Veterans, Young Players Share Blame for Phils Sub-Par Offense
Much was made of the Phillies' revamped offense after adding healthy bats like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for a full season. Plus, the additions of professional hitter Michael Young and a pair of younger players Dom Brown and Ben Revere, who both had solid a spring training. However, the team has struggled at the plate in recent weeks - through Saturday, Philiadelphia is ranked 10th in the National League with a .253 batting average and third-to-last in strikeouts with 157.
While young players like Dom Brown (.217 batting average), Ben Revere (.215) and Freddy Galvis (.255) have struggled in bigger roles, veterans like Ryan Howard (.275, just one home run, team-leading 17 strikeouts) and Jimmy Rollins (.273, 16 strikeouts) are just as responsible for the team's lackluster performance.
Phillies outfielder Dom Brown's team-leading seven home runs and .356 average has not carried over to the regular season come with - he has 11 strikeouts and sports a poor .217 batting average.
That doesn't mean the younger Phillies hitters are off the hook. The Phillies core of youthful hitters won't be able to use their age as an excuse for poor performances much longer if the Phillies hope to be a playoff team in 2013.
The team's approach at the plate as a whole has declined during the regular season so far, they went a stretch of four games in a row where not one player walked.
Considering their troubles at the plate, the Phillies are lucky to sit just a three games out of the third wild-card spot in the NL West with a 9-11 record. And because of that, Phillies fans it isn't time to hit the panic button just yet.
The team is starting to get some quality starting pitching and the bullpen in falling into place and once the team gets Carlos Ruiz back behind the dish, the teams pitching could be even better.
As for the line-up, where will Ruiz fit?
Some like him hitting near the top of the line-up or in the middle of the line-up, I like Carlos hitting in the seven or eight spot. Last year was the best year (by far) he has ever had, if he gives you that again, great, but don't count on it.
And what about Delmon Young?
Young, who is rehabbing his injured ankle, went 1-for-4 in his first rehab game Sunday with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. His bat could be a difference maker for this team, hitting behind Ryan Howard, allowing Michael Young to move out of the five-hole and perhaps up to the two spot in the order.
However, for Delmon Young to help this team everyday, he is going to have to be able to handle playing the outfield, something he hasn't shown he can do thus far.
Young looked awful on defense in his first game back, misplaying one ball in right field that led to a triple and later committing a blatant fielding error.
"Obviously, we want his bat, but if he can't play defense, he can't play in the National League," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Sunday. "He's going to have to be adequate out there."
Remember Young is recovering from microfracture ankle surgery, something that could take awhile for him to come back from fully.
And then there is John Mayberry Jr.
Mayberry seems like he is won over manager Charlie Manuel in the early going, but can he play everyday at this level?
I don't think so.
Once teams see him more and more, they will figure out the big hole in his swing. Can a platoon of Mayberry and Delmon Young work? It could, a situation where Young starts in right, gets two or three at-bats, then is replaced with Mayberry could work.
How about a situation where Mayberry starts a game, Young comes in for the big late inning at-bat and then is replace by Ezequiel Carrera defensively late in the game.
This all could work but isn't ideal and if Brown can't handle playing everyday, then this won't work because Young and Mayberry might need to take some at-bats from Brown.
Regardless, the Phillies line-up is striking out to much, not generating enough power right now to be a legit contender. The pitching is there, will the offense pick-up the slack?