Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Four Phillies Should Play in All Star Game

Before I make the case to send four Phillies to the All-Star Game, I would like to extend my condolences to the Gwynn family on the loss of Tony to salivary gland cancer at the age of 54. Mr. Padre enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with a .338 AVG over 20 seasons, all with the San Diego Padres. He became the head coach at San Diego State University... coaching players like Steven Strasburg & his son, current Phillies reserve OF, Tony Gwynn, Jr. Rest in Peace, Mr. Padre!


As of Monday's update, Chase Utley leads fan balloting at 2B by over 680,000 votes. He's currently in a bit of a funk, but has been one of the most consistent, if not the most consistent, hitter on the team this year. He currently holds a .303 AVG and leads all 2B in many offensive categories. If this stands, Utley would make his sixth career ASG, all starts from 2006-2010. It looks like that will happen.

Unfortunately, the Phillies' current performance is dismal and it looks like that will continue right on through to the All Star Game as every team they face between now and a week before the trade deadline has an above-.500 record (only the Pirates are under but by only one game). However, three other Phillies players are having very good years. They include closer Jonathan Papelbon, outfielder Marlon Byrd, and the newest franchise hits leader, shortstop Jimmy Rollins (congrats, man!).

Papelbon has bounced back nicely from a rough opening series in Arlington, Texas. In 25 games (25.0 IP) since the blown save on April 2nd, he is 2-0, 0.36 ERA, 15/15 in Saves, 0.80 WHIP (doesn't include three hit-batsmen), 21 Ks to 7 BB for 3:1 K/BB & 7.56 K/9.0 ratios. He has recently earned his 300th & 301st career saves and is the 2nd fastest to reach those marks. I hope he gets to celebrate that in Minnesota.

Marlon Byrd was brought in via free agency to stabilize the RF situation and he has done just that. Offensively, he is hitting a slash line of .261/.316/.470 w/ 10 HRs, 38 RBIs, and a 28.8% K/PA rate. He is on-pace for 24 HRs & 92 RBIs. Defensively, he's fielding at a .993 clip and has two OF assists. Offensively, his high K-rate (28.8% season vs. 18.6% career) is a sign that he's been playing too many consecutive games, which Sandberg acknowledged a couple of weeks ago. Still, a great season so far for him.

Jimmy Rollins definitely has been bouncing back from the worst offensive season of his career. Last year, he hit .252/.318/.348 w/ 65 R, 22 SB, 6 HR, and a .667 OPS. This year, he's hitting .249/.343/.400 and on-pace for 80-90 runs scored, 25-30 SB, 20 HRs, and his .743 OPS would equal his 2001 near-ROY campaign. What better way to celebrate taking sole possession of 1st place on the franchise hits list in a bounce-back year than an All-Star nod?

I'd also like to add that Ryan Howard is holding his own. He has a slash line of .231/.302/.401 and is on-pace for 30-31 HR & at least 105 RBIs. He's striking out in 30.9% of his PAs, which is higher than his career K-rate of 28%, but he's in-line for a bounce-back year with those numbers. Yes, we'd love for him to mash 40+ HRs & 150+ RBIs, but this production, combined with Utley & Byrd, is certainly enough from the 3-5 hitters to win games.

With performances like these, why can't the Phillies send more players to the Mid-Summer Classic? Well, the team, overall is not doing well. If I had to choose one of these players to join Utley in the festivities, it'd be Papelbon with his 301 career saves and 100% save-percentage since the Texas series.

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