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Franco Showing Right-Handed Power Potential

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, June 08, 2015 11:37 AM Comments: 2

The Phillies rank dead last in MLB with only 36 home runs, but the club has managed to homer nine times in their last seven games. Maikel Franco has been a big reason for that, hitting four home runs in his last six games, giving him six on the season.

After yesterday’s 2-4 effort with a solo shot, the 22-year-old has 10 hits in his last 25 at-bats (.400 BA) with four home runs and eight RBIs. His slugging percentage over that stretch is 1.000, while his OPS is 1.400.

Needless to say, Franco has found his home run stroke and has provided the Phillies with power from the right-side of the plate; something the club has been severely lacking in recent years.

(Via Philly.com)

(Via Philly.com)

Since the departure of Jayson Werth back in 2010, the Phillies have experimented with a number of right-handed power bats. Hunter Pence in 2011-2012 hit 28 home runs during his 155 games played with the Phillies, while Delmon Young hit only eight over 80 games in 2013. The most recent right-handed power-bat the Phillies have had is Marlon Byrd, who hit 25 home runs as the everyday right fielder for the Phillies last season, and currently has 10 for the Reds this season.

Now the Phillies have Franco, a guy who the team hopes can be the long-term solution to their right-handed power woes. The former prospect showed signs of power during his years in the Minors, as he hit 70 total home runs, highlighted by a 31 home run season between Single-A and Double-A back in 2013.

While hitting four homers in six games is impressive, Franco has also shown a flare for the dramatic while doing so. He hit game-tying home runs in consecutive games against the Cincinnati Reds, including a three-run blast off Aroldis Chapman to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th, which eventually led to a Phillies win in extra-innings.  His home run off Tim Lincecum in last Friday’s game against the Giants tied the game at four, and his solo shot in yesterday’s contest gave the Phillies’ bullpen a three-run cushion in the 8th inning.

Those who have watched Franco’s home runs can agree that they have been bombs, especially yesterday’s 434-foot blast off Jeremy Affeldt, but according to ESPN Home Run Tracker, Franco’s home runs have traveled an average distance of 405 feet.

Seeing Franco’s recent power surge is a great sign for a Phillies ballclub that has ranked outside the top 20 in home runs the past two seasons. Hopefully Franco can be the right-handed power the bat the Phillies have been missing, and can continue to hit 400-foot bombs for years to come.

 

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How Brian Dawkins’ Comments Relate to Chase Utley

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, June 04, 2015 01:51 PM Comments: 5

There is no question that Philadelphia sports fans are passionate about their teams and their athletes. In today’s sports environment, the “city of brotherly love” doesn’t have a lot of star players to love, and as Chip Kelly has showed since taking over as the Eagles head coach, a fan cannot get too attached to their athletes because professional sports is a business, and their days here are numbered.

Brian Dawkins was one of the players Philadelphia fans loved. The former Eagles safety, who was the heart and soul of the team for 13 years, had his time in Philadelphia end on a sour note. In a recent interview with “Philly Voice,” Dawkins expressed his displeasure towards the way the process was handled back in 2009.

“It was definitely a mistake,” he said of the team’s decision to part ways after 13 seasons. “You can say business is business, and sometimes things in business happen. But that, what happened, that wasn’t business.” 

Dawkins, who was 35 when the Eagles let him walk, felt betrayed by the organization he had fought tooth and nail for in 13 of his 16 seasons in the NFL. The Eagles’ front office, led by President Joe Banner at the time, let one of the greatest athletes this city has ever seen walk away and sign a five-year $17 million deal with the Denver Broncos.

He should’ve finished his career as an Eagle and retired as an Eagle.

In 2014, now ex-General Manager Howie Roseman said in an interview that letting Dawkins walk was a mistake. “I’d be lying to sit here and say Brian Dawkins shouldn’t have retired as an Eagle,” said Roseman.

