Philadelphia Phillies: Handing Out First-Quarter Grades to the Players, Manager
After a tough first month and a half of the baseball season, filled with both ups and downs, it is time to hand out the first-quarter grades for the Philadelphia Phillies pitchers, position players and the manager.
Just like students get report cards, so too is each member of the Phillies roster. The report cards will look at what each player has done well, which areas could use improvement and some teacher comments describing why each player received the grade he did.
For position players, grades were assigned based on their offensive and defensive performance and then an overall grade was decided considering those two numbers as well as remaining factors explained in the comments section. Each of the 13 position players on the roster were given individual grades.
As for the pitchers, the bullpen was measured separately as was the starting staff. Each member of the starting staff was given a grade and it was factored in to give an overall grade for the rotation which included Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone.
The team was also graded as a whole on their offense which factored in league rankings and overall first-quarter numbers. Charlie Manuel was given a grade based on perceived managerial performance, decision making and the overall standing of the team.
Of course, like every report card you've ever gotten, it is just a measurement of where you currently stand, not where you are going. The grades represent the now, but for certain players, the expectation is improvement.
So take a look at the slides to see the grades for your favorite players. And feel free to comment on your own ideas of what the grades should be.
All stats courtesy of espn.go.com
C Carlos Ruiz (Incomplete)
Slash Line: .209/.277/.233
Notable Stats: 1 2B, 4 R, 1 SB, 9 SO
Offensive Grade: C-
In all fairness to Carlos Ruiz, he has only just returned, playing in 14 games with 43 at-bats. Ruiz is still figuring out his swing and has to this point struggled with a slow start. His timing is still off, which is an explanation of his nine strikeouts and just three walks. The biggest thing going against Ruiz however is being judged against himself. He played so well last season and hasn't been able to match that yet.
Defensive Grade: B+
Ruiz has always been known for his staunch defensive abilities behind the plate as well as his ability to call games. This season, Ruiz's CERA is a bit high considering his career numbers. Behind the plate, Ruiz has also failed to make a handful of defensive plays, specifically concerning collisions on scoring plays. However, Ruiz has been phenomenal at catching steals this season. He has allowed eight of 13 attempts, good enough for a career high caught-stealing percentage of 38.5.
Ruiz receives an incomplete for his first report card because he hasn't had enough time to really show all that he can do. The potential for him to heat up is there and has been seen even more in the past few games. Ruiz still has time to turn his season around and he will.
In the words of Charlie Manuel in an article in the DelcoTimes, "Chooch has become a good hitter over the last two years. His offensive production speaks for itself. He is a big player in our lineup.”
C Erik Kratz (D-)
Slash Line: .195/.241/.299
Notable Stats: 10 R, 8 RBI, 4 XBH, 21 SO
Offensive Grade: D-
Erik Kratz had no easy task in replacing Carlos Ruiz during the first 25 games of the season. He won the job in spring training over Humberto Quintero, the chosen backup, and young minor-leaguers, Tommy Joseph (now at Lehigh Valley) and Sebastian Valle (now at Reading).
Overall, Kratz really failed to deliver. He hit below the Mendoza Line and averaged a horrendous .160 in 25 at-bats with RISP. Very few clutch moments, including a three-run home run in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, is what allows Kratz to pass, albeit barely, his first quarter.
Defensive Grade: C+
Kratz was unimpressive but solid on defense. His CERA is decent at 4.18 and he is throwing out base runners about 31 percent of the time. He has turned two double plays and allowed just one passed ball in 187 logged innings.
However, Kratz is awarded only a C+ because he struggled to command the staff the way a starting catcher should. Kratz took early blame for the struggles of the starting staff after righty ace
Roy Halladay vented frustrations to the media after a series against the Atlanta Braves.
Kratz had a big responsibility for a guy who had for the most part, been just a minor-league catcher. And unfortunately, he struggled. Kratz will continue to be the Phillies' backup catcher and still has a chance to turn things around before the All-Star break.
3B Michael Young (B+)
Slash Line: .310/.390/.395
Notable Stats: 15 R, 8 XBH, 9 RBI, 17 BB, 10 GDP
Offensive Grade: A-
So far in the first quarter of the season, Michael Young has done exactly what the Phillies have asked him to do. He has gotten on base with a total of 40 hits and 17 walks and has hit for a solid .303 average.
