I needed a break from the regular series recaps, because there is only so much you can say every 3 games and still be moderately interesting. So, I pulled some interesting statistical numbers for the Phillies from ESPN, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus and actually found some real good stuff.
Today I’m doing the hitters, and later in the week I will look at the pitchers. Since a lot of this stuff will be new to people, it is necessary to start off with a glossary:
P/PA – Pitches per plate appearance
BABIP – Batting average on balls hit in play. Higher infers good luck, lower infers bad luck
Clutch – A metric by FanGraphs that measures how a player performs in “high leverage” situations (i.e. situations with a large affect on the outcome of the game) vs. their performance in normal situations
FB%, SL%, CT%, CB%, CH%, SF%- The percentage of total pitches thrown to a batter that are fastballs (FB), sliders (SL), cutters (CT), curve balls (CB), change-ups (CH) or split-fingers (SF)
wFB/C, wSL/C, wCT/C, wCB/C, wCH/C, wSF/C – This is the runs above average a hitter generates off each pitch. The MLB average for FB is 0.65, for SL it’s 0.00, for CT, CB and CH it’s 0.20 and for SF it’s -1.00.
O-Swing % – The % of balls thrown outside the strike-zone that a player swings at
Z-Swing % – The % of balls thrown inside the strike zone that a player swings at
Swing % – The overall % of pitches a hitter swings at
O-Contact % - The % of balls thrown outside the strike-zone that a player swings at and makes contact with
Z-Contact % – The % of balls thrown inside the strike zone that a player swings at and makes contact with
Contact % - The overall % of pitches a hitter swings at and makes contact with
Zone % – % of pitches a hitter sees inside the strike zone
EqBRR – This is a baserunning stat we’ve discussed before. It measures the number of runs a player gains on the basepaths against the expected rate.
VORP – Value Over Replacement Player. Arguably the most complete metric used today, VORP measures how much a player contributes to his team compared to how an average replacement player would perform.
RC/27 – Runs Created per 27 outs. Another all-encompassing metric, this measures everything a hitter does to help the team win. I believe the resulting metric is how many runs a team would expect to score per game if their line-up was made up of the player, and 8 clones of that player.
Good. I really hope you enjoy this stuff as much as I do…here are the raw numbers:
Lots and lots of interesting things here. This is what I saw:
- It surprised me that Jayson Werth leads the team in P/PA with 4.54. Even more surprising is the fact that he leads the entire National League.
- The NL median for P/PA is 3.90 meaning that half our line-up is above average (Werth, Utley, Howard, Ruiz) and the other half (Rollins, Victorino, Ibanez, Feliz) is below average.
- Not good to have such low P/PA for our 1-2 guys in the line-up, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
- Rollins .226 BABIP is a huge indicator that part of his struggles this season have simply been due to bad luck. Only 4 players in baseball (Jay Bruce, Brian Giles, Garrett Atkins and Ken Griffey Jr.) have had worse luck.
- On the other end, Feliz’ .356 BABIP infers what we already knew: that he’s not really a .320 hitter and has benefitted from some good luck so far.
- One good non-Phillies note: David Wright leads the MLB in BABIP (with a ridiculous .484 BABIP) which infers he’s due for some bad luck. This would also explain why he’s leading for the batting title right now.
- With the clutch stat, I would first like to say that I love that they made this stat, as so many baseball stat nuts argued “clutch” didn’t exist and couldn’t be proven. Second, I would say Ryan Howard’s high number proves this stat is useful and accurate. According to the stat, Howard has been the 2nd most clutch player in the majors this year, behind Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. Ibanez is 13th. Victorino is 20th.
- As a team, the Phillies are the 3rd most “clutch” behind the Tigers and Giants.
- One of the most telling stats was the FB% for Ryan Howard. He’s sees about 15% less fastballs than the rest of the team, and only Alfonso Soriano sees less fastballs in the MLB. In Howard’s previous seasons, he saw about 51% fastball, so it’s even less this year. Pedro Feliz, another notorious fastball hitter, also has a low percentage. Matt Stairs, not shown, gets a fastball only 48.8% of the time.
- Only Ivan Rodriguez sees more sliders than Ryan Howard.
- Looks like pitchers are trying to get Rollins out with curves and change-ups rather than Sliders.
- Victorino also has a very high change-up %, 5th highest in baseball.
- All of our hitters except Rollins, are above average against the fastball. Utley and Victorino have been the best.
- Reason #2 for Rollins numbers: He can’t hit a fastball. Only Bengie Molina and Brian Giles have been worse against the fastball this year.
- Surprisingly, Howard has been fairly average against the fastball, which as we just discussed, is never thrown to him.
- Ibanez gaudy numbers have been in large part to him crushing off-speed pitches. He’s been good against the fastball, but fantastic against the slider (1st in MLB), and change-up (4th best).
- As a team, we can’t hit curve balls. In fact, we are the worst team in baseball against the curve. Could this be the secret as to why some so-so pitchers can dominate us?
- As a team, we are 1st in baseball against the sliders, 2nd against change-ups and 4th against fastballs.
- Victorino is the worst on the team against curve balls and change-ups. He is the 4th worst in baseball against the curve.
- Not surprisingly, Howard swings at more balls out of the strike zone than anyone on the team. Surprisingly, Ruiz swings at the least.
- Ruiz doesn’t have enough ABs to qualify, but if he did, he would be 5th in the MLB in O-Swing%.
- If it’s a strike – Ryan Howard will swing 80% of the time, 2nd highest mark in baseball. Probably not a terrible idea since he’s sees fewer strikes than anyone else on the team (see: Zone %).
- Let’s just get Howard’s swinging stuff out of the way. Obviously with his K’s, there are lots of swings and misses. He is 6th worst in O-Contact % and Z-Contact % and is 5th worst in overall Contact%.
- Ibanez doesn’t make much contact when he chases pitches.
- Victorino and Rollins are our best contact hitters, hitting the ball nearly 90% of the time they take a swing.
- As a team, we are right in the middle of the pack in Contact%.
- Utley, Ruiz and Werth swing the least out of any of our players, with Utley swinging at only 1 of every 3 pitches he sees.
- On the baserunning front, the big shock is that Rollins has been a below average baserunner this year. He has been top-10 in all of baseball the last couple years. Really, really surprising.
- Howard is the 9th worst baserunner in baseball and despite how much harder and faster Ibanez seems to be running that Burrell, the numbers say otherwise.
For VORP and RC/27, I wanted to put up another chart showing the MLB rank (out of 162 players with 200+ PA) for each players. Carlos Ruiz has about 135 PA, so his rank is where he would be if he had 200 PA.
The thing to keep in mind with these types of metrics is they are all about efficiency. Ryan Howard always ranks low because of his strikeouts and lower OBP. RBI’s are not factored in here at all. A couple takeaways from this:
- Carlos Ruiz has been FANTASTIC so far this year. As you could see from the numbers above, he is very disciplined at the plate and clearly very efficient in his production.
- Ibanez and Utley are both top-10 players in the MLB this season.
- Rollins has been one of the 10 worst players in the MLB this season. I didn’t realize he was that bad so far.
- Werth was lower than I thought he would be, showing very average scores. I continue to think he will be shopped in the off-season so we can bring Michael Taylor up.
- Feliz ranked ahead of Howard in both metrics.
- As I think Utley is the best player on the team, I tend to favor the RC/27 rankings.
OK, well that was a lot of information and babbling on. Please feel free to comment and make up your own theories, there is plenty to work with here!