Chase Utley is another player who has been loved by Philadelphia fans since his rookie year in 2003. His style of play reflected Dawkins’; hard-nosed and blue collar. Unlike Dawkins, who was a renowned verbal leader on and off the field, Utley is a more soft-spoken player who lets his play on the field speak for itself. Continue reading How Brian Dawkins’ Comments Relate to Chase Utley

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Utley Finally Raises Average Above “Mendoza Line”

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, June 03, 2015 10:17 AM Comments: 8

For the first time in 2015, Chase Utley’s batting average has exceeded the .200 mark after a 3-4 performance in last night’s walk-off win against the Reds, raising his average to .207.

Hey Ben, my average is over .200!  (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)

Hey Ben, my average is over .200!
(Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)

It’s been a long, grueling process, but the beloved second baseman has slowly shown signs of returning to his usual form at the plate.

Back on May 8, Utley’s batting average sat at .99 after finishing April with a .114 overall average. Since then, Utley has managed to raise his average .108 points over his last 22 games. Over that span, the 36-year-old has 25 hits in 73 a-bats, which is good for a .347 batting average.

Of his 25 hits, eight have been extra-base hits, including six doubles, one triple, and one home run.

In last night’s game, Utley showed why he’s one of the best hitters in the game. With the Reds employing the shift against him, Utley cleverly bunted for a base hit down the vacant third base line, a tactic that more left-handed hitters (I’m looking at you, Ryan Howard) should use. Utley added a single and a sixth-inning home run to give him his third three-hit game of the season.

Utley has looked much more comfortable at the plate, and for a Phillies team that is dead last in runs scored (162) and 28th in batting average (.238), seeing their best hitter actually hit has to be a sight for very sore eyes.

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To Steal or Not To Steal?

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, May 30, 2015 01:20 PM Comments: 5

The stolen base is one of those quirky plays in baseball that in my mind really crystallizes the debate between traditional baseball strategies and those promulgated by sabermetrics.  Advocates on both sides agree that there’s nothing worse than an out.  Outs are the fundamental timekeepers of the game and are in limited supply (27).  So is it worth risking a baserunner when an out could occur?  Some would argue that stealing third or even home may be more worth the risk since it’s more likely that player will score.  Of course, there are situational factors at play as well – the batter, the score, the inning, other baserunners, the pitcher, etc.  Similarly, many managers and players keep Earl Weaver‘s maxim of “stolen bases are only beneficial if they’re successful at least 75% of the time” in the back of their heads.  For this reason, the strategy behind stolen bases intrigues me and I wanted to take a deeper look at the Phillies strategy in recent history.

I charted the Phillies stolen bases over the past 20 years and there are a few observations that can made.  Continue reading To Steal or Not To Steal?

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Gameday 49: Mets vs Phillies

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, May 27, 2015 12:44 PM Comments: 24

philliesother

Philadelphia Phillies (19-29) at New York Mets (26-21)

Starting Pitchers:
PHI: Sean O’ Sullivan
vs.
NYM: Noah Syndergaard

Time: 1:10, Citi Field
TV:  CSN
Weather: Cloudy, 83
Media: Twitter and Facebook

A Note for Today:

With yesterday’s loss, the Phillies have lost a franchise record seven straight series against the Mets. The club will look to salvage the final game of this series as they wrap up their 10-game road trip.

The Phillies will get their first look at Noah Syndergaard, who is 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA, and has 16 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts this season.

Chase Utley will look to continue his hot hitting, as the second baseman has gone 4-7 at the plate in this series and has 10 hits in his last 24 at-bats.

Lineup:

Revere LF / Galvis SS / Utley 2B / Howard 1B / Franco 3B / Sizemore RF / Herrera CF / Rupp C / O’Sullivan P

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Ryan Howard Is The Hottest Man In Philadelphia

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, May 22, 2015 10:10 AM Comments: 6

A few weeks ago, we noted that Ryan Howard seemed to be heating up at the plate. He was seeing the ball well, getting lots of solid contact, and finally started to hit some home runs.

