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Friday, January 06, 2012

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I've been wanting Charlie to do this for two years now, but he seems to buy into the "has to focus on his catching" schtick. Seems nonsensical to me, as plenty of catchers hit higher and Chooch is well above average at getting on base.

I think Ruiz's OBP is a creation of his bottom of the lineup batting. His understanding of opposing pitcher's approach to him and his overall solid pitch recognition is why he's able to get on base at such a solid clip.

Ruiz batting amongst the likes of Utley/Pence would prolly be not only targetted, but eaten alive by the opposition.

Catchers bat 8th.

Managers have to pay a fine every time they bat them higher.

"Cholly needs to stop throwing away the two-hole by sticking poor producers like Michael Martinez there."

I think you're preaching to the choir on this one. Is there anyone on Beerleaguer who actually thinks that batting the worst hitter in your lineup 2nd is EVER a good idea?

And I completely agree about moving Ruiz up to either 1st or 2nd in the order. I've felt that way for at least the last 2 years, but it will never happen as long as Cholly is manager.

lorecore - Ruiz is a fastball hitter. If he is being 'eaten alive' they won't be trying to walk him. If he can use his eye to avoid off-speed stuff outside of the zone he can feast on fastballs.

I've heard protection is a myth, but I've never seen the data to back it up. I think the best, albeit anecdotal evidence, I've seen is the year Jeff Kent hit ahead of Bonds in SF everyone went after him and he ended up winning the MVP.

The best result is likely somewhere in between. Slot Chooch 6/7 range and find out if his OBP is real or a figment of batting 8th.

Chooch actually performed best in the sixth spot last season. .407 OBP.

I thought one argument to keeping Chooch out of the 2nd spot would be his tendency to hit into DPs, but in looking at the stats, it looks like he's really toned that down over the past few years. He hit into 17 and 14 earlier his career, but his rate is about league average now. I suspect he elevates the ball more than he did earlier in his career, where he used to hit a lot of sharp grounders.

Career Splits for Chooch:

Batting 6th: .417 OBP in 127 PA
Batting 7th: .375 OBP in 537 PA
Batting 8th: .350 OBP in 1384 PA


He can only bat 8th.

Ruiz's career OBP by batting order spot:

6th: .417 (127 PAs)
7th: .375 (537 PAs)
8th: .350

I suspect he'd do just fine if you moved him up further in the order. He might lose a few walks, but he might also see more fast balls (as Mister Zoomer points out) -- and there's no better fast ball hitter on the Phillies than Ruiz. There's only one way to find out.

So beat you by 3 mins!!!

NEPP: Yeah, the moment I read lorecore's post, I knew it would immediately send at least 10 Beerleaguers scurrying to Ruiz's B-Ref page.

You cant just throw something out there like that and not check a guy's splits.

We might not be fangraphs but come on people.

One somewhat off-topic comment here...Does UC get credit for transforming a glove-first defensive catcher into a pretty good offensive force?

Its JRoll in the leadoff spot and Polanco hitting 2nd even when Howard returns. Shame because that is 2 guys next year I don't see having better than a .330 OBP.

Last 5 years in NL (OBP):

#1
2011 - .331
2010 - .328
2009 - .340
2008 - .342
2007 - .341

#2
2011 - .313
2010 - .335
2009 - .337
2008 - .338
2007 - .339

Mini Mart/Valdez will again be penciled in #2 on off-days for Polanco too.

Without Mini-Mart/Valdez batting 2nd, we could have won 105 games last year...and still lost in the NLDS in 5.

I don't think it would be surprising to see Mayberry start in LF and Thome at 1st on opening day.

That's the route I would go...or just throw Nix at 1B. Why the hell would you waste Mayberry's glove at 1B?

So I guess it's definite that Brown is going to make the team out of ST? I was assuming at the end of the last year that it'd be Brown in LF and Mayberry at 1B to start the year, but I'm still higher on Brown than most folks seem to be (including those in the organization).

By that, I mean is not going to make the team.

I agree I've always felt Mayberry's talent was wasted at first. Even with Howard's injury the bench players RAJ picked up are less of a defensive liability playing 1st.

I think Brown has to have a phenomenal spring to make the 25 man roster going into the season. Otherwise, he's sitting in AAA for at least a couple months to work on how not to kill people in LF.

If Howard begins the year on the DL, there will be one bench spot available on the opening day roster. Sadly, I suspect that roster vacancy will go to Mini-Mart.

