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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

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On the moneyball, Jason!!!!

Great work on this one, JW. I know it's silly to say so after others (i.e. you) are pointing it out, but I've always been a fan of Pratt's.

I am curious to see what they will do next year, whether or not they will re-sign him again. He'll be 39 and Carlos Ruiz sure seems ready.

Prior to the SF series:

Pratt starts, Phillies are 24-14
Lieberthal starts. Phillies are 43-44

That, in essence, is all anyone should really care about. I don't care why it happens, even if it's pure blind luck. It still happens. One's a winner, one's not.

There is also a difference of about .50 ERA between the two, advantage Pratt (3.90 vs 4.40 approx).

Considering the shenanigans Lieby's been guilty of tonight - the ole ball, and the two fumbles while trying to throw out a guy at second - I'd say your commentary is right on.

Lieby's decline over the last two years, following on the decrease on effectiveness on throwing out runners has bummed me out. There was a time when we could point to Joe Kerrigan's pitching philosophy interfering with Lieby's play, but that's gone. Jason, I think it was you who wondered whether he's just bored with playing - you'd have thought that the pennant/wild card race would be pepping him up, but obviously not.

If Lieby and Pratt had traded playing time for the year so far, Pratt would have been good for probably two extra wins, given their WSAP stat on Hardball. Two wins would have us fighting for the division rather than the wildcard. There may be some questions as to whether Pratt could play so well if he were the everyday catcher, but he's had the better season.

Pratt has been far better hitting this year, with a GPA of .260 vs. .245 of Lieby. All signs point to Pratt being a better player this year.

However, looking closer, it could be that Lieby has been the victum of really bad luck while Pratt has been lucky. Lieby's LD% this year is 22% compared to 15% for Pratt. And yet Pratt's BABIP is .321 compared to Lieby's .242. ALthough Pratt has a higher SLG%, that is almost entirely due to his better HR/FB% (16% to Lieby's 6%) Lieby has 21 doubles to Pratt's 3, so it is unlikely that Pratt simply has more power this year than Lieby. Pratt has a higher GB% and with his speed that will mean more GDPs over a year.

Regression suggests that Lieby will improve relative to his BABIP and HR%, and Pratt will decline.

To summarize, small sample size is small sample size. Let's enjoy Pratt's season, by all means. But next year it is extremely likely that Lieby will outperform Pratt. Whether he'll outperform his contract is another question...

Excellent comments, pawnking. I think one of the most signficant variables with Pratt is simply durability at this stage of his career. He cannot be the every day catcher. But when he is behind the plate he gives the Phillies a far more fiery player than Lieberthal, something this team, especially some of its starting pitchers, needs.

That is correct Tom, Pratt can not be an everyday player at this point in his career. The Phillies are lucky that Pratt is here. However, the Phillies have 2 Veterans at that position with zero or little youth knocking on the door. The best case scenario with any catching situation is to have a young starting catcher with a veteran back up. Or a Veteran Catcher with a young back up.

2 Veterans one with bad news, and the other who strikes out at a huge pace.

Those who fall in love with Pratt for his better than average bat skills, must note that he swings from his heels often. In the last month he has struck out 12 times in 34 at bats. During that same time frame, Lieby has struck out only 5 times in 63 at bats. On the season, Lieberthal has struck out JUST 28 times, while Pratt more than one third the at bats has struck out 42 times.

Now Pratt does have some pop to his stroke, as he has 7 HR to Lieby's 9 (one of those very controversial).

Sure Lieby does seem to struggle with RISP, but you are not supposed to count on your 8 hole hitter to drive in runs. He's supposed to get on base and help turn the order over. He'll even take one for the team, with 10 Beans this year.

Look I hate it when he pops up too. But Darren "Dutch" Daulton, spent most of his career popping up and killing rallies. Except he hit in the middle of the order.

But of all NL catchers, he's fifth in XBH. And doesn't hit into as many GDPs as his Black hole counterpart (only 6).

Of all the problems with this team, and the catching situation needs to be addressed with some youth. The Pratt/Lieby combination is fairly adequate when compared to the rest of the league, including Mike Matheny (personally, I'll pick Paul Lo Duca as my guy for the best NL catcher this year.)

Mike: Well said. I wrote a while back that watching Todd Pratt bat is freightening. He loses his balance after nearly every violent swing and a miss, stumbles across the plate and often has to plant the end of his bat in the ground to brace himself before he takes a complete tumble.

But he handles himself and the pitchers very well when he is behind the plate. As Larry Andersen has pointed out, he sets a better target than Lieberthal. He also seems to frame borderline pitches better.

That said, a catcher should be priority number one or one prime this off-season.

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