More than halfway through the tough part of their schedule, hope survives
The Phillies’ slog through this tough part of their schedule has dropped them to the 7th best record in the NL:
On May 16th the Phillies won the one game of their rain-shortened series in Baltimore to move to 24-16. We knew that the schedule had been fairly easy up to that point, and that the next month and a half were going to be much tougher. There were 42 games scheduled from that point through July 1st, in which the Phillies would face some of the NL’s better teams, plus the Yankees.
Discussions in mid-May about remaining in contention into July hung on the hope that the Phillies could play .500 ball, and be 45-37 when the schedule got easier leading up to the All-Star Break.
But I had more humble expectations: play .400 ball (i.e. win 17 out of 42, instead of 21), and finish the Nats series on July 1st with a 41-41 record. Then, as the schedule got softer, being to make another push for at least a wildcard.
We are 23 games into that gauntlet, and the Phils have struggled, winning 9 and losing 14 for a .391 winning percentage. So they need to win 8 of their next 19 in order to meet my humble goal of no worse than .500 after July 1st. Over these next 19 they will play the Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, Nationals, Yankees, and the Nationals again.
It’s not going to be easy, but there’s a chance.
The Phils remain in 3rd place in the NL East, 3 games behind the first place Nationals and Braves. who are in a virtual tie, and also 3 games back in the race for a wild card.
The Rockies come into CBP on a 4-game losing streak, and having just gotten swept at home by Arizona in a 3-game series.
Compared to last year, and to the Rockies
The table below now includes total player and pitcher WAR, from fangraphs, normalized to 162 games for comparison to last year. Non-pitcher WAR is slightly lower, but it’s not surprising that pitcher WAR is far ahead of last year’s pace. Overall their WAR rank is the same as for their W-L record.
Most of the Phillies’ key hitting stats are solidly below average, including overall hitting, at 88 wRC+.
Colorado’s stats are funky as usual thanks to playing in the best hitter’s park in the league. Most of their key stats are around the average, and they’re even 5th in scoring. However after adjusting for Coors Field they rate as the worst-hitting team in the NL (80 wRC+):
*ISO, short for Isolated power, is the difference between batting average and slugging percentage, and essentially measures the average extra bases per at bat (1 for a double, 2 for a triple, 3 for a HR).
Phillies continue leading the league in walking (10.2% of the time), but their pitches per PA have dipped to 2nd, behind the Dodgers (4.06).
However they also lead the league in striking out, and (not surprisingly) are last in making contact, but also in their quality of contact, ranking last in Line Drive rate (18.9%), and next to last in Hard-hit rate (29.6%).
Progress over time
The graphs below show how some key stats have progressed. On the left is the weekly performance (with a dotted line showing the NL average for each one), and on the right is the cumulative season-to-date number. Batting Average and BB% together drive a team’s On Base Percentage, and Batting Average and ISO combine to form Slugging Percentage.
I mentioned the May 16th date earlier, and that’s also about when the hitting went south:
through 5/16.. 40 games, 4.70 runs per game (4th), 4th in OBP, 5th in OPS, 1st in BB%
since 5/17……. 23 games, 3.30 runs per game (13th), 15th in OBP, 15th in OPS, 7th in BB%
Stronger competition will tend to do that, although most didn’t expect that big a decline. The pitching has also struggled, overall:
through 5/16.. 3.65 runs allowed per game (2nd)
since 5/17……. 4.61 runs allowed per game (10th)
Batting — Individual
Below are the Phillies ranked by OPS, along with how they compare to the MLB average OPS at their position. To the right are their OPS over the last 30, 14, and 7 days.
Below is how each Phillie hitter’s OPS and wOBA have progressed over time.
For the first time this season, not one regular has an OPS above .800. There have been ups and downs for all of them, but their season-to-date stats fall into at least a couple of distinct groupings:
- the unspectacular-but-above-average group of Hernandez, Hoskins, and Herrera, and now joined by Santana
- and the solidly-below-average set of Franco, Williams, Altherr, and Alfaro. And struggling to climb up to this group are Crawford and Kingery:
These graphs are very busy — I suggest starting with the names to see how they currently rank, and then follow each line to the left to see how they got there (tough for the colorblind though).
After two blowouts vs. Milwaukee, the Phillies’ ERA has slipped to 8th, but their FIP* is still second best in the NL.
That difference isn’t a surprise when the defense has been as bad as it has, as the rankings at the bottom of this table confirm:
*FIP (Fielding-independing pitching) is based only on the stats that are considered to be most controllable by pitchers: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. xFIP takes that one step further by also assuming that home runs are only controllable by a pitcher to the extent to which they allow fly balls to be hit, and adjusts their HRs to the league-average rate of HRs per Fly Balls.
Pitching – Individual
Below is a high-level break down of each starter’s games: QS is the typical definition (6+ IP, or less ER), “bad” is any start with more ER than innings pitched, and “other” is all the rest:
And below are each pitcher’s games, with the Game Score for each one on the right (highlighted green if in the 60-79 range, dark green if 80+):
Nola leads all NL pitchers in WAR at baseball reference, with 3.9. That’s a pace of 10.0 over a full season, for what it’s worth. He also comes into play today with the 2nd most Quality Starts in the NL:
In looking at Nola’s Game Log page, it appears that in addition to being a Phillies ambassador, Chris Wheeler must now also be an editor at baseball-reference:
Dominguez has pitched in 14 games, and for a total 18 innings. His dominance is evident in his microscopic WHIP of 0.389 (walks or hits per inning).
Eighteen innings isn’t much, but nevertheless 0.389 would be the lowest recorded since 1900 in any season of at least that many innings: