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Phillies Score Three In the Ninth, Defeat Mets 6-4

Posted by Danielle Wilson

The Phillies headed up to Flushing, New York to visit the LOLMets for the first time this season. Roy Oswalt took the mound coming off of his first loss at Citizens Bank Park, which was his second of the season.

The lineup gave little Roy a little help, first scoring Carlos Ruiz on Jimmy Rollins' single in the third inning, and Roy helped his own cause scoring John Mayberry from third on a single in the fifth inning.

The Mets came back in the fifth when Carlos Beltran singled to score Jose Reyes. 2-1 Phillies. The game was soon tied after Ronny Paulino singled and scored Angel Pagan in the sixth.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After six innings pitched, Roy Oswalt's night was complete. He allowed two runs (one earned) off of nine hits, striking out just two. It was reported by Matt Gelb that this was Roy's fourth straight start with three or fewer strikeouts which is the longest of his career.

Michael Stutes came in for the seventh, allowing two hits, one of which scored Jose Reyes and gave the Mets a 3-2 lead, but the Phils came back in the eighth; Jimmy Rollins doubled to score John Mayberry Jr. from second. Tied game.

In the top of the ninth, Carlos Ruiz and Ross Gload both singled, and Domonic Brown came through with the RBI single to make it a 4-3 game. Jimmy Rollins popped up a sacrifice fly to score Michael Martinez (pinch running for Gload) from third base. Placido Polanco singled to score Dom Brown, making it a 6-3 game. That's when Francisco Rodriguez was lifted from the game.

Ryan Madson allowed a run to score off of three hits, but got Daniel Murphy to ground into a double play to end the game. Phillies win it 6-4, Antonio Bastardo (scoreless eighth) took the win, and Madson saved his tenth game. Cole Hamels (6-2, 3.06 ERA) tomorrow against Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.37 ERA.)


Phillies Only Needed Nine Innings This Time Around to Defeat Reds, 10-4

Posted by Danielle Wilson

It might take me a few days to shut up about last night's game and Wilson Valdez's pitching performance, but this game was greater in terms of offense. For the record, I don't care how many runs the Phillies scored today, I'm still excited over Valdez pitching. I mean, Valdez was pitching!

Anyway...Ryan Howard doubled in the first run of the game in the first inning which scored Michael Martinez who started at shortstop this afternoon.

In Wilson Valdez's first at bat, the fans went nuts and gave him a standing ovation. Video here. In the bottom of the third, Raul Ibanez launched a home run to right field to score Dom Brown and Ryan Howard. 4-0 Phillies.

Paul Janish singled in the top of the fourth to score Jay Bruce and former Phillie Miguel Cairo, 4-2 Phillies. Jay Bruce homered (his second this series, 11th RBI) in the sixth to tie the game.

With the bases loaded and nobody out for Cliff Lee in the sixth inning, he proceeded to smack a double over the head of centerfielder Drew Stubbs to score John Mayberry Jr. and Wilson Valdez. Mike Martinez popped up a sacrifice fly to score Dane Sardinha and make it a 7-4 game.

Cliff did it again in the bottom of the seventh, singling to score John Mayberry Jr. Mike Martinez also came back with a single to score Dane Sardinha. 9-4 Phillies. Everybody hit in this game except for Chase Utley in his third start of the season, until the eighth when he went yard for a solo home run, giving the Phillies a 10-4 lead.

Jose Contreras pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close it out for Cliff Lee who allowed four earned runs off of 10 hits, walking one and striking out eight. Phillies take the final game of this four-game series, taking three of four from the Reds. They will travel to New York to take on the LOLMets tomorrow with Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77 ERA) going against Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36 ERA)


May 25, 2011: The Craziest Phillies Game I’ve Ever Been To

Posted by Stephen Gallo

I’m not breaking any new ground with this post, Michael Baumann over at Phillies Nation wrote a great post about his experience at last night's game earlier this morning. I did, however, want to share my own experiences from last night’s wild and raucous Phillies game. It’s a game that could define the season and whether that is overstating it or not, this game won’t leave our minds anytime soon.

