Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, November 03, 2013 03:26 PM Comments: 15
No article I have written recently has gotten me such e-mails and Twitter comments like the Pass or Play: Mike Napoli piece, particularly my assertion that “Napoli is a better offensive and defensive first baseman than Howard at this point in their careers.” Also asked is why would I even highlight first base as an area of need.
I’ll answer the latter first: the Phillies, from 2010 through 2013, were the 27th most productive team in Major League baseball at the first base position according to FanGraphs. This sample includes two healthy years from Ryan Howard and two not-healthy years from Ryan Howard. The not-healthy years, 2012 and 2013, would, as you expect show the Phillies as a team of disarray at first base, ranking 23rd in batting average, 23rd in on-base percentage, 17th in slugging, 21st in wOBA, 23rd in wRC+, and 24th in defensive runs saved. From 2012 to 2013, the Phillies ranked 27th among MLB teams in fWAR, including their surprising 19th place finish in 2013.