He has sustained long hitting streaks and has scored runs, because of his ability to be on base. Young is hitting at phenomenal clips with runners on (.365), runners in scoring position (.357) and runners in scoring position with two outs (.462).
Keeping Young from that elusive A, however, is the fact that despite his great numbers with runners on, he really doesn't have many RBI and the fact that Young has grounded into 10 double plays so far on the young season.
Defensive Grade: B-
Young wasn't signed to be anything spectacular on defense. In fact if anything, he was a defensive downgrade from what the Phillies had in Placido Polanco and even Kevin Frandsen. So far this season, Young is fielding at 97 percent, which is slightly better than his career mark of 96 percent at third base.
On a team where scoring and hitting with RISP has proven to be one of the more difficult facets of the game, Young has been a breath of fresh air. He is lacking in the production department, but that can be expected from a 36-year-old third baseman with waning power.
Overall though, Young is having a great season and the Phillies will look to him to keep it up, continuing to find success in either the fifth or most recently third spot in the line-up.
Charlie Manuel is also quick to give Young praise as according to quotes on Phillies.com, the manager expects Young's power numbers to swing upward in the near future: "He'll hit streaks where he starts getting the ball up in the air. He should. He'll go through some periods where he's hitting the ball hard up in the air."
2B Chase Utley (B+)
Slash Line: .289/.344/.514
Notable Stats: 21 R, 24 RBI, 7 2B, 7 HR, 4 SB
Offensive Grade: A
Chase Utley benefits from the fact that he didn't really have much of an impact last season. As a result, his 2013 numbers, which are good, look even better, just because he is now a presence on the field. Utley has played in 39 games this year, another positive sign of his recovery from the injury that had him on the DL for most of the 2012 season.
Utley has seven home runs, which ties him for the team lead and ties him for the NL lead among his position. He is ranked second among all NL second basemen in RBI and fourth in runs. He paces the Phillies in both of these categories as well. Additionally, he is hitting a terrific .389 with 14 hits in 36 at-bats with RISP.
Defensive Grade: C+
While Utley has shown a recovery on offense, perhaps the lingering injury with his knees is what has led to his poor defensive performance so far in 2013. He is fielding at just 97 percent, a career low for him, and has made five errors and countless misplays on the young season.
Utley is having a great season with the bat and it could very well earn him yet another career All-Star selection. He has been an offensive spark plug for the team and will need to stay healthy for the rest of the season if the Phillies hope to make the playoffs.
If he cleans it up a bit on defense, Utley could even earn an A- for his first-half report card, as there is plenty of time for improvement.
SS Jimmy Rollins (C+)
Slash Line: .248/.296/.376
Notable Stats: 17 R, 11 2B, 12 RBI, 27 SO/ 10 BB
Offensive Grade: C
Jimmy Rollins has continued to do what so many hoped he wouldn't and that is pop up the ball. In fact his G/F is 0.65, the lowest it has been since 2007. For a speedy guy, which Rollins still is, he should be putting the ball in play more, increasing his chances of getting on base.
As it is, he has one of the worst OBP of all leadoff hitters in the league. Rollins does continue to score runs however, which helps him get a C in offense for the first quarter.
Defensive Grade: B+
One thing Rollins hasn't lost is his ability to play Gold Glove defense. In fact, he has actually improved a bit in this category as he has increased his range factor to 4.59, the highest it has been in his career. Yes, he does have five errors, but overall, Rollins is still one of the better defending shortstops in the game.
The Phillies expected more of Rollins this season and so far, he has only delivered in spurts. As mentioned, he is popping the ball up entirely too frequently, which takes away any chance he has to be a difference maker on the basepaths.
However, the Phillies are 6-3 in games which Rollins has scored this season, which means the saying has held true: When Jimmy scores, the Phillies win. He just needs to find a way to get on base more to make this statistic a more meaningful one.