This isn’t a game breakdown. Philliedelphia's own Danielle Wilson posted that recap here late last night. This is, however, a short story about my experience at last night’s Phillies and Reds marathon.

My three friends and I headed down to the ballpark and arrived around 6:45 last night, as we always do. After consuming my pregame cheese steak, I got comfortable in my beloved seat in section 420, row one and prepared to watch Roy Halladay pitch, which as we all know, means that we could witness greatness. First pitch was at 7:08 on a beautiful spring evening in front of yet another sell out crowd. What happened over the next six hours and 11 minutes was epic.

First off, I'd like to point out that I started in my normal seats in section 420. Seen here:

1 
And in the tenth inning moved down to a little bit of a better view, seen here:

2 

We all know how we got there. Phillies scored the first three, but the Reds scored the next four. In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard hit a baseball that I’m pretty sure just landed. What’s even crazier?

- How about a position player, Wilson Valdez, pitching and getting the win?

- How about Carlos Ruiz’s awesome dive onto the rolled up tarp along the third base line to try and catch a foul ball in the 19th inning?

- How about reliever Danys Baez getting just the 5th at-bat of his ten season career?

- The few thousand fans that remained for the whole game was treated to a second 7th inning stretch before the bottom of the 14th.

- In extra innings, the Phillies played a different “Hype video” containing a clip from a movie before the home half of every inning. We saw Rocky (of course), Friday Night Lights, Rudy, Happy Gilmore and “300” to name a few.

- Once they used up the Septa Race and Bobble head race (which is awful now compared to the bobble head race of years past), and got past the smile cam, bongo cam, and “Do the robot” cam, the fans were treated to random camera shots of themselves in the middle of every inning, which honestly got a little old.

- Food and beverage was getting scarce. With most of the concession stands shut down after the regular nine innings, it was hard to find a bite to eat in the entire stadium. One woman in our section came back in the 18th inning with a pretzel. She might as well have been holding the last morsel of food on Earth.

What’s almost as good as all that? The Phillies play again in less than an hour. Game time is at 1:00 and Clifton Lee is starting.

So as I sit here and enjoy my breakfast consisting of Mountain Dew, and try to make it until closing time at 5:00, I wonder what this team has in store for us today.


Phillies Defeat the Reds 5-4 in 19 Innings, Wilson Valdez Gets the Win

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Valdez

Deja vu, Travid Wood vs. Roy Halladay. Remember that matchup from last season? Travis Wood threw eight perfect innings against the Phillies in July last sesason, Carlos Ruiz broke it up in the ninth with a double to deep center field. The Phillies ended up winning that game in the eleventh inning thanks to Jimmy Rollins who singled to score Ruiz. And Roy Halladay's last outing against the Reds was also his first playoff appearence, which was his no-hitter, the second in postseason history. Please note that the previous paragraph was written around 7:30 P.M., but the screen shot of Wilson Valdez was taken at 1:10 A.M.

Interesting move before the game, Charlie Manuel put Ben Francisco second in the lineup, sitting Brown and Utley. No complaints here, Ben Francisco sent a baseball over the left field wall in the first inning to score Jimmy Rollins and give the Phils an early 2-0 lead.

John Mayberry Jr. singled and scored Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the second, 3-0 Phillies.

In the bottom of the fifth, Joey Votto singled and scored Drew Stubbs putting the Reds on the board, 3-1 Phils.

The Reds were doing what the Phillies usually do on a night when everybody hits; they were singling the opposing pitcher to death. Jay Bruce singled in the seventh with the bases loaded to score two and tie up the game. After that seventh inning, Doc Halladay was done with 123 pitches. He allowed three runs off of 11 hits (all singles), intentionally walking one and striking out six. Michael Stutes came in for the third straight game in the eighth inning. He allowed a single, but struck out three batters. This kid is here to stay.

