Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’

Utley to rejoin Phillies, will play when off DL

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, August 06, 2015 10:41 AM Comments: 4


Chase Utley was hopeful on Tuesday that he would be reunited with former teammate Jimmy Rollins before he skipped town following Thursday’s game.

“Obviously, we spent a long time together, but I imagine I might have the chance to see him on Thursday, or so,” Utley told reporters on Tuesday.

It appears that the second baseman will get a chance to catch up with his old friend, as Utley is expected to join the Phillies for today’s series finale against the Dodgers.

Whether or not Utley will play, or even be activated from the disabled list, has yet to be determined. Pete Mackanin, however, has already confirmed that the 36-year-old will see his fair share of playing time when he’s ready for action.

“I’m going to try and mix Chase in at second base,” Mackanin said. “I already had a conversation with Cesar to let him know that he is not a utility player, but it’s important to get Chase at-bats, [Utley] may play some first base, so hopefully three or four days a week I can get him in. We’ll see.”

To ensure Utley sees time at second, Cesar Hernandez will move around the diamond—playing some shortstop and third base to give Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco some time off. He will also play a little first base for Ryan Howard.

Utley is coming off a solid showing in his last rehab game for Double-A Reading where he finished 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and an RBI. In his three minor league rehab games, Utley went 6-for-13, and looks ready to get back to work at the Major League level.

The veteran has been on the radar of a couple of teams interested in trading for him before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline—including the Cubs and Angels. Utley was batting just .179 in 65 games before landing on the DL, but he’ll be looking to prove that he still has some good baseball left in him when he returns to the Phillies’ starting lineup.


Reports: Nats discussing trade for Papelbon, three teams interested in Utley

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Sat, July 25, 2015 01:49 PM Comments: 11

The Nationals and Phillies are reportedly engaging in discussions for a deal that would send Jonathan Papelbon to Washington D.C., according to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.

The main obstacle, which has been the case for almost every potential Papelbon deal, is his salary. The Nationals are hopeful that the Phillies would be willing to eat the majority of the $13 million he’ll make this season.

According to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury, Papelbon will not sign off on a deal unless he’s in a position to earn his vesting option ($13 million in 2016), which vests if the 34-year-old completes 14 more games.

The Nationals already have an excellent closer in Drew Storen, who has recorded 29 saves in 31 opportunities and a 1.73 ERA. If Papelbon were to go there, he would likely not be the closer.  There is a chance, however, that the Phillies include the vesting option as a guaranteed condition of the deal, which the club would have to pay the majority of. Papelbon converted his 17th save of the season yesterday, and lowered his ERA to a minuscule 1.59 in the process.

Chase Utley trade still on the table: 

Remember this guy? Well, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, there are “three teams interested” in Chase Utley, including the Amgels, who are reportedly “monitoring” the 36-year-old’s progress.

The Angels believe they can get Utley as a cheap rental bat, especially since he is unlikely going to reach the 500 plate appearances needed for his $15 million option to vest. He has only 249 plate appearances this season.

Utley, who has been on the DL since late June with an ankle injury, is nearing a rehab assignment in the Phillies’ minor league system. Because of the injury, any deal would have to take place after the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Due to his no-trade clause, any potential deal would need Utley’s approval. The chance to play for a playoff contender, and Ruben Amaro Jr.’s comments regarding him and Cesar Hernandez, could push the veteran to seriously consider a change of scenery.


Top 5 things to look forward to in the “second half”

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, July 16, 2015 03:55 PM Comments: 4

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of the nonofficial second half of the MLB season. Through 91 games in 2015, the Phillies have been historically bad—losing the most games at an All-Star Break (62) in the franchise’s history. While there won’t be meaningful games in the second half in terms of playoff implications, these last 71 games will be very important for the Phillies franchise. There are young players currently on the team that can continue to develop, and there are top prospects waiting in the wings that we will eventually see on the field. There may not be many wins to celebrate between now and October 4, but there are still things to look forward to as the the second half begins.

Let’s take a look at the top five things to look forward to post All-Star Break.