1B Ryan Howard (B-)
Slash Line: .250/.286/.449
Notable Stats: 14 R, 9 2B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 8 BB/ 43 SO
Offensive Grade: C+
Ryan Howard has not had the season many had hoped he would after recovering from last season's Achilles injury. While the average was there early on (.284 in April), Howard's power numbers were slow to come. He had just two home runs after the team's first 22 games.
Another concerning number for Howard is the rate at which he has been striking out this season. With 43 K's in 36 games, Howard is on pace to strike out 193.5 times this season, a mark higher than since he struck out 199 times in 2008.
Defensive Grade: A
Despite offensive struggles, Howard has been the complete package on defense. Having prided himself on this improved facet of his game in the recent years, this could be the season Howard wins his first Gold Glove. He has committed zero errors and has 19 assists in 311 chances and has a very impressive 9.21 range factor. Howard has also made all the plays, including corralling wild throws from Rollins and Utley and laying out for balls both in fair and foul territory.
While Howard is still finding his swing, he has always been a notoriously slow starter in April. There is no reason to suspect that Howard's long fly-ball outs won't start turning into home runs once the weather gets a little hotter. Of course the strikeouts and very low OBP are concerning, but Howard's value to this team is not as an average guy but as a power hitter.
Manager Charlie Manuel said it best as he was quoted in an article on the DelcoTimes website, "When he’s going bad, he looks bad, but he can take one swing and get the game over."
UTIL Freddy Galvis (A-)
Slash Line: .294/.357/.471
Notable Stats: 5 XBH, 6 RBI, 3 R
Offensive Grade: B+
Freddy Galvis has been the everyman for the Phillies this year. He has stepped in when needed and has delivered in most situations. Galvis, who is a switch hitter, has had much more success as a lefty, hitting .371. His one hit as a righty is a home run, however. With runners on, Galvis is also hitting .429. He doesn't quite have the RBI or the runs, but there is no doubt that with more playing time, Galvis would continue to shine as a regular.
Defensive Grade: A+
There are not many players currently in the league that could play left field one day, shortstop the next and third base the day after that. Galvis can, though, and not only does he play four positions (SS, 2B, 3B, LF), but he has done so this season without a single mistake. Galvis has unmatched defensive ability and because of this, he has a well deserved A+, which is not something given out lightly. It is just a testament to his ability at not one but four completely different fielding positions, most of which he hadn't played before this season.
Galvis is someone the Phillies should be very thankful they have. He enables them to rest Utley and Rollins with regularity, to mix it up in the outfield and to come off the bench as a late-game defensive replacement if necessary. But the thing is, Galvis is not all about the glove. His offense has started to come along this season as well. As mentioned, with more regular playing time, Galvis could very well be an everyday major leaguer.
At which position? Well, that is up to him.
UTIL Kevin Frandsen (B)
Slash Line: .267/.333/.533
Notable Stats: 6 R, 4 XBH, 7 RBI
Offensive Grade: B
Kevin Frandsen has had up-and-down moments this season as a utility infielder. Like Galvis, he has been a man of many positions, but unlike Galvis, Frandsen has had some offensive struggles. Frandsen is batting just .267 with eight hits in 30 at-bats. He hasn't really produced much in the power department but production wise, Frandsen does have a run every five at-bats and an RBI a little more than every four at-bats.
Frandsen has left opportunities on the table, however. He is hitting just .154 with runners on and just .200 with RISP.
Defensive Grade: C+
Frandsen has spent time at first, second and third this season and has done so with mixed results. Across the board, Frandsen's defense hasn't been great this year but he has had very minimal chances, just 11 between second and third base and 30 at first. It is worth noting that at first base, Frandsen is fielding at 1.000.
Frandsen has been an asset to the Phillies season, but on offense and defense he can do more. He is an average player right now and this could be in part to the lack of regular playing time. With Young and Howard firmly holding down their positions and Galvis starring just about everywhere else, Frandsen will have to learn how to play off of the bench and how to keep his bat hot without regular at-bats.
RF Delmon Young (Incomplete)
Slash Line: .216/.295/.378
Notable Stats: 1 R, 4 XBH, 4 RBI, 4 BB/ 7 SO
Offensive Grade: D+
After beginning the season on the DL, Delmon Young returned to a rather successful debut as he hit a home run and a single in his first game back. Since then, however, Young's offensive contributions have been few and far between. He has just the one home run and eight total hits. Although, it is worth noting that Young may be getting comfortable as he has five hits in his last four games.
