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2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Freddy Galvis

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, November 06, 2012 10:56 AM Comments: 4

Freddy Galvis had perhaps the most interesting 2012 season of any Phillies player. He lived up to the hype defensively, lived down to his offensive reputation, essentially broke his back while batting and was suspended for having trace amounts of a performance-enhancing drug in his system. When on the field, he was about what everyone expected, and was relied upon as a regular starter with Chase Utley on the disabled list.

Galvis doing his thang.

Galvis played in 58 games and tallied 200 plate appearances. He hit .226/.254/.363, with a .267 wOBA and 64 wRC+.

His light-hitting was expected, as he had a 74 wRC+ in 1,072 Double-A plate appearances from 2009-11, and an 82 wRC+ in 126 Triple-A plate appearances in 2011.

The major league equivalency for those numbers is right around what Galvis produced, and while 44% of his hits went for extra bases, his approach at the plate was generally lacking. He doesn’t walk, strikes out more than the typical slap-hitter, and doesn’t hit the ball very hard.

He isn’t known for his offense, however, and his defense was so good that it became difficult to remove him from the lineup. Though he only played 1/3 of the season, he finished with a +5.6 fielding rating, manning 2B for 416 innings and SS for another 36 innings. He excelled in both areas and showed himself to be a valuable utility infielder.

His overall fielding rating ranked among the league leaders despite the fact that he didn’t even technically qualify for the leaderboard. Galvis was an elite fielder playing a new position and playing it as well as the player he was filling in for, who oh-by-the-way, just happens to have the highest fielding rating at the position over the last five seasons.

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Phillies Player Review: Darin Ruf

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, November 04, 2012 08:14 AM Comments: 8

Ruf was amazing in '12. (AP)

Babe Ruf. Ruf Ryder. So many nicknames in so little time.

Darin Ruf slugged his way onto the scene about midway through the 2012 season with the Reading Phillies; it wasn’t as though Ruf was some highly-touted prospect everyone knew about. Really, he was an afterthought at 26 years old; a guy who was just kind of there. That all changed.

In August, Ruf slugged 20 home runs for Reading, which actually equals the Major League record set by Sammy Sosa in 1998. Overall, Ruf pounded 38 homers over 584 plate appearances, a Phillies minor league record once held by Ryan Howard. After all was said and done with August, Ruf had knocked in 35 runs, scored 29, slugged the 20 homers, and slugged at a .974 clip. Quite a month.

And better late than never for Ruf. And if you recall, Ryan Howard was blocked at one time, not playing full time in the majors until he was 25.

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Phillies Player Review: Jimmy Rollins

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Fri, November 02, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 23

Having just won his fourth Gold Glove award, this player review could not come at a better time for Jimmy Rollins, a man who could use a few positives in his corner. That’s because 2012 was one of the more contentious between Rollins and the fans. Rollins once again drew criticism when he became the focal point for a city-wide debate on if and when it’s ever appropriate for a player to not give 100% on a seemingly routine out.

The sour taste of Rollins’s perceived laziness, coupled with a brutally slow start to the season and a proclivity for popping the ball up on the infield (seriously, I must have heard the statistic that he leads all of baseball in infield pop-ups 1000 times this season), left many fans chomping at the bit to be extra critical of the long-time Phillies shortstop, jumping at the opportunity to call Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s decision to extend Rollins before the season a big mistake.

But should we allow those minor things–some bad outs and a few lackadaisical lapses in judgment–define Rollins’s season in general?

On the surface, it was a pretty pedestrian year for the man we’ve grown fond of calling J-Roll. His .250/.316./.427 triple slash line isn’t setting the world on fire, by any stretch of the imagination. But if you dig deeper and compare Rollins’s statistics to his major league counterparts, it was a really good, borderline stellar year for the 33-year old.

Take, for example, his .743 OPS. Standing alone, that’s nothing to write home about. But that number ranked him sixth among qualifying major league shortstops. He also ranked first in runs scored (102), was tied for third in doubles (33), was second in home runs (23, which also led the team), and was fifth in steals (30). He did all of this while playing in 156 games, which also led the team. That’s important to note because that now makes two straight seasons where J-Roll was able to avoid a long-term stint on the DL after having many questions asked about his health following the 2010 season.

Going further, Rollins posted a .322 wOBA, his highest mark since 2008. He did all of this despite the unfortunate BABIP of .262.

And I haven’t even touched upon the aforementioned gold glove award yet. No matter your opinion of that award and its merits, there’s no denying that Rollins is still a plus defender and arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game. He provides above average offensive production, and outstanding defense.

