Offense Lacked Consistency

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When raising children, you love them but at times you want to spank them. It seems the same can be said of the Phillies position players, the third youngest group in the majors this past season.

In terms of major league experience, very young when you consider the core of Odubel Herrera, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco were basically in their second year of playing every day. Then there’s Tommy Joseph who came out of nowhere. Of this group, Rupp, at age 27, assumes the title as a grizzled veteran.

Flashes of potential and flashes of frustration summarized the offense. Six different Phillies hit 15 or more home runs but six struck out over 100 times.

Their inexperience often showed at the plate with pitch recognition, pitch selection, working the count, moving base runners and making contact with runners in scoring position. Base running at times was puzzling with numerous mental mistakes.

The final numbers showed the Phillies were last in the league in runs scored, doubles, walks, OPS, total bases, sacrifice flies and were second from the bottom in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Bleak but not hopeless.

The Core
Galvis’ 20 homers doubled his big league total. In addition his offensive numbers were up in doubles, RBI and stolen bases. His walks went down, strikeouts up and OBP was low. Seems to me people complained that Jimmy Rollins didn’t reach base enough and hit too many balls in the air early in his career. Now that Ryan Howard is no longer around, the clubhouse belongs to Galvis as he’s the longest tenured Phillie with five years of service time.

Freddy really excelled in the field. He played Gold Glove shortstop. A year ago he had 17 errors, this year eight in 1,350 innings. It is the fewest errors he’s had in a full season in pro ball.

He always sparkled with his glove in the minors. Love this photo from Dave Schofield when Freddy was playing in Lakewood in 2008.

Galvis and his double-play partner, Hernandez, were signed on the same day by the Phillies, July 2, ten years ago. Hitting just .248 on June 20, Cesar sat for three days and returned with a 4-for-4 night in Minnesota. From then on, the 26-year-old turned into the consummate lead-off hitter, bunting, walking, base hits, working the count. Led the league in infield hits (34) and bunt base hits (15) and tied for the most triples (11). Granted his speed didn’t relate as a base runner, 17 steals, 13 caught. Much better the year before, 19 out of 24.

Consistency is the key to becoming a solid major league ballplayer. Franco has shown amazing power but also spells of swinging wildly. In early July, homers in four straight games. Then none from August 19-September 21. He ended the first half with 18 HR, 52 RBI and a .269 average. Second half, 7/36/.238. The 24-year-old has played a season and a-half in the majors, 39 homers, 138 RBI. Keep in mind: 18 home runs, 52 RBI, .196 average, 23-year-old Mike Schmdt’s first season in the majors.

Herrera impressed as a rookie a year ago with his hitting ability. Worked on becoming more disciplined at the plate and it worked for half a season. First three months, 42 walks, 59 strikeouts. Last three, 21/75. Before the All-Star Game, .294; after, .277. Another 24-year-old who needs a more consistent approach at the plate and defensively in centerfield.

Rupp showed decent power and a strong arm a year ago. This year, more power but not as efficient in throwing out base stealers. Among NL catchers he finished third with 16 home runs and a .453 slugging percentage. Concerns with his game calling? Heard the same thing about Bob Boone, Darren Daulton, Mike Lieberthal and Carlos Ruiz as young, inexperienced catchers. Cameron has unbelievable power straight away and to right field as demonstrated in his two-year home run log in baseball-reference.com, 9 to right, 8 to center and only 3 to dead left.

Joseph, 25, had to change positions from catcher to first base because of multiple concussions behind the plate. He re-signed with the Phillies last winter after no one else showed interest. Hitting .347 with six homers in 27 games at Lehigh Valley, the Phillies brought him up in need of more power. Finished with 21 home runs, the most by a Phillies rookie in 45 seasons. The Phillies are the only team ever to have two first basemen with 20 or more home runs.

Next Wave
The Phillies will be looking to add some more offense this off-season. Most logical area is the outfield. After Herrera’s 15 home runs, Peter Bourjos was next with five.
More offense can be obtained by a trade or free agency and it could come from within as the core matures at the plate.

It could also come from the minors at some point next season, the likes of OF Roman Quinn, SS J.P. Crawford, OF Nick Williams, C Andrew Knapp, C Jorge Alfaro, 2B Scott Kingery, RF Dylan Cozens, OF Andrew Pullin and 1B Rhys Hoskins.

Building a winning team takes time and patience.

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