Playing 'A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words' with All 25 Phillies Players
An endless numbers of words have been written about the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies because, let's be honest, there has been plenty to write about.
A team with World Series expectations that falls flat on its face early in the season only to recover enough to make a run at the brand-new second NL Wild Card at the end of the season? Come on. It's a writer's dream story.
But there's only so much you can actually write about each player. You can give the most accurate description in the world, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
It's one of life's inevitable truths: We love words, but we relate to pictures. We can look at a player's picture and feel his emotion in a way that words can't describe, and some pictures just do a better job at describing a player's season.
So lets have a look. Here's one picture to describe each player's season.
Fair or foul?
That's the kind of season that it has been for longtime Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. For most of the season, he was abysmal at the plate, leading critics around the game to question his ability to be the club's leadoff hitter.
Then the Phillies got hot in the month of September and so too did Rollins. It shouldn't give credence to the old "when Rollins goes, the Phillies go" myth, but in a lot of ways, it does.
So what's next for Rollins? Is there something left in the tank or are we in for a steady decline?
For the first time in quite a while, watching Juan Pierre play baseball has been fun—especially in this city.
Phillies fans were well aware of Pierre's game after he spent years terrorizing them at the top of the Florida Marlins' order, but after bouncing around with a couple of different clubs, Pierre returned to the National League in 2012 as a member of the Phillies.
And he was good.
Pierre won a job out of spring training and was right near the top of the Phillies' batting average and stolen base statistics for most of the year.
When Chase Utley is capable of playing like this, he makes the Phillies an incredibly dynamic team.
Of course, when you see Utley round second base with the thought of reaching home clearly at the forefront of his mind, you know that he's healthy—and the Phillies second baseman hasn't been healthy in quite a while.
But Utley didn't just miss the first couple of months of the regular season. He spent that time with a specialist in Arizona learning new techniques to keep his chronically degenerating knees fresh.
Looks like that visit is paying dividends. It's the month of September and Utley looks better than he has in quite some time.
If there's one word to describe Ryan Howard's season, it has to be "frustrating." Of course, the frustration extends further back than missing Opening Day this year.
With a chance to extend the Phillies' postseason hopes against the St. Louis Cardinals, Howard stumbled, both figuratively and physically. That stumble was the result of a partially torn Achilles' tendon that he would spent six months rehabilitating.
When he returned to the field, Howard looked lost in a lot of ways. He's striking out at an embarrassing rate and just hasn't been himself in any way.
With his recent power surge in mind, things are looking up for the first baseman, but you have to wonder what's left in the tank, and that's frustrating.
All Carlos Ruiz does is hit.
That's not even an exaggeration. At least not in 2012, and it's almost funny to say because most of the rhetoric coming into spring training this season was that as long as Ruiz plays his normally elite defense, the Phillies would be more than happy.
Well he's been one of the best hitters in the game this season too, so the Phillies can't be anything short of ecstatic.
Even after missing some time on the disabled list, Ruiz jumped right back into the lineup and picked up where he left off. Watching him hit this season has been exciting. There doesn't seem to be a pitch that he can't handle.
This is a picture of Domonic Brown putting a good swing on a tough pitch.
Why is this his story? Well, because while the numbers may not do the best job of showing Brown's development in the MLB this season, this picture does.
Brown doesn't look lost at the plate anymore. He's handling tough pitches and doing what he's supposed to with them. Things like taking the ball the other way and pulling a monstrous home run into the second deck are becoming more and more of a common occurrence.
The Phillies will take that. That's what made him a top prospect.
John Mayberry Jr.
John Mayberry Jr. has been swinging the bat better as of late, but when you look back on the 2012 season, it certainly won't be something that the outfielder will find himself writing home about.
Mayberry took over a full-time role when Shane Victorino found himself wearing a new uniform at the trade deadline, and the results have been mixed.
He's a capable defender and has crushed left-handed pitching, but he's striking out a lot and looks lost against right-handed pitchers.
Any role that Mayberry has next season will probably be in more of a "lefties only" capacity.
Kevin Frandsen sleeps with a baseball bat next to his bed just so that he knows he can roll out and collect a single first thing in the morning.
OK, so that's a dramatization, but Frandsen has been one of this club's most consistent hitters since coming up from Triple-A.
He practically forced Placido Polanco out of the lineup so that he could play third base (and that was before Polanco was put on the disabled list) and hasn't done anything to lose the job since.
Now, can the Phillies weather a whole season with Frandsen as their third baseman? Probably not. But he's shown that he can be the best utility man they've had in a while, at the very least.