But perhaps most telling of the type of overall season Rollins had is his WAR: 4.9. That number was second among big league shortstops this season, behind only Ian Desmond, and was the highest he’s posted since his 5.6 mark in 2008, when he was still in his twenties. That made his play worth $22.2 on Fangraphs, more than double what the Phils actually paid him.

Final Grade: A I know there are people who will disagree with this grade. But when you consider the position he plays and how he stacks up to those positional counterparts, I’d be remiss to give Rollins anything short of an A. You can talk about the laziness and the infield pop-ups all you want. The fact is this guy can still play at a very high level, and he proved it this season.

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Phillies Player Review: Chad Qualls

Posted by Eric Seidman, Thu, November 01, 2012 10:37 AM Comments: 15

I was very tempted to make this a joke review. I wouldn’t have written an intro or offered any insight and would have instead simply left a bolded “Grade F… no explanation needed.” Qualls was the most maligned Phillies player this season and was out the door by the end of June. He blew a number of games in a limited amount of time and his entrances became associated with doom.

However, upon reflecting on his season, I realized that Qualls is a solid proxy for a discussion of certain statistical and analytical concepts. Consider this a hybrid review — I’m still giving him an F, so let’s get that out of the way right now, but he is worth discussing for important reasons that go beyond his cringe-inducing performance in a Phillies uniform.

Qualls’ time with the Phillies serves as the perfect foray into discussions of: incorporating context, ERA and run prevention, the difference between per-9 and per-plate appearance statistics, and the need to dig deeper and consider all pertinent information in any analysis. At least he gave us something.

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Phillies Player Review: Josh Lindblom

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, October 30, 2012 02:07 PM Comments: 18

Josh Lindblom has limited righties to a .191 batting average in two seasons.

The Phillies’ bullpen was a disaster in 2012, placing 21st in ERA (3.94) and 29th in eighth-inning ERA (4.89). The ‘pen blew 19 saves — 11 more than their 2011 total. And it lost 27 games after losing just 18 in 2011.

So it made sense that when the Phillies were set to unload Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, they would look for at least one young reliever who could come in to help a beleaguered unit. Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers for 25-year-old right-hander Josh Lindblom and 23-year-old starting pitching prospect Ethan Martin.

While Martin flourished at Reading, going 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts, Lindblom didn’t have much success in a Phillies uniform. He had a 4.63 ERA for the Phillies, and while he struck out 27 batters in 23.1 innings, he also walked 17.

Lindblom has heat — his fastball ranges from 92-96 mph, but he has trouble keeping the ball in the park. He allowed 13 home runs in 71 innings this season, nine of which came on the first or second pitch of an at-bat. It’s a trend that makes you nervous going forward at Citizens Bank Park.

The 6-foot-4 Lindblom does have potential, though, and he’ll be cheap for a few more years since he has less than two years of major-league service time.

The Phils should use him as a righty specialist in 2013. Right-handed hitters are batting .191 with a .576 OPS off Lindblom in a career sample of 248 plate appearances. Lefties, though, are hitting .282/.396/.500.

Lindblom can still be a quality bullpen piece for the next two or three years if the home run trend changes, but he should not be the eighth-inning answer in 2013, whether it’s just him or a combination of he, Antonio Bastardo and possibly Phillippe Aumont. Lindblom’s propensity to hit the sweet spot of the bat and the control problems of Bastardo and Aumont would set the Phils up for another season of late meltdowns.

If the Phillies sign a veteran reliever with a track record of setup success — a Mike Adams, Ryan Madson or Brandon League — Lindblom can move into the complementary role he is better suited for at this point.

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Phillies Player Review: Jim Thome

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, October 29, 2012 08:00 AM Comments: 6

Thome wasn't around much in 2012 but provided one of the most memorable moments of the season. Photo: AP

Throw WAR out the door for this one. There was no move that got me more excited for the 2012 season than the signing of the 41-year-old slugger Peoria, IL slugger. Thome’s return to Philadelphia was about a lot more than bench help to many fans: Big Jim wasn’t the man who built the Bank, but he was certainly the man who filled it. Thome was the first star signing in what would become, nearly a decade later, a trend for the normally tight-walleted Phils. When Thome rejoined the team seven years after he last played in Philly, it was a feel-good-story that propagated big “What-If”s.

What if Thome could platoon with Ty Wigginton or John Mayberry? What if Thome still had the power and bat speed he showed just a season before in Minnesota? What if Thome’s body held up to play defense – would he become more than just a part-time player? Phillies’ fans, myself included, had a big wishlish for Big Jim. Unfortunately, Big Jim didn’t have a whole lot of time on the field to check things off that list. Competing in just 30 games for the Phils, seeing the plate only 71 times, Thome battled age and injury to get into the line-up. Along the way, he did provide some memorable moments.

