Archive for June, 2010

FanGraphs Audio: Fantasy “Friday” w/Axisa & Sanders

Episode Thirty-Seven
In which the panel is fantastic.

Headlines
Brad Climbing the Lidge?
Rumbles (re: Aging) in the Bronx
Parra: The Manny He Seems to Be?

Featuring
Michael Axisa, Our Man in New York
Zach Sanders, Pod Workhorse

Finally, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio on the flip-flop.

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What the Dodgers Should Do

Overview

The Dodgers are in second place, three games behind the division leading Padres. They’re a game ahead of the Rockies, who I suggested yesterday should be buyers. They won the NL West a year ago, and have mostly the same team back for 2010. This should be a pretty easy decision, right? Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the situation is complicated.

Buy or Sell

Given the team’s place in the standings and the talent on the roster, we can cross “sell” off the list of options in July. Theoretically, they should be buyers, but can they be, and if so, what should they be buying?

The divorce of the McCourts hangs over the entire organization, and while team officials continue to insist that it doesn’t affect their finances, it’s hard to take them seriously after they declined to offer arbitration to any of their free agents and failed to make any meaningful improvements to the roster.

The presumption is, and will likely continue to be, that the team is broke, and can’t afford to take on much in the way of salary. Given the players that are generally available in July, that’s a problem.

There are quite a few players who would make sense for the Dodgers if they could go shopping. They need a back-end starter to give them reliable innings behind the trio of Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, and Chad Billingsley, and that’s probably the asset that is most available via trade. Whether its Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, or Ted Lilly, there are quite a few potential #4 starters who could be had for something less than the ransom that a guy like Cliff Lee will demand.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, all three of those pitchers make significant money this year, and they would likely have to ask the GM on the other side of things to pick up a substantial amount of salary in any deal. The last time the Dodgers made that kind of deal, they shipped Carlos Santana to the Indians – whoops. They may not be eager to essentially sell off a young player again after getting burned so badly the last time, especially for a guy who would essentially be a rented role player and may not put them over the top anyway.

After all, this Dodgers roster has some problems that aren’t easily fixed. The outfield defense is awful, but they can’t afford to lose the offense provided by Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier in order to upgrade the glovework. They could use a better first baseman than James Loney, but outside of Prince Fielder, there’s probably not a guy out there who would make a big enough difference, and again, Fielder is pricey.

In reality, the Dodgers just need some of their own guys to play better. They can tweak the roster, but they can’t do anything to completely fix it until they have money to spend, and that makes giving up prospects to supplement a half-built playoff team less palatable than is usually the case for a team this close to October baseball.

On The Farm

The Dodgers system has talent, but it’s mostly in the lower levels of the system, which will also hurt their ability to make deals. Even top prospect Dee Gordon is more tools than production at this point, even though he’s made it to Double-A. Considering that the Dodgers are likely going to ask other teams to pay the freight for high salaried players, there may not be enough in the system for them to convince a team to make that kind of move.

Budget

The big unknown. The divorce makes it impossible to assume anything about the ability of the organization to add payroll, so the best we can do is guess that they’ll maintain the status quo.


What the Detroit Tigers Should Do

Overview

The Tigers have exceeded the expectations of many (including myself) in 2010 by not only winning, but by being in the thick of the AL Central race, going back-and-forth with the Twins this week for the divisional lead. Yes, they’ve outplayed their run differential by 3 games, but those wins are “in the bank.” Some regression is to be expected, so the Tigers should be looking to make marginal improvements to improve their chances.

Buy or Sell

Although the Tigers aren’t as talented as the Twins, they’ve managed to stay with them so far. They also have an older roster that isn’t going to get any better (as a group) than they are now, so they really should go for it. There are some areas they can improve to can better their odds of making the playoffs a fair bit without crippling themselves for the future.

While relievers are often overvalued in relation to how much they can help in a partial season, in the Tigers’ case they could probably help themselves more than most teams given how thin their bullpen is beyond closer Jose Valverde, especially after Joel Zumaya’s season-ending injury. There should be plenty of sellers this season with relievers available that won’t cost the Tigers much in terms of talent or money; it shouldn’t be difficult to improve on the likes of Eddie Bonine, Brad Thomas, Ryan Perry, et. al.

