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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

2014 Top Moments: #1 J-Roll Breaks Hit Record

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, October 29, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 18

We are finally at our top moment of 2014. This time, we look at when Jimmy Rollins broke the franchise hits record.

We all knew it would happen. Barring injury, Jimmy Rollins was sure to break Mike Schmidt‘s franchise hits record in 2014.

And he did just that.

IMG_3176.JPG

PHOTO: AP

Schmidt’s record was 2,234 hits. J-Roll notched his 2,235th on Saturday, June 14. He lined a single off Edwin Jackson in the 5th inning in front of 31,524 fans at Citizens Bank Park. The game was then delayed while celebrations took place. Schmidt came out and got Jimmy’s bat and gave him a hug. The entire Phillies team also came out to celebrate with J-Roll.

Rollins has been with the club since 2000, and is a potential Hall-of-Famer. He’s been the face of the Phillies for several years, and has given us countless memories. He provides a unique combo of power and speed from the shortstop position, and is an exceptional fielder. He won an MVP in 2007, and is at or near the top in almost every offensive category in Phillies history. This moment is more of a result of what Jimmy has given us over the years, which is a ton. If we did a countdown of top moments of the last 10 years for the Phillies, this one would still be near the top.

This concludes our top moments countdown. Hope you enjoyed! Here are the others.

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2014 Top Moments: #4 Ben Revere’s First Home Run

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 23, 2014 10:05 AM Comments: 6

We are continuing with our 2014 Top Moments countdown, this time taking a look back at Ben Revere‘s first MLB home run.

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Ben Revere had over 1,400 major league at-bats coming into the game against the Rockies on May 27. There were 23,159 in paid attendance that night at Citizens Bank Park, but an hour-and-22 minute rain delay subsequently caused fans to leave and the stadium to be nearly empty.

Revere had grounded out three straight times–one to first and two to third. Coming into his fourth at-bat in the seventh, the situation was this: The Rockies had just taken the lead on a three-run home run by Wilin Rosario. Revere, the second batter of the inning, was facing lefty Boone Logan, who was usually pretty darn good against lefties–a 1.71 ERA and 1.58 xFIP against lefties in 2013.

It was a 1-1 count, and Logan threw an 91-MPH inside fastball. Revere turned on it perfectly, sending it over the right field fence into the first row. As expected, the entire Phillies dugout ignored him at first before celebrating. It broke the longest homerless drought for an MLB player since Frank Tavares for the Pirates in the 70′s.

ESPN’s home run tracker had the home run at 357 feet, and, in the part of the ballpark it was, would’ve been a home run in just six MLB ballparks. What makes his home run even more surprising, outside of the fact that he’s never hit one before, is that he doesn’t usually have success hitting the ball to right field. Most of his success is up the middle or to left field. He also doesn’t typically hit fly balls, as the majority of his hits are grounders or line drives. He even said that he “usually gets in trouble” when he hits fly balls. Here’s a chart from Fangraphs:


Source: FanGraphs

Over his career, he has a .178 average on fly balls, a .242 average on grounders, and a .676 average on liners. For comparison, the MLB average in 2014 was .202 on flies, .212 on grounders, and .712 on liners. Revere hits .280 when pulling the ball (2014 MLB average .319), .327 when hitting it up the middle (2014 MLB average .324), and .358 to the opposite field (2014 MLB average .298).

Revere would go on to hit another home run, this time against the Nationals on September 5. This home run tied the game for the Phillies in the top of the ninth–a game they would eventually win. It traveled 401 feet–would’ve been out in all 30 ballparks–and came off of Washington’s closer Rafael Soriano.

His two home runs ended up being a part of a special season for Revere, who would compete for the NL batting title and finish with 49 stolen bases. His first home run was a treat for Phillies fans, and a sigh of relief for Revere, who was just waiting for that moment to happen. He said he wants to get 400 more, but somehow I don’t think that will happen.

