Each Philadelphia Phillies Player's Greatest Tool from 2012

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2012

Each Philadelphia Phillies Player's Greatest Tool from 2012

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    Even in a down season, professional baseball players typically excel in at least one area of their game. That's one of the things that I personally enjoy about baseball: The fact that if you fail in one area, you have an opportunity to redeem yourself in another. 

    The Philadelphia Phillies had a down season. This was a team with an A-list roster and World Series expectations that are now watching postseason baseball from its couches. 

    But held within that poor season were a number of great performances. That's part of what makes these players professionals—the ability to excel in at least one area of their game, even in an otherwise disappointing season. 

    Baseball scouts like to break a player's game down into "tools." For the sake of this slideshow, we'll be discussing two different types of players.

    Positional players will be broken down into the popular "five tools:" The ability to hit for contact, the ability to hit for power, defense, speed and arm strength. 

    For pitchers, we will discuss their best "tool" as their best pitch. 

    So what tool did each player use best in 2012? Time to find out.

    Resources: FanGraphs and BrooksBaseball

Carlos Ruiz

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    Best Tool: Contact

    You could realistically go four different ways with Carlos Ruiz here and I wouldn't have much of an argument with any of them, but I'll take his "contact" tool. 

    In a year where people are going to question how much progress he actually made at the plate (as in long-lasting success), the one thing that Ruiz did obviously well was hit the ball—make contact. 

    He spread the ball to all fields and seemed to find the basepaths consistently. Now the Phillies will have to hope it wasn't a fluke. 

Erik Kratz

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    Best Tool: Power

    Erik Kratz was impressive in a lot of ways for the Phillies this season, but one thing that really stood out to me was the power. 

    This is a guy who spent a majority of the season catching in Triple-A and hit eight home runs down there before the Phillies needed his help and he got the call to the MLB

    Kratz stepped up in a big way. He hit nine more home runs for the Phillies and posted an ISO (isolated power) of .255. 

    That's big-time power for a backup catcher.

Ryan Howard

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    Best Tool: Power

    This probably isn't much of a surprise, but in a season that started with an extended stint on the disabled list, Ryan Howard's best tool was still his power. 

    The real problem was that Howard didn't do much in terms of any of the other tools this season. 

    He missed the first half of the regular season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that some thought would sap his power, but I wouldn't say that was the case. 

    Howard still hit 14 home runs in 292 plate appearances and posted an ISO of .204.

Chase Utley

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    Best Tool: Defense

    With the way that Chase Utley was hitting the ball at the end of the season, I'm somewhat inclined to give his "contact" tool the nod here, but I'll go with an area of his game that always seems to be consistent—defense. 

    While most of the talk centered around a potential move to third base, Utley spent the season showing that he can still play an excellent second base. 

    He posted a UZR/150 of 11.4 this season and, according to FanGraphs, was responsible for saving eight runs (DRS).

Jimmy Rollins

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    Best Tool: Power

    Jimmy Rollins always seems to catch a lot of flak during the season, but he does so many things well and I felt as though this slide could have gone in a couple of different directions. 

    I'll take the underrated aspect of Rollins' game—power. Twenty-three home runs from a shortstop? That'll do. 

    Rollins gives the Phillies an advantage at the plate from a position that is not very good offensively around the league, even if he's not the greatest leadoff hitter around. He posted an ISO of .177 and slugged .427 this season. 

    The Phillies will take that out of their shortstop every season. 

Placido Polanco

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    Best Tool: Defense

    Easy choice here, but only because Placido Polanco was really bad at the plate this season. 

    The Phillies received production that could only be classified as "well below average" out of their third basemen this season as a whole, but a large part of that rests on Polanco's shoulders. 

    The one thing that he did do well was something that everyone expected him to do—play defense. He made the transition to third base look easy a couple of seasons ago and picked right up where he left off in 2012.

Kevin Frandsen

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    Best Tool: Contact

    Kevin Frandsen did a couple of things very well this season, but this is an easy one regardless. 

    Frandsen spent the majority of the 2012 season playing in Triple-A, where he was among the leaders in hits. The Phillies would then call him up to the MLB, and he picked right up where he left off.

    Frandsen collected 66 hits in just 210 plate appearances, helping himself to a .338 batting average and showing that he could still help an MLB club.

Ty Wigginton

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    Best Tool: Power

    Ty Wigginton's best tool this season was his speed, just as we all expected. 

    Just kidding. To be perfectly honest, Wigginton probably didn't have a season that highlighted any of his "tools." He wound up hitting 11 home runs, but had far more plate appearances then the Phillies expected to give him. 

    You obviously have to give the nod to "power" here because none of the other tools are even average, but Wigginton posted an ISO of just .140 and hit all 11 of his home runs as a starter. The Phillies really needed that power off the bench.

