The Top 5 Surprises in an Otherwise Disappointing Phillies Season
The Philadelphia Phillies' 2012 campaign has been disappointing on multiple levels, but the wound that stings the worst is that the team's consecutive NL East title streak will come to an end.
On the other side of the pillow, there have been a few bright spots in a season filled with underachievement. Players of all ages have made significant contributions in 2012 that will leave the Phillies and their fans eager to see if these players can continue their progress in 2012.
Here are the Phillies' top five biggest surprises in the 2012 MLB season.
5. Jeremy Horst
The only real ray of sunshine in a disappointing Phillies bullpen (besides the highly paid Jonathan Papelbon), is the left-handed Jeremy Horst, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in a trade this past offseason for fan-favorite utility infielder Wilson Valdez.
Boy, did that trade pan out wonderfully for the Phillies. Valdez is currently batting .197 with an OPS of .448. Yikes.
Horst's bullpen success is one of the biggest surprises for the Phillies in 2012. In 27 innings pitched, Horst has an ERA of 1.00 with 33 strikeouts and 12 walks. Opponents are batting .211 against him, and he has only given up three earned runs all season.
With Antonio Bastardo's early struggles and Jake Diekman's control issues, the Phillies needed to find a situational left-handed specialist who could come in and get tough outs. Horst did just that, and he should have earned himself a spot in the 2013 Phillies bullpen.
4. Kevin Frandsen
Third base has been a major concern for the Phillies for most of the 2012 season. After Placido Polanco spent ample time on the disabled list, the Phillies tried to plug the hole with Ty Wigginton and Mike Fontenot. Both failed miserably. Fontenot was eventually released, and Wigginton was relegated to the bench.
Finally, after enjoying plenty of success with the bat in Triple-A, the Phillies called up Kevin Frandsen. What a surprise it was to see how much success he would have at the plate. Frandsen was a breath of fresh air at the corner for the Phillies.
After 47 games and 165 at-bats, Frandsen is batting .331 with an OBP of .383. He also has 11 extra-base hits, 24 runs scored and only 14 strikeouts. He has also helped balance a left-handed-heavy Phillies offense.
Not bad for a minor league journeyman who started the season with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Frandsen's recent surprise success may have earned him at least a utility infield spot on the 2013 Phillies.
3. Jimmy Rollins
When Jimmy Rollins inked his deal to return to the Phillies this past offseason, many were skeptical due to Rollins' recent offensive decline. To our surprise, Rollins is having his best offensive year since he won the MVP in 2007, and he continues to be one of the top defensive shortstops in all of baseball.
Rollins' 23 home runs is the most he has hit since 2007. He also has walked more times in 2012 than he has in his entire career. Jimmy currently has 98 runs scored and, with a little help, will score 100 runs in a season for the first time since 2009. His batting average is not where most fans would like it to be for a lead-off hitter (.248), but his OPS of .741 is the highest it has been since 2008.
Hopefully, Rollins will continue to surprise us in 2013, putting all those doubters to rest by leading the Phillies back to the playoffs in 2013.
2. Juan Pierre
Juan Pierre's offseason acquisition is the only offensive contract that has been paying dividends in 2012. A low-risk, high-reward contract that brought Pierre to Philadelphia for less than $1 million has definitely paid off.
Pierre may have resurrected his career with the success he is having this year. In over 125 games and 383 at-bats, Pierre has posted a .313 average with 35 stolen bases. His 120 hits and 58 runs scored both rank second on the Phillies.
His veteran leadership and work ethic are extremely valuable to a team with several young outfielders. The Phillies will want to keep Pierre around for 2013, but he may have earned himself a chance to play every day with another ballclub. Only time will tell.
1. Carlos Ruiz
What can you say about Carlos Ruiz's 2012 season that hasn't already been said? Chooch is having the best season of his career by far, and it's been a real pleasure to watch.
A career .275 hitter, Ruiz has blown that mark out of the water, hitting .325 in 108 games this season. If not for an injury that made him miss over a month of the season, Ruiz would be in contention for a National League batting title.
Ruiz will finished the 2012 season with a career high in runs, hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage.
He was also selected to appear in his first All-Star game.
Hopefully, Ruiz will be able to stay healthy in 2013. Everyone in Philadelphia is hoping for Chooch to continue to surprise us.
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