Philadelphia Phillies Preview - Old before their time

The weight of carrying the Philly offense is starting to take it's toll on Dodger Killer Carlos Ruiz (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

The Phillies are in last place but they aren't your normal last place team. For one thing they are one game over .500, have won 6 of 10, still have a rotation that includes Cliff Lee, and the much sought after Cole Hamels. If they were not in last place they might have a legit MVP candidate and his name is not Rollins, Utley, Howard, Halladay, Lee, or Hamels..

What they don't have is Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. What they do have is a catcher hitting .371 and a slugging % north of .600. It is only June, but how many catchers have had a BA greater then .350 and a slug % greater than .600 over a full season? Two catchers, one per career. So when you think AJ Ellis should be the starting All-Star catcher over Carlos Ruiz, think again.

Last year the Phillies won 52 games at home for a .642 winning percentage. This year they have won 12 for a .462 winning percentage. We have to go back to 2006 to find a Philly team that has not had at least a .550 winning percentage at home.

1st Base - Ty Wiggington drove in six runs last Monday so I suspect he's had his one great game out of the way. The vagabond always ends up getting at bats and doesn't embarrass himself but also he's not someone you speak of in hushed or gushed tones.

2nd Base - Twenty two year old Freddy Galvis was force fed into the lineup when Chase Utely was finally given payback for not signing with the Dodgers in the first place. Galvis is having trouble getting on base as his TSL of .232 / .261 / .639 suggests.

ShortStop - Jimmy Rollins somehow convinced the Phillies to give him four years and forty four million last winter. I suspect they already regret the deal as the thirty three year old Shortstop is having trouble hitting for average or power (.242 / .294 / .311). On the bright side he has stolen ten of eleven base attempts.

3rd Base - Placido Polanco is now thirty six and doing what he's always done, just not as well.

Catcher - Carlos Ruiz has had about a good first two months as any catcher in the history of the game. He's hitting .371 / .420 /. 609. When you consider his career averages are this these two months are about as unlikely as AJ Ellis putting up a .975 OPS in May.

Right Field - Damn good thing the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence, otherwise the offense would be in a world of hurt. Pence is doing what he's always done. Hit and play just about every game. Hard to find a more consistent right fielder over the last five years.
Right Fielders with at least 2500 plate appearances since 2008:

                                                                  
Player           OPS+   PA From   To   Age  HR   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Andre Ethier      132 2636 2008 2012 26-30  94 .293 .368 .492 .860
Jayson Werth      123 2572 2008 2012 29-33 110 .267 .364 .478 .842
Hunter Pence      119 2848 2008 2012 25-29 110 .286 .340 .478 .818
Nick Markakis     118 3058 2008 2012 24-28  73 .292 .366 .446 .812
Bobby Abreu       116 2713 2008 2012 34-38  64 .276 .368 .429 .798
Corey Hart        115 2514 2008 2012 26-30 100 .272 .330 .482 .813
Nick Swisher      115 2660 2008 2012 27-31 113 .254 .355 .467 .822
Ichiro Suzuki     106 3114 2008 2012 34-38  31 .309 .350 .394 .743
Jeff Francoeur     94 2654 2008 2012 24-28  64 .266 .310 .415 .725

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/3/2012.

Unless you are talking about that guy who patrols right field for the Dodgers.

Center Field - Free agent to be Shane Victorino has not had an offensive season this bad since 2007. He'll either get going or cost himself a ton of money.

Left Field - Thirty Four year old Juan Pierre has wiggled himself into the spot of left fielder. John Mayberry was supposed to be the guy but he's sucked. Dominic Brown was supposed to be ready if Mayberry struggled but he has sucked (in the minors). So plan C was Juan Pierre and Juan has responded with his best season since he went into Beast Mode in May of 2009 for the Mannyless Dodgers.

The Bench:

Phi favorite Hector Luna has bounced and bounced around AAA since 2005. One of those stints included 2009 with the Isotopes where hit a nifty . 351 / .414 / .610 but got nary an at bat with the Dodgers as they went with other options. Fast forward to 2012 and Luna is just one of three bench Phillies with an OPS > 160. Luna, Fontenot, and Lance Nix. I have zero idea why Jim Thome is still playing baseball much less being on a NL roster. Rounding out the bench is backup catcher Brian Schneider, Pete Orr, and future left fielder John Mayberry.

Matchup:

Game One - Vance Worley fresh off the DL

Game Two - Winless Cliff Lee

Game Three - Kyle Kendrick filling in for Roy Halladay

Game Four - Future Dodger Cole Hamels

Bizarre Stat:

Cliff Lee has made eight starts, has a WHIP of 1.018, an xFIP of 2.68, a K/9 rate of 8.6, and a BB/9 rate of 1.58. In short, he's been fantastic. He's also winless.

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