Quantcast


Statistical Analysis

Doc or Schill?

Posted by Eric Seidman, Thu, May 23, 2013 10:28 AM Comments: 7

APTOPIX Phillies Marlins BaseballThe Phillies will pay tribute to the past later this summer, with Brad Lidge retiring in red pinstripes a day before Curt Schilling is inducted into the Wall of Fame. Schilling, the Phillies ace from 1992 until midway through the 2000 season, won three World Series rings after leaving Philadelphia but produced two of his best seasons here and provided long-lasting memories with his 1993 heroics.

Schilling was also the topic of an interesting discussion on 97.5 The Fanatic last week that juxtaposed him against a recent Phillies ace. The discussion centered on whether fans would have rather had peak-Schilling or peak-Halladay heading their staff. The results were split. Even though the availability bias — how more recent information can color our opinions — could have moved the needle towards the truly dominant Roy Halladay, there are still plenty of people who remember how brilliantly Schilling pitched.

There are both tangible and intangible factors to incorporate into this discussion but it really looks like a dead heat.

Regardless of his tough-to-watch 2013 campaign, Halladay very much remains an inner circle Hall of Fame pitcher. Schilling, who pitched in an era flush with HOF-worthy talent, will probably get in even if not on the first ballot. There is no wrong answer when choosing between two of the best pitchers in the long history of a sport, but the statistical comparisons were much closer than you may have thought.

Continue reading Doc or Schill?

  • 7 Comments
 

Frandsen Channeling and Surpassing Dobbs

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, May 17, 2013 01:30 PM Comments: 4

The Phillies haven’t gotten off to the best of starts but the team hasn’t been devoid of bright spots. The Phillies’ bench has been one of the best in the league and Kevin Frandsen deserves much of the credit. Frandsen is hitting .258/.361/.516 in 37 plate appearances after hitting .338/.383/.451 last year.

Frandsen had the best season of his career in 2012, and in the early going this year, both his wOBA and wRC+ are even better. His walk rate, isolated power and slugging percentages are also higher than they were last year. His .361 on-base percentage is great, especially in a reduced offensive environment, but it would look even better if not for a .231 BABIP. Just like last year’s .366 BABIP wasn’t likely to be sustained, Frandsen isn’t very likely to continue struggling to convert balls put in play into hits this season.

If his current true talent level falls somewhere in between the last two seasons, the Phillies have a very valuable bench player and someone who deserves legitimate consideration for an extended platoon role. His defensive versatility should enable him to spell any of the four infielders at any given time, and he could likely handle corner outfield activity as well.

What stands out in analyzing his numbers over the last two seasons is how he compares to the recent gold standard of pinch-hitting: Greg Dobbs, circa 2007-08. From 2012-13, Frandsen has logged about half of Dobbs’ playing time from 2007-08 and has essentially matched his overall productivity. Frandsen’s production has been seemingly less important than Dobbs, given the overall performance of the 2007-08 Phillies in conjunction to this current iteration, but that doesn’t make him any less valuable.

Continue reading Frandsen Channeling and Surpassing Dobbs

  • 4 Comments
 

This Halladay Looks More Like Blanton

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, May 01, 2013 10:19 AM Comments: 18

After three straight promising starts Roy Halladay turned in another clunker Tuesday night. In allowing eight runs on nine hits and two walks, Halladay finished April with a 6.75 ERA, 5.73 FIP and a ghastly 2.25 HR/9. He cost the Phillies 0.3 WAR last month.

MLB Network noted this morning that Halladay’s 5.59 ERA over the last calendar year (April 30, 2012 to April 30, 2013) is the second-worst among starters with 150 innings thrown. Only Ubaldo Jimenez has prevented runs at a worse rate.

In third place on that list is Joe Blanton, the former Phillie whose struggles to prevent runs in spite of impressive strikeout, walk and groundball rates is well known in these parts.

Unfortunately, Blanton is the most comparable pitcher to Halladay over the last calendar year.

Based on the splits and filters offered at Fangraphs, Halladay and Blanton are the only two pitchers to fall into the following criteria since April 30, 2012: K/9 between 7.5 and 8.3, BB/9 between 1.8 and 2.5, GB% between 40% and 45% and FIP between 4.30 and 4.50.

