To DH or Not to DH

One of the last differences between the leagues in Major League Baseball is the designated hitter, or DH. The American League first used it in 1973 and has never looked back. The DH just missed being adopted by the National League a few years later, and if you believe Bill Giles, it was because of a fishing trip by Ruly Carpenter during the vote that prevented the NL from also agreeing to the DH.

In the succeeding years, the idea of whether the DH is a good idea has spawned a good amount of debate. On the DH side there tends to be those who root for teams in the AL and people who believe watching a pitcher try to hit is ridiculous, a waste of time, and a rally killer. On the other side are those who tend to be fans of NL teams and baseball traditionalists.

The debate has renewed recently as the MLB commissioner had hinted a change might come, but a few days later made another statement that, if it does, it won’t be that soon.  Regardless, the editors here at the Yellow Seats thought it might be a good time to address the topic. Our Editor-in-chief is against the DH, but we hope to address the debate with as much objectivity as possible.

Those in favor of the DH usually say that it should come to the NL for a few main reasons: it makes the game more exciting/entertaining, it makes sense to have both leagues playing under the same rules, and it will put the two teams in the World Series on a more even footing. I am not in favor of the DH, and will explain why in the next few paragraphs.

Before I go into why I am against the DH, let’s look at why it was created in the first place. According to this interesting contemporary article in SI, it was due to low attendance and low scoring in the National League. This was not too far after the infamous 1968 season when the pitchers dominated so much the mound was lowered a few inches the following year. With offense down recently, there has been more talk about lowering it again (nonesense) and, not surprisingly, bringing the DH to the NL. However, perhaps to the dismay of baseball purists, the idea of the DH dates very far back in league history.

So let’s take a look at the reasons given in favor of the DH. There is something to the point that it makes a game more exciting. We’ve all gotten excited about a rally with two outs until we realize the pitcher is on deck. Making matters worse is how completely inept modern hitters are at bunting, including pitchers. There’s not much worse than watching the pitcher pop a bunt up in the air or, more usually, foul a few off and then strike out. While other ideas to make the game more exciting have backfired (inter-league play) we have a test case in the American League that has been going on since 1973.  However, let’s look at the flip side of this added offense and entertainment. The games are a little bit longer in the AL. Not by much, but a little bit. That can’t be solely blamed on the DH as the Dodgers were close to the top in length of games, but it is almost certainly a factor.

More importantly, the amount of offense goes through peaks and valleys and has since the dead-ball era came to an end. Right now, we’re in a big valley, similar to 1973 so it’s easy to say “Bring the DH to the NL! The games need more offense, it’s boring!” However, it wasn’t too long ago during the “steroid era” that people were looking for ways to reduce the amount of offense in the game. Here’s an article about possibly raising the mound from back in 1999. And another here about GMs saying the same thing the following year. My point is, there could very well be another surge in offense in the future, leading people to complain about it the way they did ten years ago. The length of the games would increase again, and people would call for the mound to be raised and the DH abolished, which would be very difficult to do.

As for the league playing under two different set of rules, it is strange. Realistically, the easiest thing to do is bring the DH to the NL. It wouldn’t get any push back from the players union at all, as removing the DH would. While it is strange, it’s been done for over 40 years now, so it’s really not that big of a deal. It would seem to give the American League teams an advantage in the World Series, though, as they would almost certainly have a better hitter as their DH than the NL team. The American League has, in fact, won more World Series games than the National League, but by just a few so it may not be a huge factor.

Those are the common arguments in favor of the DH. Let’s take a look at the arguments against. I believe the most compelling argument is the decrease in managerial strategy it would bring.  The AL game is more on cruise control than in the NL, something that Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs, agrees with. Maddon has managed in both leagues. A manager in the AL does not have to consider whether or not to pull his starter in the 7th inning when his team is down by a run with one out. Neither does the manager have to consider making a double switch when the pitcher’s spot is up the following half inning.  This may seem like a small matter, but it does give people something to talk and complain about when at the game, or at home watching the game, or around the proverbial water cooler at work. This is good for baseball. At a time when the interest in sabermetrics is increasing, it would seem like it would be more beneficial for the game to not get rid of any strategic elements.

I also believe that the DH is a burden during times of high-scoring offense. It’s easy to call for the DH now, but as I’ve already said, when home runs are out of control, having another skilled hitter in the lineup will make the game that much longer.