5. Hernandez and Galvis continuing to develop: Honestly, we have no idea if Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis will be contributors once the Phillies are competitive again, especially with the J.P. Crawford era on the horizon. One or both could be demoted to the role of utility player. But at age 25, they are both young pieces that showed signs of promise in the first half. Because of that, their continued development will be important to keep an eye on once the second half gets underway. Galvis entered the All-Star break swinging a hot bat, hitting .377 with a .913 OPS in his last 14 games. After raising his average to a team-high .302 earlier this month, Hernandez cooled off during the team’s last road trip heading into the break, hitting .263 with a .596 OPS in his last 38 at-bats. If both show more consistency at the plate in the second half, it will bode well for the Phillies’ future.

4. Utley trying to prove he still has some left in the tank: For Chase Utley, the second half will serve as a redemption campaign. Despite Ruben Amaro Jr.’s comments that Utley will not be starting even after he returns from the DL, the 36-year-old will still get his opportunities at the plate and in the field. The first half was one to forget for Utley, as he batted .179 in 218 at-bats before being placed on the DL with an ankle injury. Fans don’t want their last memory of Utley to be the .179 hitter who looked lost at the plate for much of the first half. Judging by Utley’s competitive nature, he doesn’t want his time in Philadelphia, or as a Major Leaguer, to end that way either. He will get his chances to prove that he has some good baseball left in him throughout the second half.

3. Franco adjusting to adjustments: After a fantastic month of June where he hit .352 with eight home runs, 24 RBIs and earned NL rookie of the month honors, Maikel Franco has come back down to earth in July, hitting just .250 in 48 at-bats. During the Phillies’ road trip heading into the All-Star Break, Franco hit .237 with only two extra-base hits and 10 strikeouts. He also hasn’t homered since June 23 at Yankee Stadium. Pitchers have made adjustments to Franco. Now it’s his turn to make some adjustments of his own. Out of the crop of young players the Phillies have on their roster, nobody’s development is more important than Franco’s. If he can get hot again in the second half, he will further cement himself as a a significant middle-of-the-order bat for the Phillies down the line.

2. The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: The Phillies’ front office has 15 days to finalize deals before the July 31 trade deadline. They have a number of players on the trading block, such as Jeff Francoeur, Ben Revere, and Jonathan Papelbon. The most important piece for the Phillies is left-hander Cole Hamels. While the chance of a Hamels deal is now reportedly “below 50/50,” the potential return for an ace pitcher provides more incentive to get a deal done. While nobody wants to see the 2008 World Series MVP go, a move needs to be made—for the right players in return, of course— for the betterment of the team down the line. The acquisition of a couple top prospects will help accelerate the club’s rebuild. They can only land those prospects by dealing an asset like Hamels. If a move is not made, Hamels’ trade value will inevitably diminish, and the likelihood of landing top-tier prospects will grow slimmer. Moving on from these players at the deadline will not make the Phillies any better on the field initially. However, the team will need to take a step back in order to hopefully make a big leap forward.

1. The eventual Major League debut of Aaron Nola: The timeline on Aaron Nola’s Major League debut is shedding more days with each start he makes in Triple-A, and every poor start a Phillies pitcher has. In five starts since his promotion to Lehigh Valley, the 22-year-old is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29.2 innings-pitched. Overall in the minors this season, Nola is 10-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 106.1 innings-pitched. Nola’s debut could come as early as the end of the month, especially if the Phillies’ league-worst starting pitching continues to struggle early in the second half. Due to the number of innings he has pitched in the minors this season, the Phillies will likely have Nola on an innings count once he is brought up. While his leash won’t have much slack, facing big league hitters on a consistent basis will go a long way in Nola’s development as a Major League starter. When he does make his debut, it’ll mark a big day for the Phillies’ future, and the future of their starting rotation.

The second half won’t have fans keeping a close eye on the standings, but it will give fans a chance to keep an eye on the development of the Phillies’ young players. 2015 may be a lost season in terms of wins and losses, but the rest of the season could prove to be very important for the Phillies as they move on with their rebuild. Those implications are reason enough to look forward to the second half of the season.


Top 5 Blemishes for the Phillies at the All-Star Break

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Tue, July 14, 2015 02:53 PM Comments: 12

Yesterday, I took the optimist route and wrote about the top five bright spots for the Phillies at the All-Star Break. Today, I’m taking the pessimist angle with their top five blemishes. While there have been positives and things to be optimistic, or even excited, about this season–whether it’s Ken Giles, Maikel Franco, or even the impending moves that will (hopefully) be made by the July 31 deadline—there has been a lot more bad than good.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five blemishes for the Phillies so far.

