So much of baseball is statistical analysis. In my last piece, I examined where the Phillies would be with a healthy Chase Utley in the lineup rather than rookie Freddy Galvis all based on Win Probability Added and Wins above replacement. With Utley nearing a return and Galvis out indefinitely with back fractures and baseball’s equivalent of a “Shannaban”, this piece will take a look at seven surprising statistics (say that five times fast) through the spring as today is the first full day of summer (and I am really into "s" words right now)
1. Batting Average – Everyone has been saying the offense is terrible. While batting average is not a great indicator of offensive potency, I thought it was worthy enough to include because of the startling information. The Phillies are batting a meager .267 as a team. However that is good enough for SECOND in the National League. So the questions remains, “Can the Phillies hit?” or “Is the NL that bad?”Just for the fun of it, the Phillies hit .253 as a team last year.
2. Stolen Base / Caught Stealing – The Phillies have stolen a total of 48 bases this year which is good enough for 5th in the NL. They have been caught a total of 9 times, which is the most in the National League and surprising it’s not 45 since Juan Pierre thinks he’s still 19. The base running success has seemed down since the great Davey Lopes left us (the biggest free agent we should’ve re-signed). Last year they were caught 24 times in 120 attempts.
3. Advances – It seems that more often than not, the Phillies leave a runner stranded on third when they lead off an inning with a triple (or a double and advance with a sacrifice). So far this year, with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs, that runner has scored 40% of the time. The league average and their average from last year is 48%. Obviously scoring runs is how you win the game regardless of how well you bat.
4. ERA - “With good pitching comes success” is a moniker we are used to hearing in Philadelphia. The pitching staff was supposed to be the rock this year. With Vance Worley missing a few starts, Cliff Lee spending some time on the DL (and still with 0 wins, although that may not be entirely his fault), Roy Halladay out for an extended period of time, and a new-look bullpen that has been less-than impressive, the Phillies are hurting in the pitching department. So much so that they have a team ERA of 3.98, which is 8th best in the National League. Last year the Phils had a 3.02 Team ERA, which was the bet ERA in the NL.
5. Inherited Score Percentage – This stat is exactly what it sounds like. When a relief pitcher enters a game with a runner on base, this is the percentage of runners who score. The Phillies bullpen is allowing a Mike Zagurski-esque 40% of these runners to score. The league average is 29%.
6. Blown Leads – The Phillies have blown a total of 18 leads this year. They have played a total of 70 games. They Phillies of last year blew 28 leads in 162 games. When you get ahead in a game, you just can’t lose it. To that extent, the Phillies have been walked off on a staggering 8 times. They only had a total of 6 last year. This is just another example of how the pitching, that was supposed to help us through this year, needs to be better and hold onto a lead.
7. Comeback Wins – Of their 32 wins in 70 games, the Phillies have come back to win 10 times. Last year, they came back to win 40 times in 162 games. Sure the percentage is lower this year, but when you look at it closely, the most the Phillies have come back to win a game by is 2 runs. In that analysis it is not that impressive to say they came from behind to win 10 out of 70 games. Basically what this stat shows is that once the Phillies get down by 3 or more runs, you might as well enjoy your time at the park by singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” like an idiot, visiting Bull’s BBQ or checking out the awesome new beer garden by the bullpens.
One word to describe the Phillies this year is: disappointing. While we are expecting so much more from this club let’s not forget that as we get into summer hopefully we get a healthy Roy Halladay, a rehabbed Chase Utley and a fully recovered Ryan Howard all back from injuries. Sure if the season were to end today, we would miss out on the post season, but that’s the great thing about baseball, it doesn’t end when the spring does.