Staff ace Justin Verlander projects to pitch better the rest of the season and Max Scherzer is coming around after a rough start to the season, but the Tigers could improve the middle and back of their starting rotation relatively cheaply. Jeremy Bonderman should be adequate if he can stay healthy, but with Rick Porcello in the minors after terrible struggles and Armando Galarraga returning to the reality of being Armando Galararaga, this is an area the Tigers should look at. They probably aren’t in a position to trade for one of the big name starters out there, but adding another league average starter to go every fifth day could potentially add a couple of wins down the stretch without mortgaging the future.

The situation with the non-pitchers is a curious one: they have a few good players and one great one (Miguel Cabrera), but then they also have some mediocre role players like Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago who could be improved upon, but are good enough that it probably wouldn’t be worth the wins that would be added given what it would cost to do so at in-demand positions like third base and shortstop. Barring an opportunity for a trade they can’t pass up, Detroit should be looking to proactively maximize the talent they have. Austin Jackson‘s post-April offensive performance is a good reminder that while Brennan Boesch’s BABIP-fueled contributions are “in the bank,” they aren’t likely to continue, and they should be ready to give more of Boesch’s playing time to Ryan Raburn (who’s a much better hitter than he’s shown so far this season), for example. Another idea along these lines would be to give Scott Sizemore another chance at second base (that was cut short at barely over 100 PAs in part because of bad luck on BABIP) and give Boesch’s at-bats to newly-minted “second baseman” Carlos Guillen, a good hitter whose fragile health the Tigers should be looking to preserve. If Sizemore could hit adequately, this would also improve their infield defense.

On the Farm

Beyond the Box Score’s pre-season aggregate farm system rankings had the Tigers’ system at #21. Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby are young pitchers with a lot of upside that the Tigers shouldn’t be looking to move. After that, there are some useful parts and some long-term potential. Some of the useful parts are decent enough and yet aren’t so great that the Tigers should be afraid to move them in the right offer (e.g., Wilkin Ramirez).

Budget

For all the off-season hand-wringing about their budget, the Tigers 2010 payroll is about $134 million dollar, according to Cot’s. Big contracts for Verlander, Cabrera, Guillen, and likely Ordonez (if the Tigers keep winning, his 2011 option will vest, although that hardly seems as devastating as it did the last time it happened) are still on the books for 2011, but Bonderman’s $12.5 million, Johnny Damon’s $8 million, and Brandon Inge’s $6.6 million, among others, are coming off the books. If the Tigers payroll stays at about the same level, they should have some leeway in that regard in 2011.


Span’s Big Numbers Boost

Any time a player achieves a rare feat it surely will lead the discussion the following day. There were a number of notable performances yesterda, but none stood out quite like Denard Span’s 4 for 4 night, which included three triples. Just minutes after the game ended Andy from the B-R blog got the ball rolling, noting that Span is just the 29th player in MLB history to hit three triples in a game. We’ve seen no shortage of accolades since, and rightly so. Span certainly deserves it.

What stood out to me about Span’s night, beyond his chance for a record-breaking fourth triple later in the game, was how dramatically it changed his season numbers. Coming into the game Span was hitting .275/.347/.367, a .332 wOBA. Those aren’t terrible numbers, especially for a center fielder, but they are below the lofty standards Span set for himself in the last two seasons. Those performances established him as Minnesota’s every day center fielder and earned him an extension. This year, in the first year of his new guaranteed contract, he has gotten off to a slow start.

After three triples, a single, and a walk, Span’s numbers have grown to .284/.356/.394, a .346 wOBA. He added four runs above replacement, raising his WAR from 1.8 to 2.2. These are pretty large changes for this point in the season, and they came with one stellar game. It’s this type of thing that gets me thinking about poor performers. We’re always going to see good players go through slumps, and when those slumps come early it’s easier to notice them in the numbers. How would three-triple, one-single, one-walk, and no-out night look for a number of other disappointing hitters?

This would also with any combination of 10 total bases and no outs recorded, including the cycle.

Joe Mauer. Starting with Span’s teammate, Mauer hasn’t had a poor season by reasonable standards. It’s only his 2009 MVP campaign that makes his .353 wOBA in 2010, fourth among catchers (and that includes non-catcher Mike Napoli) look in any way poor. He’s at .302/.378/.431 right now, and if he repeats Span’s feat tonight he’d be at .313/.390/.463. Not quite MVP level right now, but getting there.

