Analyzing Five Hitters in the Phillies System

This is another offering from John Yarusinsky.  He forwarded it to me several days ago, so some of the stats are a little out of date, but not enough to affect John’s analysis. Conversion from a locked .pdf file is cumbersome and I have to re-format, so that’s my excuse for the delay.

Introduction
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how poorly the Phillies are playing. I’ll save everyone the headaches and subsequent trauma. Instead, let’s focus on the future. Are there better days ahead? Will the “kids” in the minor league system change the face of the franchise?

If you’re the casual observer and looked up some stat lines, you might be disappointed. If you know sabermetrics on the other hand, maybe there are some silver linings. Based on Mlbpipeline’s Phillies’ top 30 prospects, I wrote down five names: J.P. Crawford, Mickey Moniak, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens. My focus is to compare these players using both traditional methods and some sabermetrics. I attempt to predict if their season will be lost, they’re just fine or if a second half resurgence is possible.

Disclaimer, when gauging sabermetrics, it isn’t fair to compare a player’s results across leagues for obvious reasons. Just keep that in mind. Let’s begin!

1. J.P. Crawford, SS (Lehigh Valley)

Traditional Stat Line
G     AB     AVG     HR     RBI     K%     SLG%
57   211   .194        2       22    17.2     .251

Splits
V. LHP   V. RHP   V. RISP   AHD   BHD
.205       .188        .242       .179   .206

LHP = Left handed pitching RHP= Right handed pitching RISP= Runners in scoring
Position AHD= Ahead in the count BHD= Behind in the count

Sabermetrics
BABIP     ISO     wRC+     wOBA
.233      .058        65          .272

BABIP= Batting average on balls in play ISO= Isolated slugging percentage wRC+= Weighted runs created wOBA= Weighted on base average

Analysis:
As you can see, Crawford is having an awful season. The traditional stat line and splits paint an awful picture and those numbers speak for themselves. Let’s talk about the sabermetric results. The best hitters average .350 in terms of BABIP. Basically, Crawford’s result of .233 means that given the average amount of balls he puts in play, this is what his batting average would look like. It means he’s not even getting bloop hits. He’s making contact given his low 17.2 K rate, but he’s not “hitting them where they ain’t.” His ISO is also bad. The best hitters are between .170 and anything .200 and over is excellent. It means when Crawford does get a hit, it’s a single instead of providing offensive flare via extra base hits. The best ball players average over 100 in wRC+. This analytic measures offensive productivity via run production comparative to the league average. Put simply, Crawford has minimal offensive value due to his 65 result. Lastly, his .272 wOBA is bad. The best players are .350 and over. wOBA accounts for more than your traditional OBP by including reaching on a dropped third strike, hit by pitch, etc. There’s no other way to slice it. Crawford is heading towards yet another poor year with no end in sight.

2. Mickey Moniak, OF (Lakewood)

Traditional Stat Line
G     AB     AVG     HR     RBI     K%     SLG%
62   237   .270        2       27    20.1     .392

Splits
V. LHP   V. RHP   V. RISP   AHD   BHD
.212       .292        .253       .392   .211

Sabermetrics
BABIP     ISO     wRC+     wOBA
.335      .122      106          .327

Analysis:
To the casual observer, Moniak isn’t living up to expectations since being selected first overall in last year’s draft. People forget he just turned 19 and this is his first crack at full-season baseball. As you can see, these traditional numbers reinforce the former’s argument. This has been a “safe” beginning to Moniak’s career. Putting that aside, one thing to note is his .392 average when ahead in the count. It means Moniak is flat out swinging away. While doing so, he’s amassed a 20.1 K rate which isn’t terrible by any means. Why do I say that? His BABIP of .335 indicates that Moniak is putting plenty of balls in play which trends towards excellent. Soon or later, these balls put in play will begin to fall for more hits. His ISO of .122 is decent, but it shows Moniak is predominantly a singles hitter this year, even though he has 15 doubles to his name. Given the league average of 100, Moniak’s 106 wRC+ is encouraging. It means Moniak creates 6 more runs for Lakewood than the league average. Lastly, his wOBA of .327 must improve. Given Moniak’s true OBP is .328, even when factoring in other ways to reach base, there’s no separation whatsoever. All things considering, Moniak is raw, but getting better. He’s on the right track!

