One Stat That Sums Up Each Philadelphia Phillies Player's 2012 Season

Greg PintoCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2012

One Stat That Sums Up Each Philadelphia Phillies Player's 2012 Season

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    Leave it to the Philadelphia Phillies to jump back into a postseason race after seemingly being on the brink of destruction just a few short weeks ago. 

    But that's the kind of year it's been for the Phillies. Just when you've accepted the fact that they were dealt a bad hand out of the gate and folded at the trade deadline—they go and rattle off a big winning streak and jump into the Wild Card hunt. 

    So what's the difference? Why are the Phillies playing so much better right now than they were early in the season? 

    Well, one of the biggest factors is their return to health. Any time you add guys like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, you are going to get any worse. 

    But that's not the only factor. Not only did those guys give this club a boost with their return to the active roster, but other players are just playing better. 

    Thee is some youth on this club now and they're revitalized. One way to see the difference is to tell a player's story through a single statistic—what made him good or bad? 

    Maybe then we can see why this team is clicking right now.

Jimmy Rollins

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    Telling Stat: .306 OBP

    If the Phillies want Jimmy Rollins to be their leadoff hitter, he's going to need to start functioning as one. 

    In all honesty, I'm a bit surprised that the Phillies are jumping back into the postseason race with a leadoff hitter who has struggled to keep his on-base percentage north of the .300 mark. 

    That doesn't meant that Rollins isn't a good hitter. He can be. But the days of him functioning as a leadoff man should be well in the past.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Juan Pierre

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    Telling Stat: .309 BA and .350 OBP

    Juan Pierre came into spring training this season as a long time MLB veteran player without a guaranteed contract. The odds of that kind of player making the club are normally slim.

    But not for Pierre. 

    The speedy left fielder had a good camp and wound up heading north with the Phillies at the close of spring training. He eventually took over the left field job and became much more valuable than the Phillies had anticipated. 

    I'm still struggling for figure out why he wasn't hitting leadoff more.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Chase Utley

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    Telling Stat: 2.5 WAR

    Using Wins Above Replacement as a general measuring stick of a player's performance isn't always well advised, but I think this effectively illustrates Chase Utley's value to the club. 

    Consider this: Utley's WAR in just 63 regular season games is 2.5 this season. In 58 games earlier this season, his replacement, Freddy Galvis, posted a WAR of just 0.5. 

    For a crude estimation of how valuable Utley's been—he's worth about two more wins right now. That's quite a bit. 

    He's also posted an unusually low BABip of just .258—something that suggests he's due for a turn in fortune at the plate. 

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Ryan Howard

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    Telling Stat: 33.9 K%

    Anyone who isn't aware of the fact that Ryan Howard strikes out a lot should probably crawl out from under that rock they've been hiding under for the last decade or so. 

    But just because someone is known to do something, that doesn't make it any more acceptable. Howard needs to cut back on his strikeouts in a hurry. 

    Though he was understandably rusty for a while after sitting out most of the regular season with a torn Achilles tendon, it's time to shake that rust off. 

    Howard's K% has risen about 6% this season, which is substantial. Howard has already struck out 78 times in 230 plate appearances this season. That's not a number you want to see out of your cleanup hitter—or any hitter, for that matter.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Carlos Ruiz

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    Telling Stat: .340 BA, .968 OPS, 5.2 WAR

    Okay, so I'm cheating a little bit and picking out three statistics for Carlos Ruiz, but it's really impossible to tell his story this season through just one stat. 

    Part of the resolution to solving the mystery that has been "Chooch" this season is just understanding the fact that he's a better hitter right now than at any other point in his career. You can see it through his approach. 

    The numbers are up across the board. 

    He's hitting for better average. He's hitting for a lot more power. He's driving in and scoring runs. To sum it up, there's really very little that Ruiz hasn't done this season—and that's just offensively. 

    Defensively, he hasn't missed a step. He's still one of the game's top defensive catchers. 

    So how valuable has he been? Well, consider this: Ruiz missed quite a bit of time this season after suffering a foot injury that forced him to the disabled list. 

    If he had the qualifying number of plate appearances, Ruiz would be 15th in the league among position players in Wins Above Replacement.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

John Mayberry Jr.

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    Telling Stat: 94 OPS+

    John Mayberry Jr. has been below average this season and that is obviously not where the Phillies want him to be. 