Ryan Madson came in for the ninth inning in a tied game, a repeat of last night's nightmare, but thankfully, he retired the side striking out one. To the bottom of the ninth we go.

The Phillies loaded up the bases with Mayberry on third, Chase Utley on second, and Jimmy Rollins on first. Chase and Jimmy were both intentionally walked. Dom Brown popped up, and Placido Polanco grounded out to send the game into extras with Antonio Bastardo coming in.

Young, filthy Bastardo allowed a solo home run to Jay Bruce (who else?) which gave the Reds a 4-3 lead. He retired the next two batters but was replaced by Kyle Kendrick after giving up a double to Renteria.

Francisco Cordero came in for the bottom of the tenth, and seconds later, Ryan Howard launched a solo home run to the bullpen stairs to tie it up. The side was retired after that bomb, and the game went on to the eleventh inning.

The eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth innings were all lifeless. After the thirteenth, the Phillies just had Danys Baez in the 'pen, who pitched a 1-2-3 fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth inning. At 12:28 A.M., this game headed to the seventeenth inning for the first time since 2003 against Baltimore, and Danys Baez threw another 1-2-3 inning. 12:42 A.M., and the Phillies and Reds are headed to the eighteenth inning. Longest game for the Phillies since July 7, 1993, which was a 20 inning game against Los Angeles. Another 1-2-3 for Baez (if you're keeping count, that's five scoreless innings) and his pitch count was up to 73 in the eighteenth.

Going into the nineteenth, a position player had to pitch, and it would either be Martinez, Valdez, or Brown. Well, it ended up being Valdez, moving Chooch to third base, and Polly to second base,  and what a sight it was. Valdez retired Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Fisher, all on pop-ups. Valdez was never a pitcher in the majors or minors. Amazing. 

In the bottom of the nineteenth, the bases were loaded for Raul Ibanez who drove one to center to score Jimmy Rollins from third. The Phillies won 5-4 it in NINETEEN innings, Wilson Valdez got the win, the player of the game honor, and a pie in the face. Ballgame lasted six hours and 12 minutes, the longest game of the season in the majors, and the longest game ever played at Citizens Bank Park.


The Phillies' Raul Ibañez is Too Old and Washed Up to Play Anymore

Posted by Frank Klose

Ibanez

Commonly heard at Citizens Bank Park and and Twitter many times this year:

"I love Raul, but he is just too old to play anymore".

Blah, blah blah.

Well, let's compare some stats of a few players and see if we can put this into some perspective.

2011 Player Stats Through 5/25:

Player A: .252 average, 5 home runs, 21 RBI
Player B: .250 average, 10 home runs, 35 RBI
Player C: .247 average, 8 home runs, 18 RBI

The numbers that may jump out at you right away are player B, which is the Phillies' Ryan Howard.  The run production does indeed set Howard apart.

Ibañez is player A.   For all the panicking and aggrivation, Ibañez has a higher batting average than Ryan Howard.   Does this spell the end of the world?

Player C is Jayson Werth.  I just figured I would throw him in there, mainly because I have heard how much the Phillies have missed his "protection" of Ryan Howard.   The Phillies have primarily relied on Ibañez for such protection as of late, and I cannot really say that Werth compared to Ibañez would produce many different results. 

Raul Ibañez is Raul Ibañez.  We know him for being incredibly hot (first half of 2009), incredibly cold (second half of 2009, first half of 2010) and incredibly hot (second half of 2010).  He will be who he is, even though he is in what may be the twilight of his career.

Heading into last night's game, Ibañez was hitting .353 in his last 19 games, with four home runs.   And, Ibañez went 3 for 4.  (I could do the math to recalculate, but I am a little lazy right now).

I told one panicking friend that Ibañez will still be good for his usual .270-.275, and he will drive in around 80 runs as he always does.   I still believe it.