Because Thome’s second trip with the Phillies was so short, it’s almost possible to give an at-bat-by-at-bat synopsis of each. Thome’s playing time was limited early, seeing just 21 trips to the plate in April and hitting .111/.238/.111. Thome looked like he often struggled to catch up to fastballs early on. Thome went on the DL after the April 28 game against the Cubs with a lower back strain that kept him away from the Phils until June 6 against the Dodgers. With the tying run on second in the ninth against one of Thome’s other former teams, Citizen’s Bank Park rose to its feet to welcome Big Jim back. Thome struck out looking with Wigginton on second and the Phillies lost.

Thome would end his time with the Phils, however, with one of the most memorable moments of the 2012 season. Thome hit .295/.380/.682 with 5 HRs, mostly in an Interleague DH role, for the Fightins in June and bailed Jonathan Papelbon out of a blown save against the Rays on June 23 with a walk-off against Jake McGee. Less than a week later, Thome was gone, traded to the Orioles, where he played in 28 games, seeing 115 PA before a herniated disc slowed Thome down. Thome was activated for the surprising Orioles’ playoff appearance, where he went 2 for 15 in the playoffs.

Grade C: It is very hard, for both sentimental and practical sample-size reasons, to give Thome a fair, accurate or honest assessment. Those who expected more were living off of yesterday’s memories, those who expected less were pleasantly surprised. To not cheap out and pick “Incomplete”, I think Thome performed nearly as expected, considering age and health.

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Phillies Player Review: Jake Diekman

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, October 28, 2012 03:47 PM Comments: 3

Diekman looked unhittable at times, and wild at others (Phoulballz)

With a wicked lefty windup and a fastball that reaches 97 on the gun, Jake Diekman burst onto the scene as a possible eighth inning savior for a Phillies team that absolutely needed one. That good times didn’t last for Diekman, but the young reliever showed enough promise that Phillies fans are, and should be, excited.

The 25-year-old Diekman began the year as a relative unknown with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs after an 83-strikeout season with Reading in 2011. In 26 2/3 innings with the Pigs through the first month and change, Diekman fanned 37 batters, but did struggle a bit with control, walking 13. It was that lack of control that haunted him throughout his up and down tenure with the Phillies.

Diekman made his major league debut on May 15 against the Astros and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. In his next appearance on May 17 against the Cubs, he allowed four runs and walked two batters. That kinda year.

Overall, Diekman finished 2012 with a 3.95 ERA in 27 1/3 innings, and an extremely high 1.65 WHIP. The strikeouts remained high, as he fanned 35, however the walks continues to haunt him. Diekman gave up 20 free passes, far to many to have him remain a key cog in the bullpen.

The tools are there. If Diekman can hone his wild delivery and maybe take a tick or two off his fastball in order to control it, this will be a stronger bullpen in 2013.

Grade: C

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Phillies Player Review: Kyle Kendrick

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Sat, October 27, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 12

PHOTO: AP

Kyle Kendrick is perhaps the most underrated player on the Phillies roster. You’ve heard the narrative surrounding him: year in and year out, he fills multiple roles for the pitching staff, usually doing a satisfactory job, and some nights doing a fantastic job, yet he still is the target of fan vitriol.

This season was perhaps the biggest indication of that, as Kendrick put together an above average year, appearing in 37 games and starting 25 of them. But he was still frequently made out to be a goat in the eyes of many fans. I believe the biggest reason Kendrick draws ire from the fans is his inconsistency. Sometimes he can look really, really bad. He was once again marred by an inability to achieve predictability in 2012.

Observe: Kendrick managed to put together two separate scoreless streaks of twenty innings or more during the season. They were number one and two for longest scoreless streaks by a Phillies pitcher in 2012. During those stretches, he was undeniably the team’s best pitcher. Furthermore, he posted ERAs of 2.89 and 2.95 during the months of May and August, respectively. At times, he looked elite. But–and with Kendrick there’s always a but–he also struggled down the stretch, when the team needed good starts as they fought to stay afloat in the race for the second wild card. His ERA from September 15 to the end of the season was a robust 6.59. On top of that, he posted an ERA near seven in both April and June. As usual, Kendrick played the role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personified.

Despite his inability to churn out positive results on the regular, the final numbers aren’t too shabby for KK. Among pitchers with at least 30 innings of work, Kendrick’s ERA of 3.90 was sixth best on the team, ahead of the likes of Vance Worley, Roy Halladay and Antonio Bastardo (although two of those three dealt with injury). He also posted a career-high in strikeouts per nine innings with 6.55 mark. Despite a high ERA in the second half of September, he finished with an overall second-half ERA of 2.87, with most of those innings coming while Kendrick was in the rotation.