Freddy Galvis

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    Best Tool: Defense / Arm Strength

    I don't have the courage to separate Freddy Galvis' best tools. Don't judge me for it. 

    2012 wound up being a disappointing season for the rookie thanks to both a season-ending injury and a positive test for a prohibited substance, but when he was on the field, Galvis was impressive. 

    The rookie second baseman's stellar defense gave the Phillies the flexibility to consider the possibility of sliding Chase Utley over to third base, and now that the Utley experiment has been scrapped, he is probably the leading candidate to play third base next season. 

    In just 416 innings, Galvis saved seven runs defensively (DRS). The bat may be lacking, but Galvis plays a big-time defense. 

Juan Pierre

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    Best Tool: Contact / Speed

    I cheated a bit here because I couldn't decide which of Juan Pierre's best tools I thought was more important this season—contact or speed? 

    On one hand, you have a guy that hit .307 on the year and posted an on-base percentage of .351. On the other, you have a guy that played a solid defensive left field and stole 37 bases. 

    If Pierre is going to be successful, he'll need both of these tools. 

John Mayberry Jr.

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    Best Tool: Power

    We have a winner by default here. 

    John Mayberry Jr. did not have a good season in 2012. Don't let the 14 home runs fool you. He hit 15 home runs the previous year and had nearly 200 fewer plate appearances. 

    While he played a solid defense at three positions (first base, left field and right field), he played a terrible defensive center field after the Shane Victorino trade and has the Phillies ready to scour the free-agent market this winter. 

    If you have to pick something, I'll take the right-handed pop. 

Domonic Brown

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    Best Tool: Arm Strength

    Domonic Brown had an interesting season and I don't think that the numbers tell the entire story, so I almost went with the "contact" tool here—just because I'm admittedly fascinated by his approach. 

    But I'm a numbers guy and I wanted to pick something that would let me throw a few facts at you, so it has to be "arm strength." 

    The Phillies had Brown playing a lot of left field this season, but he got his fair share of repetitions in right field and showed off a cannon a few times. He wound up with seven outfield assists on the year and a handful of highlight-reel throws. 

Nate Schierholtz

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    Best Tool: Contact

    Nate Schierholtz' time with the Phillies this season doesn't do him much justice. He barely broke in his new uniform before breaking his big toe and missing quite a few games, and who knows how much that impacted his swing? 

    One of the things that he did show this season, as a whole, was that he can handle right-handed pitching. Schierholtz hit .287 against right-handed pitchers this season and could be a valuable part of a platoon next season. 

Laynce Nix

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    Best Tool: None

    A promising start to the season quickly deteriorated into a disappointing campaign for Laynce Nix. 

    Through the first two months or so of the season, I would have had no problem with pointing out Nix's "contact" tool, but a calf injury forced him to miss most of the year and he had nothing at the plate when he got back. 

    The one tool that I thought he'd have in the bag this year was "power," but that never showed up—not even against right-handed pitching. 

Roy Halladay

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    Best Tool: Cutter

    It wasn't the same cutter that Roy Halladay threw in the past, but it was still his best pitch in 2012. 

    Needless to say, it was a disappointing year for the Phillies ace, however, who won 11 games on the year and lost eight. He also spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list with a strain in his right latissimus dorsi. 

    Halladay threw 959 cutters this season and it was still an excellent pitch. It got plenty of movement and was called for a strike more than 20 percent of the time. The biggest difference was the lack of velocity. He couldn't push the average cutter velocity over 90 mph for the season.

Cliff Lee

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    Best Tool: Fastball / Command

    The two go hand in hand. 

    Cliff Lee's best pitch this season was his fastball by a long shot, but that's because he pounds the strike zone with it. 

    The left-handed starter thew his fastball / sinker 1,638 times this season and received a called strike on 25.07 percent of those pitches. That helped him to a league leading K/BB mark of 7.39.

    Lee also mixes speeds and locations as well as anybody in the game. 

Cole Hamels

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    Best Tool: Changeup

    No surprise here. Cole Hamels owns one of the best changeups in all of baseball and only seems to use it more effectively with each passing season. 

    Hamels threw 835 of those bad boys this season and generated a whiff percent of 31.74. Of those changeups, batters swung at 62.75 percent, which should help to illustrate how baffling it is to an opposing hitter. 

    If Hamels is as successful as people think he can be over the life of his new mega-deal, that changeup will be a big part of the reason why. 

Vance Worley

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    Best Tool: Two-seam fastball (sinker) 

    Even in a year where his elbow was obviously less than 100 percent, Vance Worley's best tool was still that good two-seam fastball, sometimes classified as a sinker. 

    When he is at his best, Worley pounds the outside part of the plate with his other pitches to set up that comeback fastball, especially to left-handed hitters, and it has become something like his calling card over the last couple of seasons. 

