off the mound, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history. We all thought it could be the end of the Hamels era.

Then, two days later, Jayson Stark reported that the Phillies would push hard for a Hamels extension that week. Joel Sherman then reported that the Phils’ offer to Hamels was around six years for $140 million. Then it happened. On July 25, Hamels signed a six year, $144 million contract extension to stay in Philadelphia. Phillies fans everywhere rejoiced, and didn’t even care that in his next start he gave up five runs in five innings. He would be a Phillie for six more years, and that’s all that mattered.

From that point on, his ERA for the rest of the year was again under 3 (2.58 to be exact), which brought his 2012 ERA to 3.05. He pitched the most innings, had the highest strikeout rate, and lowest ERA among Phillies starters.

Grade: A+ … Even if Hamels didn’t pitch well in 2012, he would have gotten a positive grade. The fact that he signed the extension was enough to make 2012 a huge success for Hamels.

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Phillies Player Review: Nate Schierholtz

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Thu, November 22, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 7

Nate Schierholtz was the one player the Phillies got in return for Hunter Pence who was not only big league-ready, but had already accrued a fair amount of major league service time. A kind of enigma in San Francisco, Schierholtz came to Philly with the promise of consistent playing time and an opportunity to prove himself to his new manager as an everyday player. It was a new start for Schierholtz, who had seemingly fallen out of favor with his former manager, Bruce Bochy. When the trade was made, Schierholtz claimed to relish the opportunity, feeling excitement over the possibility of starting anew.

The excitement and energy Schierholtz was feeling shown through in his Phillies debut on August 1. After singling in his first at-bat, Schierholtz gave the Phillies the lead over Washington when he hit a solo shot to make it 3-2 in the fifth. That would be the final score. Suddenly–and very briefly–Philadelphia was enamored with Schierholtz, whose home run made him the game’s hero.

It’d be all downhill from there.

Over his next ten games (eight starts), Schierholtz would hit just .185 with a paltry .480 OPS. He’d have just one extra base hit–a double–in that time. He seemed to be struggling to adjust to his new surroundings and his play exhibited as much. Still, Manuel was playing him regularly and seemed intent on giving him every opportunity to succeed. That opportunity would vanish when Schierholtz, in typical 2012 Phillies fashion, landed on the DL with a broken toe just twelve days after making his debut with the team.

He’d end up missing about three weeks of time before returning to action. His toe was still broken, but he opted to play through the pain. However, the injury hindered Manuel’s ability to play him regularly, and, while he appeared in 26 games, he’d make just six starts the rest of the way.

Schierholtz’s final line with the Phillies:  in 73 plate appearances, he hit .273 with a .698 OPS, one home run, five RBI and five runs scored. He struck out ten times and walked five times. His OPS+ was a lowly 88.

Final Grade: Incomplete It seems unfair to me to grade a player on less than 75 plate appearances. While he didn’t perform particularly well, he also wasn’t given the fullest opportunity to succeed. Part of that was, no doubt, due to his injury. It does bear mentioning that Schierholtz had a .303 BABIP during his time with the Phillies, so his results don’t appear to be the product of poor luck. In the end, it seems it could be a short stay in Philly for Schierholtz, as he could potentially be a non-tender candidate, depending on how the Phillies offseason plays out.

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Player Reviews: Justin De Fratus & Phillippe Aumont

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, November 20, 2012 11:59 AM Comments: 2

The Phillies bullpen was a major point of contention this season as it rated as one of the very worst in the sport.

However, ‘bullpen’ is not a static term, as relievers come and go. The relief corps at the end of a season could look vastly different than it did during the first couple of months. The Phillies fit this description and, for that reason, it isn’t entirely fair to judge the bullpen as one consistent unit throughout the whole season. Bright spots like Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont weren’t the problem and the post-Qualls bullpen showed promise and potential heading into next season.

De Fratus and Aumont aren’t worthy of their own in-depth reviews because we simply don’t know all that much about them. They combined for about 25 major league innings this season and it seems pointless to grade them on such a small sample. Instead of recapping their highs and lows and regurgitating data obtained in minute samples, this space is of better use in discussing their future roles, the evaluation of relievers, and the cost-benefit mechanism when building a bullpen.