Also, if you are a fan of a small-market team, the DH is another position where a wealthier team can outbid your team. If you think that competitive balance is important, then you should probably not be a fan of the DH. This Daily News writer recently brought up the fact that this is why the DH would be good for the Phillies, a team with deep pockets.

The DH makes Hall of Fame voting a little more difficult as a career DH may never have played in the field, which is half the game. However, that is something they can probably work out over time and with a little thought.

In all reality, the NL will probably adopt the DH at some point. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that because the DH exists in the minors, when pitchers get to the Majors, their batting skills are almost always lacking. Once in the big leagues, there is no financial incentive for them to be better hitters.  In some cases, like with the Phillies, they don’t even seem to put time in to learn how to bunt properly. However, for the reasons I mentioned above, I believe the game is better off without the DH. At the very least, keep it out of the NL.

Off-Season Moves

The Phillies sure have been busy over the last few months. Nothing like the era of getting Cliff Lee, etc. but busy nonetheless. New GM Matt Klentak has stressed they are trying to build up the pitching depth, and they really have made attempts to do that. It seems like a good time to take a look at some of the moves so far.

First, the Phillies finally…FINALLY, got rid of good ol’ Dom Brown. Brown’s story is well known–once an untouchable prospect, he turned into a player who really seemed to have no clue how to play the game or about how bad he was playing. The only reason he had not been turned loose earlier was his earlier status as big-time prospect, and his very good three months a few years ago when he made the All-Star Game.  With a new GM with no ties to Brown, it was probably a very easy decision by Klentak. Technically, he could still be in the organization as he was “outrighted” to AAA, but I doubt he will stay.

One thing the Phillies have done is to sign a number of relief pitchers who were once good, but have gotten hurt, or have had bad seasons. This is not a bad strategy as relief pitchers are notorious for being inconsistent and having good seasons after bad, and vice versa.  Several of these guys are on minor-league deals, so they are low risk. One might turn out to have a good half-year, and that means the Phillies can flip him for another prospect. One notable name is Greg Burke. Notable because he is a local guy, born in Gloucester City, NJ. Burke has never really had what you would call a good major league season, so I would be surprised if he made the major league roster. He will most likely be a depth guy in Lehigh Valley. David Hernandez, formerly with Arizona, is another relief pitcher who was picked up by the team. Hernandez had a few good years with the Diamondbacks, with some closer experience. He has a good shot to make the bullpen.  Ernesto Frieri is another guy signed to a minor league deal. Frieri had some excellent years back in the day including some as a closer. He did have a notable decline in fastball velocity last year. No doubt he will get a look to be that guy again in spring training. Another local guy they signed is Andrew Bailey, former All-Star closer with the Oakland A’s and a local product. Bailey pitched with the Yankees last year after not pitching in 2014 due to injury. There wasn’t much of a drop-off with Baily’s velocity last year. I think he will have a good shot to make the bullpen.

Of course, the biggest news so far was the trade of closer Ken Giles to Houston for a number of prospects. I agree with the idea behind the trade. Giles value will never be higher and the Phillies don’t need an All-Star closer at the moment. I understand that some people have said he was one of the few players fans would want to see, which is true, but if it can hasten the rebuilding movement and get a winning team on the field quicker, then it was a good trade. People have also said that Giles is young enough that he could still help them when the Phillies are good again, which might be true in theory, but the Phillies would be taking a risk there. Giles could get hurt or stop being as effective (remember he had poor control in the minors). The Phillies got a number of prospects from Houston, including former number one overall pick, Mark Appel. Unfortunately, Appel has not approached mediocre in his minor league career so far, so the Phillies are hoping for a “change of scenery” scenario. However, people love his stuff, and was still listed on the Baseball Prospectus top 50 prospects list as of last year. Another young pitcher they picked up is Vincent Velasquez, who pitched in the big leagues last year. He had a very nice minor league career and will no doubt be in the starting rotation next season. Velasquez has nice velocity and also throws a slider, curveball and change-up. Velasquez was a nice pickup. Next up is another young pitcher, Thomas Eshelman, who was just drafted in the second round next year. The interesting thing about this guys is his other-worldly control. This will no doubt help, but his velocity isn’t great. He sounds like Aaron Nola with better control, but lower velocity. I am thinking he projects to a back of the rotation starter. Another young pitcher they stockpiled is a guy named Harold Arauz. He has shown some good strikeout numbers in the minors. He’s young, so time will tell.  Brett Oberholtzer is another pitcher they picked up. He is not as young, 26, is from Delaware and has pitched in the majors. He hasn’t pitched well since his rookie year, and has put up some bad WHIP numbers the past two years. I guess he would be a mop-up bullpen kind of guy who could make a spot start.

