Domonic Brown, the prized prospect of the Phillies, was not good enough to play in the Winter Leagues. OK, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but Domonic Brown has left winter ball early and it was not do to injury. Brown hit just .069 (2 for 29) with one double and three RBIs in 9 games of winter ball before they decided to send him home.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported through a team spokesman that Brown left his Dominican Republic Winter Ball team, Escogido, because he was "feeling sluggish and tired."
Sluggish and tired? That could mean nothing, for as Ruben Amaro said, 20-plus at-bats in Winter Ball were not enough to make an evaluation. But my job as a blogger is to speculate, and speculate I will. This one little set back might be exposing some real concerns about our "untouchable" prospect.
I have absolutely no reason to believe any of these conspiracy theories, but I personally have many doubts about Dom Brown. He walked and talked like a big shot ever since he came to Philly. Sometimes a tad of cockiness can be a necessary ingredient for greatness. Jimmy Rollins is a perfect example. Brown backed it up for his first game. Then he proceeded to hit just .210 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 62 at-bats for the Phillies.
I say these things because the Phillies have a lot riding on this guy. We are in the midst of following the best Phillies baseball squad in team history that exists because of a core of home grown talent which enabled success on the field with financial flexibility. But we traded quite a few prospects and depleted the farm system over the last couple years.
A successful Domonic Brown gives us one main piece of our future core and buys a little time to rejuvenate the rest of the farm system. But if Brown does not succeed, the Phillies have a roster of aging and expensive players with no cheaper alternatives in which to replace them.
Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure on Domonic Brown in Spring training.
We found out recently that Ryan Howard is well on his way to becoming the best Phillies hitter of all-time. Now we turn our attention to Chase Utley. Will Chase Utley be the best Phillies second baseman ever?
Yes, CHASE UTLEY WILL BE THE BEST PHILLIES SECOND BASEMAN OF ALL TIME. Sorry to ruin the suspense, but it isn't even close.
We form our second base comparison using Utley, Manny Trillo, Tony Taylor, Dave Cash, and Juan Samuel. Our focus is on career totals, season averages, and postseason stats. In each of the below charts we highlighted the leader in each particular category in yellow and the loser in red.
In this contest we compared using their entire career totals, not just their stats from their time with the Phillies. Let's begin right there with the career totals. Considering the fact that Utley has only played 8 seasons compared to 19 for Trillo, 17 for Taylor, 16 for Samuel, and 12 for Cash, Utley simply hasn't played enough to win most of the career totals. We therefore left him out of this debate since he doesn't have enough at-bats to "qualify." And here they are:
Even though he is the winner, Samuel actually loses to Manny Trillo in many of the categories. Trillo turns out to be the winner in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, and walks, but most of those numbers are due to sheer longevity. If you ignore Utley's numbers, Sammy wins in triples, homers, RBIs, stolen bases, slugging, and OPS (on-base + slugging). His batting average and on-base percentage are the lowest of the group, but his speed and power is unmatched.
|162 GAME AVERAGES|
Examining an "average" season paints a very different picture. Utley wins in 11 out of 15 categories and destroys the competition in most of them. Utley averages 26 more runs, 10 more doubles, 14 more homers (equaling the home runs of the rest of them COMBINED), 39 more RBIs, and 20 more walks. He wins by 10 points in batting average, 46 points in on-base pctg., 96 points in slugging, and 159 points in OPS. It's hard to even consider it a competition.
It's always interesting to look out how players perform in the playoffs. Once again, Chase Utley cleans up. Not much analysis necessary here. Taylor and Samuel are grayed out since they only played in 4 games each.
It should come as no surprise, but Chase Utley is leaps and bounds better than every other second baseman who has ever put on a Phillies uniform. His stats are so good that you could almost argue that he already is the best second baseman in Phillies history. And Utley still has half of his career ahead of him....
