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2011 Player Review

2011 Phillies Player Reviews

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 10, 2012 04:24 PM Comments: 0

(PHOTO: Getty)

During the 2011 off-season, we reviewed each of the Phillies’ performances over the past season. Everyone received a grade on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the best. If you missed it, see how your favorite Phillie did according to our writers.

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Ryan Howard’s 2011: The Modern-Day Achilles

Posted by Michael Baumann, Mon, December 19, 2011 02:18 PM Comments: 80

This concludes our 2011 Player Review series. Previous posts can be found here.

It’s tough to look at Ryan Howard objectively. The highs have been great (he’s one of only five players in major league history to win Rookie of the Year and the MVP in his first two seasons), and the lows have been dreadful. There’s a great tradition in Philadelphia sports of being able to separate the great athlete from his context. We look at Eric Lindros and see his concussions. We look at Allen Iverson and think first of his bizarre and polarizing behavior and his inability to overcome his terrible teammates. We look at Bobby Abreu and we don’t see the Phillies’ career leader in OBP and an outfield talent the likes of which the organization hadn’t seen since Richie Ashburn–we see his refusal to run into walls. We see Donovan McNabb and rather than recognizing that he’s the greatest offensive player the Eagles have ever had, we crucify him for only being the third-best quarterback in the NFL during his prime.

So, too, with Ryan Howard. But instead of concussions, or Ricky Manning, or a rap album, we see what should simply be known as The Contract. In his prime, Howard was as good a power hitter as could be found in baseball. His 2006 season was probably not as good as Albert Pujols‘, but his winning the MVP that year was hardly a miscarriage of justice. But since then, he’s slipped from those ranks. The league discovered that he was a dead-pull hitter who couldn’t recognize low off-speed pitches, and without much athleticism or defense to fall back on, Howard went from MVP candidate to pretty good in the blink of an eye.

Except Ruben Amaro, in April 2010, signed him to a contract extension that paid him like an MVP candidate through his age-36 season. And while I don’t begrudge Howard a dollar of the $125 million he’ll make over the next five years, that figure will color everything he does for the rest of his time with the Phillies.

But y’all know all this. How did he do in 2011?

Continue reading Ryan Howard’s 2011: The Modern-Day Achilles

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Rollins’ 2011 Leaves Us with Differing Emotions

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, December 15, 2011 10:31 AM Comments: 27

We near the end of our 2011 Phillies player review series. Today is Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard will be last.

Mystery team involved or not, the Phillies without Jimmy Rollins just wouldn’t seem right. Rollins’ decade as leader of the team has been one of the most interesting, exciting, frustrating, and fun tenures of any sports star in Philadelphia…maybe ever. In the same game – hell, in the same at-bat – he can make you smile and cringe several different times. But usually, in the end, you leave with a sense that Rollins has helped the Phillies in some way.

In 2011, frustration may have taken more of a central role in our feelings toward Rollins. No, he’ll never return to being the J-Roll of 2007 – the MVP-winning shortstop that exploded for a once-in-a-lifetime season. I think Phillies fans continue to believe there is some of that magic dust left somewhere. But, let’s be honest with ourselves; that J-Roll ain’t coming back.

What we’re left with is an aging, yet plenty-good Rollins that is beginning to fine-tune his game knowing that he can’t quite do the same things he did from ’01-’09. Leg injuries in 2010 scared folks into thinking the ultimate demise of Rollins was closer than expected. A better 2011 quelled those beliefs, somewhat.

Continue reading Rollins’ 2011 Leaves Us with Differing Emotions

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Hunter Pence’s 2011: Awkward but Effective

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, December 13, 2011 03:00 PM Comments: 14

During the last week of July, I lost my mind at the prospect that the Phillies would trade one or more of Jarred Cosart, Domonic Brown, and Jonathan Singleton to Houston for right fielder Hunter Pence. But then it happened, and you know what? It all turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

Let’s leave aside for a moment all the accoutrements that come with Hunter Pence. Let’s leave aside, for instance, the topless photos. Let’s leave aside the ragging on John Mayberry for the Stanford Mermaid Experiment. Hunter Pence: Creator of Catchphrases and Destroyer of Postgame Buffets.

These antics are great, but what do they say about Hunter Pence, the ballplayer? Pence could be a latter-day Roger McDowell, a pitcher remembered today less for his 159 career saves but for the 12 years he spent in major league bullpens setting other people’s shoelaces on fire. (Or for this more recent nastiness, which someone would mention if I didn’t.)

But back to Hunter Pence the ballplayer. From 2007 to 2010, he was pretty decent. But in 2011, particularly in the second half of 2011, he was freakin’ incredible. Continue reading Hunter Pence’s 2011: Awkward but Effective

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Shane Victorino’s 2011: Solid

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, December 12, 2011 08:10 AM Comments: 23

Victorino's excellent 2011 raises more questions than gives answers. (Photo: AP)

Not one thing stood out about Shane Victorino’s 2011 season and, in many ways, that is a good thing. Victorino has consistently put up very good numbers at a premium position for the Phils for six-full seasons now and is about as complete of a position player that the Phillies currently have on their roster.

Victorino’s exceptional first-half play earned him a trip to Arizona to represent the Phillies in the All-Star Game, but for most casual fans, he went unnoticed. With column after column devoted to debating the worth of the Big Piece, the excitable Flyin’ Hawaiian was in contention for the batting title entering September,   posted a career high slugging percentage 44 points higher than his previous best, and his defense returned to career best levels that helped him win the Gold Glove in 2008.