Continue reading Player Reviews: Justin De Fratus & Phillippe Aumont

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Phillies Player Review: Tyler Cloyd

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, November 17, 2012 02:51 PM Comments: 1

Cloyd had a run for the ages in 2012 that saw him crack the super-competitive Phillies rotation. Photo: AP

Heading into 2012, the Phillies seemed to be full of starting pitching options. Doc Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, and Joe Blanton were all but guaranteed to be on the Phils’ Opening Day roster barring injury while Joel Pineiro, Dave Bush, Scott Elarton, and Pat Misch were among the starting pitching veterans invited to Spring Training. And aside from that group, there was the possibility, outlined here from February, that Austin Hyatt could catch lightning in a bottle and reach the Majors in 2012. The thought wasn’t so crazy: Hyatt started the Spring Opener for the Phils, after all.

Plans can and do change. Sometimes they change in sports because of opportunities presented due to injury. Other times, they present themselves because a player’s performance in the lower levels is too strong to ignore. For Tyler Cloyd, a little bit of both was needed to break the logjam. Continue reading Phillies Player Review: Tyler Cloyd

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Phillies Player Review: Laynce Nix

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Thu, November 15, 2012 07:00 PM Comments: 9

Before the 2012 season, Ruben Amaro, Jr. signed Laynce Nix to fill the team’s need for a left-handed bat off the bench in the same vein as Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs before him. The deal was relatively cheap and also provided the roster with a player who had a superfluous “y” in their name, something the team was lacking after Jayson Werth skipped town in 2010 and left the Phillies in desperate need for a player of that ilk in 2011.

Nix also figured to help pitch in playing some time in left field, where it was wide open, and also at first base while the Phillies waited for the return of the injured Ryan Howard. On paper, it was a prudent move by the Phillies GM.

For awhile, the move seemed to translate from paper to the field, as well. Nix started off the season pretty well, hitting .326 through the first five weeks of the season with two dingers and eleven RBI in 46 total at-bats. At that time, his OPS was a very impressive .979. Things seemed to be going swimmingly for Nix. Then an event happened that would come to define his 2012 season: Nix got hurt.

On May 11, he was placed on the DL with a calf strain. By the time Nix returned to the big league roster on July 22, he was a forgotten man, a footnote on a season that seemed all but lost. Upon his return, he appeared to be a drastically different player than the one that was contributing the way he expected to at the start of the season. His first half/second half splits read like night and day:

First half: 51 PA, 7 R, 2 HR, 11 RBI, .326/.392/.587

Second half: 76 PA, 6 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .191/.263/.294

His OPS+ went from 168 in the first half to 55 in the second half. Yikes. That’s really the story when it comes to Nix. He started off well, but an injury caused him to miss a lot of time. When he returned, he just wasn’t the same player. Had he stayed healthy, could he have produced at the rate he was for the first five weeks of the season? There’s no way of knowing. But it’s not too outlandish to suggest he could’ve maintained some semblance of positive production had he kept getting regular at-bats.

Grade: D … Had Nix been able to maintain his production from the beginning of the season, he’d easily be a candidate for an A. Had he played the entire season the way he did after returning from injury, he’d surely get an F. I arrived at a D because the scale shifts slightly more to the failing grade when considering the larger sample size of Nix’s second half performance. All in all, it seems likely that it was a one-time hurrah for Nix in a Phillies uniform. With a bloated cast of potential back-up outfielders, and the Phillies clearly looking to add a couple more, Nix seems a likely candidate to be released.

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Phillies Player Review: Antonio Bastardo

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, November 14, 2012 08:47 AM Comments: 2

Bastardo had his ups and downs in 2012.

Antonio Bastardo–equipped with a new jersey number–assumed the role of set-up man for the Phillies in 2012. He had the second most innings (behind Jonathan Papelbon) among Phils relievers, but never quite reached the Ryan Madson level that the Phillies have been looking for in a set-up man.

He posted a 4.33 ERA and had a pretty high walk rate at 11.6% (and 4.5 BB/9). Even though his overall numbers were ‘OK’, he did not fare well when the pressure was on.

