If you told me at the beginning of the season the Phils would be 2.5 back of Florida and Atlanta for the division lead on June 3, I would have taken it.
Last place is just as meaningless as first at this point. The word "cellar" is as overrated as David Bell's batting average.
Strange as it sounds, the season is sort of unfolding as planned, isn’t it?
Wednesday night’s tit-for-tat victory was gritty and great, but last night was even better. Coming off an emotional marathon victory - a series clincher - I was sure they’d sleepwalk to defeat. Instead, they smacked the Giants around some more. I love that. The swagger is certainly back.
This was a sensational series for the offense, getting most of it done with slap hits including last night’s bases loaded two-run poke by David Bell. The Phils went yard just twice this series, one by Jimmy Rollins last night and the game-winning slam by Utley Wednesday.
Regular old team batting average is up to .272, second best in the National League, while home runs are well below the pace of last season, including just 24 at home.
David Bell explained through Win Shares
Win Shares are perfect for summing up David Bell’s contributions this season. His regular-old batting average is now up to .263, making it the biggest fraud stat of the season. While Bell’s improvements of late are encouraging, his 1.2 batting Win Shares rank 33rd among third basemen.
The 32-year-old doesn’t look like he’ll repeat last season’s power output, hitting only one home run this season thus far.
However, his batting average is just as blinding as the number of errors he’s committed, which detract from the excellent defense he’s played. His 1.7 fielding Win Shares put him fifth at his position.
I’ve read a lot of opinions lately about trading Bell to the Kansas City Royals, where he can play for his father Buddy Bell. It would certainly be nice to shed his $4.7 million contract, but it won’t happen. Placido Polanco is almost certainly on the trading block, which means Bell isn’t going anywhere.
Polanco is the more tradable commodity of the two, and they must move somebody to get prospects in thin areas like catcher and third base.
Jimmy Rollins explained through runs
A complex stat like Win Shares is perfect for a guy like Bell, but a simple stat like runs can do just fine to explain a guy like Jimmy Rollins.
J-Roll’s job as a leadoff hitter is to get his fleet rear-end to cross home plate as many times as possible, and lately, those cheeks are in motion. He’s now 10th in the NL in runs scored with 35, ahead of celebrated leadoff man Ceasar Izturis of the Dodgers, and celebrated No. 2 hitter Marcus Giles of Atlanta.
Success in the runs category partially depends on the hitters behind him, but considering Florida’s leadoff "stud" Juan Pierre has only 26 runs with Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado behind him, I’d say J-Roll is contributing much more than his low OPS (.702) reveals.
Tonight's pitching matchup
Javier Vasquez vs. Vicente Padilla represents a matchup of pitchers I always thought were pretty similar. Vasquez appears to have regained his pre-Yankees form, sporting a 3.56 ERA.