Since then, he’s hit .324/.370/.632, with five home runs–including one off a lefty yesterday–and 11 RBI. His 1.002 OPS is 7th in the NL among qualifiers over that time, and his .309 ISO (isolated power, or simply slugging percent minus average) is 5th. His hard hit % (46.8%) is third in the NL, and, if you want to really get advanced, both his wOBA (.429) and wRC (15) are good for seventh in the league as well.

Every single one of those numbers–OPS, ISO, hard hit %, wOBA, and wRC–leads the Phillies not only in May, but for the entire season as well. He also leads the team in home runs (9), and RBI (21).

He went from hitting .194/.247/.417 in April, to hitting .257/.307/.521 for the season, as of yesterday. That’s about a 24.5% increase across the board in three weeks. Prior to the season, ZiPS projected Howard to hit .234/.310/.415, with a total of 18 home runs on the season. He has half that, and it’s not even June yet. So far, he’s outperforming expectations. According to FanGraphs, he’s the most valuable hitter on the Phillies (excluding baserunning).

Trade value status: increased. He might even be on track to hit his way out of Philadelphia. 

He’s been good. Really good–just not Bryce Harper good. But there’s always a catch, right? He’s still striking out a ton–actually a bit more (27.5%) than he was in the first month of the season (25.6%). His line drives are slightly down as well. His BABIP is at .405 in the month of May, which is just a bit higher than his mark of .208 in April.

Putting those things together, it’s easy to say that no, he won’t be able to keep up this outstanding pace. He’ll likely come down to earth. ZiPS projects him to hit .238/.310/.436 the rest of the way, with 15 more home runs and 57 more RBI. He’s been hitting a home run every 16.78 plate appearances this year (once every 14.6 PA in May). ZiPS says that’ll come down to about once every 22.8. And stats aside, I simply can’t see this continuing for much longer, especially from a guy of his age and injury history. 

But he is the hottest player on the Phillies right now. That’s a fact. Who thought we’d be saying that, almost two months into the season?

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Top Reasons For the Phillies’ Recent Success

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, May 21, 2015 04:55 PM Comments: 15

It was only nine days ago when the Phillies were a season-low 12 games under .500, and held the worst record in MLB. Since then, they have enjoyed a successful stretch of seven wins in their last eight games, which included a six game winning streak; the club’s longest since September 2012.

With last night’s win, the Phillies improved their record to 18-24, and are currently 6.5 games back in the NL East.

So, what are the reasons for the Phillies’ recent success?

1. Ryan Howard heating up: Since May 2, Howard has raised his batting average .80 points to give him a current batting average of .257. His OBP has increased .73 points, and his slugging percentage has increased .127 points. In his last seven games, Howard has been one of the hottest first baseman in MLB with a .444 batting average, a .444 OBP, and a .778 slugging percentage. On the season, he has eight home runs, which ranks third among NL first basemen, and 20 RBIs.

2. Starting pitching doing the job: Over their last seven games, the Phillies’ starters have gone 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 43.1 innings-pitched. Aaron Harang and Cole Hamels have been especially good, as both have combined for a 2-0 record, and a 0.43 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched. The other starters have combined for a 3-0 record and a 2.05 ERA.

Maikel_Franco_1280_umcia7yz_69g4ttqq3. Maikel Franco providing energy: The Phillies were in desperate need for an infusion of energy, and the 22-year-old Franco has provided that since being promoted to the big-league roster. In 24 at-bats, Franco has recorded a .292 average with a .356 OBP, one home run, and five RBIs. Defensively, he has shown quick reflexes and a strong arm at the hot corner.