5. Harang’s fall from grace: When it was reported that the Phillies would be without Cliff Lee for the majority (if not all of) 2015, the club was left with Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang atop the starting rotation. Hamels was the clear ace with Harang being more of a wait-and-see-type of deal. The Phillies sure loved what they saw from Harang early on, as the right-hander held a 2.02 ERA through 11 starts to begin the season. He looked great. He was pitching like an ace. It was understood, however, that the likelihood of the 37-year-old sustaining that pace wasn’t great. When it got bad for Harang, it got bad fast. Once the calendar turned to June, Harang began his abrupt fall from grace. It started with a start against his former team, the Reds, where he allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings-pitched. His next start wasn’t any better, as he, against the Reds again, allowed seven earned runs over six innings-pitched. The trend for Harang continued, and before he knew it, he finished June with an 0-5 record and a 7.28 ERA. He made one start in July—his worst start of the season (8 ER in 5 IP)—before being placed on the DL with a foot injury.

4. Hamels’ worst career start coming at a bad time: Cole Hamels represents the future of the Phillies franchise not because he’s an ace in his prime, but because he’s a valuable asset heading into one of the most vital trade deadlines in the franchise’s history. Hamels’ value was soaring before his last start, which resulted in him surrendering nine earned runs on 12 hits in 3.1 innings-pitched. While it’s debatable whether or not the start diminished his trade value much if at all, the timing could not have been worse. With the All-Star Break this week, once interested GMs could have that last start festering in their heads until teams resume play on Friday. Maybe seeing that start resulted in GMs doubting the 31-year-old’s ability, or maybe they will take a wait-and-see approach and watch what the left-hander has to offer in his first start after the All-Star Break. Either way you slice it, the start came at a bad time for the Phillies, and whatever leverage they had prior could potentially be lost.

3. Utley’s sharp decline: Chase Utley is and always will be an iconic player in Philadelphia sports. He will go down as one of the greatest players to ever don a Phillies uniform, and is the model of player that Philadelphia fans gravitate towards. That is what makes his decline so despondent for fans. For Utley, the decline could be just as much of a surprise to him as it is to us, especially after batting .412 in spring training. It cannot be easy for him—a player who has always played the game hard and the right way—to come to the realization that at age 36, his baseball skills are deteriorating. His slash line of .179/.257/.275 speaks for itself. Perhaps his ankle injury, which landed him on the DL last month, played a part in his poor production, but the reality is that Utley’s days as the Phillies’ everyday second baseman are likely over.

2. Amaro’s comments regarding Hernandez and Utley: Ruben Amaro Jr. has had a shaky season so far to say the least in what is probably his final season as the Phillies’ GM. After saying that Phillies fans “don’t understand the game” of baseball, Amaro publicly belittled Utley by saying that Cesar Hernandez is the team’s “best second baseman.” At the time the comments were made, Hernandez was on an 11-game hitting streak and had just raised his average to a team-high .302. He was playing very well in Utley’s absence—anybody watching could see that. Anybody watching could also see that Utley hadn’t looked like the same player through 65 games this season. For the GM of a franchise to come out and publicly state that a third year player on a three-week hot streak is a better player than a guy who has been an integral piece to that franchise for his entire career is unacceptable. Oh, and it’s not the first time he’s done this. Maybe Hernandez is a better player right now, but Amaro should’ve shown more respect towards a player who has always left it all on the field for his ball club.

1. Sandberg’s resignation: The losing got to a guy who hates to lose. That was the main reason ex-manager Ryne Sandberg gave regarding his decision to resign as the Phillies’ manager. While Sandberg’s decision can be respected because he made the tough decision to leave on his own terms (instead of sitting and waiting for his inevitable firing), the perception that he quit on the organization, the team, and more importantly, his players is completely warranted. The man who was the “leader” of a last place team abandoned ship instead of going down with it. His decision can merit respect, but it can also merit cowardice. Sandberg may have been in over his head in regards to managing ability, but the situation doesn’t reflect well for a club like the Phillies that already has plenty of problems on and off the field.

