Plate discipline has dropped at a league-wide level over the last six seasons. In 2007, the league average OBP was .336. Last season it was .319. The Phillies were 24th in walks and had a .317 OBP.
The Phils could see their team OBP drop in 2013 for the fifth straight year. Gone are free-swingers Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, but in are free-swingers Michael Young and Delmon Young. A fun little stat: the Youngs and Ben Revere combined for 82 walks last season ... the exact number Jayson Werth had in 2010, his final year with the Phils.
Simply put, this lineup is built to put the ball in play. The two Youngs grounded into 46 double plays last year and walked 56 times. Sad, really.
Walks aren't the be-all, end-all stat, but it's worth noting that four of the top-five teams in walks last year made the playoffs, as did six of the top nine. It's not the walks themselves this Phillies offense looks to lack, it's the overall approach at the plate. When guys are slumping, how is this team supposed to avoid an endless array of 1-2-3 innings?
Josh Willingham is the type of player who would give this lineup what it needs: power and plate discipline. The Phillies tried to acquire him in the Ben Revere deal but failed.
Willingham perfectly illustrates the value of a walk. He slumped last May and hit .220, but was issued 19 free passes. Delmon Young had 20 all season, and three in 66 games between May 9 and July 24.
Things could work out with the Phillies' new additions, but if they do it will almost certainly be because of unforeseen leaps in BABIP.
It's not all doom and gloom on Broad and Pattison, but with the offseason in the rearview mirror the Phils didn't do much at all to adjust an offensive approach that has stagnated in recent years.