Thursday, May 30, 2013

What a Difference Five Years Makes -- Phillies' Lineup in 2008 Versus Now


Rollins SS
Victorino CF
Utley 2B
Howard 1B
Werth RF
Burrell LF
Feliz 3B
Ruiz C


Ben Revere CF
Cesar Hernandez 2B
Rollins SS
Delmon Young RF
Domonic Brown LF
Kevin Frandsen 1B
Eric Kratz C
Freddy Galvis 3B

Then:  The press referred to the 2008 lineup as an "American League" lineup because a) the position players got on base (save, perhaps, Feliz, who had one of the lowest OBPs in the game), b) the batters hit the living daylights out of the ball and c) the lineup scared people.  Utley and Werth saw more pitches per at bat than any other hitters in the NL, and the on-base percentages were very good.

Now:  The lineup scares no one.  More batters have OBPs under .300 than over it, or so it seems.  The only hitter right now who scares anyone is Domonic Brown, who is distinguishing himself with his power (he does need to walk more).  Other than that, Revere is a great fielder but light hitter who doesn't get on base, Hernandez is a rookie, Rollins is nearing the end of his career, Young's OBP last year was south of .300, Frandsen is a journeyman, Kratz will finish a Starbucks "Venti" cup of coffee in the Majors by year's end and Galvis is a prospect who fans like but who might not hit.  Put differently, a top-of-the-rotation pitcher on a reasonable night won't yield more than two runs to this crew.

Then:  They were at the top of their game.  It was before the big contracts.  The starting pitching might not have been as good top to bottom (especially before Roy Halladay's injury), but the bullpen was outstanding.  They played so hard that no opponent's lead was safe -- witness some great games in '07 in August against the Mets, where Jayson Werth stole Billy Wagner blind on a particular day to win a game.  Watch the '08 highlight video, and you'll see a dugout full of leaders.

Now:  There are many big contracts.  There are the repetitive injuries that seem to come with age.  The bullpen has a good closer but is iffy everywhere else.  The lineup, well, we talked about that.

We knew it wouldn't last forever, but we saw moves that didn't make sense, that didn't get the team younger, that were so made to "win now" that they foreshadowed today.  And the Phillies didn't win any more "now," the Giants did. 

What a difference five years makes.

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