Archive for the 2012 Phillies Category

More on Cliff Lee

Posted in 2012 Phillies on August 23, 2012 by wechslerh66

Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley notes in a recent discussion of where Cole Hamels ranks among other NL Cy Young hopefuls a few names ranked above Hamels in xFIP (basically, ERA based more on things a pitcher can control like strikeouts, walks, HBPs, and HRs rather than things a pitcher can’t control like on balls in play, further regressed to a league average HR rate based on that pitcher’s fly ball rate—Hamels was 8th at 3.31) and SIERA (basically, ERA based on walks, strikeouts, and ground ball rate—Hamels  was 7th, also at 3.31) whom the voters will likely exclude:

  • Adam Wainwright (3.06, 3.16): 3.90 ERA invalidates him from the discussion among most voters.
  • Cliff Lee (3.21, 3.21): 3.85 ERA also invalidates him like Wainwright.

Cole Hamels v. 2012 is 14-6, 2.94, with 8.81 K/9, a K/BB ratio of 4, a .232 opponents’ average, a 3.28 SIERA, and a 3.29 xFIP.

And Lee, who is 2-7, 3.78, is arguably outpitching him.

Lee leads the majors—not the NL, the majors—in K/BB ratio at an amazing 6.04.

He ranks sixth in the majors in xFIP at 3.13—behind only Strasburg, Wainwright, Greinke (as a Brewer and Angel), Dickey, and Price, and ahead of Clayton Kershaw (3.20).

He ranks fourth in the majors in SIERA at 3.08, tied with Wainwright, and behind only Strasburg, Dickey, and Max Scherzer.  (This doesn’t mean Max Scherzer is better than Verlander, any more than it means Lee is better than Hamels or Verlander.  It does however mean that Max Scherzer is having a hell of a year, and a career.  11.34 K/9 this season, as a starter, in almost 150 innings so far, bringing his career K/9 to 9.23 in over 750 innings?  Seriously?)

The Orioles can be outscored by 54 runs, win 23 of 29 one-run games thanks to a decent bullpen and dumb luck, and end up ten games over .500 and a half game out of the second wild card on August 22.  It’s what happened to Cliff Lee in reverse in 2012.  The Orioles still blow.  And Cliff Lee is still somebody’s Cy Young hopeful.


Clifford & the Big Red Canadian

Posted in 2012 Phillies on July 19, 2012 by wechslerh66

Last week I wrote to Rob in Iowa in response to an e-mail comment comparing Cliff Lee’s hard luck season to Ryan Dempster’s:

Lee’s run support is 4.9, which ranks him 92nd in the majors among the 99 pitchers who qualify, according to ESPN. The Reds’ Edinson Volquez is dead last at 4.02. Dempster is 70th (5.65).

How exactly does that break down, though?  Lee’s run support is almost five, but with an ERA under four, he has only one win?  Similarly, Dempster now has only five wins despite an ERA under two? (Note, ESPN’s Run Support is defined as “Team’s runs scored (average, per 9 innings pitched) while the pitcher of record”–so for example, the 10-6 win at the Mets on 5/30 only counts the one run the Phils scored while Lee was on the mound plus the two runs they scored during the inning they pinch hit for him before Bastardo replaced him, not the other seven runs, pro-rated on a 9 inning basis. The run support numbers below are the raw numbers, not pro-rated per 9– except, of course, where the number is zero.)

Lee’s 2012 run support per game (games the Phils won are in bold):

1, 1, 0†, 4, 3*, 0, 3, 3, 1, 4, 5, 3, 1, 9±, 1, 1

† 10 scoreless innings in 1-0, 11-inning loss at SF (¡vete al infierno, Antonio Bastardo!)

* 8 innings, 1 run, 10 strikeouts before Chad Qualls blew a save (Phils won 4-3 in 10 innings on Pence walkoff HR)

± 9-2 win at NYM— Lee’s only win of the season

For what it’s worth, Lee’s strikeouts per game:

4, 7, 7, 6, 10, 6, 7, 7, 12, 8, 3, 9, 3, 9, 4, 4

Lee’s three highest game scores, according to the Bill James formula:

April 18 at SF: the 1-0 loss at SF—10 scoreless innings, 7 K’s, game score of 85 (Matt Cain’s perfect game was 101, for comparison’s sake)

May 15 vs. Houston: the 4-3 win—an 8 inning no decision for Lee, game score of 77

June 5 vs. the Dodgers: a 2-1 loss–7.2 innings of two-run ball with a walk and 12 K’s, game score of 70

Lee’s record in his three highest game scores: 0-1

As for Dempster, his 2012 run support per game (games the Cubs won are in bold):

1, 1, 1, 3†, 1, 4, 0, 0, 3, 5, 6, 3, 4, 4

† 8 scoreless innings in a 4-3, 10-inning loss (Marmol blew a 3-0 lead, walking 3 batters, surrendering a hit to the other, and throwing only 6 of 18 pitches for strikes—one of which was the hit).  It was Dempster’s highest game score of the season (80).