Defensive Grade: A-
Sabermetrically, over the course of his career, Young has been one of the worst outfielders in the game. He has never fielded over 98 percent and has been known to misplay even the simplest of balls in the outfield.
That said, to give credit where credit is due, Young deserves an A- for his work in the field this season. He has successfully completed 11 put outs in 11 chances and despite playing deep, has not allowed too many balls to fall in front of him. Negatively, he does have a very low range factor and zero assists.
Young has had his moments this season, but he is being granted an incomplete because of the very small sample size of at-bats. After all, Young still does not have 40 at-bats on the season, so he does not qualify in offensive rankings anyway. That said, Young has potential as he is a career .284 hitter. At this point, what the Phillies have in him is a wait-and-see approach.
CF Ben Revere (C)
Slash Line: .237/.286/.263
Notable Stats: 2 XBH, 13 R, 5 RBI, 17 SO, 7/10 SB
Offensive Grade: D-
Billed as a career .290 hitter, Ben Revere has yet to really find his swing and get into an offensive groove this season. He has never hit a home run in his career, so it is no surprise the power and production numbers are low. What is surprising, however, is that Revere has already struck out 17 times. That puts him on pace for 76.5 strikeouts, which would be a career high.
Defensive Grade: A
For as bad as Revere has been on offense, he has been equally as good on defense. One has to look no further than an episode of Baseball Tonight on ESPN to see a circus catch from Revere popping up as a top Web Gem. His DWAR is a career-high 0.5 and he has just one error in 91 total chances.
Revere has not delivered with the bat but one can hope that this is just the symptom of a painfully slow start. Revere has too much potential for this to be the norm. And of course, having him in the outfield, covering ground in center is of huge importance, especially considering the defensive adventure it can be when Domonic Brown, John Mayberry and Delmon Young are in the field.
OF/PH Laynce Nix (B)
Slash Line: .233/.303/.367
Notable Stats: 7 R, 6 RBI, 4 XBH, 17 SO
Offensive Grade: B-
Giving a grade to Laynce Nix on offense is tough because of all the players on the Phillies' roster, Nix has shown a huge discrepancy. As a position player, Nix would get somewhere between a C+ and a D-. As a pinch hitter however, Nix is a bona fide A. As such, his offensive grade is a B.
Nix has come through in clutch moments as a pinch hitter and has been such a great asset to this team. As a pinch hitter, he is batting .368 with five of his six RBI, both of his home runs and four of his seven runs. In all, he has seven hits in 19 at-bats.
Defensive Grade: A-
Nix has been a solid defender whether it has been in right field or at first base. He is fielding at 1.000 and has 30 put outs in 30 total chances. He hasn't made any major mistakes and has fielded his positions well.
Nix has been a phenomenal pinch hitter for the Phillies. In fact, he has been one of the best pinch hitters in the NL. His offense in other games, however, has left much to be desired. But the Phillies know Nix's value is not as an everyday player and hopefully he can continue to be successful in a pinch-hitting role when called upon.
OF John Mayberry (C+)
Slash Line: .252/.312/.445
Notable Stats: 11 R, 8 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 BB, 22 SO
Offensive Grade: C+
Given the role of an everyday outfielder, John Mayberry has not exactly stepped up to the plate this season. He has struggled at the plate, hitting just .252 and has batted very poorly with runners on (.171) and with RISP (.167). Lately, Mayberry has been a little better with five hits in the last five games. He does have those eight doubles but overall, Mayberry should have better power numbers at this point in the season.
Defensive Grade: B+
Like many of the Phillies' position players, Mayberry has been better this season with his glove than with his bat. He has played his way around the outfield, spending time at all three positions and has also played a fair amount of first base.
Mayberry does have value in that he can field pretty effectively with a decent arm at all outfield positions and that he covers first pretty well, too. With an improved bat, Mayberry can use his versatility to find his way in the line-up.