The Phillies have been coated in blemishes so far this season. The most obvious is their record, which currently sits at 29-62. They are the only team that has yet to hit 30 wins, and are on pace to finish with one of the worst records in the franchise’s history. Their pitching and offensive numbers ranking towards the bottom in all of baseball, and things could get even worse if certain players are dealt. The blemishes listed above just add to what has been an ugly season for the Phillies through 91 games.


Amaro: Hernandez, Not Utley Best 2B, Billingsley Earns First W Since 2013

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, July 08, 2015 10:41 AM Comments: 21

Before last night’s game between the Phillies and Dodgers, Ruben Amaro Jr. dropped a bombshell of sorts, stating that long-time second baseman Chase Utley would not be in the starting lineup even after he returns from the Disabled List.

Instead, 25-year-old Cesar Hernandez will continue to start with Utley sitting on the bench.

“As far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, and that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future. Cesar Hernandez has been one of our best players on the field right now in a variety of ways – running the bases, playing defense, playing with energy,” Amaro said to the media prior to last night’s game. “He can switch-hit. He can run. He’s doing a lot of the things that we want to see out of our young players.

Hernandez has been one of the team’s best hitters since taking over for Utley full-time, and leads the team in batting average (.301), walks (24), and OBP (.386). Since June 10, Hernandez has an average of .385  with five doubles, 10 RBIs, nine walks, and an OBP of .446.

Utley has not been the player this season that fans have grown accustomed to seeing over the years. The 36-year-old was carrying a .179 average, with four home runs and 25 RBIs before landing on the DL with ankle inflammation.

It’s hard to picture a Phillies team with Utley playing a bench role, but judging by Amaro’s comments, it will become a reality. Pete Mackanin has final say, but the interim manager believes that the rest of the season should be dedicated to getting younger players at-bats and quality playing time. Hernandez is one of those players, and his play has earned himself the starting second baseman job.

Utley’s decline has been sharp and unexpected, especially coming off a spring training where he batted .412. Sadly, the end of the “Chase Utley Era” could be upon us.

Billingsley Earns First Win Since 2013:

The Phillies offense exploded for a second-straight night, scoring seven runs on 10 hits. Only this time, the starting pitcher was able to keep the opposing offense at bay.

That was thanks to Chad Billingsley, who earned his first win as a Phillie and his first win since April 10, 2013. Oh, and he did it against his former team.

“It’s been a long road,” Billingsley said in a post-game interview with Todd Zolecki. “I was pretty excited to be back out there today, being a familiar atmosphere. There were a lot of emotions.”

In eight seasons with the Dodgers, Billingsley was 82-63 with an ERA of 3.72. His best season with the club came in 2008, where he went 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA.

The 30-year-old pitched six innings of shutout ball to earn the win in last night’s contest. It was only the sixth time over the last 21 games that a Phillies starter pitched at least six innings.


Inside Chase Utley’s Slump

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, May 13, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 11

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

Slumps are a part of baseball. Heck, they’re a part of life. Only there aren’t usually TV cameras and thousands of people watching your every day life. So when Chase Utley began the 2015 season with a lengthy slump at the plate, I didn’t think much of it. “He’ll come around,” I thought. But so far he hasn’t. His slump has continued and continued, as we are in the middle of May and it still looks like Utley is having difficulty finding his swing–although he is four for his last eleven. But I’m not talking just statistics. Baseball is more than that. He’s looked decidedly un-Utley-like at the plate. And it’s even bled into his fielding and baserunning as well, because he hasn’t looked like The Man™ in any phase of his game. It’s been tough to watch at times. Let’s take a deeper look at his slump.

He started the year just 1-for-14, and his batting average reached the .200 mark just one time all season. One! That was after he went 3-for-3 with two home runs against the Mets on April 14 at Citi Field. Two of those hits and one of those home runs came off Matt Harvey. After that game, he was hitting .200/.267/.440. Since then, he’s hit .096/.183/.151 (not counting last night). Oof. Here’s a visual of how his batting average has fluctuated game-by-game over the last three seasons:

As you can see, his highest average so far this year is still lower than his lowest average from 2013-2014. It’s an extreme drop off.  So what causes such a change? First, I’ll take a look at his plate discipline. His walks are way down–6.9% is the lowest since 2004. And he’s actually seeing fewer pitches in the zone than he has over his career.