Reds Rally Late Against Madson, Defeat Phillies 6-3

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Vancey pants Worley hasn't allowed more than two earned runs to score in any of his four major league starts. Vance has never faced the Reds before, so I was a bit curious to see how this game would go for him.

The answer to my own question: not bad! Vance allowed a run to score in the first inning, Joey Votto, who scored on Scott Rolen's single.

Raul Ibanez answered in the second, doubling to score Ryan Howard who had doubled prior to Ibanez's at bat. Dom Brown popped up a sacrifice fly to score Raul and give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. It was Dom's first RBI of the season.

Chase Utley got his first hit of the season in the third inning, a single which sent Jimmy Rollins home, but he was tagged out. Can you be mad, though? Chase got a hit!

Ibanez singled in the fourth and scored on Carlos Ruiz's double, 3-1 Phillies.

Vance Worley walked Johnny Cueto to start off the fifth, Drew Stubbs hit a ground-rule double to right field to follow, and Brandon Phillips singled to score Cueto and Stubbs. Tied game. Stutes' night was complete after five innings pitched. He allowed three earned runs off of six hits, walking four and striking out three.

David Herdon pitched a 1-2-3 sixth striking out one, Michael Stutes pitched a scoreless seventh allowing a hit and striking out one, and Antonio Bastardo pitched a 1-2-3 eighth striking out one.

Ryan Madson came into this game in the ninth, and hasn't allowed a run to score since April 18, 13 appearances ago. He allowed three to score tonight, thanks to Jay Bruce's bases-clearing double. Madson loaded the bases on two singles and an intentional walk to Joey Votto. Ugly inning for Ryan, whose 0.47 ERA looked mighty fine before this game, 1.80 now. 6-3 Reds.

The Phillies went down in order against Francisco Cordero, losing tonight's game 6-3, Ryan Madson took the loss. They still have tomorrow to reach their thirtieth win in under fifty games, the fifth time that it would occur in the last 50 years, and with Roy Halladay on the mound against Travis Wood who has a 5.17 ERA this season.


Thoughts on Chase Utley, Mandy Housenick, Cody Overbeck, and the Clearwater Threshers

Posted by Frank Klose

I have been away for the last week, and I had a bunch of things I wanted to comment on.   Here goes.

2011-05-19_19-54-26_230
Philliedelphia/Frank Klose

First, a buzz has been generated by Mindy Housenick.   In her blog today, a post entited, "Chase...Were You Listening?" seemed to anger many fans  when she stated,

When Chase Utley stepped into the batter's box Monday night, the cheers he got were near deafening. And they went on and on and on.

People simply wouldn't sit down.

But all Utley did was stand there. No wave of his hand. No tip of his cap.

Why? Would it have been so hard to quickly acknowledge the largest crowd ever to attend a regular-season game at Citizens Bank Park.

Well, I was present at the game, and I am not sure anyone expected Utley to do anything he does not normally do, which is go about his business.  Nothing really seemed to cause anyone in my view to bat an eye.  

I captured video of his return with my cell phone, and you can check out out here:

Watching Utley in Clearwater last week to a few thousand fans and watching Utley play before the sold out reportedly largest regular season crowd in Citizens Bank Park history, Utley looked exactly the same.  I'd expect nothing less of Chase Utley.

Threshers Game Goes 23 Innings

Last night's Clearwater Threshers game against the Jupiter Hammerheads went 23 innings.  Center fielder Jiwan James had five whole at bats to hit a home run needed for the cycle, but did not succeed.

Outfielder Jonathan Singleton left the game after the 8th inning with a minor injury, which does not appear to be serious, as his pal Jiwan James made fun of him on his twitter:
Jiwanjames
He also notes on Twitter that he and Singleton went to IHop to eat afterwards.  I guess that means Singleton is okay.

