Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Odds and Ends - May 12

  • Blogging will be light this week, as I'm on the road much of the week and my computer will be in the shop part of the time as well.
  • The Pirates' Jung Ho Kang, with 21 major league games under his belt, now ranks No. 13 among native South Koreans in major league games played. The all-time leader is the Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo, with 1,003 and counting. Next up are Jae Kuk Ryu, a pitcher for three teams in 2006-8, who appeared in 28 games, and then Dae-Sung Koo, who pitched in 33 games for the Mets in 2005. I don't remember Dae-Sung Koo. Fortunately, the talented Jon Bois from Sports on Earth does. The video runs about ten minutes and is worth the time. 
  • Over at Just A Bit Outside, David Golebiewski has a fun set of graphs on the Pirates' offensive struggles.
  • A day late, but here's a Next Up on the Philadelphia Phillies.
How Are They Doing Lately? Over the past 30 days, the Phillies' 8-20 record is a .286 winning percentage, the worst in baseball. The Pirates have gone from a series against the hottest team in baseball, the Cardinals, to one against the coldest team in the sport.

What's Going Right? In the 15-team National League, the Phillies' relievers have a 2.92 ERA, fourth best in the league over the past 30 days. Considering that their starting pitchers (keep reading) have forced the bullpen to throw 83.1 innings, fourth most in the league, that's pretty good.

What's Going Wrong? The starting pitchers have a 5.34 ERA over the past 30 days, second-worst in the league. The offense is terrible. Over the past 30 days, they're second-to last in batting average (.233, barely ahead of the Brewers' .232), last in on base percentage (.285), and last in slugging percentage (.342). They've also hit only 17 homers, trailing only the Giants with 16, despite the fact that the Giants play in a pitchers' park and the Phils are in homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park. As a result, the team with the fourth-highest payroll in the league ($131.4 million) is only 11th in attendance (26,052 per game).

Who's Hot? This should tell you all you need to know about the Phillies' offense: Over the last 30 days, their best batter has been light-hitting shortstop Freddy Galvis, who's batting .330 with a .378 on base percentage but almost no power: 27 singles and three extra-base hits. Or how about this: Pitcher Chad Billingsley, who was last a major league regular in 2012, is tied for fifth on the club in homers (with one) over the past 30 days. On the mound, 37-year-old righty Aaron Harang has been a pleasant surprise (2.77 ERA over six starts in the past 30 days). Closer Jonathan Papelbon has a 2.00 ERA over the past 30 days and setup man Ken Giles is at 0.77.

Who's Not? One of the bet players in franchise history, second baseman Chase Utley, looks done: He's batting .125 over the past 30 days and .122 on the season. The Phils are getting almost no offensive contribution from four positions: Utley at second, Cody Asche at third, Carlos Ruiz at catcher, and the duo of Jeff Francoeur and Grady Sizemore in right. After Harang and fellow veteran/trade bait Cole Hamels, the rest of the rotation has been awful (7.14 combined ERA).

What's the Outlook? In my season preview, I identified the Phillies' chances of finishing last in the National League East as one of the five locks in baseball this season. While I'm not doing so well with my others (Nationals in first, currently second; Braves in fourth, currently third; Dodgers in first, right so far; Twins in last, currently third), the Phils have been pretty bad. And it's not like they're young and rebuilding: Their batters are fifth oldest in the league and their pitchers second oldest. Maybe they can help the Bucs' bats emerge from their long slumber.

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