The Phillies struggled for most of the first half but still find themselves 4.5 out of first with plenty of time to make noise in their own division. Only a handful of players are deserving of good grades as they consistently performed to their expectations or higher. Some others have disappointed in their seasons, whether injuries were involved or not. We’ll take a look at the starting eight, the rotation, the bench, and the bull pen.
C) Carlos Ruiz – B+
Stats: 58 games, .283 avg., 18 R, 11 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI.
Overview: Chooch was bitten by the bug, one of many to hit the DL. But when he’s healthy, he provided a nice bat at the bottom of the line up. He had a hot start where he was killing the ball in April and May. His .404 OBP his very high for a catcher in the bottom of the order. His 31 walks are up there for the amount of games he’s played. He’s been much better than expected so far and gets better in the later months of the season.
1B) Ryan Howard – B+
Stats: 87 games, .294 avg., 55 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 65 RBI.
Overview: Howard is enjoying an increase in batting average and a decrease in strike outs despite still leading the team in whiffs. He has only walked 26 times this year, a stat that he has needed to work on his entire career. Many are concerned that his power numbers are down and he’s hitting too many singles. The fact he’s hitting the ball and getting on base while still driving in his normal amount of runs is what’s important. So what if he isn’t hitting the long ball. He’s tied for first in the NL in RBIs and is only five homers behind the leaders. Howard is hitting the ball and that’s all that matters. Like Chooch, his best months are right around the corner. Expect a show.
2B) Chase Utley – C+
Stats: 72 games, .277 avg., 49 R, 13 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 31 RBI.
Overview: Utley has not enjoyed his first half, starting with a hot start, a horrible slump, a resurgence, and now a 6-8-week injury to his right thumb. But Utley’s return will boost the Phillies, who need the All-Star second baseman to win. Utley’s grade was difficult to give because of the slump and injury. His power numbers and RBI numbers were way down and his average is well below his career mark of .294. His second half numbers should improve with Howard’s.
3B) Placido Polanco – A-
Stats: 62 games, .318 avg., 39 R, 15 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 27 RBI.
Overview: Polly was everything the Phillies expected from him, from being a great bat to fill the hole in the line up left by Pedro Feliz to making sure the Phillies infield didn’t lose anything after letting the sure-handed Feliz walk. His only problem is his lack of walks (12) as the two-hole hitter despite making that up with his ability to hit his way on base. He also got bit by the injury bug but should be back by Saturday to help balance the Phillies line up back out again.
SS) Jimmy Rollins – C
Stats: 31 games, .254 avg., 18 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI.
Overview: Rollins had a hot start to the season before going down with a calf injury. After a second stint on the DL when he re-aggravated the injury, his numbers nose-dived. His OBP is below the average for lead-off’s but that’s normal for the non-traditional one-spot hitter. If Rollins’ bat heats back up, the Phillies would be more than grateful.
LF) Raul Ibanez – C-
Stats: 85 games, .243. avg., 36 R, 18 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 39.
Overview: He’s been swinging a good bat lately but still isn’t performing to the expectations he set in last year’s first-half. The Phillies don’t expect much more production from him than he has already given them, proving that Ruben Amero, Jr.’s decision to sign him for that much money for three years to be a bone-head move. Granted Ibanez is still a fan favorite and has come through in the clutch, more consistency is needed out of him, especially in these trying times.
CF) Shane Victorino – D
Stats: 86 games, .250 avg., 54 R, 12 2B, 8 3B, 14 HR, 48 RBI.
Overview: Though his remarks against the Phillies fans were called for, they were aimed at the wrong fans and were definitely not deserving of coming from a player who has done so little for this team this season. Him popping up is almost as expected as Wilson Valdez to ground into a double play. There was a reason he was dropped to the seven-hole when Polanco was signed. He’s not a good hitter from the top of the line up and isn’t drawing the walks to get on base (.317 OBP). So maybe, Shane, you should just shut up and play the game for now.
RF) Jayson Werth – B
Stats: 84 games, .282 avg., 52 R, 27 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 49 RBI.
Overview: He’s not doing jack squat for this squad in his contract year. Yea the inflated .282 average looks nice but he’s only trailing Howard in K’s by three. That average is mainly due to the ridiculous start he had in April/May when he was destorying the baseball. Now it seems as if he’s going through the motions. He’s walking a lot, leading the team with 40 along with Utley, but he isn’t producing from the five-hole. His 13 homers and 49 RBI’s are way off his 2009 mark but he’s leading the league in doubles. I expect his bat to get red hot soon along with Howard’s. They always seem to get hot at the right time. If Werth wakes out of his funk, maybe he’ll get that big payday he thinks he deserves.
SP) Roy Halladay – A+
Stats: 19 starts, 10-7, 2,19 ERA, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 148.0 IP, 19 BB, 128 K.
Overview: You couldn’t ask for more from Doc. In fact, all Halladay asks for is a little more run support. He should only have two losses with the way he’s pitched but has gotten little to no-run support at all in seemingly his last 13 starts. But Halladay is still making hitters in the NL look foolish, pitching well enough to be high up in the Cy Young talks with Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson. His perfect game along with seven complete games and three shut outs speak volumes. He also averages over 7 2/3 IP per start, showing how much of an asset he is to the bull pen and the team.
SP) Cole Hamels – B+
Stats: 18 starts, 7-7, 3.78 ERA, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 112.0 IP, 39 BB, 107 K.
Overview: Cole is having a much better season than his numbers suggest due to lack of run support and a couple of bad starts. Other than that, his ERA is about normal. Many were concerned if he was going to be able to bounce back from a 2009 season in which he admitted he wanted over with in the World Series. Hamels is back and has been the most reliable arm on the hill behind Doc. No pressure, Cole. Keep on hurlin’.
SP) Jamie Moyer – B
Stats: 17 starts, 9-8, 4.51 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 107.2 IP, 20 BB, 62 K.
Overview: I should give him an A for being 47-years old and no one thinking he deserved to even be in the rotation. He quieted a lot of people by continuing to be a very reliable arm, even the third best in a rotation that has been very good for the Phillies. He’s a contact pitcher that relies on the corners of the plate. He’s done a great job at hitting those spots and making batters take bad cuts at his floating fastball and even slower change-up. He may not be the most talented or dominating pitcher but his understanding of the game is the reason he still does what he does and does it well.
Rest of the rotation – C+
Overview: Joe Blanton is starting to pitch better after his rough first eight or nine starts. Kyle Kendrick has been either spectacular or awful in each of his starts. But the pitching situation for the last two spots will get interesting again once J.A. Happ is back up with the Phillies. The young lefty was hurt after two starts and in his 10 innings pitched, he has yet to allow an earned run.
Bull pen – D
Overview: They have been awful. Brad Lidge, when healthy, scares the ever-loving crap out of fans when he goes out. Ryan Madson is done kicking chairs and is back to pitching the eighth inning as the opening act for the circus in the ninth. J.C. Romero has been up and down and Jose Contreras has been awful since his very good start. Danys Baez is worthless and David Herndon isn’t that good and is only on the squad thanks to the Rule-5 rules. The Phils are longing for the return of Chad Durbin though.
Bench – D
Overview: Not one bench player is batting over .250 that has been a regular sub all season. Greg Dobbs is starting to find his stroke though as Ross Gload has gotten worse. Brian Schneider being healthy again will allow Ruiz to stay fresh. Ben Francisco has been a let-down this season. Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro are both awful choices to play in Utley’s spot but that is all they have.