Also noteworthy in the game:  The Threshers first baseman Darrin Ruf and designated hitter Joe Savery combined to throw four shutout innings from innings 19 through 22.   Even stranger is that the Threshers best reliever, Justin Friend, who leads all of minor league baseball in saves, pitched after the first baseman and DH.

Of course, Friend lost the game in the bottom of the 23rd as he gave up a run.

Down on the Farm

Phillies prospect Cody Overbeck is currently playing at AA Reading.   In his early minor-league career, Overbeck was a third baseman, but it became clear that third base was not his best position, so the Phillies moved him to first base.   Now, Overbeck is playing some left field.  

This is significant because Overbeck is the Phillies one right-handed power-threat prospect in their system.   He is certainly blocked at first base by Ryan Howard, and the Phillies could really use some right-handed pop in the outfield in the next couple years.

So far at Reading, Overbeck is hitting .276 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI.


Everybody Hits in 10-3 Victory! Except For...Chase Utley?

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Everything about this game was just exciting, even the pre-game stats. Cole Hamels against the Reds including the postseason is 7-0 with a 0.91 ERA in eight starts. The Phillies' lineup tonight also looked rather intimidating; Rollins, Utley, Polanco, Howard, Ibanez, Ruiz, Brown, Mayberry. Beautiful, welcome back Chase Utley.

In Chase's first at bat back, he flied out, but with Jimmy Rollins on base, Placido Polanco launched a home run off of Bronson Arroyo to left field to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first.

The third inning, however, was where it got good. Raul Ibanez singled to score Placido Polanco from third, followed by John Mayberry's single to center which scored Howard. Cole Hamels then joined the party and singled to score Carlos Ruiz who had previously drawn a walk. So, with Hamels and Mayberry on, Jimmy Rollins drilled a home run to right field. 9-0 Phillies, it's hittin' season!

In the top of the fourth, Cole Hamels allowed a three-run home run to Jay Bruce, 9-3 Phillies. Raul Ibanez answered in the same inning with a solo shot to center to give the Phillies a 10-3 lead.

After six innings, Hamels' night was done, he allowed three earned runs off of five hits, striking out four and walking two. Stutes pitched a scoreless seventh striking out two.

Sadly, Chase went 0-5 tonight with a strikeout, he was the only Phillies batter without a hit, aside from Ross Gload's pinch hit appearance. Needless to say, Chase's standing ovation during his first at bat was epic, and hearing "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin as his walk-up music for the first time this season just gave Phillies fans chills.

Antonio Bastardo pitched a perfect eighth, and with Madson unavailable to pitch due to a bruise on his hand, Danys Baez closed it out perfectly in his place.

And with that 10-3 win, (most runs scored by the Phillies since April 29) the Phillies advance to 29-18, still leading the National League, and still second in the majors behind the 29-15 Cleveland Indians. Cole Hamels now 6-2 on the season.

Vancey pants Worley goes tomorrow against Johnny Cueto. Phillies, you're doing it right, do it again tomorrow.


Three Reasons For/Against the Phillies' Signing of Scott Podsednik

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

On Sunday, the Phillies announced the signing of veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik, to a minor league contract. It is anticipated that he will be assigned to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA), but no associated roster move has been announced yet. Most of Podsednik's limited value comes from his speed, which has diminished with age, and as a result of recent foot problems. He was released from the Blue Jays' AAA squad, where he posted an unimpressive .254/.366/.356 split. Only four of his hits (in seventy-one AAA plate appearances) were for extra bases (two doubles/two triples).

Three Reasons For the Podsednik Signing:

  1. Podsednik comes cheap. No assets were sacrificed to acquire him, and his salary will be minimal.
  2. The Phillies' depth at the AAA level is horrendous. Delwyn Young, Cory Sullivan, and Matt Miller are not particularly viable MLB options, and may actually be only marginal AAA options.
  3. If the Phillies have a AAA outfielder opting out of his contract in the near future, Podsednik would be a decent AAA replacement.