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Phillies Uniforms, and the Color Blue

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, September 01, 2014 12:30 PM Comments: 11

Happy Labor Day, Nation! Here’s a little change-of-pace post on the Phillies uniforms.

I was browsing the Phillies hat selection on Lids.com and came across this. That hat was worn by the Phillies in the 2000′s as an “Interleague Hat”, as they wore it, as an alternate, for when they played teams from the American League. It got me thinking: what would the Phillies look like if they added more blue to the uniform?

In recent years, they have worn the new “Diamond Era” batting practice (BP) hat for a few games, both home and away. But it kind of looks out of place, since the rest of the uniform lacks any kind of blue, save for the blue stars that dot the i’s on the front logo.

So, my idea is to add more blue to the entire uniform. Let’s start with hat. I would change the normal red hat with a white “P” to something that resembles the current BP hat. Something like this.

hwl(1)

Now for the home pinstripes. I’d like to see blue outlining on the “Phillies” script on the front, and on the name and number on the back. It would look like this:

cliff lee

JonathanPapelbonCarlosRuiz

For the gray away uniform, I would make the same changes, and add a little blue to the stripe on the pants.

450790318(2)

Some History

The Phillies have had blue in their uniform in the past, as well. The current “day game” home alternate uniform is based off an old Phillies uniform from 1948. (H/t Uni Watch). Also, the classic throwback jerseys that you see around Philadelphia and at Citizens Bank Park are powder blue, and were worn for road games in the 70′s and 80′s. The Phils also had an away jersey prototype that featured “Philadelphia” across the chest (the norm for away jerseys in MLB), and a blue outline on the sleeve numbers. That is taken from this, by Bill Henderson (via Dan Fuller here).

What do you think? Do you want to see more blue in the Phillies uniforms? Or should they stick with the classic red look?

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Ken Giles, And The Battle For Closer In 2015

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 29, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 7

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

Ken Giles has been good this year. Really good. The 23 year old, flamethrowing reliever was called up on June 8 after Mike Adams was placed on the disabled list with shoulder issues. Giles had a 1.88 ERA and 12 saves in the minors for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to the call up.

He was only expected to fill in for Adams and provide some spark in the late innings ahead of Jonathan Papelbon.

But he’s done so much more.

In 32 appearances and 33.2 innings, Giles has given up just six runs–five earned, good for an ERA of 1.34. He doesn’t give up many home runs (0.27 per 9), and doesn’t allow much contact–battersare making contact at a rate 67.4% against him, 4th in the NL. He has a 5.33 K/BB ratio, which is 8th in the NL (relievers, min 30 IP), and largely due to his absurd amount (48) of strikeouts. Among NL relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, both his K/9 (12.83) and his K% (38.1%) are in the top five. An interesting and unrelated note–Jake Diekman is right up there with Giles in both those categories.

Giles has an average velocity of 97.1 on his fastball, second in MLB to only cyborg Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. He also throws a nasty slider, and, according to PITCHf/x data, is the 16th most valuable in the league. 32 of his 48 strikeouts (two thirds) have come via the slider, and opponents are hitting just .137/.154/.157 against it. He’s given up just one extra base hit in 208 sliders thrown (0.48%).

The fastball-slider combo reminds me of another Phillies closer–Brad Lidge. His fastball velocity hovered around 95 MPH before he began to lose it (the average fell to about 89 MPH by 2011) and his slider was valued at 4th in all of baseball from 2007-2011. About 81.8% of his strikeouts came via his slider, and opponents hit just .190/.251/.301 against it. They’d only make contact on 54.8% of swings against it, and hit just 35 extra base hits in 2202 total pitches seen (1.6%).

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

The current closer for the Phillies–Jonathan Papelbon–has been as good as ever in 2014. He has an ERA of 1.60 (11th in NL), a K/BB ratio of 4.15 (21st in NL, and a fastball valued at 4th best in the NL. Many of his numbers this year are somewhere near his career bests, even though his fastball velocity is down. I should also mention that a few of his numbers are somewhere near his career lows as well. He gets a lot of flack for his comments to the media and his slow pace on the mound, but there’s no denying he’s been good this year.

