Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Calm Down Phillies Fans

Watching the Phillies lately must have made my eyesight worse, because I can’t seem to see any runs being scored.  Okay, fine, bad joke.  The Phillies offense has caused band wagon fans to make their leap back to the ground and die hard fans to line up on the Ben Franklin.  Stop your worries and doomsday radio calls to 610 WIP. 

The Phillies are one of those teams that can drive fans crazy.  The entire lineup goes cold all at the same time.  Not just one or two players, but the entire lineup.  The good news is they do this every season and every season it’s the same thing from the fans “It’s Ryan Howard, he’s a waste of 150 million” “It’s Jimmy Rollins; he needs to be moved from the leadoff spot” etc…  This year is a little different, with delusional addition of “This team misses Jayson Werth right now”. 

Let’s put some things to bed.  Ryan Howard is not overrated or over paid…okay maybe anyone making what he does is over paid but that’s a different story.  Howard had a bad night last night going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.  Sluggers are going to have those nights and they’re going to strike out a lot.  The good news is for the season Howard is tied for second in baseball with 35 RBI’s.  Let’s put that in perspective, out of the 168 runs the Phillies have scored, Ryan Howard has accounted for 35 of them, that equal’s 21% of the Phillies offense.   

Howard’s 9 homeruns ties him for 9th in baseball along with Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano, that’s a pretty good group.  Phillies fans watch Howard day in and day out and therefore call him overrated when he has a bad game.  If those same fans watched anyone of the above listed players they would say the same thing when those players slump.  As of right now Howard is on pace for 36 homeruns and 145 RBI’s, that’s a pretty good season and the best part is he hasn’t even gotten hot yet. 

The Jimmy Rollins argument has a lot more merit then the Ryan Howard one.  Rollins has never been a solid leadoff hitter.  This season he ranks 23rd among leadoff hitters with at least 50 at bats.  In the leadoff spot he’s hitting .267 with only 8 runs scored (34th in baseball) and 3 stolen bases (25th).  The most important stat for a leadoff hitter is on base percentage, Rollins is a low .323 ranking 26th.  Jimmy has a horrible tendency to swing at the first pitch and swing for the fences.  Then when he does make contact he jogs, trots or lightly shuffles down the first base line, driving fans that want to see effort and heart completely nuts.  For a team that is lacking runs, the change may need to be at the top of the lineup.  You can’t score runs if the guys at the top don’t get on base.   

The Jayson Werth argument baffles me.  Some Phils fans have this fantasy that Werth was Babe Ruth or something.  Werth was a good player for the Phillies, but to pay him what Washington did would have been foolish, he’s not “Werth” that much.  To hammer home the point, to date Werth is hitting .238 with 14 RBI’s.  He has 39 strikeouts and if you combine that with Ryan Howard’s that would be 89 between the two.  Toss in Raul Ibanez’s 35 and if Werth were still here the Phillies 4-6 hitters would have struck out a combined 124 times, that’s not better for the Phillies.  Fans also forget that Werth was one of the worst batters last season with runner’s in scoring position hitting .186, this season he’s only hitting .212.  The absence of Jayson Werth is not the reason for the Phillies offensive woes and he would not be the answer if he were still here.

The Phillies as a team tend to go through these skids and then rebound.  Last season to this point the Phillies were 24-14; this season they are 25-16.  Last season the Phillies were bad in April and hot for most of May.  Through May 21st 2010 they went 14-5 for the month, and then they hit a skid similar to the one they are in now.  From May 22nd through the end of the month they went 2-7.  In that stretch they were also shut out 5 times and scored only 10 runs in those 9 games.  They semi rebounded in June to finish the month at 13-13. 

The point here is it’s a long season and the Phillies are going to go through these stretches.  There is no need to make drastic changes like trading Ryan Howard for Jayson Werth.  The Phillies have suffered through injuries just like they did last season.  If they can get healthy and stay afloat they will ride out this down turn.  For those of you ready to jump off the Ben Franklin, tie a bungee cord to yourself because it’s an up and down season and you won’t want to miss it.

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