Chipper Jones Injuries have slowed him, but there’s still time for Chipper to rebound and power the Braves offense. His line now: .252/.384/.386, very un-Chipper-like. His line after 10 total bases and a walk: .266/.397/.425.

Hideki Matsui. Acquired to hit cleanup for the Angels this year, Matsui has disappointed in the early goings. His .262/.338/.427 line is certainly below his capabilities, though age and injuries have certainly taken their tolls. With Span’s night he’d be hitting .270/.343/.458.

Mark Teixeira. After a slow start it seemed like Teixeira picked it up in May. Then he slumped. Then he streaked. And slumped. And streaked. It’s resulted in a .230/.343/.409 line, which is below where he’s been at this point in any previous season. Add in 10 total bases and a walk and he’s hitting .240/.352/.437.

Matt Kemp. After a couple of games removed from the starting lineup it looks like Kemp’s ready to get get back at it. If he goes 4 for 4 with three triples and a walk tonight he’ll be hitting .270/.328/.482, against his current .261/.318/.455 line.

Adam Jones. Before the season there was much talk of Jones, now 24, breaking out and helping turn around the Orioles. Instead the O’s are the worst team in baseball and Jones has had a rough time getting on base. After a Span night, he’d improve his .268/.295/.437 line to .278/.305/.464. That would, of course, require him to actually draw a walk.

There are plenty more, of course, and all it takes is one good game to give them a huge boost to poor numbers. Just imagine if they have a 10 total base game, start hitting to their career averages, and then have another one of those games in a month. It sounds like that would end any perception of disappointment pretty quickly.


The Older Guys

Back in January, Dave Cameron was discussing the lack of interest in then free agent Johnny Damon, saying:

Abreu was a bargain on a one year, $5 million deal with the Angels, even as he proved that he didn’t really belong in the outfield anymore. Damon, though, is basically the same hitter, just with better defensive skills, and he might have to settle for less than what Abreu got? This is a market correction gone way too far.

Even with the reduced costs of wins, Damon is easily worth $8 to $10 million for 2010. Just like with Abreu last year, teams will be kicking themselves in a few months if they let him sign for peanuts. There are enough clubs out there that could use a +2 to +3 win left fielder that this level of disinterest is simply a market failure.

So let’s see if teams have indeed taken advantage of these older players by looking at a few. I’m going to focus on position players who received one-year deals and had question marks surrounding them due at least partly to their age.

LF Johnny Damon
Free agent age: 36
Signed by Detroit Tigers to 1 year, $8 million deal
2009 WAR: 3.6
2010 WAR: 1.1

Damon, the centerpiece of Cameron’s commentary, finally got a nice-sized deal from Detroit. Although the lefty has gotten on base at near the same rate as last season (.365), the power has been zapped, as he’s only slugging .391, his lowest rate since 2001. However, a 113 wRC+ isn’t that bad given that Damon has a UZR/150 of 19.2 in left field. That adds up to 1.1 WAR already on the season. If Damon continues his current pace, he’ll be worth his contract.

2B Orlando Hudson
Free agent age: 32
Signed by Minnesota Twins to 1 year, $5 million deal
2009 WAR: 2.9
2010 WAR: 1.8

It’s hard to imagine why Hudson only got that $5 million after a very good year with the Dodgers in 2009. He has continued his solid offense with a .337 wOBA, but it’s been his defense that has guided him this season, as Orlando’s on pace for a 16.1 UZR/150. At 1.8 WAR, Hudson’s already been worth his contract and then some.

OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero
Free agent age: 35
Signed by Texas Rangers to 1 year, $5 million deal
2009 WAR: 0.8
2010 WAR: 2.1

Vlad in that hot, homer-happy ballpark in Arlington? It just made too much sense not to have happened. After a down season in 2009 in which he was hampered by injury, Vlad has put up a beautiful line of .327/.374/.538, solid numbers for a DH. Like Hudson, Guerrero has already been worth his contract at 2.0 WAR, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down soon.

