FanPost

The 2014 Phillies: Where Older is Better

Much has been written about Ruben Amaro's penchant for expensive, aging veterans and his transformation of the Phillies' farm system into a veritable desert of young talent. In 2014, though, it's been the Wheeze Kids that have been carrying the Phils, as much as a team that's 32-38 with a -28 run differential can be carried.

I divided the team into two age groups: 30 and younger, and 31 and older. Here's the breakdown (all numbers from Fangraphs; at least 10 PA required):

#

Name

Age

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

1

Cody Asche

24

40

136

4

14

18

0

.258

.346

.425

.338

113

-0.3

2

Cesar Hernandez

24

34

81

1

7

2

1

.240

.288

.307

.264

61

-0.3

3

Freddy Galvis

24

16

46

0

2

1

0

.048

.109

.048

.084

-62

-0.9

4

Ben Revere

26

63

252

1

31

9

20

.281

.298

.335

.281

74

0.4

5

Domonic Brown

26

68

268

5

23

36

5

.223

.272

.332

.263

61

-0.9

6

Darin Ruf

27

7

11

1

1

1

0

.100

.182

.400

.255

56

-0.1

7

Reid Brignac

28

23

72

1

4

10

1

.266

.338

.422

.332

108

-0.1

8

John Mayberry

30

46

91

5

7

19

0

.256

.363

.526

.388

147

0.8

The only guys with decent wRC+ numbers are Cody Asche, currently riding the DL with a hamstring injury, and John Mayberry, who's solid in the field but doesn't really have a place to play. (Being stuck behind the $25 million contract of Ryan Howard, which along with his 89 strikeouts isn't going anywhere, is part of the problem.) Mayberry's been great when called on, to the tune of going 8-for-17 with 11 RBI pinch-hitting. He's racked up much of that value against lefties, though: .293/.396/.634 isn't in the same universe as .216/.326/.405 against right-handers. Also, Mayberry's the oldest of the young guns by two years.

The rest of the bunch can't hit either handedness. Freddy Galvis has been one of the worst players in all of baseball this year, going a meager 2-for-42 in his 16 games. Ben Revere (he of the solitary home run!) has shown flashes, but still barely walks and has been suspect on defense. He's not been nearly as bad as Cesár Hernández, though, who surrendered the third base job to journeyman Reid Brignac and his .225 career batting average. Brignac's recent late-inning heroics don't make up for his free-swinging ways (23 strikeouts in 72 PA), but they're a start.

Now for the geezers:

#

Name

Age

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

1

Tony Gwynn

31

52

101

0

12

3

2

.155

.268

.179

.215

28

-0.8

2

Jayson Nix

31

18

43

1

1

2

0

.154

.214

.231

.207

23

-0.3

3

Ryan Howard

34

68

292

13

35

47

0

.238

.315

.427

.319

100

0.2

4

Chase Utley

35

66

293

5

38

33

1

.302

.362

.473

.359

127

2.3

5

Carlos Ruiz

35

58

241

2

27

13

3

.279

.382

.387

.347

118

1.6

6

Jimmy Rollins

35

66

293

8

35

26

11

.247

.340

.396

.330

107

1.5

7

Marlon Byrd

36

69

291

11

34

42

1

.268

.320

.476

.345

117

0.7

8

Wil Nieves

36

14

57

1

5

4

1

.259

.273

.407

.298

85

0.2

They've actually produced pretty well, especially Chase Utley, who's having another All-Star season. Carlos Ruiz has been quietly solid at the plate as well as behind it, and Wil Nieves has filled in ably for a small price ($1.125 million). Marlon Byrd, one of Amaro's most-criticized signings, has shown some power behind Utley and Howard, making up for the total disappointment that is Domonic Brown, who's rapidly proving that last year's 27 HR were a fluke.

Jimmy Rollins, as controversial a player as he is, has been his usual durable self with one exception: he's walking more. A LOT more. The 93-point difference between AVG and OBP would be a career high, and his 36 walks prorate to 83 by the end of the year, which would top his previous high in 2012 by a whopping 21 (34% increase). Having finally ceded the leadoff spot to Ben Revere et al, the newly-crowned franchise hit king has finally shown some patience, albeit a little late for someone with a .328 career OBP.

All in all, it's not been the expensive free-agent signings or aging core that's been holding the Phillies offense back, but rather the young guys who have been unable to fill the void left by departed players like Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Yes, they'll get a boost when Asche comes back (possibly today at St. Louis), but the Phils need solid contribution from their kids to have any chance of clawing back into the race for a thoroughly mediocre NL East. Even with their recent sweep of the Braves, they've got a ways to go.

I'll break down the Phillies' pitching by age group in a future article.

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