In high leverage situations, 17 runs, compared to a combined nine in medium and low leverage situations. In other words, he crumbled under pressure a decent amount of the time.

And when you are the team’s set-up man, you must perform under pressure, because the 8th inning is the more difficult inning a lot of the time in a close game. Which is why a good closer needs a good set-up man. Kind of like a sidekick—but not.

One thing that he really excelled at was strikeouts. He had a K rate of 36.2% and a K/9 of 14.02–both bests among Phils relievers and near the top in the NL as well. Both were good for top-5 among qualified NL relievers.

Going further, 13.6% of his pitches ended up with a whiff, which again was near the top in the league.

Grade: C … Overall, Bastardo was a decent part of the bullpen. He struck guys out, but also walked a lot of batters. He had a high ERA, but his FIP wasn’t nearly as bad. He cost the Phillies a handful of games and wasn’t a good enough set-up man for them. He’s going to have to do better if he wants to keep the set-up job.

  • 2 Comments
 

Phillies Player Review: Joe Savery

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 12, 2012 02:26 PM Comments: 3

(Philly.com)

It started with promise, with people pining to see Joe Savery in the bullpen. It ended with Savery wondering where he once against fits in the Phillies organization.

A former pitcher-turned-first-baseman-turned-pitcher, Savery found himself in Triple-A in 2011 as a budding star in the Iron Pigs bullpen. Also a former first round selection, Savery posted a 1.50 ERA between Clearwater, Reading, and Lehigh Valley in ’11, striking out 41 in 36 innings. With the obvious need for a situational left in the majors, it looked like another move forward was coming.

To start 2012, he found himself in the Phillies bullpen, in exactly that role. It just wasn’t as easy as it appeared a year earlier. Between April 9 and June 27, Savery made 17 appearances with the Phillies, just nine of them scoreless. Savery was optioned back to L.V. shortly after a five-run implosion against the Pirates on June 27. He’d return to the big league club for two more games in July, but that would be it. No call came in September.

Savery’s story is an awesome one. A first round pick who couldn’t make it as a pitcher, switched back to full-time hitter who was actually pretty decent, and then back to pitching when he almost-accidentally found his form. Not many athletes are capable of doing what he’s done and making it to the highest level of the game. For that, we give him props.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done and at 27-years old, he’s got a little bit of time left, but not much with this Phillies club. Looking ahead, he’s got a ton of youthful competition in front of him in what looks to be a pretty set bullpen. We’ll see if Savery can do what he’s done before and tweak his game once again.

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Phillies Player Review: Erik Kratz

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sun, November 11, 2012 12:00 PM Comments: 6

Everybody Kratz your hands!

Erik Kratz was a more-than-pleasant surprise for the Phillies in 2012. He was a guy that started the year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and was not expected to spend much time with the big league club with backup catcher Brian Schneider assuming the role as backup catcher.

But when Schneider wound up on the DL, Kratz got his opportunity–and he made the most of it.

He finished the year with a .248/.306/.504 slash line, and his .809 OPS was good for 3rd on the Phillies among player with at least 100 PA (only Carlos Ruiz and Kevin Frandsen were ahead of him).

Four of his nine home runs came in the seventh inning or later, and three of them came in high leverage situations. It seemed that, whenever the Phillies needed something, he was able to pull through.

And because of his great power numbers, Kratz quickly became a fan favorite. The phrase “everybody Kratz your hands” echoed through Twitter by fans and beat writers alike.

In late August, the Phillies were playing the Braves, who were still battling for the NL East crown, down in Atlanta.

Paul Janish hit a soft line-drive single to shallow center, and John Mayberry Jr. came up throwing home, as Chipper Jones was about to score. The ball and Jones reached home plate at nearly the same time, but Kratz held on in one of the most spectacular plays of the year. (Watch it here) That play just reassured everyone of the awesomeness of Kratz.

Grade: A+ … His numbers and fan favoritism made him one of the most “fun” players on the Phillies. He was one of their best power hitters (.255 ISO), and had his own catch phrase.

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Phillies Player Review: Domonic Brown

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Fri, November 09, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 11

Domonic Brown needs to step up.