Their numbers are almost identical in this span:

Halladay: 8.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.6 HR/9, 43.8% GB, 17.8% HR/FB, 4.35 FIP, 1.1 WAR
Blanton:  7.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.6 HR/9, 44.0% GB, 17.4% HR/FB, 4.40 FIP, 1.1 WAR

While those K, BB and GB rates are solid, they don’t often translate into success when pitches are left over the middle of the plate and knocked out of the park. Whether it’s injuries or simply a decline in pure ability, Roy Halladay has been a different pitcher for over a year now. Unfortunately, that different pitcher resembles Joe Blanton more than anyone else.

  • 18 Comments
 

Giving Kendrick His Due

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, April 24, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 5

One of the toughest aspects of both being a fan and providing accurate analysis is separating perception from reality. Fans tend to anchor their opinions of a player early on, holding steadfastly to that perception even after the player improves or declines. This holds especially true for fans of a specific team, who watch the same players routinely and have difficulty acknowledging legitimate changes in their games.

It’s hard to suddenly feel confident in a player you once saw struggle mightily, just like it’s tough to remove your supreme confidence in a formerly elite player whose skills and numbers more closely resemble the middle of the pack. It takes time for these perception shifts to occur and this tends to lead to fans under- or overrating players throughout the transition.

Regardless of what we once thought about Kyle Kendrick the time has come to change that perception. Kendrick is a flat out different pitcher than he was from 2007-11, and it isn’t merely a small sample size fluke this season.

Kendrick ’07-’11: 4.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 45.6% GB, 4.41 ERA, 4.95 FIP
Kendrick ’12-’13: 6.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 46.9% GB, 3.82 ERA, 4.27 FIP

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kendrick’s results improved as he started missing more bats. However, his results started to improve in 2011, when he spent half the season in the rotation and the other half in the bullpen. As a reliever, he had a 3.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over 31 2/3 innings, compared to his 5.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 over 83 innings as a starter.

In isolating his numbers as a starter in 2011 and adding them to his 2012-13 numbers, we get the following pitching line: 6.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 46.2% GB, 3.60 ERA. Without knowing who those numbers were attached to, a fan would likely get excited at the prospect of that pitcher occupying the middle of the rotation. Yet, the perception of Kendrick is disconnected from his actual performance as a starting pitcher from 2011-13, and the time has come to give the man his due. This is a different Kyle Kendrick and that’s exactly the point.

Continue reading Giving Kendrick His Due

  • 5 Comments
 

Lannan’s Doing More Than Minimizing Risk

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, April 17, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 8

Back on December 19, I praised the Phillies signing of John Lannan from the standpoint that he minimized risk in the rotation at a nominal cost. With Roy Halladay representing a major question mark heading into the season, opting for more of a sure-thing in Lannan made sense over doling out $8+ million per year to Brandon McCarthy or Shaun Marcum.

The latter two pitchers had the potential to hit 3 WAR but they were significant injury risks and costlier investments. Lannan’s ceiling wasn’t as high but his floor wasn’t as low either. A team in the Phillies situation was more interested in the floor for this role.

Through two starts this season, the former Phillies foe has thrown 13 great innings with one walk, seven strikeouts and a 71% groundball rate. It’s obviously still very early in the season but Lannan’s first two outings have proven very promising.

However, it isn’t just his two starts in 2013 that are cause for analytical intrigue, as his six starts with the Nationals last season were pretty darned solid as well. Combining his most recent major action we get the following line: 8 GS, 45.2 IP, 41 H, 6 BB, 24 K, 61% GB rate.

And if we go back a bit further and take a look at his last 30 major league starts dating back to 2011 we get the following line: 30 GS, 169 IP, 169 H, 52 BB, 57% GB, 3.46 ERA. That’s pretty solid for a #3 or #4, let alone the fifth rotational cog.

At $2.5 million guaranteed and a maximum of $5 million via incentives, Lannan really only needs to hit his traditional career averages to outproduce his contract. If his most recent eight starts are any indication of things to come, this might just stand to become one of the best value deals of the offseason. Lannan has been doing more than just minimizing risk — he has been pitching very well.

