The Phillies are already among the worst defensive teams in the league
Thanks mostly to Alec Bohm, the Phillies defense has been under the spotlight early on in the season. A player making three errors and then mouthing that he fucking hates the city he plays in, tends to do that. If we take a closer look at advanced statistics and video evidence, the entire Phillies defense has been among the worst in Major League Baseball and is a big reason why they are only 5-8 to begin the season.
When the Phillies signed Kyle Schwarber and then Nick Castellanos this offseason, the most common reaction was excitement over the potential ceiling of the offense. When a club adds two all-star level hitters to a team that already was league average in most offensive categories, it’s most definitely worthy of attention.
But soon after the initial shock wore off we as a fan base began to wonder how the Phillies would make the additions work defensively. Neither Schwarber nor Castellanos rate out as even average defenders at any position on the field.
If poor pitching and blown saves from the bullpen were the main reason the Phillies missed the playoffs in 2021, defensive efficiency could easily be seen as the second.
On any given day you could argue that JT Realmuto is the only above-average defensive player on the diamond for the Phils. And when you take a look at the early returns for the 2022 season the results are not promising.
Currently, the Phillies are below league average in just about every defensive category
- Fielding Pct -.985 (17th)
- Defensive Efficiency – (24th)
- Errors – 7 (league average 6)
- Defensive Runs Saved – 8 (28th)
The Phillies’ pitching has been also been awful to start the season allowing 5.15 runs per game, good for 28th in the league. Bad pitching can magnify a bad defense by increasing chances for the opposing team to put the ball in play. The Phillies’ defense has seen 474 chances which is the 4th highest amount in the league.
So not only is the Phillies defense playing poorly, but they are being provided plenty of opportunity to do so. Using UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is a commonly used advanced stat that attempts to put a better run value on defense.
When you look at the Phillies UZR, the only position where they are playing above-average defense is shortstop.
- 1B: -0.7 (26th)
- 2B: 0.3 (12th)
- 3B: -1.1 (28th)
- SS: 1.0 (4th)
- LF: -0.1 (16th)
- CF: -0.5 (22nd)
- RF:-0.7 (24th)
Kudos to Didi Gregorius, Bryson Stott, and Johan Camargo!
April 20th: Just the other day against the Rockies, Jean Segura’s toe got caught on a routine ground ball. The Rockies would go on to score two runs in the inning.
April 18th: Jose Alvarado threw approximately four other pitches that could have gotten by JT Realmuto before finally making it happen… The Rockies went up 2-0 on what proved to be the winning run.
April 17th: Simon Muzziotti and Nick Castellanos have probably never spoken to each other before and it shows on this routine fly ball..
The Phillies are rotating in a ton of new outfielders including Muzziotti who is playing center field in the majors before he is ready because of injuries to Mickey Moniak and Odubel Herrera.
April 14th: Matt Vierling couldn’t catch up to this fly ball near the left field fence that ended up as a triple for Jesus Sanchez. Yes, this would have been a nice catch by Vierling, but an above average center fielder certainly makes the play.
April 9th: Bryce Harper misplayed this fly ball up against the right field fence in the 9th inning against the Oakland A’s. The Phillies made a second error on the next play when JT Realmuto collected a passed ball and threw it into center field.
The A’s wound up losing 4-2 after the Phillies ended the game with a timely double-play. But this is a perfect example of how their poor defense is putting them in position to lose a game they should easily win.
Despite the Phillies sporting top ten offensive production in most categories, the pitching and more importantly the defense behind it, has left the team with a 5-8 record after 13 games.
For the 2022 edition of the Phillies to finally reach the playoffs after a decade of mediocrity, the pitching or the defense will need to be around league average. After the first two weeks of the season, there seems little chance the help comes from the Phillies glove work.
Mandatory Image Credit: The NY Post