The Phillies have picked up a bunch of other guys as well, but those are some of the bigger names. Klentak is certainly doing what he has said he was going to and has already stockpiled a lot of pitchers, some of them which show nice promise.  With the Giles and Hamels trades, the Phillies have put together a nice group of prospects. Time will tell of course, but it is a reason for Phillies fans to be hopeful.

 

 

 

The Utley Controversy

It took the Chase Utley slide controversy to wake the Yellow Seats out of its off-season slumber. We couldn’t let Chase be harangued by the unruly social media mob, so we’re here to set the record straight. First, here is the play:

Now, the question that everyone is asking: was the slide dirty? When saying a sports play is “dirty” you are implying that the player was purposely trying to hurt another player. I do not think Chase Utley was trying to hurt Ruben Tejada on that play. I’ve watched Utley play his whole career, and he plays the game hard, very hard. That is what happened here. Utley was trying to break up the double play, and went it very hard into second. Was the slide against the rules? That’s a tougher question. Obviously baseball thinks so. Here are the rules in question:

Rule 6.05 (m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

Rule 7/09 It is interference by a batter or a runner when —

(e) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.

Now, the strange thing about these rules is, as Utley’s agent has noted, they are rarely enforced. The part about the “obvious intent to break up a double play” really throws me for a loop, because that happens all the time. Players are taught to break up double plays with intent. In fact, if you don’t, and pull up short, your manager is sure to get on you. In neither of the two rules does it say anything about the runner needing to be an arm’s length from the bag when breaking up a double play, which is what you hear all the time. Is that one of the “unwritten rules”? If it is in the rulebook, then I haven’t seen it. Regardless, Utley was clearly in the vicinity of the bag. Was Utley’s slide unsportsmanlike? Maybe, but we’ll address that later.

With all of this attention, some have pointed out that these slides have happened before and few said anything, at least not to this magnitude. Granted, Tejada did break his leg, but other collisions have led to injury too. This next video is very interesting. It’s an Utley slide against that same player. In fact the slide is almost exactly the same (I orignally saw this on philly.com):

David Wright spoke after the game about it, but there was nothing from MLB. Here’s an interesting article from the SF Chronicle about a Matt Holliday slide that injured Marco Scutero. And here is the video. That slide was very similar and probably a little bit worse, although one broadcaster called it “a good clean play”. Holliday is much bigger than Utley didn’t role over on Tejada’s leg. Of course, those who think Utley’s slide was dirty would say “two wrongs don’t make a right” or “Utley’s is just the latest example of slides that must now be banned from the game”. Okay, but more on that later.

When I watched the replay, I noticed that Tejada did something that was kind of strange. When he caught the ball, he slowly spun around with his back to Utley, almost as if he had no urgency. While I am not going to blame Tejada for breaking his leg, this was a contriuting factor. He was not able to brace himself properly for the collision. It almost seemd as if he didn’t expect Utley to be there, it was kind of strange and not wise on his part. Larry Bowa saw the same thing and came to the same conclusion:

Bowa also said that Tejada “put himself in harm’s way.” The shortstop was turned around and in the midst of spinning while trying to turn the double play. “You’ve got a tying run at third. It’s the magnitude of the game. If the situations were reversed and the Met guy did that to the Dodger guy, he would be getting an award before the game tonight. If you know Utley, he’s not a dirty player. He plays hard.” Bowa also said that Tejada “put himself in harm’s way.” The shortstop was turned around and in the midst of spinning while trying to turn the double play. “That’s not a double-play ball,” Bowa said. “Once you turn your back on a runner, you get the out and get out of the way.”

Some people have really gone to extremes on this calling Utley a dirty player and calling for hard slides into second to be banned from the game. This is ridiculous. The collisions at home plate is one thing; they could be very violent. Hard slides into second a rarely that violent and it would be very, very difficult to enforce. The guy in the linked article said the rule should be that the runner would have to slide “directly into the bag”. First, you can slide directly into the bag, but with your spikes up. Second, that takes away the runner’s ability to disrupt the double play. Fielders sweep the bag to avoid the runner. If you can’t deviate a little bit, what’s the point of sliding? Look, nobody want to see players badly hurt, but you can’t take away every play that could potentially lead to injury. A contrasting view on this matter is from Craig Biggio who believes the players should police themselves on these matters.

In the end, what Utley did is no different from slides in the past, but this time someone got seriously hurt because of it. It wasn’t dirty, it was just the result of playing hard. The biggest thing wrong with the slide was that it was late, but, again, there have been slides like that in the past. However, I understand why baseball had to do something, because of the severity of the injury. While Utley’s agent has a point that should be addressed (i.e. if you don’t want players playing that way, why wait until now to do something?), MLB probably had to do something here. It’s also one of those things where if Utley was on the Mets and he took out the Corey Seager, they would be okay with it. Utley is a throwback and goes 100% all the time. All the time. And that’s what made him such a great player, that’s probably one reason his production dropped as it did a few years ago, and, unfortunately, it’s partially why the injury happene.d

Three for Three

Three for three, meaning three cities, three annoyed fan bases, three teams that no longer want Papelbon’s services. I don’t have to recount what happened, we all know that Papelbon grabbed his team’s best player by the throat. Af if that wasn’t bad enough, as others have noted, it was after Papelbon gave up the lead. I guess timing was never Pappy”s strong suit.

Anyway, what I’d like to point out is the aftermath, especially this excellent article by a Washington Post writer. It’s entitled “The Winners and Losers From the Jonathan Papelbon-Bryce Harper fight”. Here’s the best part, and it’s very true:

Winner — Phillies fans

This was understandably overlooked in the moments after the incident. It shouldn’t be. Imagine, just after the Papelbon trade, that you asked Phillies fans to concoct a dream scenario for how this transaction would play out. Would any of them have suggested that the Nats would almost immediately begin to slide in the standings after Papelbon’s arrival, that Storen would wind up punching a locker and breaking his hand, that Papelbon would be suspended for throwing at Manny Machado, and that it would all culminate with Papelbon choking Washington’s franchise player, in the dugout, on fan appreciation day, during a blowout home loss to the Phillies, the day after the Nats had been eliminated from playoff contention? It’s unimaginably worst-case for Washington, which makes it unimaginably best-case for Philadelphia. Fans of a last-place rival team shouldn’t get to be this happy.

It’s almost as if Papelbon was a secret agent sent to the Nationals to destroy their team from within, like a Soviet-era spy. I also imagine Red Sox fans felt the same way when Papelbon began to meltdown in Philly.

But it gets better. Nats fans have started a campaign in which they will donate thousands of dollars to charity if the team releases Papelbon. It’s not going to work as the team still owes him $11 million next year. This is the exact scenario the Phillies were fortunate to avoid by trading him this season.

And lastly, it was reported the the Nationals took Papelbon’s jersey off the racks at their clubhouse store. What does this all mean, besides a “dumpster fire” of a season as the above Post writer pointed out? Well, it probably means that Papelbon’s career is over after next season. Considering the Phillies tried to trade him for months and luckily found a team in Washington to take him, I can’t see another team taking him on, especially considering his age. Jonathan Papelbon has had a very good career, but much of it will be overshadowed by the circus he brought to each city.

Dom Brown Still Does Not Get It

It seems like yesterday when I first wrote that Dom Brown doesn’t get it. But he recently came up with another nugget of a quote recently. Speaking about his all-star season a few years ago:

“I can do that at any time,” he said. “I just think I need to play every day. That’s up to me. Go out and play well. It’s a different philosophy here with how they handle things, but that’s all I know. Other teams might leave guys out there, but here you’ve got to perform. I understand that.”

This is quite the passive-aggressive quote. First stating that he needs to play everyday (as if two years since his all-star year weren’t enough), but then saying it was up to him to play better in order to earn that. And, of course, all those other teams leave under-performing  players out there, but not here! No, the Phillies have standards. That’s why they are in last place whereas the Mets with all the bad players who get to stay in the lineup are in first.

Dom Brown always seems like a guy who just got back from vacation and doesn’t quite know what’s going on and is still thinking about his time on a tropical island. It would be very surprising if he is on the team next year as the Phillies final have some decent outfield prospects ready to tryout for the team. It would be better for Brown, too, so he can find one of those teams that will “leave him out there”. Dom Brown seems like a nice guy, but it is definitely time for the Phillies and Brown to part ways.

Chase Utley, No Longer a Phillie

Well, the player who most fans would name as the heart and soul of the recent Phillies Golden Age has moved on, traded to the Dodgers. Most people knew it was going to happen, especially when he caught fire at the plate after his return from the DL. Because of this, I wanted to have a post ready to go when the Phillies and Utley did go through with the trade, but I was on vacation when it happened with no time to write anything. Jim Salisbury, as usual, did a fine job in his Utley farewell piece. I don’t know what more I can really say, but I will try.

One thing that seemed to bother people about Chase Utley was the “pass” he seemed to have gotten from the fans here. In other words, Utley was rarely, if ever, booed in a town that is known for doing that, even to its star players. And, really, it was true. You almost never heard someone boo Utley, or maybe even more rare, you almost never heard a called slam him on talk radio. Why, exactly, was Utley so loved in Philadelphia? Part of the reason, I think, is that the fans got the impression that no one worked harder at his craft than Utley, something Salisbury alludes to in his article. In an era where some people have questioned the need or utility in running every ball out, especially when that player is a veteran, Utley did that. But it can’t just be that, because there have been other players who were known to be hard workers, but were booed unmercifully. One name that comes to mind is Pat Burrell. However, it does seem like Utley’s work ethic and approach to the game was at a level that is rarely seen. He was very well-respected by other players and ex-players, too.

So what else? It’s interesting that so many fans had such a strong affinity for Utley when he almost never showed any emotion on the field or even in interviews. Philly fans tend to like players to show emotion. The only other player that is on the same level as Utley in terms of fan devotion is Brian Dawkins, the legendary Eagles safety, and he was all about showing emotion. Mike Schmidt never showed much emotion and he had a combative relationship with the fans until the end of his career. However, unlike Schmidt and some other players, he never publicly criticized the fans, so that could be a part of it too. On the other end of the spectrum, an overly emotional player like Gregg Jeffries was criticized by the fans for just that reason. He was known for slamming his helmet down on the ground every time he made an out (which was quite often during his time in Philadelphia).  So Utley was able to be cool, but still able to connect with the fans.  While there were times I wanted him to argue balls and strikes (even giving the umpire a look was rare for him), I also liked how he never blamed anything or anyone for a poor performance. While some players would roll their eyes after a called third strike, that’s not something Utley would do.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, Utley was a very good player and was part of a World Series team. Being humble about his success helped, too. You can be hard-working, but not produce and the fans aren’t going to like you. More than two years ago, I argued that Utley could be approaching a Hall of Fame level, an idea recently confirmed by the well-known statistics website, Fivethirtyeight. Along with being an excellent player, Utley did some things that elevated him to an almost mythical status. The original “Chase Utley you are the man” play was probably the start , but then you have the fake-to-first-throw-to-home play in the 2008 World Series, and then the five home runs in the 2009 World Series, too. You can watch all of those below. And here are some audio highlights to listen to.

So, if you can’t tell by now, there really isn’t any easy answer to why Chase Utley was so beloved by the fans. He was my favorite Phillie. It was a combination of factors and all the cosmic tumblers clicked into place for him, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, to make him possibly the most popular Philly athlete of all time. A combination of skill, work ethic, humility, team success and notable moments. And maybe some luck too. I still think Utley has something left. I think that showed when he came back from the DL. His short swing will be an advantage for him as he continues to age as it may compensate for lost bat speed. If he can pad his career numbers, he just may wind up in the Hall of Fame.

Chase Utley, you are the man:

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Fake to first, throw home:

Utley in 2009 World Series

The Phillies Wall of Fame

Recently a local talk-radio personality (a good one) grumbled in a written column about Pat Burrell being on the Phillies “Wall of Fame” (having WoF after your name instead of HoF, doesn’t carry the same gravity, though, does it?). Similar grumblings were heard after Mike Lieberthal was selected. I disagree with the Burrell grumblings because he actually was a pretty good hitter with a lifetime .834 OPS and a 116 OPS+ (OPS+ is supposed to be a player’s OPS after variables are taken into account; read more here) and if you are going to grumble about Burrell, then a number of other players would have to come off that wall.
First, what is the standards for the WoF? According to the Phillies website it is:

Players with five or more years of service are eligible. Managers and coaches need four or more years of service. All candidates must be retired for three years before they can be eligible for the 12-man ballot. In addition to a player’s statistical record, consideration is given to longevity, ability, contributions to the Phillies and baseball, character, plus special achievements.

So it is a little vague, but so are the requirements for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In my opinion, for a team’s wall of fame, the players who are on there should be either the best the team has had at that position, close to it, or a player/personnel person who has had a large impact on the team in terms of character or special achievements.
Let’s take a look at who possibly should not be on the Phillies WoF. You can find a complete list here. You’ll notice that for the first fifteen years or so most of the selections were all-timers for the Phillies, either those who were in the Hall of Fame (Chuck Klein, Grover Alexander, etc.), were going to be (Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, etc.) or were the best yet for the Phillies at that position (Larry Bowa). The early 1990s is when we start to see some players who probably should not be on the Wall of Fame. They were good, but not what I would consider to be worth of a wall of fame. Here are those that probably should not be on the Wall of Fame:

Granny Hamner– He had a few nice years in the 1950s. He didn’t have much power, but he was a middle infielder. He was just above the (Jimmy) Rollins-line of OBP at .303, so he had a hard time getting on base. Obviously I didn’t see him play, but a .262/.303/.383 slash line is just not wall of fame worthy. He appeared to have a good range at shortstop, but also made a ton of errors.

Curt Simmons– Yes, he was a Whiz Kid, and had a few good years with the Phillies, but not wall of fame worthy. With the Phillies he had an ERA of 3.66, a WHIP of 1.332 and an ERA+ of 108 (average is 100, read more about the stat here). He was actually better with St. Louis.
Willie Jones– While he possibly could be on the Wall of Fame simply for a cool nickname (“Puddin’ Head”), he doesn’t deserve to be on there for his stats. Another Whiz Kid (and maybe some of these guys are on here because they were on a World Series team for a franchise that goes decades between appearances) he had some above-average years, but nothing really great. His best year was 1951 when he hit .285/.358/.470. His lifetime numbers are .258/.343/.413 with an OPS+ 101 (remember, 100 is average). His career Phillies numbers are a little better.

Tony Taylor– I have no idea why he is on the Wall of Fame. Okay, I didn’t see him play, I just know him as a coach, but the numbers speak for themselves. His career slash line is .261/.321/.352 and is slightly worse during his Phillies years. He had a good range as a second baseman, but I don’t think that makes up for woeful offensive production.

Juan Samuel– I like Juan Samuel, I remember him from the awful teams when I was a kid. And yes, he put up impressive stolen base numbers and had good pop for a second baseman, but it was for a brief period of time. Also, he struck out a heck of a lot and had trouble getting on base. His career slash line was .259/.315/.420, which was a little better during his time as a Phillie. He also had nice range, but made a good amount of errors as well. I like Juan Samuel a lot, he seems like a nice man and had some nice numbers, but I don’t think he should be on the Wall of Fame.

Mike Lieberthal– This one is much closer than I think people realize. He was a good-hitting catcher with a career slash line of .274/.337/.446. The Phillies would love it if the prospect they just got, Alfaro, could hit like that in the Majors. Defense-wise, though, Lieberthal is no Bob Boone. Only once in his career did he crack the top-10 in caught-stealing percentage (#10 in 2000).

So there you have it. Probably plenty of debate that could go on with my selections, but that is part of the fun of baseball. There are some other guys who were on the bubble, like Chris Short and Johnny Callison. I know fans of a certain age love Callison, but Burrell has a significantly better slash line. Their OPS+ numbers are very close, though.  So even if you take that into account, Pat Burrell probably does deserve to be on there, especially if you think Callison should be on there. I also actually had Bob Boone on the list originally because he really couldn’t hit all with .254/.315/.346 for his career stats, but he was an excellent defensive catcher. He was constantly in the top 10 and top 5 in caught stealing percentage. Throw in the fact he was on the 1980 team and had impressive longevity, and I decided he deserved to be there.

So really, if the Phillies wanted to have a higher standard for the Wall of Fame, they probably shouldn’t have the selection every year. In all reality, it’s not supposed to be all that serious of a thing, it’s something to get the fans to the ballpark and to create a shared history for fans of the Phillies. And maybe even spark a debate or two.