The Phillies’ woes can be traced to a lack of extra-base hits, including a league-worst 200 doubles.
For all intents and purposes, Noah Lowry tossed a complete-game shutout last night, holding the Phils to five hits and only one extra-base hit, leading the Giants to a disgusting 5-0 victory.
Will the loss, the offense hit rock bottom. It’s time to get to the root problem in order to build this team back up for the stretch run.
The strikeouts are becoming an issue, with the heart of the order, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Chase Utley, combining for four of them last night. Abreu and Burrell are among the league leaders in that category, and Utley isn’t far behind with fewer at bats. However, as a team they’re seventh in the National League in whiffs. It’s a significant issue of late, but not the core problem some critics think it is.
Certainly, David Bell isn’t helping the cause, grounding into his 21st double play of the season last night, second most in baseball. I watched that in disgust as the funeral Bell tolled once again with men on, striking last night at midnight.
I’ve been more patient with Jimmy Rollins than most fans, simply because he can be a disruptive presence on the base paths others can’t.
If only he got on base.
With a dismal OBP of .304, after another hitless, walkless night at the plate, it’s time to make a change, using Jason Michaels in the top spot against left-handers (awesome .468 OBP against LHP). That would be a nice start for Charlie Manuel.
Setting the table is critical, but I wouldn’t say that’s the biggest problem, either. Neither is hitting with runners in scoring position, which has been a serious concern in the past. The team is batting .271, fifth in the NL, with 424 RBIs, which is third best. Pretty good.
Over the past two weeks, the problem has become clear. They don’t deliver extra base hits. They’re dead last in baseball with only 340 of them. That’s 118 XBHs less than the best team, Texas. Ouch!
Getting on base isn’t a problem for the Phils, but who cares about league-leading .342 OBP if they never make it past second, pecking away with walks and singles? That's a game too often being played.
As a team, they rank near the bottom in homers (116 is sixth-worst in the NL), but the most significant drought is a dearth of doubles. For the season, they have a ridiculously low 200, 63 less than the league-leading Reds.
As the stats reveal, when you hit lots of doubles, you score lots of runs. In the NL, Cincinnati has the most doubles (263) and also the most runs (646). Over in the American League, Boston has the most doubles (261) and also the most runs (696).
Here’s a team that’s played most of their games in the "offense-friendly" Citizen’s Bank Park, yet they have a league worst 340 XBHs. Part of the problem is that Citizen’s Bank Park isn’t necessarily an easy place to get a two-bagger. In fact, the tight angles make it difficult. According to ESPN’s Park Factors, CBP is the seventh-hardest place to double.
Abreu and Utley are tied for the team lead with 26, but that’s well off the pace of the league leader, Derrek Lee, with 39.
The biggest crime is that a player with speed like J-Roll is just sixth on his team with 19 doubles. Perhaps it’s another good argument to get him out of the leadoff spot, because J-Mike, with less than half the at bats, has 12.