Continue reading Lannan’s Doing More Than Minimizing Risk

  • 8 Comments
 

Halladay’s Future

Posted by Eric Seidman, Mon, April 15, 2013 08:14 AM Comments: 22

Roy Halladay pitched relatively well on Sunday, scattering five hits and a single run over eight innings of work. He worked quickly, needing just 87 pitches over those eight frames, and threw twice as many strikes as balls. Doc also kept the ball on the ground, generating nearly 50 percent grounders on a day when he managed just two strikeouts.

Two schools of thought were formed after he exited the game. Some fans instantly wrote his performance off as being a byproduct of facing the punchless Marlins. Other fans took this as a big step in getting back on track.

As per usual, we’re looking at a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Halladay no doubt threw better on Sunday but he still made several mistakes that an actual major league offense — you know, one that doesn’t include Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs as the bread in a Giancarlo Stanton sandwich — would have exploited. Though the results didn’t bear this out, he struggled with both command and control during the first few frames, and if he makes some of those same mistakes against the Cardinals this coming weekend, we’re again looking at a potential 4 IP, 9 H, 6 ER outing.

Perhaps that is part of his current growing pains in adjusting to his lesser ‘stuff’ but it’s something he will need to figure out quickly. He adjusted on the fly, incorporated his curveball far more, and by the latter stages of the game had seemingly settled into a nice rhythm. He pitched well, but if you remove the end results and focus on the process this game wasn’t really that far off of his last start against the Mets.

However, maybe all he needed was a solid results-based outing to get some of his mojo back.

As fans in Column B were quick to point out, Halladay has repeatedly said that he feels fine, physically, and that he’s struggling with the mental side of things right now. I’m no psychologist but perhaps throwing eight effective innings of one-run ball was enough to prove to himself that he could still get batters out and go deep into games. With that reinforced knowledge perhaps his confidence grows.

We can’t simply discount this start because of who he faced but we also can’t assume he is anywhere near back yet. This may have been a step in the right direction but we’re dealing with a pretty big staircase. Getting Halladay right is a Chrysler Key to the Season and Sunday’s outing moved the needle in the positive direction.

However, during each of his three starts this season I have ruminated on his future. I’m trying to focus on his present and what he can do to get back on track but what happens to Halladay after this season has the potential to represent one of the most compelling free agent situations in recent history. Simply put, he is a big unknown this season and that carries material financial implications heading into next season.

Continue reading Halladay’s Future

  • 22 Comments
 

Lee Continues To Cement His Awesomeness

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, April 10, 2013 09:15 AM Comments: 15

I’ll never forget Cliff Lee‘s first start with the Phillies.

He was just acquired from the Indians amidst a flurry of rumors that had the Phillies close to getting Roy Halladay. While his arrival carried excitement, many fans couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed for missing out on Doc. I was one of those fans, having only seen Lee from afar, and having considered him more of a good pitcher with a great season rather than a great pitcher.

His July 31, 2009 start against the Giants quieted all nerves. Lee ran out to the mound in his own patented fashion, did that bizarre fake pitch to the outfield that we learned was part of his routine, and prepared to face leadoff man Randy Winn.

First pitch was right over for a called strike. Winn then swung and missed at Lee’s second offering. In what felt like rapid fire succession, Lee then caught Winn looking with a fastball perfectly placed on the inside corner. It wasn’t a debatable pitch or one an ump usually calls a ball on an 0-2 count. It was just a flat out perfect pitch. My friend and I turned to each other with wide eyes. We had never seen anything like this before.

Lee rules so hard.

Sure, Cole Hamels was the World Series MVP the year before, but his ace-ness seemed built more on finesse. Lee was aggressive, worked quickly, and after three pitches had me convinced he was going to be the best pitcher I ever watched on a routine basis. Keep in mind I wasn’t alive when Steve Carlton pitched and I was too young to appreciate Curt Schilling during his heyday here.

Lee tossed a complete game that night and even settled for a double after coming close to a home run. He was dominant then, he remains dominant today, and over the last five seasons he has proven himself to be one of the very best pitchers in baseball. Watching him over these first two starts of 2013 has reminded me of what it was like watching him in his first outing with the Phils.