Mayberry has struggled with the bat so far, but again, he has been known to be a slow starter. In the past few seasons, Mayberry's value has been as an extra-bases kind of guy and with continued playing time, the hope is he finds his way back to this style. He has the ability and speed to hit 25 doubles and 15 home runs in a season. That might not happen this year, but Mayberry still has time to rack up the extra-base hits.
OF Domonic Brown (B-)
Slash Line: .259/.308/.444
Notable Stats: 15 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 9 BB/ 28 SO
Offensive Grade: B
There is a lot to like about Domonic Brown, even if consistency is still something he lacks. Brown has the potential for power, which he has shown with seven home runs and four doubles. He also has done a good job of knocking in runs, hitting with a clip of .313 with RISP and .286 with runners on.
Of course, there are areas that Brown can improve in, most notably the streakiness he seems to play with. His patience at the plate has steadily decreased since 2008 also. He now takes just 3.81 pitches per PA, a career low.
Defensive Grade: B-
Although it will not show in the stat sheet, Brown has not been perfect in the outfield this season. He still struggles with some basic reads and occasionally has issues playing caroms off of the wall or the left-field corner. But that said, Brown does have a plus arm in terms of power. His accuracy can be a little off at times, but when it is on, Brown's rocket can throw out runners at home.
To Brown's credit, he really has worked on improving his swing and his defense this season. Having been shuffled between the majors and minors, Brown may have finally found himself a spot on the roster. And the more playing time he gets, the better you can expect him to play. Like Howard, I think the summer months will be beneficial to Brown's offensive game.
Manager Charlie Manuel seems to agree, as he commented on Brown's improved stance, swing and most importantly confidence, during his successful spring training run in an article on Philly.com: "Domonic looks like he has slowed down at the plate. The way he has hit the ball here lately, that's what I call staying behind the ball. Keep your balance."
RP Jonathan Papelbon (A-)
Pitching Line: 1.08 ERA, 7 SV, 12 SO, 0.60 WHIP
Notable Stats: 1 BB, 2 ER, 8 H
Pitching Grade: A-
While the save opportunities haven't been there until recently, Jonathan Papelbon has done a fantastic job closing games for the Phillies this season. His 1.08 ERA is among the best of NL closers and easily leads the Phillies bullpen. Papelbon has yet to blow a save and with just one walk and 12 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, he has been just about lights out this season.
What more can be said about Papelbon?
He has performed to task when called upon and has been one of the NL's best closers this year. The Phillies' struggles have harmed Papelbon's chances for saves, but by the end of the season, he should be one of the top in save percentage in the NL. He has held together a bullpen that has otherwise been very average.
The Bullpen (C+)
Let's take a look at the 2013 Phillies bullpen.
In all, the bullpen arms of Joe Savery, Justin De Fratus, Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Mike Adams, Jeremey Horst, Chad Durbin, Raul Valdes and Jonathan Papelbon have pitched 101.1 innings.
They have seven saves (all Papelbon) and nine holds, split between Bastardo and Adams. They have a record of 5-8, have surrendered 14 home runs, have 99 strikeouts and have an ERA of 4.00.
All in all, these are pretty average stats and they are brought down by Papelbon. His ERA of 1.15 has kept the bullpen ERA low. Bastardo and Aumont have also contributed solid stats as they have ERAs under 2.50.
As for the rest of the bullpen, however, it has not been great. Horst has struggled as the lefty reliever, surrendering 19 hits and seven walks in just 16.1 innings. Durbin has also struggled and at one point, he had allowed all of his inherited runners to score. His own ERA was not much better and is the second worst in the pen, being 6.17
Only Valdes, the long man, with 18 innings pitched, is worse. His ERA is 7.00.
So overall, the bullpen has struggled and certainly could benefit from some help. Recently, Savery and De Fratus were brought up and in small sample sizes (one inning or less), both have come out to a good start.
The bullpen will need to be better going forward and they can be. Working out a grade of a B or better is not out of the question.
The Starting Staff (B-)
Cole Hamels: B-
Cole Hamels started the season off with back-to-back bad starts. It wasn't until his sixth start that Hamels got his first and so far only win of the season. And while Hamels has struggled with an ERA of 4.18, his ERA has gone down significantly in each start. In the month of May, Hamels has an ERA of 2.54 and yet has lost both his starts.