He’s swinging at pitches slghtly less than he has in the past. But according to FanGraphs, he’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone than usual, as well as not swinging at pitches inside the zone as often. His contact and whiff rates have been normal. Here’s a heat map on what pitches he’s swinging at (the top is 2015, the bottom is his career prior to 2015):

 Next, I’ll look at his batted ball data. He’s pulling the ball slightly more than normal–47.7% this year compared to 45.6% over his career. However, he’s hitting the ball to center a lot more than normal (38.6% compared to 33.1%), and hitting the ball the other way a lot less than normal–21.3% for his career, but just 13.6% in 2015.

Still, the big change, I think, is in the quality of his contact. He’s getting “hard hits” (according to FanGraphs) less than half of the time compared to his career average. He’s hitting less line drives and more ground balls as well. Here’s a visual on the types of hits he’s getting:

His ground balls and fly balls have generally fluctuated, but his line drives are clearly down. It’s a lot to digest, so, to summarize, Utley’s struggles are in all likelihood a result of a lot less hard hit balls, in addition to a lot less line drives. Other things obviously factor in, but those are the main issues. There’s no way to really tell if, or when, he will snap out of it. It’s not like he’s getting bit by the BABIP “luck” bug. His is absurdly low (.118), but there’s reasonable explanation with his batted ball data.

The longer this slump goes on, the worse it’ll get. He’s in his own head–it’s a bit different when you slump to start the year. When you slump mid season, your numbers will just dip a little bit. When you slump to begin the season, your numbers will go low and stay low. And we are seeing that with Utley. I won’t make any outlandish predictions based on this slump, because I seriously doubt this is what Chase Utley is anymore. But it is concerning, and something we all will be keeping an eye on as the season progresses.


Is Ryan Howard Heating Up? 

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, April 30, 2015 09:18 AM Comments: 3

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

Ryan Howard hit another home run last night, giving him four on the season. All four of them have come within the last eight games. Over that span, he’s hitting .214/.290/.643 (a .933 OPS), and has two walks and eight RBI to go with it.

In those eight games, the Phillies as a whole are are hitting .239/.289/.351. Howard accounts for 9.7% of their plate appearances, but 67% of their home runs and 29.6% of their RBI.

Over the last week, he’s been hitting the ball hard 36.8% of the time (according to FanGraphs), which is best on the Phillies and up from his season average of 33.3% (fire emoji). However, his BABIP has been absurdly low. It’s at .063 over the last week and .205 on the season. This is easily explainable. Howard pulls the ball 54.2% of the time in 2015 (68.4% over the last week). With the insane amount shifts he sees, tons of hard-hit balls to the right side get swallowed up for outs. By my count, about 63% of his outs in play in 2015 have come on the right side, with many of them being fielded in shallow right field. This explains his low season batting average of .191.

Still, Howard has been producing over the last week or so. He’s looked good. I think it’s a little much to expect him to hit a home run every seven or eight plate appearances, which is what he’s been doing over the last eight games–that would equate to about 82 home runs over 162. But I don’t think it’s too much to expect him to produce for the Phillies. Remember, there were a lot of people, myself included, that believed Howard shouldn’t start for this team. Yet, now he’s on pace for 35 home runs and 86 RBI.

He’s moved himself up to fourth on the Phillies–behind Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis, and Cody Asche–in advanced stats like wOBA and wRC+, and he’s doing it with a BABIP at least 168 points below the three ahead of him and a batting average under .200. We are still in the first month of the season, so a lot can obviously change–small sample sizes can be extremely deceiving. But Howard has been one of the better Phillies hitters, and, for now, deserves some praise.


Small Ball? Not So Much

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, April 27, 2015 09:01 AM Comments: 6



Coming into the season, the Phillies offense wasn’t expected to be much of anything. So manager Ryne Sandberg figured that the best way to get these guys to produce would be small ball. Here’s what he told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki in March:

That’s something that I’m stressing this spring. We’re working on it. We’re practicing it. If it’s not a bunt, it could be a hit and run. Get a baserunner, make something happen–really to set the tone for the season. … I look at our bats and our type of team, and I think we’re going to have to be good at that game.

