After a four-game series against one of the best offenses in baseball, the world champion Kansas City Royals get the presumed luxury of traveling to Philadelphia to face one of the worst teams in baseball. The Phillies have a promising young pitching staff, but their position players are an unmitigated disaster thus far. After a hot and unsustainable start, the Phillies have come crashing back down to earth, now sitting a full 10 games under .500.
Game One - Friday, 6:05 PM CDT
Since edging out Mark Trumbo and Eric Hosmer for American League Rookie of the Year in 2011, Des Moines native Jeremy Hellickson has failed to live up to the expectations typically assigned to the winners of said award. That the award was given to him in a year in which he sported a .223 BABIP while the voters of the mainstream media were still slowly coming around to using advanced metrics to inform their selections surely tempered expectations, but Hellickson has still yet to enjoy a season in which he put up more than 1.5 fWAR since that 2011 campaign. Of course this season, he is actually on pace to eclipse that mark, as he has been worth 0.9 fWAR (in this juiced ball (?) 2016 run environment) at nearly the midpoint of the season. Things could still go south for Hellickson, but he does seem to be locating his change much better, and his K-rate (21.7 K%) is at its highest point in any point in his major-league career (other than his 36.1 IP in 2010) while simultaneously lowering his walk-rates (6.2 BB%) to low points as a full-time starter. It has really just been aberrant home-run rates that have been his undoing in 2016.
Game Two - Saturday, 4:50 PM CDT
|Danny Duffy (L)||25||66.2||79||16||3.24||3.79||3.59||3.12||1.5||1.0|
Though his ERA is entirely pedestrian, when one judges him by his peripherals, Aaron Nola has been one of the game's best pitchers this season. His 2.1 fWAR ranks 19th amongst starting pitchers. His 19.5 K-BB% is the 12th-best mark amongst qualified starters. His SIERA puts has him nestled between Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner (fifth and seventh). Of the things Nola can control, he has done about as well as one can, putting himself in elite company. Sadly for Nola, he's got a 61.8 LOB% and .328 BABIP, leading to a 1.29 difference between his ERA and FIP, a mark that only Adam Wainwright, Chad Bettis, and Michael Pineda have exceeded. Given that he is suffering a markedly worse BABIP with runners on base despite inducing a weaker quality of contact and more grounders, it is probably safe to assume that the strand rate is more noise than anything else.
Game Three - Sunday, 12:35 PM CDT
The key piece for Philadelphia in the trade that sent Ken Giles to Houston, Velasquez was everything the Phillies hoped he could be until two pitches into his June 8 start, when the primary reason Jeff Luhnow and the Astros were willing to deal him showed itself in full force as the flame-throwing righty pumped in two fastballs that failed to break 87 MPH and left with biceps soreness. 19 days later he found himself starting again, but the rap on Velasquez has been that he may be too fragile to handle the workload of a starter. He got the win in his first start after his brief stint on the pine, striking out seven while walking none, allowing five hits and no runs, but he only completed five innings. In fact, he hasn't thrown more than five innings since May 12. So he is certainly capable of a ridiculous 16 K, no walk complete game, but that probably shouldn't be the expectation right now.
|Odubel Herrera (L)||CF||336||8||44||28||11||.303||.393||.428||.358||123||2.0||1.8|
|Ryan Howard (L)||1B||205||11||16||25||0||.151||.215||.349||.240||43||-1.8||-1.3|
|Cody Asche (L)||LF||90||2||11||10||3||.289||.333||.482||.346||115||0.2||0.4|
|Freddy Galvis (S)||SS||313||7||30||30||4||.226||.257||.363||.265||60||-0.1||0.7|
|Cesar Hernandez (S)||2B||270||2||24||18||3||.272||.315||.364||.295||81||-0.2||0.5|
|Andres Blanco (S)||IF||139||3||20||18||1||.273||.324||.453||.333||106||0.2||0.3|
|Jimmy Paredes (S)||Util||48||1||4||6||0||.255||.271||.404||.288||76||-0.1||0.1|
Stats through Wednesday, June 29
There is no getting past the fact that the Phillies' offense is one of the worst in baseball. Only the Braves have a worse wOBA or wRC+. Only the Braves have scored fewer runs. The Phillies have the worst OBP of any team in baseball. Were it not for an ISO that outpaces five teams, Philadelphia might be giving Atlanta a real run for its money in the race to see who has the worst offense in baseball. Having slotted two of the ten worst position players in baseball into your lineup can do that for a team (Howard and Darin Ruf, who was worth -1.0 fWAR in 63 PA). Once factoring in defense, the Phillies' position players are actually the least valuable unit in all of baseball, worth just 0.9 fWAR compared to the 1.1 fWAR the next worst team, the Atlanta Braves, are worth.
Really, with the exception of Odubel Herrera and the tandem of catchers the Phillies have used, there is very little to like about Philadelphia's position players.
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