I expect that as well, bap...or to one of the other ST invitees. It wont go to Dom Brown to sit on the bench as a 5th OF though.

4.6 per game makes sense -- they scored 4.6 after Utley returned last year.

I agree with others that Chooch's OBP is sustainable further up. He hit 6th almost as much as 8th last year, and that's where his walk rate was best (11.9%).

Also agree that unfortunately, Manuel ain't batting Chooch leadoff. Second, though -- that may not be out of the question.

Utley: What makes his .344 OBP so special? Well nothing, but I guess there is an assumption he will rebound at least some towards the .387 of 2010.

Pence: I'd be quite surprised if he duplicated his .394 OBP in 2012, as it was driven in part by an ungodly .361 BABIP. An OBP in the .365-.370 range might be more reasonable.

In my defense, Ruiz batting 6th meant that Minimart/Orr/Valdez were 7th and 8th - so he might as well have been hitting ahead of the pitcher anyway.

Anyway, 6th/7th/8th is still the bottom of the order as i said, and i stick by my opinion that Ruiz in leadoff or two hole would not be nearly as productive around our best hitters as he is among the dreck.

-I don't understand why Mayberry would be at 1st either unless Nix & Wigginton are totally inept at 1st...in which case, why are they in the NL?

-Can't see Ruiz hitting higher than 6th because he'd clog up the basepaths, unless I'm missing some stat that says he's excellent going from 1st to 3rd or scoring from 2nd on a single.

NEPP/John: Nix actually is a legit OF, so seeing Mayberry at 1B when Nix is platooning doesn't seem like a bad decision. If it was wigginton, I'm sure Mayberry would move to LF.

Im not sure any one could say for certain who is better defensively in LF, Mayberry or Nix, but from what I've read there isnt much dropoff either way.

i apologize in advance to denny b. for trying to say that Nix, along with Wigginton and Thome, aren't identical players.

yea, ruiz at the top of the order is a bad idea. He would do just that, clog up the paths. You hit him 6th, since he's much better than whomever would hit 7th or 8th for us this year.

If polanco can prove to be a .320 hitter again, then this changes everything, but until he does, ruiz should be 6th.

I'd also hit utley 2nd in my lineup, but that's just me.

I'm still carrying the flag for Domonic Brown in the leadoff slot. Even when he's slumping, he gets on base and can run. Go like this:

LF Brown
C Ruiz
2B Utley
RF Pence
CF Victorino
1B Mayberry/Thome/Nix/Wigginton
SS Rollins
3B Polanco

You've got yourself a nice lefty/righty balance in that lineup no matter who plays 1B. Rollins can lead off against LHP if they want to have Mayberry play LF and start Wigginton at 1B.

Brown's going to need a hell of a spring to make the squad, though, unless they go with 11 pitchers (which they should but probably won't).

NEPP - Actually I liked really liked the lineup that Cholly trotted out there at the tail-end of the season & including the playoffs with Utley 2nd and Pence 3rd.

Hopefully Utley does rebound next year with his OBP because without Howard this is going to be a lineup this middle-of-the pack in SLG/ISO & a lineup that has a lot of middle-of-pack OBP guys potentially.

Chooch vs. Polanco in the 2-hole

Chooch has lost a step or two the last year but is Polanco really that much faster anymore? Both guys are kind of lead-footed at this point who aren't going to be out many DP balls.

Polanco is a great contact hitter but Chooch is no slouch either. Chooch also sees a lot more pitchers per AB & BBs at a much steadier clip. I am sure some of that is due to hitting #8 but Polanco isn't a patient hitter nor one who BBs much.

MG, after being at the top with Utley last year, the main changes are more Pence but less Howard.

MG - agreed on the Chooch-Polanco comparison. Ruiz's highest walk rate last year was in the 6 hole.

Going to be interesting to see if Cholly tries to play a bit more 'small ball' (Sac bunts, Squeezes, Hit & Run, Run & Hit, Steals) this year earlier in the year with Howard out.

I think you won't see much of it & it is going to be a lot of 'station-to-station' baseball again.

Here is a lineup question - anybody think the Phils have a candidate for a 20/20 year this year?

My bet is that the best bet is Mayberry at this point. Vic would be an obvious candidate but he's never had 20 HRs in a year & always has an annual DL stint. JRoll/Pence/Utley are all candidates but my bet is JRoll doesn't have another 20+ HRs left him in & Pence/Utley won't grab 20+ SBs.

