Quantcast


Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

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.

  • 4 Comments
 

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.

  • 12 Comments
 

Enough, Jimmy

Posted by Martin Shnayder, Tue, March 18, 2014 01:15 PM Comments: 57

http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/1x17gzh1GiBU3l.CRO1U_Q--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYwMA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en/person/Ysports/jimmy-rollins-baseball-headshot-photo.jpgJimmy Rollins is unquestionably one of the most successful Philadelphia Phillies players of all time. Rollins is the Phillies all time leader for shortstops in runs scored, HR, SB, RBI, OPS, and SLG. He also ranks second in club history in games played. Defensively, Rollins lead all MLB shortstops from 2000-2013 in defensive runs saved according to FanGraphs’. Of course, Rollins also won the 2007 National League MVP award and was the starting shortstop for the 2008 World Series team.

Despite all the success Rollins has had in his 14 years in Philadelphia he is still one of the most controversial athletes in the city. For good or for bad Rollins has never been scared about opening his mouth. In 2008, the same year the Phillies would go on to win the World Series, Rollins came under flak for going on the Fox Sports’ show “Best Damn Sports Show Period” and calling out Philadelphia fans for being “front-runners.” This resulted in him being booed by the Philly faithful. Rollins has also been benched multiple times in his career for not running out groundballs and pop flies.

More recently, Rollins has been in the middle of a locker room controversy with manager Ryne Sandberg after being benched for multiple games. Coincidently, the benching occurred after Rollins was quoted in the Philadelphia Daily News as saying, “Who cares,” regarding the Phillies offensive struggles thus far in spring training.

Enough, Jimmy. Continue reading Enough, Jimmy

  • 57 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (72-86) at Braves (93-65)

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Thu, September 26, 2013 05:20 PM Comments: 8

Philadelphia Phillies (72-86) at Atlanta Braves (93-65)washington_nationals_logo-9726

Tyler Cloyd (2-6, 5.40) vs David Hale (0-0, 0.00)

Time: 7:10, Turner Field
TV: CSN
Weather: 70, mostly clear
Media: Twitter and Facebook

It’s the final series of what has been a long and disheartening regular season. There’s been some ups, there’s been some downs (WAY more downs), but the finish line is in sight, as the Phils put a cap on 2013 with four at the hated Braves.

The less than impressive Tyler Cloyd takes the ball for the Phils, while David Hale makes his second start of the season for the Braves.

No Chase in the lineup tonight, so that’s a bummer.

Lineup: Hernandez CF, Rollins SS, Brown LF, Ruf RF, Frandsen 1B, Asche 3B, Kratz C, Galvis 2B, Cloyd P


Your gameday beer: Angry Orchard Traditional

Fall is here and there is no better time to cuddle up with a hard cider while you soak in the last Phillies memories of 2013. Though technically not a beer, Angry Orchard provides a full taste and a bite that will quell your urge for a cold one after a long day of work. Grab a sixer, take a moment to notice the slight changes you’re starting to see in the leaves, and begin bidding the Phils farewell.

 

Go Phillies!

  • 8 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (71-83) vs. Marlins (57-99)

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, September 23, 2013 06:51 PM Comments: 3

Miami Marlins logoPhiladelphia Phillies (71-84) vs. Miami Marlins (57-99)
Roy Halladay (4-4, 6.71) vs. Nate Eovaldi (3-6, 3.79)

Time: 7:10Marlins Park
TV: 
CSN
Weather: Overcast, 84
Media: Twitter and Facebook

Either tonight or Saturday could be Roy Halladay’s last start as a Philadelphia Phillie.  Perhaps a strong performance might tilt the scales towards the Phillies resigning him.  He is looking to give the Marlins their 100th loss on an embarassing year.  Yet, it’s safe to say that both teams are already booking their tee times for next week.

Lineup:  Hernandez CF, Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Ruiz C, Brown LF, Ruf 1B, Asche 3B, Bernadina CF, Halladay P

Landshark Lager

Gameday beer: Landshark Lager

This clear-bottled beer is Jimmy Buffet’s answer to Corona.  Speaking of which, when is he going to buy the Marlins?  Anyway the beer is light, airy and bubbly and goes great with a hot summer afternoon.  Just imagine the next time the Phillies return to Florida after this series…it will be Spring Training in Clearwater.

Go Phillies!

  • 3 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (71-83) vs. Mets (70-84)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, September 22, 2013 12:31 PM Comments: 18

new-york-mets-alternate-logo-2-primary_display_imagePhiladelphia Phillies (71-83) vs New York Mets (70-84)

Cliff Lee (14-6, 2.95) vs. Carlos Torress (3-5, 3.39)

Time: 1:35Citizens Bank Park
TV: 
PHL 17
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 70′s
Media: Twitter and Facebook

It’s the last home game of the season: fan appreciation day!  Fans might not appreciate the 2013 Phillies club that much compared to the teams in recent years, but one thing they can appreciate is today’s starter, Cliff Lee.  Lee has been unbelievable this season, as his ERA has dropped below three.  Lee has made the season bearable, with his impressive starts every five days.  Yes, he did have a rough patch during the mid-summer months, but he has truly been unstoppable as of late.  It’s a shame Lee is having such a magnificent year while the rest of the team struggles, but the fans will take any positive they can get at this point.