    In fact, if Mayberry hadn't gone on an absolute tear at the plate to open the month of September and round out the month of August, he probably wouldn't have even been this close to average. 

    The Phillies have given him every opportunity in the world to show that he deserves to play more. He just hasn't stepped up and risen to the occasion. 

    Moving forward, he's probably a bench player.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Domonic Brown

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    Telling Stat: Contact% - 83.0

    It's easy to look at Domonic Brown's stats this season and assume that he's had a bad year in the MLB, and you certainly wouldn't be wrong—it's been a struggle for Brown.

    But I'm a blind optimist and one of the things that I've really liked about Brown's approach since rejoining the Phillies this season is the fact that when he swings, he doesn't miss. 

    In fact, Brown makes contact with the ball on 83% of his swings. That's a good number. 

    The fact of the matter is that the more contact you make with the ball, the better the odds of something good happening.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Placido Polanco

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    Telling Stat: 90 G (72 GS)

    I'm including Placido Polanco in this slideshow to illustrate how poor of an idea it was to bring him back as the starting third baseman without any viable Plan B. 

    Polanco appeared in just 90 games this season and only 72 of which were games that he started at third base. Thanks to a pesky, nagging back injury, his season is already over. 

    And that goes without mentioning his poor offensive performance this year. It's hard to hit any better when you can't stay on the field.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Roy Halladay

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    Telling Stat: 88.7 vFC

    If that statistic looks a little funny to the casual fan, it's because it isn't talked about all that often in the mainstream. That's Roy Halladay's cutter velocity—which has been the topic of many conversations about the Phillies' ace this season and in some ways, the root of his problems. 

    Compared to Halladay's vFC of 90.6 last season, that mark has dropped quite a bit and become a cause for concern. 

    Scouts and writers questioned whether or not he was hurting early in the season and he eventually wound up on the disabled list with a strained right latissimus dorsi. 

    The new concern for Halladay is that the velocity hasn't returned following the injury and he's still throwing a lot more changeups and curveballs than he did in the past. 

    Is this the new Halladay? 

    At this point, only time will tell.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Cliff Lee

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    Telling Stat: 6.46 K/BB and 3.13 xFIP

    I refuse to let a mediocre win total be the story that people tell about Cliff Lee's 2012 season because in a lot of ways, he's more elite now than ever before. 

    Consider the fact that Lee's strikeout to walk ratio is a stellar 6.46 this season—nearly two full points higher than the second best mark in the league (which somehow belongs to Joe Blanton). 

    That's a simple equation for pitching—the more guys you strike out plus the fewer you walk equals optimal success. 

    I also cheated a bit to include Lee's xFIP mark of 3.13—a good measuring stick for future success. 

    The fact of the matter is that Lee has been one of the game's best pitchers this season, but stubborn people stuck with their old and outdated statistics refuse to open their eyes to that fact. 

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Cole Hamels

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    Telling Stat: 31.86% Whiffs on changeup.

    This seems to be the telling stat for Cole Hamels year in and year out, but Cole Hamels' changeup is easily one of the best in recent baseball history—if not longer. 

    Sure, you like to see him excel in some of the traditional statistics like leading the club in wins and hovering right around the 3.00 ERA mark, but if you dig deeper, you'll find some impressive data. 

    For instance, take Hamels' 31.86% whiff rate on his changeup. That means that for every swing that hitters take at his changeup, nearly 32% miss! 

    The effectiveness of his changeup makes his other pitches, like the fastball and cutter, and even the curveball more recently this season, more successful.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Vance Worley

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    Telling Stat: 1.51 WHIP

    I'm willing to give Vance Worley the benefit of the doubt because he was pitching with bone chips in his right elbow for most of the season, but he showed that he was better than this in 2011. 

    WHIP—which measures walks plus hits and divides that total by the amount of a pitcher's innings pitched—is a good measure of how effective a pitcher has been at keeping runners off of the base paths, and Worley wasn't great. 

    He was giving up a lot of hits and didn't improve his control from the previous season. Now, as I said, part of that can be blamed on the fact that he wasn't healthy. 

    But regardless, Worley needs to improve for 2013. 

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Kyle Kendrick

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    Telling Stat: 6.56 K/9

    What in the world has gotten into Kyle Kendrick? He went from getting shelled out of the bullpen earlier in the season to pitching like a top of the rotation starter in near record time. 