But what about next year? The Phillies have been openly trying to trade Papelbon, or “Cinco Ocho”, as he likes to call himself–no no avail. In that article, Ken Rosenthal ponders that the lack of interest in Papelbon might be due to his falling velocity and his personality, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t think so.

Regardless, the Phillies will have to make a decision on Papelbon for next year, because Giles seems ready to take over at closer and I don’t think it’s likely that Papelbon can continue to pitch at this level. If they want to go with Giles, they will have to get rid of Papelbon in some capacity, whether it be via trade or release, because Papelbon will not want to be a setup man, even though he’s really helped groom Giles this year.

I think Giles deserves it, and I think Papelbon will regress next year, and has rubbed Phillies fans the wrong way too often for the Phillies to sell him as the closer over Giles in 2015.

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Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, and RBIs

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, August 26, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 76

It’s a been argued over and over again, especially in Philadelphia, where Ryan Howard–one of the best RBI men in MLB over the years (2nd overall to only Miguel Cabrera since 2006) calls home.

And no, I’m not talking about whether to refer to multiple runs batted in as “RBI”, or “RBIs” (I’ll be using the latter in this post). I’m talking about the meaning of the stat.

“RBIs don’t matter!”, say many believers in advanced metrics and Sabermetrics.

Those that disagree tend to favor, from what I’ve seen, all the more traditional statistics, like batting average, pitcher wins, and things of that sort.

Continue reading Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, and RBIs

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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?

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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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Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 01, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 34

Mo Money Mo Problems

Yesterday, the 4 PM MLB trade deadline came and went without a single move by the Phillies. Marlon Byrdthe player thought to be the most likely to be dealt, and the one who should have been dealt for at least something, didn’t go anywhere. A.J. Burnett wasn’t traded, and neither were Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels.

Around the league, Jon Lester was traded along with Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes. David Price was traded to the Tigers in a three team deal. John Lackey was sent to the Cardinals, and Martin Prado to the Yankees. The Phillies? Nada.

Continue reading Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline

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Ryan Howard and the Shift: An Analysis

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, April 18, 2014 02:10 PM Comments: 4

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

The Big Piece. Ryan Howard has given us plenty of great moments over the years–from game winning monster home runs to “get me to the plate, boys”. Ruben Amaro Jr. awarded him with a monster contract that has since been proven to be one of the biggest mistakes he’s made as Phillies GM due to a tremendous drop in production from the lefty slugger. But this isn’t about the amount of money that the now run down, breaking ball chasing Howard is making. This is about a different aspect of his game that I don’t think has been analyzed deeply before.

Ryan Howard has always been a strong pull-hitter. And, much like his predecessor–Jim Thome–he gets the shift treatment each time he steps to the plate. The second baseman plays in shallow right field, the short stop plays somewhere up the middle, and the third baseman plays shortstop. The third base position does not, and will never, exist when The Big Piece is in the batters box. For this reason, Howard has gotten plenty of “ground outs” on frozen ropes that are hit directly at the second baseman in right field. On the other hand, he’s had a handful of swinging bunts to the left of the pitcher that got him a single as well. Here’s an analysis of what the shift does to Ryan Howard, and what Ryan Howard does to the shift. First, we’ll look at a couple spray charts courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

plot_hc_spray

As you can see in the image above, there is a large cluster of ground balls (marked in green) in between first and second base on the right side of the field. The dots are marked at the point at which the fielder made contact with the ball. A large portion of those dots are in the outfield, a direct result of the shift. Lets take a look at another lefty on the Phillies–Chase Utley.

plot_hc_spray (2)

He has a similar tendency to pull ground balls to the right side, but the contact with the fielder in his chart is much more condensed and closer to the natural second base position. He also has more ground balls make it through the infield to the right fielder.

