Using A-Levels maths to rationalize the Phillies' slumbering bats.
I'll be the first to admit that many of these numbers I'm about to discuss irk the hell out of me. The poindexters who read Beerleaguer pay way more attention to this method than I do, but once in a while, I'm asked to champion the geekazoid cause in an uncomfortably public way. So tomorrow I'll speak on behalf of dorks everywhere during a call-in to the 610 WIP morning show. That's happening around 7:30 a.m.
I think Angelo wants an answer to the riddle that has confounded all of us: why the Phillies have suddenly stopped hitting, specifically, the 3-4-5 guys. So it's time to crack open Fangraphs.com to extrapolate and misappropriate numbers I don't fully understand.
Right off the bat, I see a .259 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) for Chase Utley. That's low, and I'm schooled to understand that it means he's having some bad luck, something you'd know anyway if you've been watching the games. Last week, he must have hit a ball hard right at someone once a night. But he's grounding out a lot, too: 41 percent compared to 34 percent in 2009. That's a pretty steep jump. Besides the obvious power dip, his fielding and speed haven't been quite as strong, and if I'm reading it correctly, he hasn't been hitting fastballs like he normally would; again, something an observer would have already noticed. Conclusion: he's hurt, tired or ill. He missed two days in May with the flu, which is decidedly un-Utley-like. There might be something to that. In addition, he stinks away from home (.660 road OPS compared to 1.072 at home) and against right-handed pitching (.723 OPS vs. 1.114 against lefties).
A reader alerted Beerleaguer to the fact that Ryan Howard only needs 2,227 more plate appearances to be worth the $19 million he's being paid this season. I have no idea how that was determined, so a second reader explained that he's looking at Howard's Fangraphs.com "value" and then dividing by his current plate appearances, then dividing $19 million by that number. Good enough. All it means to me is that statheads who lobbed grenades at the Phillies for breaking the bank on him have been proven correct so far. And that was back when Howard's ISO was .292, not .176 like it is now. Thank goodness for 2008, and free swingers like Mark Reynolds and David Wright. Howard may not lead the league in strikeouts, but he still swings at crap.
Jayson Werth is tough because his numbers still reflect his hot start when he completed that run of consecutive games reaching base. Since then, he's hitting .171/.256/.314 with two homers since May 18 and he's been benched repeatedly to clear his head. Stuck at 10 homers like everyone else, he'd still finish with career highs in OPS (.905) and SLG (.541) if the season ended today. Even Werth would admit that he's a streaky hitter. Defensively, I stand by my unpopular claim that he's the most overrated fielder on the team (-3.0 UZR in 2010).