1B Aubrey Huff
Free agent age: 33
Signed by San Francisco Giants to 1 year, $3 million deal
2009 WAR: -1.3
2010 WAR: 2.3

What a swing from last season. R.J. Anderson wrote about Huff recently, so I’ll let him explain:

The Giants signed Huff for $3 million on a one-year basis- meaning that just getting a combination of those projected figures probably would have made Huff worth it. Instead they have received one of the best hitters in baseball to date. It’s like a karmic refund for the Edgar Renteria deal turning into a mess.

3B Miguel Tejada
Free agent age: 36
Signed by Baltimore Orioles to one year deal worth $6 million
2009 WAR: 2.7 WAR
2010 WAR: 0.8 WAR

Tejada has not found much success back with the O’s this year, as the third baseman is slugging a career low .379. Add to that a .318 OBP and you have a corner infielder with an OPS under .700. Luckily for Miggy his defense has been above average this year, and if he can muster some pop in the second half of the season, he will most likely be worth his contract in terms of our Dollars metric.

1B Russell Branyan
Free agent age: 34
Signed by Cleveland Indians to 1 year deal worth $2 million
2009 WAR: 2.8
2010 WAR: 1.2

Despite losing some time due to an injury, Branyan has put up a .355 wOBA with very good defense (11.2 UZR/150) at first base. He’s already been worth more ~2.5 times his contract thus far. His initial demands this past winter may have been unreasonable, but there’s no question Branyan truly settled at just $2 million.

These are only a handful of names, and I’ll go through some more later on, but at least on a bunch of these players, Mr. Cameron seems to be on the money.


FanGraphs Chat – 6/30/10


Appreciating Adrian Beltre

Looking to re-establish his value following an injury-marred 2009 season, Adrian Beltre signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Boston Red Sox over the winter. By virtue of fantastic third base defense, Beltre still managed 2.4 WAR in his last season with the Mariners while battling a left shoulder injury requiring surgery to remove bone spurs, among other misfortunes that won’t be spoken of here.

As Beltre’s Seattle tenure came to a close, some characterized the five-year, $64 million pact that the M’s gave the third baseman prior to the 2005 season as a waste of team resources. Beltre, according to the narrative, went bonkers during his last season with the Dodgers, landed stacks-o-cash in free agency and then returned to mediocrity. Unfortunately, the facts get in the way of good copy.

Beltre played six full seasons for the Dodgers. He put up an astonishing 10.1 WAR in 2004, but he was an asset those other years, too. From 1999-2003, Beltre averaged 3.3 WAR per season. And, while uttering Bill Bavasi’s name in Seattle still might produce dirty looks and suggestions of physically impossible acts, Beltre was worth every penny the Mariners gave him.

Safeco Field is a crippling environment for right-handed power hitters. Adjusting for league and park factors, Beltre’s bat was slightly above-average — his wRC+ as a Mariner was 102. That decent lumber was coupled with upper-echelon defense, as Beltre posted UZR/150 marks of +8.8, +19.2, -2.7, +13.4 and +21.2. The former Dodger racked up a combined 16.7 WAR with Seattle, a performance that our Dollars system valued at $67.3 million.

In Boston, Beltre is enjoying his best season since that double-digit WAR total back in ’04. After a four-for-four night against the Rays, he’s batting .349/.387/.561 in 310 trips to the plate, with a .410 wOBA that ranks ninth among qualified major league hitters. He’s flashing the leather again, too, with +12.9 UZR/150. Beltre has already compiled 3.8 WAR this season, trailing only Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford among position players. With $15.1 million in Value Dollars, he has already more than justified Boston’s investment.

Beltre won’t keep up this pace at the plate, of course — his batting average on balls in play is .387. By contrast, his expected BABIP is .321, and his rest-of-season ZiPS projects a .327 BABIP. But he’s creaming the ball, with a .211 Isolated Power, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Beltre moved from a park that decreased run-scoring by six percent over the past three seasons (according to the Bill James Handbook) to Fenway and its inviting Green Monster, which boosted runs by 11 percent over that same period. ZiPS has a .362 rest-of-season wOBA for Beltre, and an overall .387 wOBA for 2010.

Beltre’s deal with the Red Sox included a $5 million player option for the 2011 season, which increases to $10 million if he reaches 640 PA this season. Barring some unforeseen injury, the 31-year-old Scott Boras client will opt out and land himself a lucrative multi-year deal this coming winter, whether that be with Boston or elsewhere.