The advanced metrics aren’t quite as kind to Kendrick, however. Fangraphs lists his FIP at 4.32 and his xFIP at 4.31. According to their calculations, he was good for 1.2 WAR (it should be noted that that number is double the amount of WAR Kendrick posted in any year from 2008-2011).

I believe the biggest question, though, is whether Kendrick was worth the money he was being paid or not. These things are always magnified following a contract extension, which Kendrick received during the offseason. That extension paid Kendrick $3M this season. Fangraphs says his play was worth about $5.6M. All things considered, it was a shrewd move for Ruben Amaro and the front office, as Kendrick proved to be a cheap but effective member of the roster.

At the moment, KK is earmarked to be the number five starter next year. If he could repeat his 2012 performance, he would be arguably one of the best number fives in baseball.

Grade: B

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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Phillies Player Review: John Mayberry

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, October 26, 2012 08:15 AM Comments: 19

John Mayberry received more playing time this year, playing in 149 games with Domonic Brown in the minors, the mid-season trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard‘s injury. His overall production was below average. He hit for power but didn’t reach base all that much and struck out 23% of the time.

His defense was solid at first base and in the corner outfield spots, but his athleticism didn’t translate into solid routes or range in center. All told, he tallied just 0.4 WAR this year, down from the very impressive 2.5 WAR he produced in 2011.

His 2012 campaign can be viewed one of two ways: it was an overall failure or it was an experiment that cemented the notion that he is only useful as a platoon player. The two are mutually exclusive, because buying into the latter means that this season was useful in determining his future role, which prevents it from being a total outright failure.

Maybe I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, but I choose to evaluate his production the second way. This was a largely disappointing season, but his lack of production against righties means the Phillies can use him strictly against the lefties he crushes moving forward. They don’t need to waste any more time giving him work against righties and can instead eke out more outfield production through the use of platoons. All along, we said that the one benefit to this waste of a Phillies season was that the team would get to try different players in various spots and really see what it had.

While that comment was primarily directed towards the bullpen, it was also true of Mayberry. Over the last two seasons, he embodied the common expression “He’s great as an extra man but if he’s a starter you’re not a very good team.” That expression comes in many shapes and forms, but it describes Mayberry and the Phillies. As a part-time platoon player that isn’t yet arbitration-eligible, he is a perfect fit for this Phillies roster. As an everyday starter, not so much, and the 2012 season helped prove that point.

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Phillies Player Review: Cliff Lee

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, October 24, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 40

PHOTO: AP

Cliff Lee had perhaps the strangest season of any Phillie in 2012. He had a 3.16 ERA but went 6-9. He averaged 7.0 innings per starts but had no complete games. He had 7.39 times as many strikeouts as walks but wasn’t as dominant as he could have been because he allowed 26 home runs, nine more than his season average the previous three years.

Lee’s season really hammered down the absurdity of pitcher wins as an evaluative metric. He had fewer wins than relievers James Russell and Santiago Casilla.

Why? Well, because the Phillies gave him just 3.20 runs of support per game, fourth-lowest in all of baseball. Lee allowed 79 runs this season and the Phillies scored 75 runs with him in the game … meaning that as good as he was, the Phillies made the other pitcher look better.

Gio Gonzalez, who won 21 games, was given 148 runs of support, almost twice as many as Lee.

Phillies fans turned their back on Lee midway through the season. Most knew he was doing his job and keeping the Phils in games, but the fact that the team won just three of his first 13 games became frustrating.

It’s really all about timing. Lee’s worst stretch of the season came when the Phillies needed him most: at the end of May through the end of June, when Roy Halladay was on the DL.

In eight starts from May 20-June 29, Lee had a 5.68 ERA and the opposition hit .308 off him. The Phillies went 2-6.

But it was mostly smooth sailing for Lee in the second half. He had 88 strikeouts to just four walks over his final 12 starts, for a K/BB of 22-to-1 that I don’t think any of us have ever seen. His ERA over his last eight starts was 1.44.

One can’t even say “Lee figures to rebound in 2013,” because he already did rebound. His 2012 wasn’t as good as his 2011 (2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .229 opp. BA), but he should be worth his salary next season.

If there’s something Lee needs to work on, it’s the quality of his first pitches. He led all of baseball in strike percentage and first-pitch strike percentage, but when batters did make contact on his initial offering, they hit .376.

All in all, though? An excellent 2012 season that looked like less than it was because of a glaring lack of run support and a poorly timed cold spell.

Grade: A-

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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