Yet, even with a Cy Young award and a lucrative contract under his belt, I can’t help but feel that Lee is underrated, even in this city. To help shake that feeling, let’s take a look at his brilliant time with the Phillies to put things in perspective.

Continue reading Lee Continues To Cement His Awesomeness

  • 15 Comments
 

What to Expect From Howard in 2013

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, February 18, 2013 12:00 PM Comments: 91

Ryan Howard seen here in happier times. Photo by Ian Riccaboni

Let us pause for a second for a moment of self-acknowledgement: in 2011, I joined Phillies Nation after years of running a lightly traffic’ed blog about the Phillies and music, while posting pictures of Greek Yogurt and other healthy foods I was convinced I was going to try to incorporate into my daily diet. After a few months analyzing the performance of the likes of Michael Schwimer and writing fluffy pieces about John Bowker, I wrote a speculative-but-factually-grounded piece that prompted much discussion : “What If” The Platoon Works at First Base?

For those who don’t remember, the piece functioned around the idea that a combination of John Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Jim Thome, and Ty Wigginton could not only match Howard’s 2011 production but outperform his production. The piece drew up a lot of good discussion and was based on the assumption that a true platoon, which Charlie Manuel was unlikely to put together, could put together a line close to .280/.380/.550.

To say quite a few things happened last year would be an understatement. Let’s reflect.

Continue reading What to Expect From Howard in 2013

  • 91 Comments
 

Should the Phils Call Lohse?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, February 16, 2013 09:19 AM Comments: 24

How likely are the Phillies to recreate this photo in 2007? Not very.

Flashback to 2007: the Phils, on the outskirts of the playoff race, trade one of their Top 10 prospects, Matt Maloney, to Cincinnati to acquire right handed starter Kyle Lohse. Lohse goes 3-0 with a 4.72 ERA in 13 games, 11 starts, en route to making one of the most improbably comebacks of all-time and capturing the NL East outright on the final day of the season. Lohse is last seen as a Phillie coming in against the Rockies in the 2007 NLDS inexplicably as a reliever despite likely being among their most consistent starters to finish the season.

Fast foward to 2013: the Phils, likely on the outskirts of the playoff race, sit behind the Nationals and Braves on paper for the upcoming season. Lohse, coming off a career year, is now 34 and very available as Spring Training starts. The Phillies are relying on Kyle Kendrick to replicate his strong 2012 second half and John Lannan to pitch as well as he does against everyone not named the Phillies. Neither are huge stretches but neither are slam dunks either in a year where the Phillies seem to have everything but certainty. The question that nobody is asking is: with Lohse still available, should the Phillies pick up the phone and call?

Continue reading Should the Phils Call Lohse?

  • 24 Comments
 

Phils Add Unprecedented Futility?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, January 29, 2013 08:44 PM Comments: 44

http://media.philly.com/images/121812-michael-young-600.jpg

The addition of the Youngs, Betancourt, and Mather put the Phillies in unprecedented company of acquiring futility. They can hide Betancourt and Mather in Lehigh Valley, but the Youngs... Photo: AP

Some of the Phillies additions this off season have been no doubt puzzling – while much has been written lately about Delmon Young, it seems to have been forgotten that Michael Young posted the lowest fWAR (as defined here) among player eligible for the batting title last year (-1.4). Delmon Young was twice as valuable (-0.7) as Michael but his triple-slash of .267/.296/.411 with a 3.3% BB-rate leaves a lot to be desired.

There is no good way to sort this out other than by hand so I capped my research at the previous ten years: the 2013 Phillies will be the only team in the last ten years to have either signed or traded for two players who finished the previous season qualified for the batting title and contributed negative value, in this case, WAR, to their previous team.

And there is reason for optimism at Citizen’s Bank Park. Or not.

Whatever the case, it does feel particularly weird to be relieved that the Phillies’ projected starting right fielder may not be ready for Opening Day. And trying to do the math to convert what Michael Young’s WAR would be with 2012′s triple-slash at third base instead of the first base he played last season make me feel like I’m a casino junkie looking to scrounge up change for that one last bet that will finally put me in the win column.

Continue reading Phils Add Unprecedented Futility?

  • 44 Comments
 
Previous Page Next Page