Adrian Beltre is in the midst of a sublime season that’ll almost certainly go down as his best since that monstrous ’04 campaign. But it’s not as though he has been a bust in between those high marks — this guy has always been good.


The Phillies’ Massive Downgrade

On June 25th, the Philadelphia Phillies started Chase Utley at second base and Placido Polanco at third base. On June 30th, a mere five days later, both of these players were on the DL. The Phillies, in their stead, started Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs.

The Phillies, last year’s National League champions, find themselves locked in a tough division race. The Braves and Mets find themselves tied atop the Eastern division, with the Phillies one game behind. Entering the season, the Phillies looked like a frontrunner for a playoff spot. Can the same be said now, with two of their key players, including the most talented player on the team, potentially to miss significant time?

Time is likely the main factor here, as the Philadelphia Enquirer reports that the Phillies only know that the two players will each miss “at least two weeks.” Let’s take a look at how much the loss of each player will cost the Phllies.

First off, Placido Polanco will be replaced by Greg Dobbs. Polanco has put up 2 WAR in nearly 300 plate appearances and his season wOBA is exactly equal to his ZiPS (R) wOBA, at .346. It seems fair, then, to consider him a 4.0 WAR/600 PA player – his +5 UZR is right in line with his career +10 UZR/150 at 3B. Dobbs was DFA’d just last week, but much of his poor performance can be blamed on a .191 BABIP. He’s projected for a .323 wOBA – just below average – with below average defense (-7 according to CHONE’s defensive projections) at third. Dobbs projects as a below average player, at 1.5 WAR/600 PA. With the typical player receiving 4.35 PAs in a game, this difference comes out to only about .025 wins per game. It would take 40 games for Polanco’s absence to cost the Phillies a win, or a little over a month.

Polanco is a good player, but Chase Utley is one of baseball’s superstars. He has put up five straight seasons of 6.6 WAR or more and was well on his way to a sixth before this injury. Utley is projected to do essentially exactly what he did in 2009: a .403 wOBA with fantastic, +15 defense at 2B, which comes out to a 7.5 WAR/600 PA player. His replacement, for now at least, is Wilson Valdez. Valdez doesn’t have any projections in the ZiPS system – his CHONE projection has him as a well above average defender but a terrible hitter, with a .285 wOBA and +6 defense at SS. If we give him +10 defense at 2B, which may be generous, Valdez comes out to a roughly 1.0 WAR/600 PA player. This difference, on a per game basis, is far more significant, at about .05 wins per game. It would only take 20 games, then, or about three missed weeks, for Utley’s absence to cost the Phillies a win in the standings.

The Phillies are still a talented team without Utley and Polanco, thanks to players like Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Jayson Werth, to name a few. Losing the Major League’s best 2B in Utley and a good 3B in Polanco even for a minimum of two weeks, however, will likely cost the Phillies nearly a win going forward, and another win for every two weeks this pair misses. The Phillies were around a 35% playoff probability after last night according to both CoolStandings and Baseball Prospectus. A run to the playoffs certainly looks to be a struggle now, even though Atlanta also lost a major piece in Jason Heyward. It’s hard to imagine after the last two seasons, but right now the Philadelphia Phillies are more likely to miss the playoffs in 2010 than challenge for a third straight National League title in October.


Strasburg Breaks NERD

If, over the past month or so, you’ve kept your eyes on the prize that is FanGraphs, you might’ve very well come across my humble attempts at devising a point system to preemptively adjudge the appeal of any given pitching matchup to the baseball nerd aesthetic.

To recap briefly, the resulting number — called NERD — is computed by taking the sum of the z-scores (i.e. standard deviations from the mean) for the following categories (weighted to best fit the tastes of the baseball nerd): xFIP, age, fastball velocity, strike percentage (of total pitches thrown), and swinging-strike percentage. To that total is added a pitcher’s “luck” (that is, ERA-xFIP, capped at 2), and a constant (around 4) to have everything come out approximately on a scale of 0-10. Additionally, because it seems a bit ridiculous to compute a toy stat to the decimal level, I’ve rounded the results.