Dempster’s strikeouts per game:

10, 5, 8, 6, 7, 5, 3, 6, 4, 3, 6, 3, 4, 5

Season totals:

Lee: 1-6, 3.72, 111.1 IP, 107 H, 22 BB, 106 K, 101 ERA+, 1.16 WHIP, 8.88 K/9, 4.86 K/BB, 11 HR, .333 BABIP, 2.96 FIP, 3.10 xFIP

Dempster: 5-3, 1.86 (leads NL), 92 IP, 69 H, 25 BB, 75 K, 211 ERA+ (leads NL), 1.022 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.00 K/BB, 6 HR, .242 BABIP, 3.13 FIP, 3.71 xFIP

That’s not a typo—balls in play are almost 100 points luckier for Dempster than for Lee; with normalized luck for both pitchers, Lee’s ERA would actually be lower than Dempster’s.

Enough has been written on Lee, I know, and probably on Dempster as well.  It’s difficult to argue either, especially Lee, has had a bad year, rather than a bad luck year.  Even, I would think, if you’re a Phillies fan.

Phillies vs. Rocky

Posted in 2012 Phillies on June 21, 2012 by wechslerh66

Projecting the 2012 Phillies Lineup in 2012

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 27, 2012 by wechslerh66









One of the differences between being a baseball fan as a teenager in the 1980s and being a more nuanced baseball fan (unless, apparently, you’re Paul DePodesta) is the more nuanced baseball fan’s development of a bullshit detector when it comes to the typical “your team’s projected lineup in 2017 based on what we know in 2007” examples of prospect halo effect at best (e.g. Baseball Prospectus) or lazy journalism at worst (e.g. your local Sunday paper). We obviously don’t know who will be traded for whom, who will flame out, who will sign (or depart) as a free agent, who will move from third to the outfield, etc. at any moment. So why bother projecting even one year out, not to mention four or five, if not purely for our amusement when the time comes (if not before)?

See for example Baseball America’s December 2010 “Projected 2014 lineup” for the Phillies, featuring a left fielder and number five starter who are now Astros, a closer who’s now an injured Red, no Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon who actually are under contract for 2014, and a number three starter who is now probably shooting elk from his porch in Mississippi.

Based on the typical Phillies lineup this season, what would have been an accurate “Projected 2012 lineup” three offseasons ago (e.g. December 2008, when the Phils were briefly kings of the world)?

Catcher: Our backup catcher just had an OPS of .620 (OPS +63). He went crazy in the postseason, though, so we may not need to bring Chris Coste back.

First Base: Decline years? Check. Bad body type? Check. Poor defense? Check. We need to outbid the market to resign Ryan Howard even before he’s ON the market. And why not sign the Astros’ third baseman/left fielder as a backup?

Second Base: Obviously, Utley, but that 18 year old Venezuelan kid who just OPS’d .588 in the Sally League may be ready too.

Third Base: Hmm, I doubt we would want that Adrian Beltre, or even Wilson Betemit. Is Polanco on the market?

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins.

Left Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). Would we ever be able to outbid the Dodgers for Juan Pierre (.283/.327/.328, 75 OPS+ in 2008)? I mean, he did just bat .667 against the Phils in the NLCS (sample size: three at bats).

Center Field: Shane Victorino.

Right Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). We need to trade our 2014 first baseman and number five starter to the Astros in a few years for their 105 OPS+ right fielder.

No. 1 Starter: Irish dude who just won 20 games for a Blue Jays team that won 86.

No. 2 Starter: AL Cy Young winner (22-3, 2.54) Cliff Lee. We should trade spare parts for him. No, wait, trade him for spare parts. Wait, maybe free agency is better.

No. 3 Starter: World Series MVP Cole Hamels– why shouldn’t he be the #3 pitcher on the defending champions?

No. 4 Starter: World Series slugger Joe Blanton.

No. 5 Starter: Williamsport Crosscutter/Lakewood Blue Claw Vance Worley, who’s too much of a stud for the Sally League. & if he goes down, how about someone who just won 11 games despite a 5.49 ERA (79 ERA+), 3.9 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.612 over 155.2 IP? Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Closer: The Red Sox won’t be able to keep their all-star closer (2.34 ERA, 41 SV, 0.952 WHIP) in four years. Let’s throw ridiculous money at him when the time comes. I mean, the more economical option will need Tommy John surgery anyway.