Earlier this year, I was invited to join a group of bloggers as a way to foster communication and collaboration between bloggers across baseball. It seemed like a neat idea to me, so on January 11th I joined the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Since that time, what started as a small fraternity of bloggers has continued to grow and the BBA now boasts over 230 blogs.
The BBA has chapters for every Major League team and we have chapters covering general baseball topics, other baseball leagues, fantasy baseball, among plenty of others. Like any other legitimate organization, we hold elections each year to vote on major awards for each league such as the Willie Mays Awards (Top Rookie) Good Gossage Awards (Best Reliever), and the Walter Johnson Award(Best Pitcher), to name a few.
Being a part of the BBA has been a real blast for me. It has given me the chance to interact and share insights with hundreds of great bloggers from all around the country. And I would have never thought there would be a place where I could get along with Mets and Yankees fans!
Have a blog of your own and want to join the Baseball Bloggers Alliance? Shoot an email over to Daniel Shoptaw at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come on over and join the club.
So far we have found that Ryan Howard will be the best Phillies hitter ever and Chase Utley will be the best second baseman ever. Where does Jimmy Rollins rank among Phillies shortstops?
The Phillies' greatest shortstop competition is between two guys: Jimmy Rollins and Larry Bowa. I initially thought this might be a tight battle between the two, but J-Roll beats Bowa easily in virtually all offensive categories. Defense brings up an intriguing argument, however.
Let's begin with their career totals in which Bowa has played 16 seasons compared to 11 for Rollins. Even though Bowa has the edge in games played, Rollins is better in 11 out of 15 categories. Rollins has already surpassed Bowa by 6 runs, 104 doubles, 139 homers, 137 RBIs, 25 steals, and 36 walks. He also beats Bowa by 12 points in average, 28 points in on-base percentage, 115 points in slugging, and 144 points in OPS (On-base + slugging).
An "average" season needs no analysis whatsoever. You can see from the below chart that Rollins beats Bowa in EVERY SINGLE OFFENSIVE CATEGORY.
As much as we love Bowa and Rollins, neither one was all that special in the playoffs. Rollins wins most categories because he has played 9 more games. Bowa has a much higher batting average and on-base percentage and Rollins has a better slugging and OPS. Both of their postseason numbers are mediocre at best.
The Phillies have two of the all-time best fielding shortstops. They both have ridiculous fielding percentages, but who is the better fielder? I'll let you decide. The first chart below shows their career fielding stats. It's hard to make much sense out of most stats because Bowa has played many more games. They are so close in fielding percentage that out of every one thousand opportunities, Bowa averages just three more errors. And how about this: Jimmy's .983 fielding percentage ranks Rollins #2 all-time in fielding percentage. Here are there career numbers.
Averaging their numbers over 162 games tells an interesting story. These numbers seem to suggest that Bowa has more range than Rollins. Bowa averages 72 more chances and 49 assists per season than Rollins. That could very well mean Bowa played with pitchers who allowed more ground balls and nothing more. But it could also show that Bowa fielded balls that J-Roll is not able to get to. It brings up an interesting argument to say the least.
Larry Bowa made the best out of a scrawny body than anyone I can remember and was an extremely exciting player to watch. He equals, if not surpasses Rollins with the glove, but Jimmy Rollins simply has more ability and natural talent than Bowa and his offensive numbers dwarf those of Bowa in nearly every category. Jimmy Rollins is the best Phillies shortstop ever.
Did Cliff Lee really just sign with the Phillies? Somebody please pinch me. It still seems like a dream. Cliff Lee's signing is absolutely unbelievable on so many levels. Let's take a look at some of the amazing surprises Cliff Lee's decision brings to life:
Just over a week after Jayson Werth took a mammoth contract to play for the Washington Nationals, Cliff Lee threw away nearly $40 million to play with the Phillies. It is simply unheard of in today's day and age for someone to make a decision not solely based on the all mighty dollar. How refreshing?