Right now, Hamels is suffering from a lack of run support. But that doesn't affect his grade. He has improved as of late and has worked his way from a C to a B- for his first-quarter report card. Continued progress could have Hamels an A by the end of the season. He will need to improve his erratic control however that has led to 17 walks alongside 34 strikeouts.
Cliff Lee: B+
Cliff Lee's yo-yo pitching has continued into the 2013 season. He began the year giving up just two earned runs in 16.2 innings pitched and has bookended this with his last two starts of 15 innings and two total earned runs. In the middle is where it got dicey for Lee.
But to his credit, Lee has brought it back and continues to be one of the best pitchers on the staff. Inconsistency has always been Lee's problem as he has had months of near perfection and months of horrible struggles.
So far, Lee has had ups and downs, but to this point, more ups. If he continues on this pace, Lee should finish as the best pitcher on the Phillies staff.
Roy Halladay: C-
It is hard to accurately judge Roy Halladay's season because of the fact that he is now on the DL with bone spurs in his shoulder. He began very poorly but then seemed to rein it in as he pitched back-to-back-to-back solid starts.
Halladay is owed the benefit of the doubt regarding the injury, and his grade could be subject to change. If Halladay comes back to pitch this season, he will have a chance to redeem his earlier numbers. He may yet be able to prove he has something left in the tank.
Kyle Kendrick: A-
If there was an award for most surprising, Kyle Kendrick would be the winner. Not only has he been the best pitcher on the Phillies staff this season, but he has done so in a way many might not have expected. Kendrick has a team-low ERA of 2.47, which is a career low. He also has a 4-1 record.
Maybe unexpected, but Kendrick is deserving of the A-.
Jonathan Pettibone: B+
Replacing John Lannan, the rookie Jonathan Pettibone has been perfectly adequate in each of his five regular season starts. He has a 3-0 record, 3.41 ERA and the Phillies are 4-1 in his starts. He has continued to improve, including going a career high 6.2 innings pitched in his most recent start.
The Offense: (D+)
The Philadelphia Phillies offense as a whole has not been good. In fact, they are ranked near the bottom of MLB in most offensive categories.
They are ranked 25th in runs (138), 21st in batting average (.244), 26th in on-base percentage (.301) and 25th in slugging percentage (.377). The team is 23rd in home runs (32) and 27th in RBI (128).
The biggest struggle for the Phillies all season, however, has been their ability to score with runners in scoring position. The team averages just .241 when there are runners in scoring position, which places them 18th in the league.
Overall, the Phillies haven't been good, but they haven't been the worst team in the league, either. They lack consistency in scoring but to this point, the pitching has seemed to cover up some of the glaring offensive woes such as the lack of production from the leadoff spot (29th in runs scored, 26th in average) and the inability to play small ball.
The problem is that this team still relies on the long ball, even though they are no longer built to cater to this need.
But in the end, the Phillies are just 3.5 games back in the NL East, as the rest of the teams in their division have seemed to struggle with similar offensive or pitching inconsistencies this season.
Manager Charlie Manuel (C+)
It has been quite a year for Charlie Manuel.
Not only is it a contract year, but in 2013, Manuel passed Gene Mauch for the record of most games managed by a Phillies manager.
But this is one of the few jubilant moments Manuel has had this season.
He has taken criticisms from fans and the media, scrutinizing every one of his decisions.
Why did he leave that pitcher in? Why did he play Ben Revere against that pitcher? Why is Jimmy Rollins still leading off? Why did he give that player a green light? Why didn't he let Cliff Lee finish that game? Why did he bring Chad Durbin into the game? Why did he put a hit-and-run on with Ryan Howard at the plate?
These are just some of the questions floating around people's heads during and after Phillies games. It doesn't help Manuel's case that the Phillies have declined as a team since 2008, that he himself seems to have worn out his welcome and most importantly, that it is well known his successor is champing at the bit to get a chance to manage.
Overall with many questionable and questioned decisions, a 19-21 record and third place standing in the NL East, Manuel earns a C+ for his efforts in the first quarter of the season.