Previewing the Phillies' offense

 

The Phillies offense: amazing or overrated?

 

 

Rk Pos Age G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1 C Carlos Ruiz 31 121 433 371 112 28 1 8 53 0 1 55 54 .302 .400 .447 .847 128
2 1B Ryan Howard* 30 143 620 550 152 23 5 31 108 1 1 59 157 .276 .353 .505 .859 128
3 2B Chase Utley* 31 115 511 425 117 20 2 16 65 13 2 63 63 .275 .387 .445 .832 124
4 SS Jimmy Rollins# 31 88 394 350 85 16 3 8 41 17 1 40 32 .243 .320 .374 .694 86
5 3B Placido Polanco 34 132 602 554 165 27 2 6 52 5 0 32 47 .298 .339 .386 .726 95
6 LF Raul Ibanez* 38 155 636 561 154 37 5 16 83 4 3 68 108 .275 .349 .444 .793 112
7 CF Shane Victorino# 29 147 648 587 152 26 10 18 69 34 6 53 79 .259 .327 .429 .756 102
8 RF Jayson Werth 31 156 652 554 164 46 2 27 85 13 3 82 147 .296 .388 .532 .921 145
9 MI Wilson Valdez 32 111 363 333 86 16 3 4 35 7 0 21 43 .258 .306 .360 .667 79
Team Totals 31.9 162 6291 5581 1451 290 34 166 736 108 21 560 1064 .260 .332 .413 .745 99
Rank in 16 NL teams 2 5 7 4 5 4 16 4 14 5 5 5 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2010.

 

Only six above-average or better hitters? Please. Their worst regular was so bad, he had the same OPS+ this year that the Giants’ cleanup hitter had last year? Oh, man, that has to sting. What a bunch of hacks.

Ahem.

Okay, so they’re pretty good.

Breaking them down into five different categories:

Fantastic hitters having good-not-great years:

Chase Utley
Ryan Howard

Good hitters having okay years:

Shane Victorino
Placido Polanco
Raul Ibanez

Good hitters having fantastic years:

Jayson Werth
Carlos Ruiz

A formerly great hitter having his second rough season in a row, which makes you wonder…

Jimmy Rollins

Cody Ransom and Brian Bocock

Cody Ransom
Brian Bocock

Unfortunately, neither Ransom nor Bocock are supposed to be on the roster. They’re like former Soviet scientists who defected, but instead of atomic theory, they worked on the mating habits of caribou, and, brother, that’s not going to end the Cold War any time soon, so they weren’t a part of the NSA’s plans.

Even though Howard and Utley are having down years by their lofty standards, there’s no way not to think of them as RYAN HOWARD and CHASE UTLEY. I keep scanning the lineup over and over again, trying to find something that will make me more comfortable. It doesn’t work. The Phillies have a good offense to support their good pitching. There aren’t a whole lot of Melky Cabreras in there, and if there were, they probably wouldn’t be hitting fifth.

At least, though, the Giants will be countering the Utley/Howard/Ibanez troika with Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, right? The Phillies always struggle against left-handed pitching.

Split G GS PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP 322 4415 3915 1003 203 27 111 397 714 .256 .329 .407 .736
vs LHP 257 1876 1666 448 87 7 55 163 350 .269 .339 .429 .767
vs LH Starter 643 48 1883 1675 435 91 6 50 164 345 .260 .330 .411 .741
vs RH Starter 1603 114 4408 3906 1016 199 28 116 396 719 .260 .333 .414 .747
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2010.

Dammit. Who started that rumor? It was fun while it was plausible.

The Phillies are good. Here's the thing, though: the Giants weren't that much worse. The Giants scored 697 runs. the Phillies scored 772. That's a substantial difference, but it's about 5,231 runs closer than I thought it would be. Here are the Giants' splits:

Split G GS PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP 315 4592 4124 1068 216 23 126 354 810 .259 .320 .414 .734
vs LHP 217 1550 1364 343 68 7 36 133 289 .251 .325 .391 .716
vs LH Starter 635 44 1662 1470 378 74 9 43 142 307 .257 .329 .407 .737
vs RH Starter 1702 118 4480 4018 1033 210 21 119 345 792 .257 .318 .409 .727
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2010.


The main difference between the two offenses this year is that the Phillies had a 50-point OPS advantage against left-handed pitchers. That's it. That's a big difference, but it's not the gap I was expecting. They didn't have Utley for part of the year, and Polanco was hurt too, so that's a factor, but the Giants were without Pat Burrell and Buster Posey for the beginning of the year, so it kind of evens out.

I don't get it. The Giants are a wretched offensive team. The Phillies are a juggernaut. Just look at the names up there. The question at the top -- The Phillies offense: amazing or overrated? -- might be a trick question. Maybe the Giants offense is just a little bit underrated. And I'm not going to let those 82 games in which the Giants scored three runs or fewer color my judgment on this.

Well, maybe just a little.

The more I look at these two teams, the more I'm convinced they're pretty equally matched. If I could trade the Giants roster for the Phillies roster -- swapping homefield advantage along the way -- I probably would. The Phillies are the better team. But it's close. It's almost like the Phillies only won five more games than the Giants did.

So if I hear another radio-monkey yammer on and on about how the Giants are going to get dominated, or if I read another article about how the Giants have no chance, you know what I'm going to do about it? I'm going to blog about it. Yeah, that's right.

...

Is it Saturday yet? This sucks.

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