Lee could have taken a lot more money to play for the Yankees in the epicenter of the baseball world. He could have played in the biggest media market known to man. He could have worn the mystical Yankee pinstripes. Yet he chose to play for the Phillies, and for a lot less money. Cliff Lee snubbed the New York Yankees. How sweet it is!
Cliff Lee's decision marks a 180 degree turnaround from 10 years ago. JD Drew sat out a full year to avoid playing in Philly, Scott Rolen begged for a trade, and countless other players did what they could to stay as far away from Philadelphia as possible. In just one year's time, Ruben Amaro got two Cy Young winners to take markedly less money for the opportunity to play at Citizens Bank Park. Times sure have changed.
We have been reminded time and time again over the years that the Phillies ownership was out for the sole purpose of making a quick buck. Heck, I even bashed the Phillies ownership for caring only about money. Now, the Phils owners went from a payroll of $130 million a couple years ago to probably over $160 million this year. It just doesn't seem real, does it?
With a starting staff that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, many believe the 2011 Phillies could have the best starting rotation ever assembled. I'm not going to take the time now to debate that argument. Let's save that discussion until when they actually throw a pitch first.
The names on the jerseys look great, but what I'd like to find out is just how good the Phillies rotation is on paper. To start with, they have a mighty fine combined resume. Check this out:
We will assume for this discussion that Kendrick is the fifth starter because there is no way the Phillies are keeping Joe Blanton and Kendrick is certainly the front-runner for the fifth spot. Since there is clearly a significant drop off between the main four and Kendrick, I'm gonna separate the stats with Kendrick and without him.
You also need to somewhat separate what they have done BEFORE this season and what they WILL DO in 2011. The best way to split those thoughts is to show their career numbers and their 2010 numbers. Here we go.
|Without Kendrick||With Kendrick|
|Without Kendrick||With Kendrick|
Their postseason numbers aren't too shabby, either (we left Kendrick out since he didn't pitch enough)
As good as their career statistics are, their 2010 stats are MUCH BETTER. Although it seems that Halladay and Oswalt have been around forever, this starting group is still very close to the primes of their careers. With Lee pitching most of his career in the American League, you can expect these numbers to get even better next year.
With the 2010 calendar closing in a few days, it is time to take a look at how terrible, or, uh, good our predictions were for the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies. Injuries are going to make it a difficult task to grade our predictions, but we will give it a shot.
Hopefully we did better than last year, where we only had a 61% success rate. Well, here we go.
Catcher - Prediction: BETTER
Result: MUCH BETTER
We got this one right, as the most improved Phillies hitter in 2010 was definitely Carlos Ruiz. After a sub par 2009 campaign, Chooch set career highs in hits, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and batting average. He also led the team in batting average and caught a no-hitter and a perfect game. Way to go, Chooch.
First Base - Prediction: SAME
Result: SLIGHTLY WORSE
Ryan Howard had a bit of an off year for his standards. For most of the season he had a higher batting average and lower home run totals. Towards the end of the season his average also dropped leaving him with a lower batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Injuries also played a part, but even with a full season he would have had roughly 10 less homers and twenty less RBIs.
Second Base - Prediction: BETTER
My face is a little red as I write this because to say we overestimated Chase Utley would be an understatement. I'll let some of the quotes from the prediction do the talking:
"2010 will be Chase Utley's best season yet. This could be his first season where he is well rested and completely healthy. That is why we feel he will have a career year and win his first League MVP award. Mark it down, this is Utley's year to follow Rollins and Howard as the Most Valuable Player."
Chase Utley was extremely disappointing in 2010. He missed about a month on the DL, but even when he was here he wasn't much of a factor. He had a .275 batting average and managed just 16 homers, which prorates to about 21 HR in a full season. I'm beginning to wonder if Chase Utley simply isn't as good as we thought he was. 2011 is going to be a key season for Utley to prove his detractors wrong.
