In the second half, the view is of two different teams: The first squad of Philadelphia Phillies played before Maikel Franco‘s wrist injury, and the second is now toiling without their third baseman. But while the pessimist believed the winning would taper off more quickly than it did, the optimist thinks the Phils will be competitive again. Which camp are you in? Or do you have another perspective?
on Maikel Franco
In today’s world, manipulating numbers is a cherry-picked value that some use to their advantage, when in days past stats weren’t capable of deceiving.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, fallouts will be coming for the most disappointing franchises. Will that mean firings, trading frenzies, fire sales and/or restructuring? Sherman’s list included the Detroit Tigers and divisional favorites: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals. And general managers of those organizations with overhauls–similar to the 2013 Boston Red Sox–will be spectators during the playoffs. But while Boston, the San Diego Padres, the Miami Marlins and the Chicago White Sox dazzled with bold offseason maneuvering, Ruben Amaro Jr. did not.
While waiting for the MLB Draft in June, the faithful will watch other teams scramble after Thanksgiving to remake their 25-man rosters, while the locals will only add inexpensive veteran pieces: One or two starters and a right fielder are the current holes. Realistically, keeping Domonic Brown for his second arbitration campaign would mean paying more than the $2.6 million he made this year, which might only happen if he confuses management with a dominating September. That stated, two themes have defined major league baseball in Philly for the last two-to-three seasons: Those demands have been to fire Amaro and to rebuild. And last December 10 the franchise moved Antonio Bastardo to the Pittsburgh Pirates as their first step.
With September call-ups looming, 51 weeks have passed since Franco donned the red pinstripes for his first appearance in the majors. However, while this group of minor leaguers will only be a third catcher and one or two rotation arms from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, right-hander Alec Asher from the Cole Hamels deal could be a five-slot hurler for 2016.
Despite the recent additions of righty Jerad Eickhoff, outfielder Aaron Altherr and infielder Darnell Sweeney, the second half began with much more excitement. Unfortunately, the microfracture to Franco’s wrist changed everything on August 11. Before that, however, the squad had a 16-6 record but have only been 5-8 since.
Shouldering the load besides Franco, Odubel Herrera and Ryan Howard have also provided a nice chuck of the offense. Meanwhile, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Cameron Rupp, Cody Asche and Darin Ruf have also earned their keep. But while Herrera, Franco and Hernandez have received the most praise, the media has cast doubt on Brown and Asche and has low expectations regarding Rupp and Ruf. However, the brain trust has noticed Asche’s improved hitting while deciding against tendering Brown a 2016 contract.
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Starting on August 11, the boys immediately began missing Franco’s presence, bat and energy in the lineup. Since then, though, Herrera is holding his own in the three slot; Asche is hitting opposite-handed pitching; and Rupp is taking charge of the receiving duties with bat, glove and arm. On the other hand, tiredness and the pressure without the slugging third sacker is heavily affecting Hernandez, and Howard had a power drop-off until the current series. The Big Piece, however, is still averaging above .270 and Galvis is hitting higher than.260.
To sum up, the improved stats for Howard, Asche and Ruf are due to part-time play, while the combination of Chase Utley‘s showcase, positional shifts and Franco’s absence directly affected Hernandez. And although Franco may return to get September at-bats, the team probably won’t rely on eight regulars because they’ll want to see more of Altherr and Sweeney. In other words, the competition for the first blanket selection in June’s Rule 4 draft will be between the Phils, the Marlins and the Colorado Rockies, and the front office knows exactly what they want with that first overall pick. The next staff ace is their target.
Storyline and Red Alert are not sabermetrics articles, which means no heavy statistical analysis. But because some readers rely on stats, this is only a reference: no reason to articulate the importance of these numbers.
Note: The statistics include games through August 25. * On the disabled list.
- C Rupp, almost 27: 19 Gms., 64 AB, a .266 Avg., a .333 OBP, a .531 SLG, an .865 OPS, five HR and 11 RBI.
- Without Franco: eight Gms., 27 AB, a .407 Avg., three HR and six RBI.
- C Carlos Ruiz, 36.5: 17 Gms., 59 AB, a .169 Avg., a .234 OBP, a .254 SLG, a .489 OPS, zero HR and four RBI.
- Without Franco: five Gms., 18 AB, a .278 Avg., zero HR and two RBI.
- 1B Howard, 35.5: 31 Gms., 115 AB, a .278 Avg., a .331 OBP, a .513 SLG, an .844 OPS, six HR and 27 RBI.
- Without Franco: 11 Gms., 37 AB, a .297 Avg., two HR and eight RBI.
- 1B Ruf, 29: 23 Gms., 49 AB, a .265 Avg., a .327 OBP, a .388 SLG, a .715 OPS, one HR and four RBI.
- Without Franco: 11 Gms., 22 AB, a .227 Avg., one HR and three RBI.
- 2B Hernandez, 25: 33 Gms., 138 AB, a .246 Avg., a .307 OBP, a .326 SLG, a .633 OPS, zero HR, 10 RBI, six SB and two CS.
- Without Franco: 12 Gms., 52 AB, a .154 Avg., zero HR, two RBI, one SB and one CS.
- * 3B Franco, 23: 22 Gms., 78 AB, a .256 Avg., a .344 OBP, a .474 SLG, an .819 OPS, three HR and 14 RBI.
- SS Galvis, 25.5: 33 Gms., 125 AB, a .264 Avg., a .293 OBP, a .408 SLG, a .701 OPS, three HR and 13 RBI.
- Without Franco: 13 Gms., 49 AB, a .286 Avg., one HR and seven RBI.
- LF Asche, 25: 29 Gms., 93 AB, a .269 Avg., a .320 OBP, a .462 SLG, a .782 OPS, two HR and 10 RBI.
- Without Franco: nine Gms., 30 AB, a .300 Avg., one HR and two RBI.
- CF Herrera, 23.5: 33 Gms., 117 AB, a .342 Avg., a .389 OBP, a .470 SLG, an .859 OPS, two HR, 10 RBI, five SB and one CS.
- Without Franco: 13 Gms., 47 AB, a .298 Avg., zero HR, two RBI, three SB and zero CS.
- RF Brown, almost 28: 30 Gms., 93 AB, a .269 Avg., a .320 OBP, a .462 SLG, a .782 OPS, five HR and 18 RBI.
- Without Franco: 10 Gms., 24 AB, a .208 Avg., one HR and three RBI.
- OF Altherr, 24.5: six Gms., 18 AB, a .222 Avg., a .286 OBP, a .667 SLG, a .952 OPS, two HR and five RBI.
In my opinion, the articles here represent the thinking of a front-office baseball man and occasionally non-playing field personnel. Reading people is the answer to their decisions: past, present and future. Also, the humanizing element highlights their successes, challenges and pitfalls regarding mental, emotional, and physical factors.
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