    He threw 657 of them this season—23.29 percent of which were called strikes. 

Kyle Kendrick

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    Best Tool: Changeup

    You could really go in one of two ways for Kyle Kendrick here, and if you prefer his cutter, I'd have no problem with that. 

    But when he was at his best in the second half of the season, one of the things that Kendrick did consistently well was change speeds effectively and generate misses on that changeup. 

    He threw 614 changeups this season and generated a whiff percent of 22.8 percent. He also generated a ton of swings with this pitch (58.79 percent) and that helped him go deeper into ball games. 

    If Kendrick is going to be a viable starter, he'll need that changeup. 

B.J. Rosenberg

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    Best Tool: Fastball

    Not much of a surprise here for B.J. Rosenberg and not much of a sample size, but his best tool was a good fastball. 

    The right-handed reliever didn't work all that much for the Phillies this season, but when he did he flashed a fastball that could reach the upper 90s with relative ease. He threw 198 straight fastballs that averaged 96.19 mph and actually generated a pretty strong whiff percentage of 16.16.

    I don't think he has much of a future in the MLB unless he can develop a solid secondary pitch, however.

Josh Lindblom

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    Best Tool: Slider

    Josh Lindblom has his work cut out for him. 

    Acquired in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies expected him to become their right-handed setup man, but the big right handed reliever didn't show much of that potential. 

    His best pitch was probably a decent slider, but it wasn't very far above average. He threw 315 of them this season and not a single one left the yard, which is obviously a good start. 

    It gets good movement and Lindblom throws it for a lot of strikes (20.95 percent)—especially as a secondary pitch. 

    He has a pretty good fastball and I'm sure the Phillies would like for him to be more effective with it to better set up the slider.

Jeremy Horst

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    Best Tool: Fastball

    Jeremy Horst was the Phillies' unsung hero out of the bullpen this season and you could realistically go with any of his three pitches as his best tool, but I thought that his fastball was exceptional. 

    The left-handed reliever threw 271 fastballs this season—21.4 percent of them for strikes. He generated a strong whiff percent of 12.18 and did an excellent job of setting up his slider and changeup. 

    Given his body of work in 2012, someone would have to have a really good spring to beat out Horst for a job. I think he has a spot to lose.

Justin De Fratus

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    Best Tool: Fastball

    The Phillies' bullpen was one of its biggest problems this season, but that could change in a hurry without much of a change in personnel. That bullpen is loaded with talent and among the brightest futures is Justin De Fratus. 

    De Fratus flashed at least two pitches (fastball and slider) with above average potential this season, but he thew some pretty good changeups as well. 

    At the end of the day, though, it isn't particularly close. De Fratus has an excellent fastball. He threw 83 of them this season and was surprisingly wild with it. Even still, he generated a swing percent of 53.01 with that pitch and allowed a grand total of zero home runs. 

    It was a small sample size, but I suspect that his role in 2013 will be much, much bigger.

Phillippe Aumont

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    Best Tool: Curveball (slurve) 


    I can't remember how many times I've seen Phillippe Aumont break off a knee-buckling slurve and heard that word follow. That's because it's a doozy. 

    After torching the strike zone with a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid to upper 90s range, Aumont goes to his dazzling secondary pitch which sends hitters one way before breaking another. 

    He generates a ton of movement on the slurve and hitters do not have much success making contact with it. 

    The Phillies would probably like to see him get it a bit closer to the strike zone—only because it has so much break—but know that it is going to be a lethal combination, along with the fastball, for years to come.

Antonio Bastardo

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    Best Tool: Slider

    Given the way that it started, Antonio Bastardo had a surprisingly good season, and that's thanks in part to a dominant second half. 

    While the fastball had its ups and downs through the season for Bastardo, his slider was very good. He gets a nice, tight break on it, and when the fastball is really going well, the slider is an excellent secondary offering. 

    Bastardo relied on that pair of pitches during the season and thew a hefty amount of sliders—345 of them, to be exact. It was a great weapon against left-handed hitters, but effective against right-handed batters as well. 

    He generated 22.32 percent whiffs with the slider, and it was a huge part of the reason he was able to post a sensational K/9 mark of 14.02.

Jonathan Papelbon

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    Best Tool: Fastball

    Was Jonathan Papelbon worth $50 million? 

    The first year of his contract is in the books and we still don't have a good answer. That will be a question that we can debate for a long time. One thing that we cannot debate is that Papelbon has an excellent fastball, and it was on full display in 2012. 

    The Phillies closer threw 776 fastballs this season and was right around the strike zone with it, generating a swing percent of 48.97 percent, a foul rate of 22.42 percent and a whiff rate of 13.4 percent. 

    His fastball averaged 94.55 mph, got plenty of movement and was an excellent setup pitch for his slider and splitter.