Grantland's Jonah Keri is a very reasonable fellow. I even met him once and he was wearing the legendary "In Case of Emergency" Matt Stairs t-shirt. Its hard not to like a guy who makes that kind of first impression.
Today, however, Keri writes about the Phillies offense and how it could be not just the worst in the NL East but also among the lowest producing in all of baseball.
We all know the story lines that Keri runs through all too well. Howard, Utley, Polanco, injury, age, etc. But he takes a closer look at some of the more advanced stat projections many fans tend to brush aside too frequently or simply never delve into at all.
Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system forecasts the Phillies
to score just 674 runs (under 4.2 per game), fewer than any other team
in the East and 30 fewer than the fourth-place Nationals. It's worse
than that, though. Of the teams outside the East expected to be more
offensively anemic, all but two (the lowly Pirates and really, really
bad Astros) play in significantly tougher parks for hitters. Bill Petti has done some fascinating research on park effects, and found they might not have as much predictive value as we've thought.
Still, unless park effects tell us the exact opposite of the truth, the
Giants (640 projected runs), Dodgers (631) and Padres (631) are
ticketed to rival or even surpass the Phillies' offensive output, after
adjusting for the dampening effects of those California parks.
They're basically numbers backing up the feeling that has been creeping in to Phillies fans minds over the past few weeks, months, years. "But we'll have Hunter Pence for an entire season in right field," we rationalize. I don't know, everything he says holds a bit of water.
I guess the silver lining in Keri's piece, despite the reality that the offense is projected to drop in production, is that he also seems to believe Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels will still buoy the Phillies to a sixth straight NL East crown.
>>The Phillies' Offense is a Rising Concern [Grantland]