Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors

Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Philadelphia Phillies (37)


Dom Brown's Grip-it-and-Rip-it Approach Paying Off

While Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" may carry more panache, Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown can now stake his claim to the "Mr. May" moniker. Brown blasted 12 home runs during the just-completed month, tied with Miguel Cabrera for tops in the majors. His 15 shots overall in 2013 tie him with Edwin Encarnacion for third, behind only Chris Davis and Miggy.

The former top-10 prospect performed like an oversized banjo hitter during his first few stints in the big leagues, but he has found his power stroke by taking a more aggressive, "grip it and rip it" approach. Will that philosophy, which led to all those May homers but also a 21-to-zilch strikeout-to-walk ratio, continue to pay off?

On the positive side, Brown is taking a cut at more pitches thrown over the strike zone and pounding them. His swing rate against in-zone offerings is about 76% this year, up from 69% from 2010-12 and well above the 64% MLB average. And, unlike in past years, Brown is using his 6-foot-5, 205 pound frame to turn on those pitches. He has pulled 43% of in-zone pitches swung at to right field, compared to 36% from 2010-12 and the 35% MLB average for lefty batters. That explains how Brown has raised his slugging percentage against in-zone pitches over 250 points, from .447 during his disappointing cameos in 2010-12 to .713 this season.

Brown's spray chart against in-zone pitches, 2010-12


Brown's spray chart against in-zone pitches, 2013


Swinging at more strikes certainly hasn't hurt Brown. His newfound tendency to expand his strike zone, however, could backfire. Brown has offered at about 31% of pitches thrown off the plate this year, up from 26% in years past and north of the 28% MLB average. In May, he chased 33% of those would-be balls. Some guys manage to do damage against junk pitches -- think Vlad Guerrero or Pablo Sandoval -- but Brown isn't one of them. He's batting .119 and slugging .169 when he chases a pitch out of the zone.

Brown's aggression has been a net positive so far, though his .306 on-base percentage and 4.4% walk rate show the perils of such an approach. He could be on his way to sustained stardom if he can keep crushing in-zone pitches while cutting his chase rate. The Phillies, graying and starved for young talent as the sun sets on their dynastic run, need as much to happen. Brown needs only to glance at Delmon Young in the on-deck circle to see what happens to unrestrained young sluggers.


Batters Stop Chasing Halladay's Stuff, Chase Him Out of Games

Roy Halladay is headed to the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation, following seven brutal starts in which the two-time Cy Young Award winner surrendered nearly an earned run per inning pitched (8.65 ERA) and posted a walk rate (4.5 BB/9) approaching two and a half times his career average (1.9 BB/9).

Much has been made of Halladay's diminished velocity, as he has lost a tick off his fastball each of the past two seasons (91.5 MPH average in 2011, 90.5 MPH in 2012, 89.7 MPH in 2013). Hitters are taking advantage, slugging .574 against Halladay's not-so-hot heater this season after slugging about .390 in both 2011 and 2012. Halladay's slower fastball is getting crushed when batters swing. But there's another nasty side effect to his lost velocity -- opponents are swinging far less often when Halladay throws a fastball out of the strike zone.

Take a look at hitters' swing rate by pitch location against Halladay's fastball during his glory days in 2011, and during his hellish 2013. The pitch induced a healthy number of chases in 2011, especially on stuff thrown high. This year, he's not having any luck getting hitters to expand their zones against his sub-90 fastball:

Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Halladay's fastball, 2011


Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Halladay's fastball, 2013 


Back in 2011, Halladay got hitters to chase his fastball 26% of the time. This year? Just 11%. That's less than half of the MLB average for starting pitchers (24%), and ranks dead last among all National League starters.

The difference between 92 MPH and 89 MPH might not seem career-altering at first blush, but it makes a difference to hitters. Since the start of the 2011 season, batters have chased 26% of fastballs thrown at 92 MPH, and have slugged .434. Against 89 MPH "heat," they have chased 24% and slugged .486. Halladay's decline in chases has been far more severe than most. But unless he comes back with his old zip, he shouldn't expect hitters to be as jumpy against his fastball as they used to be.


Andy Pettitte makes spring debut and more

"Derek Jeter wasn’t the only Yankee to return to the field Wednesday night.

Andy Pettitte made his spring debut, allowing one run over three innings as the Yankees beat the Phillies, 6-2, at Steinbrenner Field. Pettitte gave up four hits and walked three, striking out three during his 58-pitch outing.