Shortstop - Prediction: SLIGHTLY BETTER
We won't spend much time on Jimmy Rollins since he missed half of the season due to injury, but he played enough to get a grade. We didn't predict an MVP season from J-Roll, but we figured it had to be better than 2009. We were wrong. Rollins followed a horrendous 2009 season with an equally as bad 2010. Even when you average the numbers over a whole season, Rollins actually dropped in pretty much every category.
Third Base - Prediction: MUCH BETTER
Result: MUCH BETTER
It didn't take a genius to figure this one out. Placido Polanco was a huge upgrade over Pedro Feliz. Although Feliz had significantly more RBIs than Polanco, Placido beat him in nearly every other offensive category. Polanco was everything the Phillies could have hoped for, and if he hadn't been dealing with a nagging injury all year he could have put up some monstrous numbers. Many wondered about his defense, but Polanco was terrific at third base. He might have even been better than Feliz defensively.
Left Field - Prediction: BETTER
Result: SLIGHTLY WORSE
Raul Ibanez is starting to look his age. His 2010 batting average and on-base percentage were nearly identical to the previous year, but the power numbers fell off a cliff. Despite having 61 more at-bats, Ibanez had 18 less home runs and 10 less RBIs. I figured with a healthy season Ibanez would end up with better numbers, but he ended up getting very older very quickly.
Center Field - Prediction: SAME
We got this one right..kind of. Shane was equally as "good" in 2010, but he did it in a very different way. His average dropped 33 points, his OBP dropped 31 points, and his slugging and OPS dropped, but he set career highs in home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases. We said last year that Shane would "swipe 40-50 bags, have more RBI's, and fewer runs scored." He came close in stolen bases and the other two were exactly right.
Right Field - Prediction: SLIGHTLY BETTER
Result: SLIGHTLY BETTER
I am having a really hard time saying that Jayson Werth was slightly better last season because he was very inconsistent and not the power force in the middle of the lineup he was in 2009, but his overall numbers were slightly better. It's difficult to say he was better when he finished with 14 less RBIs and 7 less home runs, but he improved in nearly every other category. His numbers aren't worth $126 million, though.
I'm not going to waste much time stating the obvious. Roy Halladay won the 2010 Cy Young award, winning 21 games, pitching 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, a perfect game, and a postseason no-hitter. As good as Cliff Lee was for part of the season as the staff ace, the combo of him and Hamels at the top spot can't compare to Doc Halladay. 'Nuff said.
Cole Hamels made us look good. We predicted, "Hamels will finish this year with an ERA under 3.00, over 200 innings, over 200 K's, and 20 Wins." Not bad, huh? Cole was obviously way below 20 wins, but with the offensive support he received, I would say he did alright with wins and losses. Not enough is said about the job Cole Hamels did for the Phillies. We needed him to step up, and that is exactly what he did.
Whether you want to call it worse or slightly worse, Joe Blanton did not have a good season. Pretty much all of his numbers dropped from the year before and Blanton was fortunate to have a winning record. Blanton went from being a respectable third starter in 2008 and 2009 to a fourth or fifth starter in 2010.
JA Happ was injured for most of his time here and then got dealt to the Astros, which makes it pointless to grade this one.
Moyer missed about 10 starts due to injury at the end of the season, but his numbers while he was here were very close to his 2009 numbers. We said, "At the end of the season, Moyer will once again be right around that 5.00 ERA." To keep his ERA under five is remarkable for a guy his age and to pitch two complete games and a shutout is amazing.
66% is a pretty pitiful number, but at least it is better than last year's 61%.
These are even worse:
Hitting: Prediction: BETTER
Starting Pitching: Prediction: BETTER
Bullpen: Prediction: WORSE
Defense: Prediction: SAME
Record: Prediction: 95-67
Cy Young winner: Roy Halladay - EXACTLY RIGHT!
NL MVP: Chase Utley - NOT EVEN CLOSE
NL Division champs - NOPE
And finally, we predicted the Phillies would win it all again. Not only did we not win the whole thing, we finished two wins short of even reaching the World Series.