With Hunter Pence now in San Francisco and no one stepping in to take the full-time left field job in 2012, the Phillies are now desperately in need of two corner outfielders. Add on top of that the fact that, through the last four seasons, Ruben Amaro Jr. has traded away a boatload of offensive talent, all while refusing to budge on Brown, and the pressure on the young outfielder to become the player he was projected to be as a prospect is building fast.

The Phillies really need him to come through. To that end, they gave him his first true shot in the big leagues in 2012 (in 2010 he got a short look while Shane Victorino was on the DL and again as a September call-up and in 2011 he only had a month to prove himself before the plug was pulled).

For Brown, the results were mixed. He showed flashes of being the player everyone thinks he can be, but he was also plagued by long stretches of ineffectiveness, which leave his final numbers looking very bleak. He finished with a triple slash line of .235/.316/.396, while striking out 34 times and walking 21 times. He had five home runs and 26 RBI. Even more disheartening: he not only didn’t register a stolen base, he didn’t even make an attempt.

One plus for Brown was, of his 44 hits, 18 of them were for extra bases. He did show a fair amount of power, despite the anemic triple slash. He also got on base at a high rate, as the .316 OBP to a .235 batting average indicates.

However, what needs to be remembered about these numbers at the plate  is that they came over a very small sample size (212 plate appearances). He was also riddled by poor luck, posting a .260 BABIP. With an average BABIP of .300 (the league mean over the course of an entire season), Brown would’ve hit .272. Poor luck is not something to be ignored in this case, especially because the sample size was so small. Those things tend to even out and there are signs Brown can be a better hitter than the surface numbers this season showed. In the end, his .309 wOBA wasn’t atrocious.

In the field, it was more of the same from Brown. He exhibited fantastic athleticism and an amazing throwing arm (seven outfield assists in 51 games is a ridiculous number). But he also showed an inability to routinely track fly balls, coming up with more than a few misplays.

All and all, it seems like too short a viewing to truly evaluate Brown. Alas, that is what I have been tasked to do, so evaluate I must.

GRADE: C.  This grade probably should be lower. But I’m giving Brown a pass here because of the poor luck and the small sample. I think it’s also important to remember that, even though he seems older, Brown is still a very young player (This past season was his age 24 season). Many guys don’t get it figured out on the big league level until their mid-20s, and there’s enough here to suggest Brown will also reach a higher plateau of performance as he ages. That said, time is running out for him to become the player everyone expected.

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Phillies Player Review: Chase Utley

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, November 07, 2012 10:30 AM Comments: 28

Chase Utley's 2012 on-base percentage was 89 points higher than his replacements.

How does Chase Utley do it?

For the second straight year in 2012, chronic knee pain kept him out for much of the first half of the season. But just like 2011, once Utley returned, he was good to go every day.

Utley returned in the Phillies 77th game, homered in his very first at-bat and proceeded to play 83 of the remaining 86 games, including 71 of the final 72.

He played at a high level, too. Utley hit .256, his lowest batting average since his rookie season, but had as many walks (43) as strikeouts. The result was a .365 on-base percentage. More impressive was the return of his power. Utley hit 11 homers to equal his 2011 total, but he did it in 92 fewer plate appearances.

Utley was obviously a huge upgrade over his first-half replacements. Freddy Galvis, Michael Martinez, Mike Fontenot and Pete Orr combined for a .670 OPS. Utley was at .793. Utley’s OBP was 89 points higher.

Among second basemen with at least 350 plate appearances, Utley led the NL in OBP. The only 2B in the league with a higher slugging percentage was Aaron Hill.

Defensively, Utley saved eight runs in 720.1 innings. Only second basemen Darwin Barney, Robinson Cano and Jamey Carroll saved runs at a higher rate.

On the basepaths, Utley was 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts to boost his career success rate to 89.6 percent, the highest in major-league history.

Utley is fielding grounders regularly this offseason and will try different methods to be better prepared for the start of next season. Based on how effective he was in the second half last year, there is a semblance of hope that he can re-capture the offensive magic he had from 2005-09

And even if he can’t, Utley has proven that the watered-down, 33-year-old version of himself is still one of the top second basemen in all of baseball.

GRADE: A-

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