4. Offense doing the job, too: Since May 14, the Phillies offense has been hitting the ball well, with a .300 team batting average (4th in MLB) and a .356 OBP. They have scored 38 runs over that stretch, averaging about five runs per game. Overall, the offense has 72 hits with 28 extra-base hits (1st in MLB), and have outscored their opponents 38-26 during that stretch.

For a team that had the worst record in baseball only nine days ago, this stretch of success has been a pleasant surprise. Whether or not the team will be able to maintain this success has yet to be seen. In the mean time, the Phillies and their fans can bask in the team’s recent success.

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Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, May 14, 2015 09:45 AM Comments: 4

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Last night, Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 113th save for the Phillies, passing Jose Mesa for the franchise record. It wasn’t any ordinary save, though. After walking Francisco Cervelli to begin the inning, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed pinch runner Steve Lombardozzi to reach third with just one out. Two pitches later, Jordy Mercer hit a fly ball in foul territory that looked like it could be a game-tying sacrifice fly. Jeff Francoeur had other ideas, as his monster of a throw home ended the game with a double play. It was an incredible way to get the record. Papelbon even said in his post game interview “what just happened?”

Now, 113 saves with one team is a lot. Brad Lidge had 100 with the Phils. Tug McGraw had 98, Ricky Bottalico had 78. Ryan Madson had 52. As far as Phillies closers go, Lidge, Tug, and Papelbon are all at the top. But only one of those guys makes Phillies fans blood boil. Continue reading Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him

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Could a Move Back to the Infield for Odubel Herrera Help Ease the Outfield Situation?

Posted by Matthew Gephart, Thu, May 14, 2015 09:10 AM Comments: 6

After getting his first days off in the season this week, and as Ryne Sandberg begins to get a little more experimental with the outfield on a daily basis, let’s take a look at this season’s outfield star, Odubel Herrera, and another option Sandberg could have for him.

Odubel came to Philadelphia in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, and has proven to be one of Ruben Amaro’s best pickups of the year, thus far.  Herrera was a prospect out of Venezuela in 2008, signed when he was just 16 years old by the Texas Rangers.  An infielder to start his career, Herrera mostly spent his time at second base and shortstop, and only in 2014 did he start to find himself playing the outfield.  He began to see the bulk of his playing time in 2011 with the Hickory Crawdads, playing 119 games and getting 464 at bats while posting a .306 batting average.  That year he won awards for the MiLB.com Organization All-Star for Texas, while also winning the Post-Season All-Star award for the South Atlantic League.

In 2012, Herrera moved his way up the ladder to the Single-A Carolina League, and had 500 at bats in 126 games, posting a .284 batting average on the year.  He won the Mid-Season All-Star award with Texas in 2013 after making his way to Double-A Frisco, hitting .257 with 7 triples and 100 hits over 389 at bats.

Herrera once again found himself with Single-A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League to start the 2014 season.  There, he would play 29 games before moving back to the Frisco RoughRiders for the rest of the season; this time as the outfielder he would eventually become.  Herrera, in a new position, won the Mid-Season All-Star award for 2014, while also picking up the Post-Season All-Star award for Texas.  He’d finish the season with a batting average of .315, and had proven himself to be the hitter he was striving to be, gathering a career high 73 runs and 59 RBIs. Continue reading Could a Move Back to the Infield for Odubel Herrera Help Ease the Outfield Situation?

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Phillies Nation: Episode 8 – Ryan Lawrence and Kevin Cooney

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, May 13, 2015 12:37 PM Comments: 0

This week the guys are joined by Ryan Lawrence from the Philadelphia Daily News and Kevin Cooney from the Bucks County Courier Times.  They discuss the future of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon with the Phillies.  They also break down potential trades that Ruben Amaro should explore this season as well as the chances for young prospects seeing time in the majors.


Phillies Nation is presented by BQ Basement Systems.

You can also check out the show on TV at the following times: Thursday at 4:30pm on CSN, Thursday at 11pm on CSN, and Friday at 12:30am on TCN

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