10 Fun Facts Regarding Hunter Pence and the Philadelphia Phillies
It has now been 10 days since Ruben Amaro pulled the trigger to acquire Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros, and the results have been immediate and apparent. The Phillies' offense is clicking, the pitching staff is shining as ever, and the Phillies are winning.
They are, in fact, undefeated since acquiring the 28-year-old outfielder.
There can be no doubt, then, that the acquisition of Pence has made the Phillies a better team.
And as we shall see, the trade has also made Pence a better player.
10. Ryan Howard Is Hitting Better Since the Pence Trade Than He Was Before
After going 1-for-4 on Saturday night against the Giants, Ryan Howard is hitting .333 since Pence came over from the Astros with four home runs and nine RBI in eight games.
Compare that to the .246 that Howard was hitting the day before Pence's arrival, and the impact has been evident.
9. Raul Ibanez Has Been Rejuvenated by Hunter Pence's Arrival
Raul Ibanez went 0-for-4 on Saturday in San Fran, which snapped a five-game hitting streak.
Since Pence's arrival, going into Saturday's game, Ibanez was hitting .280 with a .997 OPS, which raised his season average four points and raised his season OPS by 20 points.
8. The Hottest Hitter Since the Hunter Pence Trade Has Been . . . Hunter Pence
With two more hits on Saturday night, Pence is now batting .382 with 13 hits in 34 at-bats since joining the Phillies. He has had a hit in every game he has played in, and now has seven RBI in eight games.
At the end of the day, the player impacted the most by the Pence trade may be Pence himself.
7. The Phillies' 2011 MVP This Season Is Shane Victorino
Say what you will about other Philadelphia Phillies, in 2011, Shane Victorino has been the elite player on this squad.
Shane is leading the Phils in batting average and on-base percentage, which is not shocking.
What is shocking, though, is that Victorino is leading the Phillies in both slugging percentage (.533) and OPS (.920), two stats that should absolutely be the domain of either Chase Utley or Ryan Howard.
And Victorino has been on an absolute tear since returning from injury. Since going 0-for-4 his first day back, Shane is hitting .356 with a 1.067 OPS, which comes from 14-for-59 hitting with three doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 10 bases on balls.
He has scored 14 runs in 17 games over that period, and has reached base in 16 out of 17 games.
Throw in his elite center-field defense, and Victorino is the position player that the 2011 Phillies can least afford to be without.
6. Jimmy Rollins Is Back!
During the first half (or what we hope will have been the first half) of his career, Jimmy Rollins was a day-in and day-out player. J-Roll led the NL in at-bats four times in 10 years, and led the league in plate appearances three times.
And here is an interesting statistic: Jimmy is one of only nine players all time to collect 700 plate appearances in seven or more seasons, a list that is made up of Pete Rose, Cal Ripken Jr., Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Craig Biggio, Richie Ashburn, Lou Brock and Doc Cramer.
Over the last few years, though, Jimmy has been spotty. After his historic 2007 season, Rollins missed 25 games due to injury in 2008. In 2009, he was back atop the NL in plate appearances and at-bats, but really did not get going until the second half of the season.
In 2010, Rollins was injured again, but this time for almost half the season, and never really put it all together.
Now, in 2011, though, we are finally seeing the Jimmy Rollins we know and love once again. Rollins is back amongst the leaders in plate appearances and at-bats, and he is leading the Phillies in hits and runs scored.
Rollins is also posting his best batting average and on-base percentage since 2008, and he has an OPS above the league average for the first time since that season.
And oh, by the way, he is playing fabulous defense at short once again.
5. The Phillies Offense Is/May Be Back
In the month of July, the Phillies offense hit .272 with a .340 on-base percentage, a .454 slugging percentage and a .795 OPS. As a team, the Phillies had 29 home runs, 60 doubles and 135 RBI.
A few things:
1) The Phillies' .272 average was the second highest single-month team batting average since May 2008.
2) The .340 on-base percentage was the team's second best OBP since July 2009.
3) The Phillies have hit 60 or more doubles in a month only three times in the last four seasons.
4) Perhaps most importantly, as big of a month as the Phillies had in July, they are off to a much better start in the month of August.
4. Cliff Lee Is Crossing into Historic Ground
With his shutout on Friday night, Cliff Lee became just the 44th pitcher since 1980 to throw five shutouts in a season.
If he has a sixth shutout in him this season, he would be just the 15th pitcher to throw six shutouts in a season since 1980.
But get a load of this even more exclusive club Lee is trying to join:
With 167 strikeouts and 32 walks in 164.0 innings pitched, Lee currently has over 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings and a K/BB ratio of over 5-to-1.
To put that in perspective, only nine players have accomplished this feat, for a total of 17 times, in baseball history.
Those players are: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Sandy Koufax, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz, Javier Vazquez, Johan Santana and Kevin Brown.
That is quite a crew.
3. Is Anyone Watching Antonio Bastardo?
Phillies' fans love to talk about Ryan Madson and how the Phils absolutely must re-sign him after this season.
Antonio Bastardo, though, is making a pretty good case that retaining Madson may not be necessary after all.
In 46 appearances in 2011, Bastardo has allowed 18 hits in 42.1 innings pitched, which is 3.8 hits per nine innings, an absurd number.
How absurd? Check this out:
No pitcher has ever, in the history of baseball, finished a season with over 40 innings pitched and fewer than 4.0 hits allowed per nine innings pitched. Since 1901, the record for fewest hits per nine innings allowed for a pitcher with over 40 innings pitched has been 4.04 by Eric Gagne in 2003.
Frankly, there are just too many players to discuss on the Phillies. What is becoming an historic season for Bastardo has just gone overlooked.
2. Pitching Staff Set to Join at Least One Historic Club
With five more strikeouts and no walks from Cole Hamels on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Phillies have now struck out 873 batters while walking only 273.
1. Another Historic Pitching Club
There is no telling how long Vance Worley can keep up the great pitching, or how many innings he has left on the season, but . . .
At present, Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Worley all have ERA's less than 3.00.
And, at present, Worley has pitched only 84.1 innings on the season, which means he needs 77.2 more innings to qualify for the ERA title (i.e. one inning pitched for every team game, or 162 innings pitched).
If Worley can get to 162 innings pitched and all four pitchers keep their ERA below 3.00, the Phillies would only the 16th team since 1920 to have four pitchers qualify for the ERA title with ERA's less than 3.00.
And, importantly, only the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers (strike year) and 1985 Houston Astros have accomplished this feat since 1972.
(For the record, Worley probably has, at most, 10 starts left, which means he would have to pitch 7.2 innings per start, which is unlikely. But a guy can dream.)