I don't like to get too repetitive, but if Ryan Howard has had a frustrating season, Roy Halladay knows his pain.
Halladay came out of spring training under scrutiny thanks to a lack of velocity on his fastball, which raised injury concerns. The Phillies ace would shake off reporters only to hit the disabled list a few weeks later.
There wasn't much of a change when he returned from the DL and that persisted throughout the season, culminating with a visit to see a doctor about his ailing shoulder on September 21.
So it has been a frustrating year for "Doc," who has undoubtedly gotten used to being one of the best, and most consistent, pitchers in the game.
It's been an interesting year for Cliff Lee too.
The lefty was under fire for most of the season because for a long time, he couldn't buy a win if he wanted to. In outings where he was good, his teammates weren't. In outings where his teammates were good, Lee wasn't.
It was just a strange year for a long time.
Then, Lee turned a corner. If you're willing to be bold and ignore his win-loss record, Lee has been incredible. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio is currently the best in the game by a wide margin and his record should be a lot better than it is.
Some things in this game you just cannot control.
Not many guys on this club have found the 2012 season to be "enjoyable," but Cole Hamels has.
The youngest of the Phillies "aces" came into this season slated to be arguably the top free agent available this winter. But Hamels made sure that the Phillies couldn't let him go that far without making him an offer that he couldn't refuse.
With Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee both struggling at points during the year and on the disabled list during others, the Phillies need to come to an agreement with Hamels to keep him around. And they did.
And it was massive.
Hamels, who has also collected 15 wins on the season, signed a new deal with the Phillies that, in all likelihood, will keep him in Philly until after the 2019 season.
Kyle Kendrick finally has something to smile about.
Without a doubt, the last couple of seasons must have been rough for Kendrick. He was demoted from his job as a starting pitcher after struggling in the rotation and couldn't find much consistency coming out of the bullpen.
For all intents and purposes, he was in trouble.
Then Kendrick got another opportunity. He was already in the starting rotation for an injured Halladay when the Phillies traded Joe Blanton, but now, Kendrick got an opportunity to stay there and made the most of it.
In reality, it isn't an exaggeration to say that Kendrick has been one of the club's best starters since. He's using a very good changeup to neutralize hitters and really seems to have figured something out.
It was hard finding a picture that encapsulates Tyler Cloyd's season because his expression never changes, but you know that under that serious exterior the Nebraskan is jumping for joy.
Cloyd came out of nowhere this season to have one of the most impressive minor league campaigns in recent memory, and when the Phillies needed a spot starter, Cloyd got the call.
Bone chips in Vance Worley's elbow forced him onto the disabled list, allowing Cloyd to stick around and show the Phillies what he can do, and he hasn't been bad.
He definitely needs to develop an out pitch to better oppose left-handed batters because hanging that cutter isn't going to get him very far, but there is probably a role for Cloyd on a major league squad somewhere, even if it is nothing more than the club's long reliever.
I thought that Ty Wigginton was going to have a very defined role coming into the season. He was going to play some first base while Ryan Howard was out and hit left-handed pitching off of the bench.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Phillies also used Wigginton at third base and in left field and probably played him way more than they should have, but then again, they didn't have many options.
Wigginton also struggled at the plate this season and his poor showing defensively will probably lead the Phillies to decline his $4 million club option for next season.
2012 hasn't been a great year for Laynce Nix either.
The Phillies signed him to a two-year deal last offseason to serve as a left-handed bat off of the bench and crush right-handed pitching the way that he has in seasons past, but that hasn't been the case.
Nix found himself playing quite a bit early in the season and things were going well until he suffered a severe calf strain and missed more than 50 games.
When he returned, he wasn't quite the same. He hasn't hit for much power and recently hasn't played much at all.
The Phillies will be expecting more out of him in 2013 or his job could be in some jeopardy.
"This isn't the kind of role that I expected to have after the trade."
OK, so Nate Schierholtz probably didn't say that, but I'm sure that he's thought it at one point or another.
One of the things that made Schierholtz expendable in the eyes of the San Francisco Giants was that he wasn't playing much. They were really only using him against right-handed pitching and, even then, only sparingly.
So when the Phillies acquired him, he moved into more of a platoon role. Then he broke his toe and now isn't playing much at all.
Charlie Manuel has used him frequently as a late-inning defensive replacement, but I can guarantee you that he'd like to be doing more. He's eligible for arbitration this offseason and defensive replacements don't get paid all that much.