    So what's been the difference? 

    I'd venture to argue that Kendrick has improved his changeup exponentially and reshuffled his repertoire, but of course, neither of those statistics. 

    They have, however, led to more strikeouts. If the season ended today, Kendrick's 6.59 K/9 would be a career high. 

    That may be the cure for all of Kendrick's past ailments—move away from the "pitch to contact" philosophy," attack the strike zone, and get more strikeouts. 

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Erik Kratz

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    Telling Stat: 124 wRC+

    Without sounding too insulting, the backup catcher's position isn't a very valuable role. They're usually guys who play roughly once per week and teams almost always value defense to run production. 

    But Erik Kratz is producing runs. 

    Kratz's wRC+—which takes the amount of weighted runs that at a player is responsible for creating and balances that mark against the league average of 100—is currently 124. That's 24 points above average. 

    From a backup catcher. 

    Of course, Kratz it's a smaller sample size for Kratz, who spent a lot of time in Triple-A this season. But the only player to post a better mark for the Phillies this season is Carlos Ruiz. 

    Catching power!

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Laynce Nix

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    Telling Stat: 3 HR

    Time for some full disclosure: I really thought that Laynce Nix was going to hit for more power this season—a lot more power. 

    Granted, he did miss more than 50 games this season because of a calf strain, but even adjusting for the games he missed, I still thought that he'd hit for more power.

    I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that the Phillies did as well. 

    Even after having signed Jim Thome to play on the bench in the offseason, the Phillies wanted Nix to come in and do what he had been doing throughout his entire career—mash right-handed pitching. 

    He hasn't done that. How much the calf strain has played into that is a bit unclear, but if the Phillies are going to keep Nix around as their primary left-handed bench bat for 2013, they'll want more power.

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Nate Schierholtz

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    Telling Stat: .789 OPS vs. RHP

    If anything, Nate Schierholtz has been predictable this season. 

    The San Francisco Giants weren't playing him full-time because he can't hit left-handed pitching and that hasn't changed since he joined the Phillies. 

    He missed a good chunk of time with a broken big toe this season, so he gets an asterisk for that, but the Phillies were ready to give him an audition for a larger role and that plans seems to have been scrapped. 

    Schierholtz's role moving forward? That's a little cloudy. Some would suggest that he's capable of playing the left-handed part of a platoon and I'd be inclined to agree. 

    There's just some part of me that believes the Phillies want to give that job to a full-time player, however, and that's something that Schierholtz is not. 

    Stats through 9/11/12.

Ty Wigginton

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    Telling Stat: 107 wRC+ vs. LHP

    Ty Wigginton came into the season in a much larger role than anticipated, but that quickly dissipated into a bench role upon the returns of big name guys like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. 

    At that point, he came more of a part-time player against left-handed pitching and you'd expect him to put up runs against southpaws. 

    Wigginton's 107 wRC+ against lefties is a step in the right direction. He's just above average in creating runs against lefties and could be a viable bench bat for a team in the future.

    I just don't think it'll be the Phillies. 

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Kevin Frandsen

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    Telling Stat: .371 BABip

    Third base has been a problem area for the Phillies all season long. 

    Placido Polanco spent another huge chunk of time on the disabled list this season and replacements like Ty Wigginton and Michael Martinez just weren't getting the job done. 

    In steps Kevin Frandsen—the man who had been among the hit leaders in Triple-A for most of the season. It seems like every time he makes contact with the ball it bloops in for a hit. 

    And that's also part of the problem. 

    Frandsen's .371 BABip this season is more than unsustainable. It's an anomaly. Stretched out over a full season he would not be nearly as productive as he's been in this short stint in 2012. 

    He could be a valuable bench bat moving forward because he's a solid glove at what could be every infield position and gives you a good at-bat almost every time he's up. 

    But anyone who thinks he could be the starting third baseman next season is due for a reality check. 

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Jake Diekman

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    Telling Stat: 11.69 K/9

    You could tell Jake Diekman's through one of two statistics this season: The strikeouts or the walks. 

    While the walks are a big concern moving forward, the strikeouts are much more impressive and, in my opinion, what's going to make him a valuable bullpen arm. 

    Diekman has all the makings of a good, late innings reliever—even if it is only in lefty on lefty situations. He's all limbs. There are a lot of moving parts in his funky delivery—which could contribute to the wildness—but he makes it work, especially against lefties. 

