Dom Brown is an "improving" hitter, but probably not "good" yet. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Are There Any "Good" Hitters on the Phillies?

The Phillies have only one “good” hitter. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I am about to give you the very best reason I have as to why the Phillies need to be sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline this year.

Heck, they could even start now.

Here on Memorial Day, the Phillies are 6 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East, in third place. They are also 7 games out of the second Wild Card spot.

It’s only May 27th, but it’s getting pretty late really early here in 2013.

The biggest problem with the Phils has been the offense. Even with their best hitter, Chase Utley, in the lineup everyday, the team struggled to score runs. And now, with Utley on the disabled list, the lineup Charlie Manuel has been running out there every day has not been too terribly impressive.

While that is not the lineup I would play everyday, that is the lineup that Manuel thinks gives him the best chance to win most nights. Therefore, that is the lineup – a minor tweak here and there – you see just about every day for the Philadelphia Phillies.

And, in looking at that lineup, that ugly, pathetic lineup, an obvious but often un-asked question emerges about the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies.

Aside from Utley, are there ANY hitters on the Phils who could be called “good?”

I’m not talking about All-Star-level or even above average. I’m talking about “good.” That’s all. It’s a low bar to hurdle. We’re just looking for “good.”

Really, there are only four players who have a snowball’s chance in hell of fitting this category. And they all fall short.

“Good” waved bye-bye to Ryan Howard a long time ago. In 181 plate appearances this year, Howard is hitting .254 with an OPS of .719, with 6 HRs and 12 2Bs with a K/BB ratio of 52 to 9. His season can be best described by the following tweet…

 

While Dom Brown’s slugging has improved this year, up to .463 with an OPS of .759, his batting average (.257) and on-base percentage (.296) are still rather mediocre. He does lead the team in home runs with 9, which means he should definitely be moved up in the lineup. But I think he’s still a ways away from being labeled a “good” hitter. An “improving” hitter is probably a more apt description.

In the past, Jimmy Rollins’ value has been in his slugging percentage for the shortstop position. However, this year, Rollins has struggled with the extra-base hit, posting a slugging percentage of just .385 and, when coupled with his .300 on-base percentage, gives him an OPS of just .685. He’s hit only 3 home runs, but does have 14 doubles and a triple. Still, that .256 batting average and .685 OPS likely doesn’t afford him the label of being a “good hitter.” I’d call Rollins “average.”

For a while there, Michael Young was hitting in the .330s and, while it came almost exclusively in the form of singles, even those have dried up for him. After another 0 for 4 in Sunday’s loss to Washington, Young is now 7 for his last 53 (.132/.281/.189, .470 OPS), dropping his batting average from .330 to .268. He has just 10 extra-base hits in 2013 and has hit into a staggering 12 double plays so far this year. That’s not a “good” hitter.

Other players like Ben Revere, John Mayberry, Freddy Galvis, Delmon Young, Laynce Nix and Kevin Frandsen are so far away from “good” they’d need a road map and a flashlight to find it. Perhaps the best stat to sum up the lack of “good” hitters on this team can be summed up thusly…

 

A team’s best hitters are supposed to be their #3 and #4 hitters. Right now, the Phillies have a bunch of #6, 7 and 8 hitters scattered throughout the lineup. Even with Utley, who is probably more a #2 than a #3 hitter nowadays, that is still far too few impact bats.

The Phils were hoping Ryan Howard would recapture some of his power stroke. But he’s on pace for just 19 homers this year. Revere has had a decent month of May aided by an inflated BAbip. Delmon Young has been a non-factor in all but two games. Carlos Ruiz was here for a while, did nothing, then injured himself for another month. Michael Young’s ability to place singles has vanished. And Dom Brown, while improving, isn’t someone who should be depended upon to provide that kind of production just yet.

Playoff teams typically have two or three, maybe even four, “good” hitters in the lineup. In 2008 and 2009, the Phils had Rollins, Utley, Howard, Werth, Victorino and Burrell, all of whom you could probably classify as being at the very least, “good.” Can you say the Phils even have two of those types of guys? One?

At the end of the day, Ruben Amaro must decide if a lineup that, aside from Utley, doesn’t have a single “good” hitter in it, can challenge for a playoff spot. He must decide if a lineup with only one “good” hitter is enough to make up the 6 1/2 games they’re behind in the NL East and the 7 they trail in the Wild Card.

It seems pretty clear what the Phillies have to do.

Tags: Philadelphia Phillies

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