3. Jorge Alfaro, C (Lehigh Valley)

Traditional Stat Line
G     AB     AVG     HR     RBI     K%     SLG%
55   220   .268        5       32     29.7    .395

Splits
V. LHP   V. RHP   V. RISP   AHD   BHD
.291       .254        .246       .277   .255

Sabermetrics
BABIP     ISO     wRC+     wOBA
.354       .130       87          .306

Analysis:
Alfaro is having a decent season at Lehigh since earning a big league call up last year. The one stick in the mud is his 29.7 K rate to go along with a miniscule 5 home runs. That’s way too many whiffs when you’re not cranking out long balls. His splits are pretty even keel, but nothing to write home about. Let’s discuss his analytics. What strikes me as odd is Alfaro’s .354 BABIP. He hasn’t registered a result that high since 2012. It could mean Alfaro has been lucky with a few bloop hits falling in, or it could be an increase in legitimate contact where more hits are forthcoming. Alfaro’s ISO of .130 is a career low for him. This is bad news considering he’s averaged at least .169 in every milb season. Why is this bad? It means when Alfaro does get hits, they’ve been singles. It indicates Alfaro might become an empty hitter going forward, with little flare. Alfaro is also averaging 13 runs less than the league average this season. His result of 87 is a career low and it implies a decrease in overall offensive production. Lastly, wOBA isn’t too much of a concern, considering Alfaro is a catcher. Even if he gets on base via other methods, I don’t think he’s going to steal many bases. Put simply, this is a pedestrian season for Alfaro and hopefully he finds his power stroke again.

4. Nick Williams, OF (Lehigh Valley)

Traditional Stat Line
G     AB     AVG     HR     RBI     K%     SLG%
69   251   .279      14       41    30.2     .510

Splits
V. LHP   V. RHP   V. RISP   AHD   BHD
.247       .293        .254       .404    .158

Sabermetrics
BABIP     ISO     wRC+     wOBA
.355       .236      126         .363

Analysis:
Williams is having a traditional Williams season. Decent batting average, tons of offensive flare and strikeouts galore. Put simply, at least he’s consistent. Let’s dissect his sabermetrics. Williams is putting a ton of balls in play as his .355 BABIP indicates. This result is near consistent as in recent years, which proves he’s not getting a ton of fluke hits. His ISO of .236 is his highest result in 4 years. It means when you subtract his slugging percentage from his batting average, it shows Williams is far from an empty singles hitter. This result is beyond excellent. Williams creates 26 more runs to Lehigh than the league average. This implicates strong offensive production. Lastly, his .363 wOBA proves Williams gets on base more often and provides a strong presence on the basepaths. Williams is on the right track, but he must cut down on the K rate in order to become an elite player. As long as he continues to put balls in play, the Phillies should be happy with him.

5. Dylan Cozens, OF (Lehigh Valley)

Traditional Stat Line
G     AB     AVG     HR     RBI     K%     SLG%
68   245   .245      16      49    30.0     .494

Splits
V. LHP   V. RHP   V. RISP   AHD   BHD
.200       .271        .260       .256    .158

Sabermetrics
BABIP     ISO     wRC+     wOBA
.295      .250      120          .354

Analysis:
Ditto with Cozens. Almost everything that I said about Nick Williams, applies to Cozens as well. Aside from a few percentage points, they’re eerily similar offensively whether it’s traditional or sabermetrics. The problem for Cozens is his .200 average against lefties. This will be a major hurdle for him to climb going forward as it’s always been his weak spot. Also, Cozens isn’t as aggressive as Williams which is indicative of the splits when ahead in the count. I’d like to see Cozens swing dead red more often. Regardless, he’s on the 40 man roster, so expect to see him in Philly sometime this season along with Alfaro and Williams.

 

24 thoughts on “Analyzing Five Hitters in the Phillies System

  1. Yeah I am one of those guys that wish Moniaks stats were a bit more gaudy, but I temper myself because of his age and hope that a year or two of professional strength training help him out
    Nick Frickin Williams is back or atleast back to his debut after the trade.
    Call him up ,
    call up Kingery ( can’t believe I just said that after doubting him earlier on I his minor career, don’t worry I’m sold On him now )
    Alfaro if he can throw people out at second I’m ok with mediaocre stats.
    Crawford while his stats are bad no doubt about it when you look at the whole year has steadily improved and he damned near walks as much as he strikes out. If he can bat 270 and play great D while walking and fingers crossed clutch hitting, I think we have a player and everyone can quit saying he is a bad player. So what if it takes him another year in AAA.
    Phillies lose 110 games this year and only 90 next year

  2. I’d like to bring something up with JP. His IFFB% is a whopping 34.6 this year, which compared to the average of about 10% is atrocious, and every year in the minors he has had a high rate. His BABIP is low but also partially deserved because pop outs are almost always outs. I am no swing mechanic expert, but this could be a mechanical flaw or he’s also simply trying to put the ball in the air without success.

    1. His swing is fine, he just needs more power behind it, it is defensive when he is down in the count and that is fine providing he has the strength to muscle out hits which he seems to struggle , however 3 walks and a hit tonight and I would take that all day
      You can disagree and that is fine,I’ve been wrong and will be the first to admit it if I’m wrong again but, I know you can get stronger I know it’s kinda my job , what you can’t normally do ( not impossible) is teach his 70 plate discipline and reflexes. I’m not saying he will be Hof but he is a major league player.