    He looks like he's coming from the extreme first base side of the pitching rubber and hurls the fastball in the mid 90s with consistency. Diekman will also mix in a good slider and changeup—both of which have room for improvement. 

    So you can see where the strikeouts come from. I think he can only get better. 

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Michael Schwimer

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    Telling Stat: 4.19 BB/9

    This happens more often than it should, but any reliever has a problem when he finally gets to play in the Major League and all of the sudden he can't find the strike zone. 

    That's been the case for Michael Schwimer. 

    Schwimer didn't have great control when he was in the minor leagues, but it was certainly acceptable. The highest BB/9 he had ever posted in the minors was a 3.86 mark in a tiny five game sample size with Double-A Reading in 2009. 

    Now he just can't throw strikes. In two MLB seasons, Schwimer hasn't posted a BB/9 mark south of four. This is something that is going to have to change in a hurry. Right now, I would surmise that he's on the outside looking in for a spot next season.

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Jeremy Horst

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    Telling Stat: 3 ER

    The Phillies have had a couple of guys step up and become a pleasant surprise this season and Jeremy Horst is probably at the top of that list. 

    Acquired in the deal that sent Wilson Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds, Horst has become one of the most consistent pitchers in Charlie Manuel's bullpen. 

    It's been a great year that is difficult to describe through one statistic, but here's the short version. A reliever's job is to keep runs off of the board. Horst has allowed just three earned runs this season. 

    He's thrown 22.2 innings.

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Josh Lindblom

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    Telling Stat: 7.47 BB/9

    Josh Lindblom hasn't been nearly as bad as some of his more conventional statistics would make it appear, but he's had his bad moments as well—that's not something that can be denied. 

    One thing that would make him instantaneously more effective would be to throw more strikes. It sounds simple, but throwing strikes hasn't been one of Lindblom's strong suits since joining the Phillies. 

    Some of his other stats are good. Batters are hitting just .190 against him and he's punching them out at a very strong rate of 11.49 per every nine innings. 

    If he wasn't walking at least a batter every time he comes into the game he'd be a lot better.

Phillippe Aumont

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    Telling Stat: 0.96 WHIP

    Describing Phillippe Aumont's season through one statistic is a tall task. 

    The Phillies called him up right before rosters expanded in September and he's dominated hitters ever since he got to the MLB. Why? Well he throws a fastball / sinker with movement that will make a hitter blue in the face that sits consistently in the mid to upper 90s. 

    Off of that he'll throw a slurve and a splitter that will make your knees buckle. 

    He's used that repertoire to cruise into the Phillies' eighth inning role as a right-handed set-up man. How do you describe that in one statistic? 

    Well, WHIP is about as close as you're going to get. Aumont has kept his WHIP below one since joining the Phillies, which means that he's keeping runners off of the base paths. When you do that, you have success. 

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Antonio Bastardo

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    Telling Stat: 13.90 K/9

    Antonio Bastardo hasn't looked like himself at points during the 2012 season, but right now, the Phillies' set-up man is firing on all cylinders. 

    Of course, Bastardo is at his best when he's able to strike hitters of either handedness out. So when his fastball was down a few ticks in velocity early in the season, there was some cause for concern. 

    But that velocity has returned, especially as of late, and the effectiveness can be illustrated through Bastardo's phenomenal K/9 mark of 13.90. 

    Any time that you have a reliever striking out nearly 14 batters per nine innings, I think you'll take it.

    Stats through 9/12/12.

Jonathan Papelbon

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    Telling Stat: 34 SV

    I'm not a huge fan of the saves statistic, but at the end of the day, it's what the Phillies are paying Jonathan Papelbon to do. 

    Some people will ridicule him for his lack of success in non-save situations this season, but that doesn't effectively tell the story. 

    The Phillies brought Papelbon aboard over the offseason for one thing and one thing only—to stabilize the ninth inning in save situations. That's after years of watching Brad Lidge blow leads late in ball games and still winning. 

    Obviously, the front office saw some kind of justification in paying a reliever $50 million so that they'd never have to suffer through that again, but that's neither here nor there. 

    The Phillies are paying Papelbon to convert saves and 34 saves in a year where the Phillies have struggled to stay about the .500 mark is not a bad start. 

    Stats through 9/12/12.