If I were to write a book about Michael Martinez (and I wouldn't because, like, who would read it?), it would probably be called Michael Martinez: Going in the Wrong Direction. Or maybe something a bit more simple, like Michael Martinez: Easy Out.
You get the idea. And I'm not poking fun at Martinez just to do it. His numbers this season (.172/.212/.263) are historically bad.
If rosters didn't expand for the month of September, he probably wouldn't even be with the club. I don't see much of a role for him in 2013 other than minor league insurance.
Erik Kratz has things on cruise control right now.
While a lot of people would have preferred to give him the backup catcher's role last offseason, that wasn't what the Phillies actually did. Instead, they brought back Brian Schneider on the cheap and Kratz went back to Triple-A.
Well, it wasn't long before Schneider was on the disabled list and Kratz was back in the MLB. He played well in a part-time role before Carlos Ruiz suffered an injury as well and he was the club's primary catcher all of the sudden.
He took that opportunity and ran with it. Kratz mashed the cover off of the ball and handled the pitching staff well, practically earning himself a role with the club next season in less than a month's time.
B.J. Rosenberg's few flashes of success have been heavily overshadowed by poor performances, and that is not a good way to make a name for yourself in the MLB, especially on a team like the Phillies.
The Phillies have a slew of young arms coming up through their system that will be ready to contribute, if they're not already, in the MLB in 2013.
Rosenberg and his 8.00 ERA probably aren't in the picture. He'll be in Triple-A next season.
Finding a picture that accurately describes Josh Lindblom's season (especially just his Phillies tenure) was like looking for a needle in a haystack, so you're going to have to stay with me here.
Lindblom, who came over in the Shane Victorino trade, hasn't been very good. He's been better as of late but still nowhere near what the Phillies expected when they acquired him.
So what's in store for the future?
Well, that trade will work in Lindblom's favor because the Phillies don't want to give up on him, but with Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont already in the bullpen and Mike Stutes and David Herndon set to return, you have to wonder how long his leash is.
2012 has been an exciting season for Jeremy Horst.
He came over to the Phillies in the offseason as the return in the deal that sent Wilson Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds, but was basically written off as a "throw-in."
Horst opened the season in Triple-A, but was called up when the Phillies decided to shake up their struggling bullpen and has been excellent for them ever since.
The lefty, who currently sports an ERA of 1.04, also welcomed a son into the world during the season. Talk about a good year.
Justin De Fratus
Getty Images seems to be allergic to Justin De Fratus photos for some reason, so you'll have to let me describe the narrative a bit.
On a serious note, De Fratus hasn't been in the MLB long and there aren't many photos of him to describe his season, but if there is one that looks like he is just coming in and getting the job done, that would do fine.
After all, that's what De Fratus has done. The right-handed reliever, whom many thought would open the season with the Phillies had he not suffered an injury, has allowed just a single earned run through seven innings and has looked like one of the best relievers the Phillies have in recent outings.
Phillippe Aumont is a big guy. At 6'7", 260 pounds, one of the first words that comes to mind when describing the hulking right-handed reliever is "intimidating."
And that's not even mentioning his arsenal.
Aumont throws a power sinker with enough movement to make your eyes spin, a "slurve" that looks like it's going to hit the batter right before it drops into the strike zone and a splitter that has guys coming out of their shoes.
When he throws strikes, he's dominant. The Phillies are hoping that it becomes a common occurrence as they look for their right-handed setup man.
Is Antonio Bastardo happy or sad in this picture? Was it a good outing or a bad one?
Folks who missed the previous night's game and check the box score the following morning probably find themselves asking that latter question about Antonio Bastardo with much more frequency this season.
Bastardo wasn't good for much of the first half of the season. He wasn't throwing as hard as he had been in the past, his slider was hanging, he couldn't throw strikes and guys were squaring him up.
In the second half of the season, Bastardo has been much better. His fastball seems to have that extra zip and he is striking batters out at an impressive rate.
Is that enough improvement for him to keep his job as the club's setup man? It seems as though only time will tell.
If nothing else, Jonathan Papelbon is intense.
We could debate about whether or not he was worth $50 million until everyone is blue in the face, but there is no debating that watching Papelbon pitch in high-leverage situations is exciting.
The Phillies brought him aboard to convert save opportunities into saves and he's done that well, recording 36 for a team that could barely call itself a contender.
I'll be interested to see what Papelbon can do in a year with better luck. The Phillies are shaping up to be a much healthier team in 2013 and could be exciting.