Continue reading Shane Victorino’s 2011: Solid

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Utley’s Subpar 2011 Raises Questions About Future

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, December 11, 2011 09:43 AM Comments: 52

Utley's season started off on a bad leg.

We continue on with the final player review for 2011. Today, Chase Utley.

From the moment I stepped foot into Bright House Field in Clearwater back in early March, it became all about Chase Utley. His every move would be scrutinized, his every step analyzed to see if the end was drawing near for the perennial All Star second baseman. A serious knee injury is just about the only thing that could put a damper on the Spring Training festivities mixed with the low-80′s temperatures.

The 2011 season was supposed to begin in sunny Florida with hope, promise, and eternal optimism – after all, the Phillies were the odds on favorite to win the World Series, having added Cliff Lee in the offseason. Instead, it was about Utley and his balky knee.

After a 2010 that limited Utley to just 115 games with injuries, the ’11 season all started with a lengthy stay on the DL as well. It was a guessing game as information on Utley’s knee injury was widely unavailable. The Phillies and Utley only spoke when necessary or when a certain plateau had been reached. As you’re well aware, Utley communicates very little and shows no emotion when doing so, so there was never a way to figure out how his knee was progressing at any point during his rehabilitation.

Continue reading Utley’s Subpar 2011 Raises Questions About Future

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Polanco’s Promising April And His Subsequent Decline

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, December 10, 2011 10:42 AM Comments: 64

We continue on with our 2011 Player Reviews with Placido Polanco.

Placido Polanco started off the 2011 season in a  great way. He was the best Phillies hitter in the month of April, even earning the MVP for that first month by many bloggers and reporters. He hit .398/.447/.524 in his first 26 games, and drove in 19 runs while striking out just five times.

But we all know what happened next. It was as though he simply fell off a cliff with no warning, as he quickly became one of the Phillies worst hitters in the month of May. He hit .248/.289/.294 in 28 May games, and struck out more (11) than he had RBIs (10).

He was bound to bounce back, right? Wrong. Things didn’t get any better for Polanco for the rest of the year, as from June to September, he posted a .241/.310/.284 slash line, again having more strikeouts (28) than RBIs (21).

He was even demoted in the batting order at times, as he recorded 93 plate appearances in the bottom of the order by the time the season was over.

Continue reading Polanco’s Promising April And His Subsequent Decline

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Under The Radar: The Story Of 2011 For Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, December 09, 2011 04:00 PM Comments: 12

Quick, outside of Hunter Pence–only appeared in 54 games for the Phillies–, who had the highest batting average on the Phillies in 2011? Sure, it would be absurd if it was anyone other than the player that this review is about, but it is still surprising. If you did not read the title, its none other than Carlos Ruiz, who also had the highest on base percentage outside of Pence and Dane Sardinha–both who combined for 268 plate appearances, a little over half (56.7%) of Ruiz’ total. Somehow, Ruiz went under the radar, which is mind-boggling considering it was his 2nd best year in his career.

He started off the year with a below average month of April, where he hit .226/.310/.371. He picked it up in May, where he was the Phillies 4th-best hitter in terms of OPS, and 2nd to only Dane Sardinha–who had half as many plate appearance– in on base percentage. He knocked in just one run the entire month, but overall was far more productive than April. And that was even after spending time on the DL.

Continue reading Under The Radar: The Story Of 2011 For Carlos Ruiz

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Mayberry Freed in 2011

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 02, 2011 09:00 AM Comments: 7

PHOTO AP

Before the season began, a movement was underway. OK, I won’t go that far, however, I did have my hand in starting #FREEMAYBERRY via Twitter and Facebook. It was my way of saying we needed to see more of John Mayberry Jr.

While in Clearwater, I got the chance to talk with Mayberry, who told me he would be disappointed if he wasn’t on the opening day roster. Wowing the coaches with his power in Spring Training turned out to be enough to make the squad going into the 2011 season. He made his presence felt in game one of the season, finishing off the Phillies comeback over the Astros with a pinch-hit, game-winning RBI single. That was the start of a fantastic season for Mayberry.

Although he was never able to become the full-time starter in left field, Mayberry became part of a platoon with Raul Ibanez by midseason. He also played some first base with Ryan Howard out and some center field when Shane Victorino was on the disabled list.

Continue reading Mayberry Freed in 2011

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The Mulligan: Domonic Brown’s 2011 in Review

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, November 30, 2011 07:00 AM Comments: 46

We continue on with our 2011 Player Reviews with Domonic Brown.

This is a story of unfulfilled promise. Going into the season as the No. 4 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, and coming off a season where he posted a .980 OPS between AA and AAA, Domonic Brown seemed poised to slide seamlessly into the right field void left by Jayson Werth.  The Phillies’ best offensive prospect since Ryan Howard, Brown looked set to do in the majors what he’d done at every level of minor league baseball: take his trebuchet launch of a swing and his howitzer throwing arm and bring those weapons to bear for no purpose other than to blast the opposition into oblivion.

Then the Domonator broke the hamate bone in his right hand on March 5, and everything seemed to go downhill from there. Brown didn’t get into the major league lineup until May 21. What’s worse, the broken hamate bone saps strength in the hand, and it usually takes a hitter months to recover his full power stroke. Brown, for his part, wasn’t particularly good, dialing in at exactly replacement level according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, combining a .322 wOBA (not awful, but not exactly stellar for a corner outfielder) with pretty dreadful outfield defense, which, after 12 seasons of Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez in left field, has apparently started to bother Phillies fans all of a sudden.

Continue reading The Mulligan: Domonic Brown’s 2011 in Review

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