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Entries in Philadelphia Phillies (37)


The Best in 3-Ball Counts

Top 20 Pitchers by BB% in 3-Ball Counts (min. 75 PA)

Of course, simply limiting your walks with 3 balls is not an indication of success. You obviously want to avoid awarding free bases to batters, but you also don't want to do so at the expense of grooving pitches either. You can see that both Lee and Halladay were able to limit their opponents to around a .200 batting average (also around .300 slugging percentage for both) with three ball counts in 2010. Of course, they were just as successful when pitching with two strikes (Lee .220 SLG%, Halladay .243 SLG%, both w/ .161 BA). Conclusion: working the count on these Philly aces doesn't seem to do much good.


Jimmy Rollins' Regression

In his recent blog post, Buster Olney cites some of the topics of interest in each spring training camp this year. For the Phillies, he notes Jimmy Rollins’ "three season regression." Indeed, Rollins has yet to duplicate his 2007 MVP season numbers in which he hit .296/.344/.531 with a league leading 20 triples and a career high 30 home runs.

One of the problems contributing to Rollins’ troubles has been a noticeable decline in his ability to hit from the left side.

Jimmy Rollins vs. RHP

Rollins generates most of his power on pitches inside when batting left handed. Over the past 3 years, that power has faded.

Jimmy Rollins

Compare the graphic above to his overall in play rates over the same time.

Jimmy Rollins

Rollins puts more balls in play on outside pitches, an area he normally does not produce extra base hits.

It doesn’t help that Rollins prefers to swing at pitches outside either.

Jimmy Rollins Swinging

So as a LHB, Rollins is swinging more at outside pitches which is dragging down his overall numbers. In the selected zone above, Rollins put up a .295 wOBA despite making contact 91.5% of the time. Until he can prove that he can do some damage on pitches outside, right-handed pitchers will have little incentive to pitch him anywhere else.

Dom Brown's Hands

On MLB Network recently, former Phillies closer Mitch Williams spoke briefly about Domonic Brown, who will take over in the outfield for Jayson Werth in the very near future. Brown struggled in limited playing time in 2010, but Williams said that those struggles would continue if Brown does not lower his hands.

As you can see in the animated .gif below, Brown starts with his hands high near his ears. By the time he makes contact with the ball, they are at belt-level. That is quite a bit of superfluous hand movement.

Resulting from that hand movement, pitchers were successful pitching Brown up-and-in according to Williams. To verify or falsify that claim, I went to the heat maps.

Domonic Brown swing rateDomonic Brown in-play ISODomonic Brown contact rate

The heat maps indicate that, although he was swinging at up-and-in pitches frequently, he was not successful --  not only in terms of hitting for power, but simply making contact.

Brown finished 2010 with a .271 wOBA, which ranked all the way down in the eighth percentile of Major League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. If Brown is to blossom into the offensively-potent player the Phillies organization has long thought he would be, he may need to take the advice of Mitch Williams and lower his hands.