      1. Is it possible he is being too selective and not swinging at pitches earlier that are in his sweet spot. I have not watch enough of him to see if he is trying to get ahead of the count and he ends up with some combo of 2 strike counts and has to be a bit more defensive. It goes back to seeing what counts he is swinging at. (I’ve known some players that watch the first pitch no matter how good it is)

  3. Great work, John! Thanks.
    So from what you broke down, it seems you’re highest on Williams and Cozens. If they become what we hope, on either side of Altherr, that’s a nice outfield. I would like to see Williams go on a team carrying tear on occasion like Cozens and Hoskins have in the past.

    Alfaro walked again last night! And hit a laser over the LF fence. Both in the same game. I’m still high on him in the long term view. He may have to go through some growing pains at the big league level since he’ll be up in ’18 one way or another. I see things pretty much the same way with Crawford even if it takes another year in Lehigh.

    Moniak? Just let the kid play and grow physically. Time should take care of the rest.

  4. Good detailed and thorough analytical job.
    And good to see Williams coming around as expected..be it the power/ ISO factor.

  5. Thank you John. This analysis points to the beginning of a solid core of players headed to CBP. I take it for granted that Hoskins and Kingery will be part of that core. It points to a rosy future.

  6. Sorry John, you lost me with the comment that the best hitters average a .350 BABIP. Simply not true. Guys who hit for power but don’t strikeout a lot will always have low BABIPs because they are putting a majority of balls in play but do not get rewarded for the homeruns.

    Hank Aaron’s highest career BABIP was .338 and most years he was around .300
    Albert Pujols never has a BABIP above .346 and many of his best years was under .300
    Barry Bonds was a 12 war player in a season with a BABIP of .266.

      1. No, BABIP is about balls in play. Homeruns and strikeouts are not in play which is why players who hit lots of hrs but don’t strikeout have low BABIPs and guys like Ichiro who hit lots of singles but also strikeout a far amount have high BABIPs.

        Too often BABIP is misused as a shorthand tool for saying that a player is getting lucky or is having bad luck.

        1. Rei………….insder the park HRs are not tracked separately from HR and would not be included in BABIP….neither Fangraphs, BR nor MLB have them tracked and thus do not include it in their BABIP calculations.As there are only a few each year, and the number is very small in relation to the total number of hits, at-bats and home runs, these are not really a factor in making BABIP unreliable.
          But bottom line…it is a ball that could be ‘fielded’ and was not cleanly fielded.

    1. Adding on to your comment, this post shows a fundamental misunderstanding of BABIP. Not only does it suffer the flaws you noted, there are several instances where the author notes that a player’s BABIP indicates he’s putting a lot of balls in play. BABIP has nothing to do with this, but instead expressly ignores balls that are not in play. These errors made the whole part hard to consider seriously.

      1. Spot on, Keith. The analysis lost me when it said that Moniak’s BABIP of .338 shows he is putting a lot of balls in play. What it shows is either (1) he’s gotten a little lucky, and/or (2) he’s hitting the ball hard — with a good amount of line drives, and not so many popouts, and/or (3) he’s fast, so he beats pt more than his share of infield hits. Those are the factors that contribute to high BABIP.

        1. Yes, and Nick William’s BABIP is high because he’s striking out 30% of the time. the 70% of the time he’s hitting the ball, he’s getting a fair number of hits. His BABIP do not indicate he’s putting a ton of balls in play but rather, he’s hitting the ball hard or at least he’s hitting it were they ain’t…

  7. John – nice work, thanks. Please do t do this for Randolph, it will be too depressing. BUST!!

    I think Alfaro is trying to change his hitting approach this year to the nth degree. I’m not sold on the fact that this is the finished product. He has the rest of the year to figure it out. JP might still be at AAA next year. At this point, he’s not better than Freddy and it’s not positive he ever will be.
    Williams and Cozens are certainly trending up, all the way to Philly by August possibly

  8. I would like to direct those who trust a half season’s worth of BABIP to:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/sample-size/

    820 balls in play is the point where you can start trusting BABIP. Anything before that is small sample size. Crawford has less than 200 balls in play, so yes, very small.

    Alfaro had a similar issue earlier this year, but in the opposite direction. His BABIP was at .400 and completely unsustainable. People thought he was doing great, until his BABIP dropped to a more realistic (but still high) .350. Now he’s “struggling”. No, that’s what he was the whole year. His value is in power and defense, but now he’s finally taking some walks and, in my opinion, starting to trend up.

  9. Is the author going to comment on the BABIP? If he doesn’t know what it means it kinda makes the other info questionable. I’m assuming that he just mistyped a thought.

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