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What is the identity of the Phillies offense?
by Scott Butler 5/7/13

Last night might have been the most complete offensive effort all season for the Phillies. While 10 hits and 6 runs is hopefully a sign of things to come, it has not been a common occurrence for the 12th ranked Phillies offense. With 33 games in the books, we should now be at the point where their personality begins to arise.

So, what is the identity of the 2013 Phillies offense? That was a fairly easy question to answer during most of the Phillies' playoff run. The Phillies would score in bunches, hit a lot of home runs, strike out frequently, and struggle with fundamental hitting. 

The identity of the current offense is more difficult to pinpoint. With a couple completely new additions (Michael Young & Ben Revere), a young outfielder (Domonic Brown), and two aging stars with injury issues (Howard and Utley), it was going to take time for the offense to take shape.  Last night was game number 33 of the Phillies season and they have now completed one-fifth of the season - that should be enough to give us a pretty clear picture of the hitting unit.

And the personality of this team is, well, they just look...old. They aren’t great, they aren’t awful, they are just kinda there. The offense is grasping onto enough of a semblance of talent to stay out of the statistical basement, but they don’t have enough to be even considered average.

The offense in many ways resembles Michael Young.  His .318 average gives a glimpse of what made him so special in 13 years with the Rangers.  But it is also obvious that there is little left in the tank.  Sure, he has enough bat speed to rack up hits and get balls past infielders, but not quite enough strength to reach the gaps.  Similarly, the Phillies offense is a shell of its former self.

Their overall stats speak for themselves. An offense that was once one of the best in baseball now ranks toward the bottom in most of the major statistics.

Phillies Team Stats Standard
R/G 2B HR SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP WAR
3.58 48 27 15 80 234 .240 .298 .380 .678 29 1.5
12th 8th 10th 8th 11th 6th 11th 12th 10th 13th 2nd 14th

When you break down the numbers further, you see that they aren't extremely bad in any particular area, but they are poor in almost all areas. Let's start with their power.

Phillies Power and Production

Phillies Power/Production Stats
HR% XBH% AB/HR AB/RBI RISP
2.4% 7.3% 37.4 9.8 .244
9th 10th 9th 13th 9th

It sure seems when you watch the Phils that they are seriously lacking in power, but they actually are close to the middle in homers and extra-base hits. This is actually positive news considering Howard has not gotten hot yet and Delmon Young could add some pop to these totals.

I was somewhat hoping to see a low average with runners in scoring position because that would mean that the Phils are just a few timely hits from scoring some runs, but unfortunately (I guess) they are in the middle of the pack.

Phillies Plate Discipline

Plate Discipline
O-Swing% Swing% Contact% P/PA SO% BB% SO/BB AB/SO
30.7% 46.3% 78.6% 3.85 21.1% 7.2% 2.93 4.3
5th 9th 11th 6th 5th 12th 3rd 10th

It is essentially the same story when you examine what the Phillies are doing at the plate. Again, they are not terrible in any particular area, but they are towards the bottom in nearly all categories. They are not overly aggressive as their swing percentage is slightly below the league average, but they are fairly undisciplined and have the fifth highest swing percentage on balls outside the strike zone (O-Swing%).

For a team with little power, you would think they would have a high contact percentage, but their contact percentage ranks 11th.

Possibly the worst stats of them all are that the Phillies have the fifth highest strikeout percentage and the fifth lowest walk percentage. Somehow they see the sixth most pitches per plate appearance, yet they still have a low walk rate. No matter how you look at it, lots of strikeouts and few walks is a recipe for disaster.

Phillies Batted Ball Stats

Batted ball
GB/FB IP% GB% FB% LD% BABIP
0.93 68% 47% 33% 22% .285
4th 5th 5th 9th 5th 11th

The Phillies have a high line drive rate, which is an encouraging sign because it generally indicates better contact. If the Phillies can continue to drive the ball at that rate, hopefully they will start knocking in more runs. Another positive sign is that they have the fifth lowest batting average on balls in play (BABIP) which could mean that they are on the unlucky side. If that figure rises, we can expect their run totals to increase, as well.

Phillies Scouting Report

Let's face it, this is just an old team. I guess that makes sense considering they have the third highest average batters’ age (30.8) in all of baseball according to Baseball Reference and the average age of their main starters is even higher at 31.4 years old.

As Lloyd Christmas said in Dumb and Dumber, "Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose." It worked for Michael Young who went 3-for-4 last night with two doubles, so maybe it can work for the Phillies offense.

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