Phils Roundup, May 2012: Lies, Damned Lies

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 20, 2012 by wechslerh66

Why the Phillies (21-20) may blow:

Oldest team batter age in the NL at 31.2, almost a full year older than the Dodgers (30.3). The Yankees (32.8) are the only older offense in baseball.

Second fewest walks drawn in the NL with 101 (the Pirates have drawn only 87; somehow the Padres are 1st with 152, led by Chase Headley’s 29, which is 29 more than Chase Utley has so far).

An exactly league average 93 OPS+. (The Pujols-less Cardinals lead the NL with a 122 OPS+, almost double Pujols’ 63 OPS+.)

Third oldest team pitcher age in the NL at 30.0 (somehow the Pirates and Mets are both older despite the potential to suck even worse).

Team ERA only 9th in the NL at 3.61 (the 2011 Phils led the league with a 3.02 ERA).

Tied for 5th in HR allowed with 43.

Why the Phillies may not blow:

Stolen base to caught stealing ratio of 34-6– even without Davey Lopes.

Third in the NL in batting average at .266 (though only 8th in OBP at .318 thanks to the poor walk ratio; 6th in SLG at .393, however).

Fewest walks allowed in the NL at 93, second most strikeouts at 349, best K/BB ratio at 3.49, third in WHIP with 1.191 (though only 7th in ERA+ at 107).

Also, the Phils defense has turned the 2nd most DP’s in the NL with 43 (St. Louis leads the league with 45), though when you allow more runners, you create more DP opportunities, so this is a mixed blessing.

As far as BABIP, neither the offense (.305) nor the pitching (.294) is too out of whack, though breaking down the offensive BABIPs, some Phils are due for a major regression:

Nix .394
Orr .385
Pierre .356
Ruiz .350
Mayberry .342
Wigginton .338

Unfortunately, some of these players (the top three names, for example) are borderline terrible, and because of timing (e.g. Juan Pierre is currently batting .327, meaning he may well be perceived as the .297 career hitter who helps a team rather than the .708 career OPS who hurts a team), will be given plenty of opportunity to hit their way back to normalcy. Somewhere a lucky full season translates into five years and $11M, a lucky half season could mean an extra 250-300 at bats, minimum. (Of course, an unlucky 280 at bats translates into something as well.)

The pitching BABIP breaks down as .289 for the starters and .299 for the relievers. Only Lee (.236 BABIP) is due for major regression; at the other extreme, Worley (.325) and Kyle Kendrick (.333 as a starter/.364 as a reliever) are due for improvement. Based on xFIP, Kyle Kendrick’s 5.96 ERA should actually be 4.88. On the other hand, that’s a $7.5M, two-year contract for a reliever with an ERA approaching 5. Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Statistics courtesy of and

Why Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist, #105

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 4, 2012 by wechslerh66

When ex-Phillie Kyle Abbott went 1-14, 5.13 (69 ERA+) in 133.1 IP in his NL debut in 1992, he struck out 5.9 per 9 innings.

Kyle Kendrick has never struck out more than 5.1 per 9 innings.

Other than this season. When he is 0-2, 6.59 (57 ERA+) in 13.2 IP so far.

After bombing in 1992, Kyle Abbott would pitch 28.1 relatively effective innings as a Phils reliever the following season (ERA+ of 111), whereby he departed as a free agent to the Angels and would only pitch 4 more innings in the majors.

After bombing in 2008 (11-9 but 5.49 (79 ERA+) in 155.2 IP with even worse peripherals than Abbott’s 1992), Kyle Kendrick would pitch 26.1 relatively effective innings as a Phils reliever the following season (ERA+ of 125), whereby he was given the opportunity to go 11-10, 4.73 (86 ERA+) in 180.2 innings the season after that; 8-6, 3.22 (120 ERA+) in 114.2 extremely lucky innings (BABIP of only .261) the season after that; and will now make $7.5M over the next two seasons.

Kyle Kendrick is Kyle Abbott plus one halfway decent rookie season in an unexpectedly successful pennant race that bought him endless opportunity to bomb for the rest of his Phils career.

Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Name That Closer

Posted in 2012 Phillies on May 2, 2012 by wechslerh66

Some small sample size fun:

Closer A: 0-0, 0.82 ERA, 9 SV/9 OPP, 11 IP, 6 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 11 K, 0.82 WHIP, .162 vs.

Closer B: 0-0, 1.17 ERA, 6 SV/6 OPP, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 HR, BB, 5 K, 0.52 WHIP, .115 vs.

Closer A is the Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon (2012 salary: $11,000,058), who has been brilliant for the 12-12 Phillies.

Closer B? Ex-Phil Brett Myers (2012 salary: $12,000,000), who has been equally brilliant in fewer opportunities for the 10-14 Astros.

So effectively, the Phillies have $999,942 worth of VOM (Value Over Myers).