Such a simple question should have a simple answer, right? You’d think so but it is not so easy.
There has to be an explanation as to why the Phillies ERA is so much higher than everyone else’s ERA. The Phillies have allowed 315 hits compared to the NL average of 316. They have allowed 115 walks which equals the NL average. This adds up to a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 1.26 which is actually better than the NL average which hovers around 1.28. Their 284 strikeouts are just above the 280 NL average.
They hang around the league average but there is one category that the Phillies rank 14th out of the 15 NL teams: home runs. The Phillies pitching staff has allowed 44 homeruns this season; the only team to allow more home runs so far is the Milwaukee Brewers who have allowed 48 home runs.
The Phillies bullpen has allowed 14 of the staff’s 44 homeruns in 380 at-bats. That is a 3.6% of the at-bats resulting in homers. The National League bullpen average is 2.7% of the time (175 HR in 6,435 ABs).
That will add up, especially late in games.
Their .244 batting average is a couple ticks under the .248 NL average but the issue lies deeper.
The Phillies are not getting the kind of clutch hitting they are going to need to be considered a legitimate threat. They are hitting just .241 with runners in scoring position compared to the NL average of .250. The Phillies are hitting just .155 with two strikes which falls below the .172 NL mark. It is not a crazy difference but a difference nonetheless.
The most shocking numbers come from the Phillies slash line (batting average/ on-base percentage/ slugging percentage) in a 3-1 count: .286/.583/657. Those numbers are not bad but, remember, this is the ultimate hitter’s count. The National League average sits at: .352/.686/.700 which is significantly more productive than the Phillies’ line.
When broken down by position, it gets interesting. For the Phillies, only second base (.272/.325/.464) and third base (.317/.400/.400) have batting averages higher than .258. Catcher (.201/.250/.284) and right field (.205/.299/.307) bring up the rear for the eight every day positions (pitcher excluded).
If they are not going to hit consistently, they need to get on base somehow to score runs. Their 103 walks are 11th in the NL and sit well below the 114 average. They are dead last in hit-by-pitches at just seven while the league average is 13 and the Pirates lead the NL with 22.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said “I don’t care about walks” back in January when asked about the lack of walks that newly acquired players Ben Revere, Michael Young, and Delmon Young draw.
The full quote reads “I don’t care about walks, I care about production.” The team is 11th in homeruns (32) and 13th in RBI (128) in the National League. They are not going to overwhelm anybody with power offensively. So they must find another way to generate runs. It could be that walks help lead to production.
This team is not built to be the dominating force it was in previous years. Those years are gone but that still doesn't mean this team can't compete but, right now, they are just not getting the job done.
I don't have the answers or suggestions on how to fix the team. All I know is that Amaro Jr. does not care about walks but he cares about production. Right now, he isn't getting either.
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(All numbers as of May 14th, 2013)