It's no secret that Charlie Manuel wasn't always a fan favorite in Philadelphia. I'll be the first to admit I thought Charlie was nothing more then an above average hitting coach. I am also smart enough to admit when I am wrong, which explains the No. 41 Manuel jersey I've worn to every Phillies game I have attended since the World Series victory.
When Jimmy Rollins was struggling earlier this year, Charlie stuck with him, and I gave Charlie the benefit of the doubt. Even though I think Jimmy Rollins will never be the player he was in his MVP year (which is an entirely different story), Jimmy did come out of the horrific slump he was stuck in without having to come out of the lead-off spot for any extended period of time.
So I was willing to give Charlie the benefit of the doubt again when it came to letting Eric Bruntlett have a bench spot on the defending World Champs. But at some point, I have to say enough is enough.
I will say this, before I make my case for why this bum should never be allowed to take another Major League at-bat, Eric Bruntlett will always have a special place in my heart. The guy scored the winning run of the World Series, ending years of pain and suffering, and therefore his name will always remain tucked deep down in my memory bank.
But I will also never forget that he didn't get himself on base. He was a pinch runner in game five of the World Series (as he was when he scored the winning run of game three). It also didn't take a base running guru to score on either of those plays. But I'm not here to write about Eric Brunlett's World Series heroics, I want to talk about the things he can't do right...which is pretty much everything.
When a scout assesses a player, generally they look at five different general baseball skills to determine the amount of tools that particular player has. So let's examine the tools of Eric Bruntlett, shall we?
Tool 1 : Hitting for Average
Raise your hand if this one made you laugh. I know I did. Eric Bruntlett's batting average is so despicable, it's impossible to even get mad anymore, all you can do is laugh. Eric Bruntlett is hitting an astounding .133 this season. He's making Mario Mendoza look like a Hall-of-Famer.
Neck beard's average is actually lower then Cole Hamels and Chan Ho Park. While neither Hamels or Park have as many at-bats as Bruntlett, Bruntlett only has 83 himself (as of August 4th). Its not just this year either, Eric Bruntlett is hitting a pitiful .228 for his career. He has never had more then 46 hits in a career, and has almost as many strikeouts as hits.
He doesn't get much better in the playoffs either, where his batting average is a mind blowing .188. So clearly we are zero for one in the tool category so far, but there has to be some reason he has made it seven years in Major League Baseball. Let's go to the next tool.
Tool 2: Hitting for Power
Three homeruns in the past four years pretty much sums up this category. One of those homeruns did come in the World Series though (the only World Series game the Phillies lost at that). He is averaging about a homerun for every 76 at-bats he takes.
That means he is due for a homerun any day now (assuming he is still in the Major Leagues in a week). I could go on and on, coming up with reason after reason to why Eric Bruntlett does not get a check for the hitting for power tool, but I will leave it at 11 homeruns in 767 career at-bats, and let you be the judge from there.
Tool 3: Baserunning Skills and Speed
Like I said before, he did pinch run his way to being the deciding run in the 2009 World Series, so unlike the first two categories, he is not the worst guy on the team here.
That doesn't make him Rickey Henderson either. He does have 30 stolen bases, but he's been caught stealing eight times as well. He's above the 75 percent mark in swiping bag success, so we'll call him average. For the amount of hits he has, he does have a decent amount of extra base hits (41 of his 142 non-homerun hits were extra bases).
But, like I said, he's no Rickey Henderson, nor is he even close. He just has not done enough on the base paths to give him a check for baserunning skills and speed, but he has also done enough to keep me from totally dismissing him here. So we'll give him half a point for tool three.
Tool 4: Throwing Ability
This one is hard to gauge simply because we don't get a chance to see Bruntlett throw the ball a lot. The only thing I can do is look at his stats, which I understand isn't always the best judge of ability. But its all I have so I will use it.
He has only five outfield assists in 100 career games, certainly no Chuck Klein, but in his defense he did not come up as an outfielder.
He spends most of his time at third and short stop, which means his arm has to be half decent. So once again I am stuck giving him half a check for throwing ability, mainly because the sample size isn't very large.
Certainly if he could hit, he'd get more playing time, and I would be able to make a better judgement call, but I think we have figured out from the first two tool analysis, that isn't something we should hold our breath for.
Tool 5: Fielding Ability
Fielding percentage is a statistic that is controversial in the sense that it is hard to use it as the sole measure of a fielder's ability. This is because in order to make an error, a fielder has to first do something correct.
For example, if a third baseman charges a bunt, bare-hands the ball, and launches the ball into the right field corner when he had time to settle the ball and make a better throw, it is an error, despite the fact that if he had not made a great play getting the ball in the first place it would have been a hit. This causes the player's fielding percentage to drop.
If an outfielder misreads a ball and runs in, only to realize the ball is going over his head, when the ball drops in and the player near touches it, a hit is awarded and the outfielder's fielding percentage is not effected.
With that being said, it is really all I have to go by in this situation. That and the memories of balls going through neck beard's legs when he took over at short for Jimmy Rollins while he was on the DL in 2008. A solid, but certainly not great fielding percentage is .975. A slightly below average fielding percentage is in the .970-.965 range. Bruntlett's is .963. Not shockingly, Eric Bruntlett is below average.
He is also a full .10 worse in the infield then he is in the outfield. A dismal .955 as a second baseman also leads me to believe that it is not a throwing issue that causes the errors, its his inability to field. So it appears we have found yet another tool that Eric Bruntlett lacks.
So all in all we get Eric Bruntlett half a point for running speed and ability, and half a point for throwing ability. The lesson learned here seems pretty obvious, be average at few things, grow a hideous beard, and you too can score the winning run in the World Series, which then gives you a job for an entire extra year that seemingly everyone agrees you are in no way qualified for.
I plan on doing some more research into the following question, but I also am hoping someone has already done the research for me and can lead me in the right direction. There has to be right handed infielders going on waivers in the next few weeks. Any thoughts on who the Phils might pick up?