The Four Horses

The Phillies have put April behind them. They finished 11-12 for their first losing month since 2009 and their first losing April since 2007.

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.

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I agree with you about those four needing to step up, but you forgot to mention how much better they would be WITH Howard and Utley in the lineup. Hunter’s production will skyrocket with Howard hitting in front of him, because he’ll get many more pitches to hit. Without anyone protecting him, pitchers can just throw him a bunch of junk and get away with it. Also, with Chase back in the three-hole, that moves Jimmy out of that spot where he’s been struggling to produce runs. We’ll have a legitimate three hitter back, and Jimmy will be able to move down in the lineup which I think would be much better suited for him at this point in his career. Basically, Chase and Ryan make everyone around them stronger. It’s not just their production we miss, it’s their presence in the lineup.

What about how bad they were at the end of 2010 and last year WITH them in the lineup? I will say that their health did play a roll despite them being in the lineup. But, I don’t think getting them back is the answer to all of our woes. Especially, without knowing to what level they will be at. I’m very concerned about our run-scoring ability.

exactly what ryan said.

The approach has to change. They can’t be hackers when the offense has become station-to-station (11 hits last night, 10 singles). Victorino and Pence in particular have to have more patient at-bats, but I don’t know if it is in their DNA. What you see is what you get until they get the anchors back.

Other night, 9th inning, bases loaded…Wigginton gets walked on crap pitches. Victorino comes up and start hacking. Grounds out to end the game. I told him on Twitter..”good job patience!”. Maybe he will take some advice from a fan.

I get tired of people talking about Howard and Utley like they are holy grail of excellence for this team. Like when they come back (if they do) they are gonna come in and be Ruth and Gehrig. Howard is overrated and Utley is over the hill. If the guys that are in the line up would produce now, then the Phils will be alright.

Another half full stadium of casual baseball fans in Atlanta. And the lame tomahawk chop that they stole from FSU. Weak.

Deja vu for Venters. Must think it’s last September.

Eight straight against the pretenders from the south.

Did anyone see the Pence interview after the game in Atlanta. He basically said that because teams are shifting him to the middle of the infield he has adjusted his approach to try and find the holes. I wonder if Houtley was listening to that?

Per the point of the blog, I agree with Zolecki, the problem is Jimmy, Shane, and Pence, Polanco. All of them got hits tonight, right? (6 for 16, 3 runs, 1 K, 2 LOB, 1 RBI). THe Phils have won 5 of the last 7. During that stretch Polanco is hitting .400 obp .955, Jimmy .316 obp .749, Pence .280 obp .649, and Shane .115 obp .269.

Its getting better.

Now, if we can fix the set up men.

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