The Four Horses
But some potentially good signs for the Phillies:
- While the Phillies rank 14th in the National League averaging 3.30 runs per game, they are averaging 4.62 runs per game since April 23. That is tied for sixth in the league in that stretch.
- Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco have swung the bats a little better recently.
Small sample sizes there — the pitching the Phillies faced over the last week is nothing like they will face this weekend in Washington — but they are worth noting.
Getting Rollins, Polanco, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence going is imperative. While there has been endless talk about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and how much the Phillies miss them in the lineup (and how it’s such a major blow to play without them), it has been the four healthy All-Stars that have hurt this offense the most. David Hale explored this over the weekend, but I wanted to take a look at the final April numbers.
Here is the difference in OPS by position from April 2011, when the Phillies ranked fifth in the league averaging 4.62 runs per game and finished 18-8, and April 2012:
- Catcher: +208
- First base: -46
- Second base: +54
- Third base: -375
- Shortstop: -184
- Left field: +95
- Center field: -155
- Right field: -63
You can see here the Phillies got more production this month at catcher, second base and left field than they got last April. You can see the combination of mostly Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix have almost matched Howard’s production at first base. You also can see the big drop offs at third base, shortstop and center field. Pence isn’t too far removed from the production in right field last season, but that is nothing to be proud of. The Phillies were so unhappy with their right field production last season they sent four prospects to the Houston Astros to acquire Pence.
And it’s not like the Phillies need Polanco, Rollins, Victorino and Pence to overachieve. They just need them to play to their career OPS. Here is how far behind they are from their career averages:
- Polanco (.750 career OPS): -179
- Rollins (.759): -228
- Victorino (.779): -123
- Pence (.824): -115
If those four pick up their play, the offense can survive without Howard and Utley. This would be a good week to start.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.