What Can the Phillies Do? Hope, Pray for Improvement
I wrote yesterday about how the Phillies’ only option to save their season is crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.
There isn’t much more they can do beyond that. They have the third-highest payroll in baseball, so it isn’t like they haven’t spent money. They have a roster loaded with former All-Stars, MVPs, Cy Youngs and World Series champions, so it isn’t like they have a roster full of nobodys. But things are not going well. Only the lowly Diamondbacks and Astros have been outscored more than the Phillies this season, and run differential tells the story. No team has made the postseason with a negative run differential since the 2007 Diamondbacks (minus-20) won the National League West.
The only reason the Phillies are 17-21 and not worse is because their aging core is playing well:
- Chase Utley‘s .973 OPS is the eighth highest out of 179 qualifying players in Major League Baseball.
- Marlon Byrd‘s .819 OPS is 18th out of 76 outfielders.
- Jimmy Rollins‘ .796 OPS is fifth out of 25 shortstops.
- Carlos Ruiz‘s .797 OPS is ninth out of 25 catchers.
- Ryan Howard‘s .776 OPS overall is well below his career average (.902), but he is on pace for 30 home runs and 93 RBIs.
The Phillies are getting some of the worst production in baseball in left field, center field and third base, where they are counting on players no older than 26. Domonic Brown‘s .591 OPS is 71st and Ben Revere‘s .602 OPS is 70th among 76 outfielders. Cody Asche‘s .684 OPS is 17th out of 23 third basemen. The Phillies’ young relievers also haven’t delivered. When 44 percent of a lineup (third base, left field, center field and pitcher) is a routine out and almost everybody in the bullpen is struggling it is impossible to get on a roll.
Random thoughts: It’s time to drop Revere and his .284 on-base percentage from the top of the lineup. Yes, Revere has fantastic speed, but Ryne Sandberg is giving one of the least productive hitters in baseball more opportunities to hit than any other hitter in his lineup. Remember, each spot a hitter drops in the lineup represents 15 to 20 fewer plate appearances per season. So by having Revere hit first and Ruiz (.385 OBP) hit seventh, he is giving Revere about 100 more plate appearances over the course of a season than Ruiz, who gets on base at a good clip. … I would say Sandberg should platoon Brown and John Mayberry Jr. in left field, but Brown’s splits are flipped. He has a .511 OPS against right-handers, but a .790 OPS against left-handers. Meanwhile, Mayberry has an .808 OPS against lefties, but a .154 OPS against righties. I would even say Mayberry should play a little more in center, considering Revere’s arm and route running doesn’t make him indispensable defensively, but Revere’s splits are flipped like Brown’s. Revere has a .466 OPS against righties and an .837 OPS against lefties. … If Darin Ruf plays well in Triple-A perhaps he should be up soon. The Phillies have to try something in the outfield.