And so far in 2015, they’ve been trying. Kind of. They’ve been one of the worst teams at the plate–last in the league in total runs and runs per game, last in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and more. But they have the most sacrifice bunt attempts (17) and successes (8) in all of baseball. However, their 47% success rate is near the bottom of the league at 26th. So in reality, they aren’t that good at sac bunts, they just lead the league because they attempt so many.

So what about other forms of “small ball”? I define small ball as advancing the most baserunners as possible. That can come in the form of bunts and steals, but also things like going 1st-to-3rd on a single to right, or advancing a runner from 2nd to 3rd on a ground ball. Elias/ESPN classify a “productive out” as (1) successful sac bunt by a pitcher with one out, or (2) advancing any runner with none out, or (3) driving in a baserunner with the second out of the inning. A failure is determined as making an out without advancing the runner(s). Using that criteria, the Phillies are 11th in the league in with 22 successes in 61 opportunities. So at least they’re in the top half in that category.

But how about baserunning? They have 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts, which is about the league average. However, they haven’t been very good on the basebaths. According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies have taken extra bases (defined as taking more than one base on a single or more than two on a double) at a rate good for third-worst in the league. Furthermore, they are 2nd-to-last in the rate at which any baserunner scores on a batter’s play. They are last in total baserunners that scored and last at advancing a runner from second with none out as well.

So, the Phillies are trying the small ball thing with lots of bunts, but they don’t do the other things that are required to make “small ball” successful. If they really want to stress this play style, they need to do a better job, as Andy Reid would say, of situational hitting and running the bases. They could vastly improve their run output if they just improve in those areas.


Just Who Is Jerome Williams?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, August 25, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 14

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Carlson)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Carlson)

Jerome Williams is not a household name. Many Phillies fans are still wondering just who he is. And I don’t blame them. In the scorebook, he’s the guy who’s thrown three straight gems for the Phillies.

August 12: 5.1 innings and 2 earned runs against a tough Angels team.

August 18: 7 innings, one earned run against the Mariners.

August 24: 8 innings, one earned run against the Cardinals.

All together, that’s just four earned runs given up in 20.1 innings–a 1.77 ERA.

But who is he? The 32 year old grew up in Hawaii, and prior to coming to the Phillies, he’s played for (starting with most recent) the Rangers, Astros, Angels, Nationals, Cubs, and Giants.

Continue reading Just Who Is Jerome Williams?


Byrd On Pace For (Slightly) Historic Season

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, August 18, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 17

Marlon+Byrd+Philadelphia+Phillies+v+Texas+Gey0d7AmFRKlIn this forgettable string of baseball games that we are calling the 2014 Phillies season, there is not a single thing we could look at and say “yeah, I’m going to remember this for years and years”. However, things aren’t all bad. The bullpen has been surprisingly strong, and a few hitters have been swinging the bat well–particularly the gentlemen that patrols right field for the Phils.

Marlon Byrd has been one of the most consistent offensive players on the Phillies in 2014, and he’s 36 years old.

Let’s go back to last November. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Byrd to a 2-year contract, and, at the time received a load of criticism. The Phillies needed outfield help, and there were guys like Nelson Cruz still available.

He leads the team in home runs and slugging, and is 2nd on the team in OPS, doubles, and RBI.

He has missed just two(!) of 124 games this season. He’s slashing–at the time of writing this post–.270/.320/.473, has hit 22 home runs, and has 70 RBIs. By the end of the year, he’ll likely have somewhere around 28 home runs and 90 RBI.  A season with those numbers, at his age, would be among the best seasons all time for the Phillies.

The last time we saw something like this was in 2009 when Raul Ibanez had a monster season offensively. He hit 34 home runs and collected 93 RBI that year, when he was 37. Prior to that, we haven’t seen anything like this since Hall-Of-Famer Mike Schmidt had back-to-back years of 35+ home runs and 113+ RBI in 1986 and 1987. Beyond Ibanez and Schmidt, the only other player in Phils history to reach 28 home runs and 90 RBI at age 36 or older was Cy Williams in 1927.

That’s three players, one of which is an all-time great. If Byrd can manage to tally 6 more home runs and 20 more RBI in the final month and a half of the season, which should be easily attainable at his current pace, he’ll join them.  And if he does (or even if he doesn’t), it’ll go down as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreadful season for the Phillies.


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