On Catchers batting spot: They have a tough job and almost guaranteed injuries. If they can hit and run well enough to bat higher than 4th, then you need to find them another position to play. I'd keep them no higher than 6th as long as they are catcher to save the extra wear and tear of one more at-bat per game. Besides, it's nice to have a decent hitter at the bottom to turn the order over.

On Ruiz OBP: It's affected by the hitters behind him. When he bats 6th, who's batting 7 and 8 and how good are they? Why challenge Ruiz if you can pitch around him and go after bench players and the pitcher. When he's 8th, sure the pitchers on deck, but right after him is J-Roll, Polly, Utley. As a pitcher, I'd be more likely to challenge Ruiz in the 8 hole than in the 6 hole.

Chooch and his workload:

He can't play as much as he did last year. He caught 1051 innings last year which was the most far in his career by a decent margin.

Never understood last year (and nobody ever really pressed Cholly for an answer) why he started taking out Schneider late in games he started & putting in Chooch. I really hope that nonsense doesn't continue this year. If it does, it tells you that Cholly thinks that Schneider is useless again if he can't even finish games on Chooch's off-days.

I predict Schneider will be hurt for a good portion of the season and we'll finally get to see what Kratz can do.

Schneider must be one hell of a clubhouse guy. I just think they should admit that, and if they want to pay him a 1mm bucks to be a cheerleade so be it, but there's probably some 20 something kid down in the minors who can at least catch a whole game for chooch.

"but there's probably some 20 something kid down in the minors who can at least catch a whole game for chooch."

I don't think there is, actually.

i didn't say he had to hit, i said he had to catch. schneider can't even do that for a whole 9 innings sometimes. i know on here we like to completley overstate the value of a backup catcher, but to me, the only value they have is to catch a damn game. I don't care if they can hit, or do anything else. Just catch to give your starters knees and back a rest. That's the point.

Ideally, Schneider starts 40-45 games this year almost predominantly vs. LHP, hits a few more HRs this year to boost his offensive totals, and isn't a total wash defensively. He does that & he earned his paycheck.

JW, great thread header and analysis.

To add to it:

CHOOCH, career batting stats:

6th: .315/.417/.454 - 127 PA
7th: .302/.375/.445 - 537 PA
8th: .247/.350/.369 - 1384 PA

Keep in mind, though, that a lot of Chooch's PA in the 6 and 7-hole have occured the last 2 years when he's elevated his game at the plate, so the results might be skewed a little.

Chooch's annual splits :

2010

6th: .800/.800/1.600 - 5 PA
7th: .337/.407/.524 - 209 PA
8th: .263/.398/.351 - 211 PA

2011

6th: .293/.407/.404 - 118 PA
7th: .274/.358/.352 - 206 PA
8th: .281/.364/.377 - 130 PA

So, he's clearly been a better hitter the last two seasons, even in the 8-hole.

So, should Charlie optimize the lineup by optimizing Chooch?

I think so.

Nothing fires up BLers more than lineup talk!

/not sarcasm

awh: i could go for some optimum chooch.

"I've heard protection is a myth, but I've never seen the data to back it up."

The sabermetrics guys will tell you that lineup protection is a myth, & I tend to believe them when it comes to statements like, "If only we moved So-and-So up in the order, he'd see more fastballs & post better numbers." But if there's one stat where lineup protection (or lack thereof) almost surely matters at least a little bit, that stat would be walks. Hence, it's certainly possible that lorecore might be onto something when he says that Ruiz's OBP would suffer at the top of the order. But when your No. 8 hitter has posted significantly higher OBPs than your Nos. 1 and 2 hitters over each of the last 2 seasons, it is surely time to give him a shot in either the leadoff spot or 2 hole.

"Nothing fires up BLers more than lineup talk!"

I don't know. 25th-man-on-the-roster discussions are right up there too.

I thought Thome was said bench cheerleader. We didnt need Schneider in the mix as well.

The underlying skills driving OBP would be pitch identification and strike zone judgment, correct? If so, how would you rank the position players on those two skill sets?

Howard and Victorino mentioned repeatedly last year that opposing pitchers have gotten a lot better at keeping Phillies hitters off-balance - according to them, hitter's counts where you should expect a fastball don't exist anymore. I wonder if that was a league-wide trend relative to past seasons and if hitters will catch-up and adapt this season. If that's the case, we should see an uptick in walks and higher OBP overall unless pitchers have gotten that much better at locating off-speed pitches for strikes.

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