“It’s just good to get back out there and see somebody in a different uniform,” Pettitte said. “Stuff-wise, I didn’t feel great. I felt like my command wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted, but it’s good it gives you something to work on for the next time out.”

Pettitte’s next start will come at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Monday, when the Bombers have an off-day. He’ll make two more starts after that as he tunes up for the season."


Charlie Manuel doesn't want to retire

"Charlie Manuel figures he has plenty of time to see his grandchildren, play golf and travel the world during the offseason.

Manuel, who is in the final season of his contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, made it clear he wants to continue as manager beyond this year. Retirement plans haven't even entered his mind.

"I still want to manage," Manuel told The Associated Press on Thursday. "I'm not ready for somebody to tell me to go home. I'm not ready to quit managing. I'm not ready to get out of the game."

Manuel is the franchise's all-time leader in wins and only the second manager to lead the Phillies to a world championship. It's widely assumed that Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, the team's new third-base coach, will eventually replace him as the manager."


Johan Santana irons out issues with Mets

"Johan Santana, sitting in front of his locker at Tradition Field, had been speaking about the recent drama involving himself and the Mets for about five minutes when Jeff Wilpon came by and offered his hand.

“I’m getting old,” the lefty said on his 34th birthday.

“No you’re not,” Wilpon answered, smiling.

And that was the theme at Mets camp on Wednesday: All conflicts between Santana and the Mets are resolved, and everyone is friendly again. Whether that is true on the deepest levels, the mood had clearly changed in the clubhouse."


Marco Scutaro, thinking mans hitter

"The Giants picked up Marco Scutaro on July 27 in a trade so ho-hummish that his new teammates dubbed him Blockbuster. Ballplayers love irony.

Scutaro was not baseball's best pickup in 2012. He was the best late-season pick-up of any baseball season. Granted, I have not done much research on this (like zero), but come on, this might have been the greatest late-season pickup in any sport.

Why Brian Sabean didn't get any love from the Nobel Prize judges, I have no idea. East Coast bias?"


Henry Rodriguez important to Nationals bullpen

"The Washington Nationals are in an enviable position this spring: They have few unknowns. The lineup is complete. The starting rotation has been set since December. Players are entrenched at every position, save for a catcher returning from knee injury. Even the bench figures to be the same.

Then, there’s Henry Rodriguez.

Of all the known commodities on this team, Rodriguez is the enigma. The flame-throwing right-handed reliever can be extreme at either end of the spectrum, otherworldly stuff or mind-boggling wildness."


Red Sox await word on Morales' back

"When spring training began, the Red Sox had a surplus of relievers, including three lefties with considerable major league experience.

The ranks have been thinned.

With Craig Breslow already slowed by soreness in his throwing shoulder, fellow lefty reliever Franklin Morales returned to Boston yesterday to have his cranky lower back examined at Mass General Hospital, manager John Farrell said today. The Red Sox are awaiting the results to determine whether Morales' injury is more than merely inflammation. Regardless, Morales has pitched in only one game and appears likely to open the season on the disabled list.

"He hasn't really made the improvements that we had hoped for," Farrell said."


Hamels tabbed as opening day starts for Phillies

"Cole Hamels has been an All-Star and a Most Valuable Player in the World Series.

And now he'll get to start on Opening Day for the first time.

The Phillies announced Thursday that Hamels, who won 17 games last year, will be on the mound when they open their season April 1 against the Braves at Turner Field. Hamels is 91-60 with a 3.34 ERA, and he's had a winning record in six of his first seven seasons.

Hamels has made at least 20 starts for the Phillies in each of his first seven seasons, but he's never been the first name called out of the rotation. Roy Halladay started on Opening Day in each of the last three years for Philadelphia, and Brett Myers did the honors from 2007-09.

Hamels, the 17th overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, has been impeccable this spring. The southpaw has started three times, notching a 2-0 record and a 0.90 ERA. Hamels has made 29 career starts in March and April, posting a record of 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA."


Matt Harrison set for opening day star

"The toe is good to go and Matt Harrison appears to be on track to start Opening Day.

Harrison, who was scratched from his last scheduled start Saturday with inflammation on his second toe on his left foot, worked the first two innings of a ‘B’ game against the Royals on Tuesday morning.

He allowed two runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts over his two-inning, 37-pitch outing.

“The toe was good, no pain, no issues,” Harrison said. “Pitching, I felt great. This is the best I felt all spring and I think it’s because I didn’t have to worry about that issue and my legs were back under me and I was able to get better action than the past two games.”