Apr 1, 2009

Phive Days of Phillies: Day 1-Power

In preparation for the upcoming 2009 season breathing down the necks of the world, I will feature some aspect of the Phillies that can ultimately lead to a successful season.

The power of the Phillies is evident. Last year, they had a .438 SLG, ranked 2nd in the NL, and they also hit 214 HR, 1st in the NL. Four players hit 20 or more home runs, four players hit 30 or more doubles,and three players had an AB/HR ratio less than 20.

Of these players from last year, Pat Burrell waved a fond farewell to the City of Brotherly Love and made a snowbird's trek to Tampa to rest his foot for all 9 innings per game as a DH. His replacement is Raul Ibanez, a 36 year old lefty, who hopefully has enough juice to add some horsepower to the Phillies 8 cylinder engine.

The individual ratings on the power scale(which I just made up) are the following:

Quasar: Ryan Howard-Like the collision of galaxies billions of light years away, Howard can illuminate the night sky with a rain of blinding flashes of light that can barely be identified as a baseball. He had 48 HR, .543 SLG, and a 12.7 HR/AB ratio. He also led the league in opposite field HRs, showing power to every field in every park. He should be a lock for 40 HRs and many demoralizing strikeouts...with immense power.

Supernova: Chase Utley-His game is versatile and his power is evident. With stellar blasts of energy and excitement, he burns through pitchers' meager offerings. He hit 33 HR and 41 2B last year. Expect more of the same as his surgically repaired hip will allow him to pivot with the same immense burst as the first half of 2008.

Volcanic Eruption: Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez-Both corner outfielders with enough power to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting opponent populace. Both had .475+ SLG with 20+HR. They will drive in runs and they will make the other team's eat ash as yet another rally is extended by the rumblings of their power.

Sky Cannon: Matt Stairs-One swing, one glorious trip to the stratosphere, one trip around the bases. Stairs cemented his place in Phillies lore with the HR off Broxton in game 5 of the 2008 NLCS. His swing from the heels and make contact with any fastball works well as a pinch hitter off the bench. Lo, the poor two-seamer that enters his path of destruction.

Particle Accelerator: Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins-Quickness defines them, but when they get their subparticles to collision velocity, enormous power can result. It's just that their focus is not there. Both had 8+ triples, 10+ HR, and .430+ SLG, showing that speed also brings power to the table. They will advance further by harnessing the field and using footspeed and batspeed to power the way.

Corvette Engine: Greg Dobbs-Only obstacles in the roadway (not enough playing time) prevent him from reaching the top capability for the whole season. But with 9 HR in 226 AB and a .491 SLG, maximum effort was attained on each drive. The pistons are always primed and ready to overcome the friction of a right handed pitcher.

Ocean Cruiser: Pedro Feliz and Chris Coste: Can hit HR at a fairly good clip (9 HR in 274 AB for Coste and 14 HR in 425 AB). For them, it will seem like nothing is happening in the power department for weeks at a time, and then the engines are turned on to bypass the treacherous currents of opposing pitchers. Pop-ups and dead periods are the price to pay for manning such an unwieldy vessel.

Living Room Light: Carlos Ruiz and Eric Bruntlett: No power to speak of, but will help the team in other ways. Can hit the occasional HR to provide dim glow over stadium crowd.

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