Three reasons against the Podsednik signing:

  1. Podsednik does not provide much offensively. He is a singles hitter, with negligible power. He may provide a decent batting average, with sufficient BABIP luck (.297 average in 2010, aided by a .338 BABIP (lifetime BABIP: .322)), but it will be an empty batting average (wOBA in 2010 was a mediocre .323).
  2. Podsednik does not provide much defensively. Assuming that his foot is at 100%, which it probably isn't, he is a below/well below average fielder. He has a very weak arm, so he is a very poor choice for right field. When healthy, he has good speed, but his poor route-taking/defensive instincts render him a below average center fielder. Podsednik is pretty much a left fielder at this stage, a weak defensive left fielder. A singles-hitting left fielder, who is below average defensively, doesn't have much value. (As evidenced by the lack of interest in Podsednik, during his offseason free agency.) Podsednik's UZR/150 in 2010, as a left fielder was a -10.7, the 14th worst mark in MLB.
  3. If Podsednik is healthy, he is a fast baserunner. But he is also an incredibly poor baserunner. The break-even point for base-stealing is 70%. If you are not successful 70% of the time, you are better off not trying to steal. In 2010, Podsednik was successful exactly 70% of the time (35 SB/15 CS). In 2009, Podsednik was successful 70% of the time (30 SB/13 CS). So Podsednik's best ability is his baserunning, with which he adds nothing to the team? No, it's actually much, much worse than that. Many of Podsednik's caught stealings have been classified as "pickoffs." In 2010, Podsednik had five pickoffs, while in 2009 he was picked off eleven times. If you include Podsednik's pickoffs, he has been actively hurting his teams on the basepaths.

Who could Podsednik viably replace?

After Brandon Moss, who is the only adequate AAA outfielder, there is a mess of mediocrities (Delwyn Young, Cory Sullivan, Matt Miller). Podsednik fits right in with the mediocre group.

As for MLBers, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry, and Domonic Brown all provide more than Podsednik is likely to provide. Ben Francisco has been exposed in a starting role, but he is still a better option than Podsednik, at this point in their respective careers.

On the other hand, Raul Ibanez has been a disaster in 2011. Ibanez has a .361 SLG, and a .295 wOBA, which are both horrendous, particularly considering his defensive position. As for defensive ability/range, Ibanez has none. In the last year of his contract, Ibanez' position in the starting lineup is certainly far from safe. While Moss would be a better choice than Podsednik for the MLB roster, Podsednik would also be an upgrade over Ibanez.

Ross Gload is, ostensibly, an outfielder. However, Phils' Manager Charlie Manuel appears to have no confidence in Gload's defensive ability. All of Gload's value comes at the plate, where he only has a .303 SLG (.271 wOBA). Moss and Podsednik would both be upgrades over Gload, who's contract also expires after this season.

Michael Martinez doesn't belong in MLB. His batting stats are too offensive to post on a family-oriented blog. As the second backup infielder, he isn't in danger of losing his roster spot to Moss or Podsednik (both of whom are far superior hitters). However, it was inexplicable that Martinez was retained over Pete Orr, and AAAers Kevin Frandsen, Ronnie Belliard, and Brian Bocock would also be upgrades over Martinez.

What was the point in signing Podsednik?

Depth. Insurance. Podsednik is a very flawed player, but the Phils' current reserve outfielders are also very flawed. Podsednik is a decent, cost-effective insurance policy. Hopefully, Ibanez and Gload will improve enough to keep Podsednik in the minor leagues.


Utley returns to the Phillies' Lineup

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Chase Utley makes his long-awaited return to the Phillies lineup tonight, as the Phillies face soft-tossing right-hander Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds. Wilson Valdez, and his .551 OPS (.252 wOBA), has been relegated to the bench. Pete Orr, and his .578 OPS (.258 wOBA), has been exiled to the scenic Lehigh Valley. Utley, with his 2010 OPS of .832 (.372 wOBA), represents a substantial upgrade, both offensively and defensively.

