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Entries in phillies (10)


Ryan Madson's Dominance

On the FOX broadcast of the NLCS last night, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver went over Ryan Madson's statistics when he was brought into the game, concluding that he was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. It's true, and it's a drum I've been banging for a while -- even calling for his promotion to closer, usurping the role of Brad Lidge.

As the following chart illustrates, Madson found quite a bit of velocity some time in early August of 2008.

His strikeouts-per-nine innings rate went from 7.3 in April through July to 8.3 in August and September in 2008. In 2009 and '10, his K/9 rates were 9.1 and 10.9 respectively.

He pairs his ability to miss bats with elite control. Since '08, his walk rate never exceeded 2.6 per nine innings.

How is he so good? His mid-90's fastball is perfectly complemented by a deceptive change-up that averages 83 MPH. With as much as a 15 MPH differential, Madson's pitches become extremely hard to square up for opposing hitters.

Among pitchers who have faced at least 200 batters, Madson falls into the 97th percentile in wOBA allowed, at .168. His strikeout rate is in the 99th percentile, incredibly.

Madson becomes even more amazing when you look at his platoon splits. Although he deals with right-handed hitters better, as expected, lefties still have a very hard time hitting him. This is due to Madson peppering the outside corner with change-ups, rarely coming inside.

Against lefties, Madson's wOBA allowed and strikeout rate still fall in the 92nd and 96th percentiles, respectively. Against right-handed hitters, those two stats are both in the 98th percentiles.

Madson will enter the final year of a three-year contract in 2011. Although the Phillies have a lot of money coming off of the books, including Brad Lidge potentially, Madson -- represented by super-agent Scott Boras -- should garner a lot of attention from the other 29 teams in the Majors. He is a guy with dominant stuff that can close on just about any team.


Quick Hitter: Oswalt in the 9th

Since 2008 Roy Oswalt had thrown 91 pitches over 22 plate appearances in the 9th inning. Opposing batters hit only .190 (with 4 hits). During the aforementioned 22 plate appearances he had only thrown 2 pitches with runners in scoring position.

Raul Ibanez and the Fastball

Phillies fans are well aware of Raul Ibanez's struggles at the dish during the 2010 post-season. In 25 plate appearances, the left fielder has a triple-slash line of .130/.200/.174. During the regular season, he set a career-low in wOBA among the seasons in which he was a regular starter (since 2002), at .341.

These struggles come after a torrid first half of the 2009 season when he had an OPS of 1.015 and seemed to be on his way to some MVP votes. However, during the second half, he fizzled, OPSing only .774. A good portion of his troubles are likely explained by his left groin strain that sidelined him for 23 days from June 18 to July 11. Since that injury, Ibanez simply has not been the same.

Having watched Ibanez in his time as a Phillie, I have noticed his problems with fastballs. At 38 years old, it seems like his bat speed has been in decline and thus has been rather helpless trying to make solid contact on fastballs. The following images show his in-play slugging percentage on fastballs, the first showing data from April 5 to June 13, 2009 and the second showing everything since.

Ibanez's in-play slug on fastballs, 4/5/09 to 6/13/09

Ibanez's in-play slug on fastballs since 6/14/09

Ibanez has become more of a low-and-inside fastball hitter, a typical area for left-handed hitters. He no longer dominates as much area towards the high and outside part of the plate.

Even worse, Ibanez has also become much less effective against "soft" pitches. Using the same time periods as above:

Ibanez's in-play slug on "soft" pitches, 4/5/09 to 6/13/09

Ibanez's in-play slug on fastballs, since 6/14/09

Given the sample size of the first image, there is obviously going to be some regression to the mean, but overall, Ibanez's recognition of soft stuff has rapidly declined. Additionally, his coverage of the outside part of the plate has been reduced to one small area high and outside but inside the strike zone.

On my blog, I suggested that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel should, at the very least, use Ben Francisco as a defensive replacement in left field late in games. However, this analysis leads me to believe that an outright lineup change in Game Four of the NLCS is imperative, since the Giants will be using left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Ibanez, who performs worse against lefties than Francisco, has been on a precipitous decline. It would behoove the Phillies to admit this before it is too late.