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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Muse-ical; "Please, sir, I want some more [Werth]."

The topic of today's very depressed muse (Charlie Manuel is an idiot) is the Phillies versatile outfielder, Jayson Werth. The Phillies have seriously found a diamond in the rough with Werth. He came into this season as the considered 4th outfielder for the Phillies behind Burrell, Victorino, and Jenkins. This has clearly not been the case. Werth has most definitely put up the 2nd best numbers amongst the Phillies outfielders.

Since I have most likely mentioned wOBA (weighted on-base average) in the past, and probably didn't explain it, here it goes. wOBA is a stat that is coveted amongst some sabermatricians as the most telling offensive stat for baseball players. It makes up for what the more traditional OBP and SLG stats miss. Specifically, OBP just tells a person how frequently a player reaches base safely, while slugging only takes into account how many bases a person attains per AB (ignores value of walks). What wOBA does is weight the outcomes of an AB (non intentional BBs, HBPs, singles, reaching base on errors, doubles, triples, and home runs) according to each outcomes run value. Note: I have recently learned this information, and have been taking a lot of things in, so I recommend that you, if interested, find a copy of "The Book", or a source online to break this all down. While many people who take baseball seriously, like to gage a player's success based on OBP and OPS, they do appear to lack in some places, but on the whole are fairly reliable metrics as to a player's werth to his team.

Anyway..

I took the liberty of finding out the career wOBAs of the usual first 6 batters in the Phillies lineup. Here's how it looks:


Now, as far as I understand, league average wOBA is somewhere around .330 or .340. So.... from this information, these players rank as follows: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, and Jimmy Rollins. Now, this information could be a little biased since some people have soooo many more PAs than some others, but on the whole, there are plenty of PAs to make assesments for each person. While most of these people follow the order most would assume, J-Roll and Vic have been pretty much the definition of average (offensively of course) over their careers. Jimmy Rollins doesn't walk nearly enough, Ryan Howard's intentional walks don't factor in (which i don't fully understand, because if you're getting intentionally walked as the 4th hitter, you must be that much better than the 5 hitter), and Chase Utley gets hit by pitches like it's his job. Take what you will from these numbers, but I am well pleased with Werth's production. He is still clearly battling mentally with having his wrist broken, as is evidenced by his bailing on pitches from righties, and his numbers are still really good. He is young, and just seems to be finding his stride in the majors. None of this takes into account his speed, defensive ability, and above average arm strength.

When I found out about these numbers, and how to apply them to a batting lineup in order to optimize a team's run output (The Book, yet again), I decided to establish the first six slots in the Phillies lineup. The book says that the best two hitters should bat 2 and 4, with your next best hitter leading off, and your 3 and 5 hitters should be the next best. The 1 and 2 slots should walk alot. Home runs should be at an optimum from the 2nd and 4th spots, not so much in the leadoff spot (usually fewer men on base), and the 3 hitter having more homers than the 5 hitter. With ALL of this in mind, and much more (again, I recommend reading up on this somewhere if you care enough), I believe a good lineup for the Phils would start off with something like...

1. Jayson Werth (Walks alot, good hitter, good pitches per plate appearance)
2. Chase Utley (best hitter on the Phillies)
3. Pat Burrell (high OBP and SLG)
4. Ryan Howard (best power hitter on the Phillies)
5. Jimmy Rollins (definitely not a leadoff hitter)
6. Shane Victorino (could swap Victorino and Rollins)

Ideally, I would put Batrick somewhere in the top 2 in the lineup, just for how often he gets on base, but people would complain and call me crazy because of his terrible speed. People look past the fact that you don't usually have people stealing anyway with your best hitters up, but whatever. This lineup still has speed up top for the power guys, and has speed at the bottom to help the bottom of the lineup make things happen (steal bases to decrease the importance of extra base hits for the 7,8,9 hitters).

This was probably a really far fetched thing for a lot of people, and it would take wayyy too much time to fully explain it all. However, I'm sure I'll be talking about things like this again. So, look forward to it.

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