The final thing I’ve done after all that is to round any scores above 10 down to that number (i.e. 10) and any NERDs below 0 up to that number (i.e. 0). Nor has this really caused any sort of problem. With about 170 pitchers in the sample, only about 10 or 12 have ever gone above or below the 0-10 range — and even then, never by more than 2 points.

Until Stephen Strasburg came along, that is.

Were we still living in a pre-Strasburgian world, these would be your current NERD leaders (rNERD = rounded NERD, aNERD = actual NERD):

What you’ll notice about that group is that they have the good sense not to dominate the rest of the league to such a degree as to to render NERD useless. Francisco Liriano’s un-rounded 11.25 is the highest mark I’ve seen to date, but at least it’s on a human scale.

The same goes for our laggards, whom you see here (in a table that has been, for a reason that only my computer knows, reproduced more poorly than the other two in this post):

Again, despite dipping into the negatives, neither Snell nor Monasterios nor the rest of their incompetent friends reach depths that problematize NERD’s competence unduly.

But cast your eyes all the way to the tippy-top of the NERD leaderboards and you’re faced with this:

Apparently, Stephen Strasburg has no sympathy for this modest experiment, as his NERD score almost doubles that of the next-best pitcher in the majors.

Of course, it’s no trouble to see why Strasburg rates so highly: he’s got an xFIP of 1.54, an average fastball velocity of 97.5 mph, the highest swinging-strike rate in the league, and he’s only 21 years old.

Strasburg’s excellence asks an interesting question of NERD and, by extension, the question we might ask of ourselves when choosing which game to watch on the nights that he’s pitching: Is Strasburg, all by himself, enough of a spectacle to make a game worth watching? Because, really, with the exception of Snell or Monasterios (neither of whom, let it be known, are currently in a major league starting rotation), any pitcher, when combined with Strasburg, will give the game an average NERD score of 10 amongst its starting pitchers.

Put concretely: Is Strasburg vs. Brad Lincoln more interesting than Roy Halladay vs. Josh Johnson? The latter match-up has happened at least a couple of times now, and one of those resulted in a perfect game for Halladay. That’s pretty great shakes. On the other hand, Strasburg really does represent everything of interest to the baseball nerd — to the baseball fan, in general, really.

The ancillary question, of course, is whether it’s smart/necessary to round NERD scores outside of the 0-10 range back into that range. In most cases, it’s not an issue: again, only 10 or 12 players — somewhere in the vicinity of 5-10 percent — ask that question. But NERD is designed to represent the taste of the sabermetrically inclined fan, and so the question is a fine one to ask.

The best answer, for now, is probably to see if Strasburg can keep it up. So long as he does, maybe there just has to be a Strasburg Bonus. In any case, it’s not the worst problem to have.


Rough Night for Relievers

Brad Lidge made his 14th appearance of the season last night. Coming off a disastrous 2009 season by any measure, Lidge’s 2010 has been pretty flawless. His ERA entering Tuesday was a shiny 3.27, his FIP sat nestled just above at 3.40, and his xFIP was a comfortable 2.65. Sure, he had given up some home runs, but at the end of the day, Lidge pitched as well as he ever had before.

Unfortunately, for fans of the Phillies and Lidge alike, Tuesday night brought back some night terrors. With the Phillies up 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Lidge entered and quickly disposed of Ramon Hernandez (on a groundout) and Drew Stubbs (on a strikeout). The Reds’ win expectancy at this point was 0.4%. Suggesting it was highly improbable that the Reds would come back, not to even ponder a victory. Then Brandon Phillips walked on five pitches … 1.4%; then he advanced on defensive indifference .. 1.5%. Orlando Cabrera hit a liner into left placing runners at the corners … 4.2%. And well, you know, Joey Votto came up and did what Joey Votto is wont to do: he homered, tied the game, and gave the Reds a 53.3% shot at winning.

As if that weren’t enough, though, Arthur Rhodes experienced a meltdown of his own versus the brunt of a lacking Phillies’ lineup. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked, Raul Ibanez doubled, and even Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez got in on that act. Dane Sardinha and Juan Castro too batted in the inning. Yes, that Dane Sardinha.

I’m not willing to figure out the odds, but anytime two relievers with sub-3.5 xFIP compile nearly -1.000 combined WPA, it’s an occasion worth taking note of.