Before we examine tonight's lineups, a few reminders:

  • The batters at the top of the lineup will receive the most plate appearances, therefore it is advantageous to position the best batters at the top of the lineup.
  • The top three batters should be positioned in the #1, #2, and #4 spots. The #1 batter should (ideally) have a high OBP, and the #4 batter should (ideally) have a high SLG.
  • The #5 batter should be better than the #3 batter, and the #6 through #9 batters should be arranged by decreasing order of ability. (Note: It is actually advantageous for the #9 batter to be better than the #8 hitter, but we will disregard that, as Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel will probably figure out that reliever J.C. Romero should be LOOGYfied, before he bats the pitcher 8th.)
  • The lineup is an infinite loop. The leadoff batter may only lead off an inning once, but he will always bat between the #9 and #2 batters. So, it is advantageous to bunch good hitters together. (This is why batting the pitcher 8th is preferable, and why batting the likes of Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez is a hideously egregious error.)

For more on lineup construction, feel free to read this post from the Luis Castillo Era.

Tonight's lineup (handedness and 2011 wOBA in parentheses):

Rollins (B, .323)

Utley (L, .372)

Polanco (R, .355)

Howard (L, .344)

Ibanez (L, .295)

Ruiz (R, .282)

Brown (L, .406 in AAA (2011)/.259 in MLB (2010))

Mayberry (R, .323)

A few notes:

  • Ibanez, like most left-handed batters, fares better against right-handed pitchers.
  • Mayberry, like most right-handed batters, fares better against left-handed pitchers.
  • Bronson Arroyo, like most right-handed pitchers, fares better against right-handed batters.
  • Sadly, Cincinnati relief ace Aroldis Chapman is currently on a AAA rehab stint.
  • The Reds' bullpen includes only one left-handed pitcher, Bill Bray, who is typically utilized in a LOOGY role.

The top three wOBAers (Polanco, Utley, and Howard) should be used in the #1, #2, #4 spots. (Unfortunately, Manuel seems committed to Rollins in the leadoff spot.)

For this discussion, we'll move Rollins to the #3 spot, and bat Ibanez 5th. (Rollins is a stronger batter than Ibanez. Theoretically, he should bat 5th, with Ibanez 3rd. But Ibanez is fine against RHP, and Rollins (switch-hitter) will separate the left-handed hitting Utley and the left-handed hitting Howard. This will prevent the Reds from being able to use Bray, their left-handed specialist, against both Utley and Howard (without having to face Rollins, batting right-handed.)

Our first five:

Polanco (R, .355)

Utley (L, .372)

Rollins (B, .323)

Howard (L, .344)

Ibanez (L, .295)

We'll assume that the pitcher (Cole Hamels) will bat 9th, and then arrange the 6-7-8 hitters, by decreasing order of ability.

Ruiz (R, .282)

Brown (L, .406 in AAA (2011)/.259 in MLB (2010))

Mayberry (R, .323)

Remember, Mayberry struggles against right-handers, so we'll move him down. We'll bat Ruiz ahead of Brown, as he is currently a superior option, and also because Ruiz' right-handedness prevents the Reds from being able to use Bray against three consecutive left-handed batters (Howard, Ibanez, Brown).

So, our optimized lineup:

Polanco (R, .355)

Utley (L, .372)

Rollins (B, .323)

Howard (L, .344)

Ibanez (L, .295)

Ruiz (R, .282)

Brown (L, .406 in AAA (2011)/.259 in MLB (2010))

Mayberry (R, .323)

Notice that, if you swap Rollins and Polanco in our optimized lineup, you are left with Manuel's chosen lineup. Not bad, Mr. Manuel, not bad. This ordering is a lot better than the Valdez/Orr batting-second lineups of the distant past.