Now, seeing his spray chart, Howard clearly falls victim to shift more often than not. Most of his ground balls to the right side are eaten up by the shift, and result in outs. Also, a larger portion of his line drives (red dots) to the right side are caught by the shifted fielders than Utley. But here’s another chart:

plot_hc_spray (1)

The black dots in this chart represent his outs. As expected, there is a cluster on the right side of the infield and in shallow right field. But what’s interesting, is that he has more outs in center field and left field than he does in right field. This is–you guessed it–another direct result of the shift. Opposing teams are able to cut down the amount of batted balls that even make it to the outfielders. Another area of interest is the amount of singles and doubles to the right side. He has significantly more singles to right than any other part of the field, but less doubles. Outfielders play him to pull, and are able to cut down deeply hit balls that the infielders could not get to.

This is proven by looking at some numbers on Baseball Reference. When Howard pulls the ball, he gets a hit roughly 37.8% of the time. But when he hits it up the middle, that average jumps to 41.4%. And when he hits it the other way, it’s an even 40%. His OPS, however, distinctly increases as you go from the right side (1.050) to the middle (1.237) to the left (1.408). So, while his strength is pulling the ball, opposing teams have successfully been able to counter that with the fielding alignment. And, judging by his numbers to each field, limiting the number of balls he pulls would benefit him.

So, knowing this about himself, has Howard tried to change his approach a bit to try and beat the shift? David Ortiz, another slugging lefty, was able to change up his approach a few years ago. He began to fight off outside pitches to the left side, rather than still trying to pull them. He even attempted to bunt a few times. Howard, on the other hand, has made minimal changes, if any:

plot_hc_bytime (1)

No.

Overall, there is little change since 2007 in the area where Howard hits the ball. It doesn’t look like he’s trying to drive the ball the other way any more than he did seven years ago. It’s quite understandable that Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t paying him to hit line drive singles to left-center, but at this point in his career, can The Big Piece afford to keep driving hit after hit into the teeth of the shift? Should he change his approach? In my opinion, Howard should keep doing what got him that ludicrous contract in the first place. Changing up his approach now would do more harm than good for a guy still trying to find his old self at the plate.

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The Decline of Jonathan Papelbon

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, April 03, 2014 12:14 PM Comments: 12

PHOTO: AP / Jim Cowsert

Last night, Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save opportunity of the season, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Texas. This has been somewhat of a theme for Papelbon recently. As Todd Zolecki noted last night, Paps has pitched poorly over his last 39 appearances–4.46 ERA, and eight blown saves. His infamous “I didn’t come here for this.” quote also came during that span.

Another thing to note, though, is over that same period of time, his fastball velocity has decreased. Last night, his fastball averaged 91.62 MPH. On June 24 of last year–the date that Zolecki used–his fastball averaged 93.44 MPH. In 2012, he was in the 93-96 range all year, and in 2011 he was up near 95-97.

Of course, a decline in velocity for a 33 year-old isn’t unexpected–but another thing to consider is his arm slot, which has steadily decreased (Credit to Bill Baer and John Stolnis for that find).

The question is–will this continue? Or is Papelbon simply in a pitching slump? The answer isn’t simple. It’s easy to expect more of the same old “Papelblown”, especially from a guy that seems to be extremely easy to hate by Phillies fans. But he’s gone through slumps like this before, too. In 2009, he had a 1.85 ERA with 3 blown saves–followed by a 2010 season where he had a 3.90 ERA with eight blown saves. He knows adversity.

However, if his dropping arm slot and velocity are effects of an injury, that’s a different story. We’ve seen this kind of reduction in velocity and effectiveness before. See: Roy Halladay. Halladay didn’t drop his arm slot like Paps is doing, but the drop in velocity and decrease in effectiveness is similar. Halladay labored a lot more than Papelbon is now, as well. So I’m not saying that Jonathan Papelbon has a bum shoulder, or that he’ll retire next year, but it is definitely something to watch. 33 is not terribly old for a closer–but Jonathan Papelbon is a crazy man. Not an ordinary closer. Still, there’s always a chance he gets past this.

And for our sake, I hope he bounces back.

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