Soak it in: after today there will be no baseball played at Citizens Bank Park until 2014.

Go Phillies!

 

  • 18 Comments
 

Phillies Lose 5-4 In Rain-Shortened Game

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, September 21, 2013 11:30 PM Comments: 2

Rain shortened Saturday’s game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.  The rains heavily picked up in the seventh inning, causing the game to stop.  After a significant delay, the game was finally called.  In result, the Phillies lost to the Mets, 5-4, in seven innings of play.

The Mets had a four-run sixth inning, which was basically the game.  Daniel Murphy set the tone for the inning with a lead-off home run.  Juan Lagares doubled to center to score two, and Travis d’Arnaud tripled in a run.  The Mets took a 5-1 lead at that point.  All the runs were off Tyler Cloyd, who gave up five earned in as many innings.

The Phillies responded with three runs in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough.  It was then when the rains picked up.  The Phillies wouldn’t get another chance to redeem themselves.

Tomorrow, the Phillies and Mets wrap up the series at 1:35 p.m.

  • 2 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (71-82) vs Mets (69-84)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, September 21, 2013 06:34 PM Comments: 5

new-york-mets-alternate-logo-2-primary_display_imagePhiladelphia Phillies (71-82) vs New York Mets (69-84)

Tyle Cloyd (2-5, 5.06) vs. Dillon Gee (11-10, 3.47)

Time: 7:05Citizens Bank Park
TV: 
CSN
Weather: Chance of rain, 70′s
Media: Twitter and Facebook

With last night’s loss, the Phillies will officially finish the season under the .500 mark.  They haven’t had a losing season since 2002.  It has been quite awhile since the Phillies found themselves in this position, but these losing seasons allow the fans to be more appreciative of the winning seasons.  And for the young kids who have yet to experience the  misery of their favorite team losing, they will get a taste of what we all grew accustomed to when we were young.  Losing is all part of the Philadelphia fan package… but we love our sports teams no matter what.  That’s why we’re here today watching a meaningless baseball game: our passion for the team and the sport.

Now onto tonight’s matchup: Tyler Cloyd gets the start for the Phillies.  He’s struggled in his past two starts, not making it past the fourth inning.  Cloyd will be opposed by Dillon Gee, who has stepped up since Matt Harvey got injured. Gee has a 2.45 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Go Phillies!

 

  • 5 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (71-81) vs Mets (68-84)

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, September 20, 2013 06:17 PM Comments: 11

new-york-mets-alternate-logo-2-primary_display_imagePhiladelphia Phillies (71-81) v New York Mets (68-84)

Cole Hamels (8-13, 3.48) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3, 6.12)

Time: 7:05Citizens Bank Park
TV: 
CSN
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70′s
Media: Twitter and Facebook

Tonight, the Phillies and Mets will begin a three game series at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels will pitch for the Fightins tonight, with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting the ball for the Mets. Hamels has been stellar this year after struggling early on. Dice-K has been a shadow of his former self this year, and is a painstakingly slow on the mound. Tonight might be a long game time-wise. As noted earlier on the site, Michael Stutes has been activated for tonight’s game. David Wright will play for the Mets for the first time since early August.

Lineup: Hernandez CF, Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Ruiz C, Brown LF, Ruf 1B, Asche 3B, Mayberry RF, Hamels P

donnybrook stoutYour Gameday Beer: Brewery Ommegang Three Philosophers

What better place to brew a beer for a ballgame than Cooperstown, N.Y.? This dark, malty, quadrupel is based on the heavy ales of the Trappist monks of Belgium. Hints of cherry and chocolate accompany a beer that not only tastes good, but will make you feel sophisticated drinking it.. -By Michael

Go Phillies!

 

  • 11 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (71-80) vs. Marlins (55-96)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 18, 2013 04:43 PM Comments: 4

Philadelphia Phillies (71-80) vs. Miami Marlins (55-96)

Zach Miner (0-1, 3.72) vs. Nate Eovaldi (3-6, 3.80)

Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
TV:
CSN
Weather: Sunny, 61
Media: Twitter and Facebook

No Kyle Kendrick tonight, he’s been replaced by Zach Miner after an MRI on his shoulder showed tendinitis. It doesn’t sound too serious, he could make his final two starts.

Other than that, things pretty much remain the same. Two baseball teams finishing out the string.

Lineup: Hernandez CF, Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Ruiz C, Brown LF, Ruf 1B, Asche 3B, Bernadina RF, Halladay P

download (2)Gameday Beer: Rogue Voodoo Maple Bacon Ale

Wow, not sure what to do with this. It sounds like it could be the worst thing ever or the greatest thing ever. Whenever bacon is involved, I’m usually there. According to Rogue, this unique artisan creation contains a baker’s dozen number of ingredients including bacon and maple syrup from one of Voodoo’s signature doughnuts.Never had a voodoo doughnut, but I’d imagine it being pretty good. How’s it taste in beer form? If you can find it, let me know – PG

  • 4 Comments
 
Previous Page Next Page