We are three days away from Christmas and the Phillies offensive shopping spree is just about finished. Now that the Phillies filled their major holes in centerfield with Ben Revere and at third base with Michael Young, the only piece left is a corner outfielder. But with Cody Ross reportedly signing with the D-Backs, the only legit name left is Nick Swisher, and he might be too expensive for the Phils. So, what you see might very well be what you get.
If the Phillies were to stick with the roster we see today, how does this Phillies lineup compare to last season?
One simple way to compare is to put the lineups side by side and give it the old sniff test. On the left is a “typical” lineup from the first half of the season and on the right is the likely starting lineup for the first half of 2013 (once Ruiz returns from his 25-game suspension, of course).
The 2012 lineup was the jumbled mess we feared it would be: a lineup hoping to tread water until their big stars returned.
Fans were screaming for Josh Hamilton over the offseason, but the 2013 lineup Ruben Amaro has assembled is for the most part solid and balanced. Charlie Manuel is likely to shuffle the lineup quite a bit, but the names will remain essentially in tact. It is a lineup that offers speed with Revere and Rollins, decent on-base percentage and production with Utley, Young, and Ruiz, and power with Ryan Howard.
Oh, if it were only that simple. The Phillies have about as many question marks as there are zeros in Howard's salary. Can Utley stay on the field? What will we get out of Howard? Is Ruiz any good without PED's? Can Ruf make the jump to the big leagues? Do Mayberry and Brown even belong in the majors?
Or, we could flip the coin over. What if Howard and Utley are close to their old form? What if Revere develops into a Jose Reyes? What if the 2011 Michael Young emerges? What if Ruf is the real deal? What if Brown figures it out?
We have over three months to answer those questions. But for now, let's try to see how the lineups compare if everything stays pretty much the same in 2013.
Comparing the 2012 and 2013 Phillies lineups
I kept things pretty simple with the 2012 offense and simply went to baseballreference.com and took the offensive totals at each position.
For the 2013 offense, I basically plugged in the 2012 stats from the likely starters with a couple exceptions. First, I left out Darin Ruf completely, because there is no good way to predict what his stats will be. Second, I took Ryan Howard's 2011 stats because it seemed pretty clear that his injury affected him last season. Third, I took the average of the last two seasons for Michael Young assuming he is not as good as in 2011 and not as bad as in 2012. Next, I eliminated Jimmy Rollins since he was the one player who played a full season in 2012. I also prorated both groups based on 650 plate appearances to keep things equal.
The first chart shows the stats broken down to a per player average.
For this chart, I multiplied the above totals times 8 to give you an idea of what they would look like in a full lineup (excluding the pitcher).
What you see is that the numbers are close. Really close. They are so similar that five of the totals are equally the freakin same. I even had to triple check to make sure I didn't mess up the numbers.
The stats are similar, but the 2013 Phillies are better in every single category. The Phillies obviously remained about the same as far as power is concerned, but the 2013 team improved by 8 points in batting average and 21 points in OBP, while striking out 10 fewer times per player and walking 9 more times.
It may not sound like a whole heck of a lot, but considering they dumped $26.15 million from Pence, Victorino, and Polanco, and replaced two of those three positions for less than $8 million is pretty impressive.
The Phillies ranked 8th in runs scored last year, meaning the Phillies should rank similarly in 2013. It would have been nice to add a bat like Hamilton's, but given the free agent market, I think the Phillies made out alright.
And if you are interested, here are the overall individual stats for 2012 and 2013: