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Entries in Philadelphia Phillies (37)


Selling High

The Houston Astros may have traded Michael Bourn of the Atlanta Braves and Hunter Pence of the Philadelphia Phillies at just the right time.  Bourn ranks third in the majors and Pence seventh in batting average on balls in play (BABIP).  That measures the ability of batters to get hits when they don't strike out or hit the ball out of the park.  In other words, the ability to get a ball past fielders.

Extreme BABIPs tend to settle back to the .300 range.  Look at both these players during the last four seasons:


BABIPMichael BournHunter Pence
2008 .290 .301
2009 .366 .308
2010 .329 .304
2011 .377 .368


Pence's 2011 represents a big outlier.  Bourn reached this rare atmosphere before, in 2009.  A high BABIP helps to lead to a high batting average, and helped make this pair look desirable to other teams.  Don't trust this to last past this season, however.    This season, among batting qualifiers, the spread of BABIP is .200 to .387.  If you look at the last four seasons, however, that spread is down to .253 to .355.  The extremes just don't hold up.  The Astros did a good job of selling their players when they looked their best.


Best Offspeed Hitters

Top 20 Offspeed Hitters by AVG, 2010-2011 (Min. 300 offspeed pitches faced)

While Justin Morneau has the highest batting average on offspeed pitches of all players since the start of the 2010 season, Ichiro has collected the most hits (140) over that period....This season, new Phillie Hunter Pence leads all hitters with 63 hits on offspeed pitches....Cleveland Indian Lou Marson has the lowest batting average on offspeed pitches (.116) of all active players since 2010.


Grounding Hamels

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies reduced his hits and home runs allowed this season to put him in Cy Young contention.  He accomplished this by inducing more ground balls with his fastball.  From 2008-2010, the percent of ground balls and fly balls put in play against his fastball were very similar, 30.5% fly balls, 35.2% ground balls.  On fly balls, batters did very well, with a .297 batting average and a .814 slugging percentage.  On ground balls, they did poorly with averages of .236/.263.

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2008-2010.

Note that in this time period, Cole's fastball stayed up.  Compare that to 2011:

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2011.Not only is his fastball lower in the strike zone, his movement is a bit farther toward right-handed batters.  He's now getting 46% of his balls in play as ground balls, only 24.9% as fly balls.  The fly balls still give batters good results, .297/.734.  Batters are hitting .262/.295 on ground balls, but it's worth it to keep the ball in the park.  Hamels is trading extra-base hits for singles, a trade that is paying huge dividends.

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