The Phillies starting line up in 2014 already costs over $130 million, easily one of the most expensive in the league. However, $130 million does not seem too high when you realize that it does not include two starting pitchers, a catcher, a third baseman, or any outfielders. Positional holes aside, this team is on pace to have the worst team totals in just about every hitting statistic, since winning the World Series. The two statistics that stand out are stolen bases and walks, which have fallen off a cliff this season. This team is on pace for 81 stolen bases and 404 walks, both easily the lowest totals after 2008.
Amaro has woken up from his trade sleep and moved John McDonald and Michael Young for, well frankly nothing. This move seems to have no purpose other than allowing AAA players to tryout. The call up to watch is Cesar Hernandez, who brings an interesting and needed skill set to the ball club.
Hernandez has a minor league career 4.30 RF/G (range factor per games played). This takes into account assists and putout per games played. For a player who has seen time at 2B, SS, and all OF positions, he has been able to keep his arm impact high. A 4.30 RF/G would rank him higher than any player to be at one of those positions for the Phillies this year, not named Chase Utley or Darin Ruf. RF/G can be a clue to full defensive impact; players with higher factors are in position to prevent more runs on average. Though he may bounce around positions, his natural positions (2B and SS) show his true defensive worth. A cheaper option to replace Jimmy Rollins, assuming Ruben can get out of the awful extension. Just so you know, Rollins hit BELOW .200 in August and shows no signs of hope.
32 steals, 41 walks, and a .375 OBP is nothing to brush away, even as AAA statistics through 104 games this year. Hernandez would be leading the team in both steals and OBP while ranking in third in walks for the season (second in walks, Michael Young with 42). Even with the inevitable drops once called up to the majors, Hernandez should be a welcome addition to this already AAA team. Small ball is the NL way of life and this young bat holds some little appreciated small ball talents. In AAA ball this year, he has only hit into a double play four times out of 440 plate appearances and 391 official at-bats. For comparison, Michael Young was 18 of 512 PA and 268 AB before being traded. Cesar also excels in productive outs with 7 sacrifices (both hits and flies) over his 440 plate appearances; this would rank him fourth in total sac on the major league team.
Needless to say, the rest of the season will be a true test of phandom. Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the front offices have not done much to provide quality entertainment on the field but this does not mean there is nothing to watch. Statistics say that there is a future here, there are players to watch, and games to be won. Stay patient and phaithful, progress has to be imminent. Doesn’t it?
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