clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Philadelphia Phillies series preview: Bad offense

New, 21 comments

Young pitching and not much else.

"It might get better."
"It might get better."
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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.

*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference

Pitching match-ups

Game One - Friday, 6:05 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA rWAR fWAR
Ian Kennedy 15 88.2 85 29 3.96 5.25 4.72 4.19 1.2 0.2
Jeremy Hellickson 16 93.2 84 24 4.23 4.45 3.83 3.96 1.1 0.9

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

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA rWAR fWAR
Danny Duffy (L) 25 66.2 79 16 3.24 3.79 3.59 3.12 1.5 1.0
Aaron Nola 16 91.0 99 22 4.45 3.16 2.99 3.19 0.3 2.1

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

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA rWAR fWAR
Yordano Ventura 15 84.2 63 39 5.00 4.89 5.04 5.02 0.1 0.5
Vincent Velasquez 13 66.2 80 22 3.38 3.36 3.59 3.43 1.5 1.7

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.

The Batsmen

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR
Odubel Herrera (L) CF 336 8 44 28 11 .303 .393 .428 .358 123 2.0 1.8
Peter Bourjos RF 218 3 22 17 4 .262 .300 .391 .299 83 -0.0 0.1
Maikel Franco 3B 305 13 26 41 0 .243 .302 .435 .308 89 -0.3 0.3
Ryan Howard (L) 1B 205 11 16 25 0 .151 .215 .349 .240 43 -1.8 -1.3
Cameron Rupp C 193 7 17 19 1 .273 .311 .475 .335 108 0.6 1.0
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
Bench Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR
Carlos Ruiz C 125 3 13 9 1 .218 .312 .327 .285 74 0.6 0.3
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
Tommy Joseph 1B 136 8 15 15 1 .223 .235 .446 .283 73 -0.6 -0.3
Tyler Goeddel OF 152 3 13 13 1 .227 .272 .355 .271 65 -0.5 -0.7

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.

Editor's Note: New players win cash in their first daily fantasy league or get their entry fee refunded! Offered in SB Nation's partnership with FanDuel, your hub for daily fantasy baseball and more.