Let’s change up the focus up for a bit here, and talk about the Philadelphia Phillies. While they still have issues closing out games, and blew a 3 run lead in the final 2 innings on Sunday, a game in which Hector Neris could not get an out in the 9th inning, ultimately leading to a 5-4 loss. There are some positives for the team. For one, 34 games into the season they sit at 19-15 in second place in the NL East, just a half game behind, the upstart, very surprising Atlanta Braves. They also have a 12-5 home record, which could mean a fairly significant home field advantage that we haven’t seen since the end of the last decade and early into this decade. They are home for the next week and they opened up a 4 game series last night, against the Giants, and put an 11-0 beat down on them. Zac Efflin was throwing gas, striking out a career high 9 in 6 and 2/3 innings. It was a completely dominant performance by the whole team, who got to Jeff Samardzija early and often, chasing him after 4 innings, and getting to the bullpen early, which is extremely crucial in a 4 game series.
The scoring started early, in the bottom of the first, when both Hernandez, and Hoskins were able to get on base. That brought to the plate Odubel Herrera, who did this for the first of his 2 jacks on the night. Here they both are.
Odúbel extended his on-base streak without actually ever being on base.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 7, 2018
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 8, 2018
Two dingers, 5RBIs, 3 runs scored, and an 11-0 shutout, not bad for a nights work. More importantly, dating back to last season, Odubel has now reached base safely in 36 straight games. However, his numbers this year are pretty impressive as it is not just about getting on base.
He is currently 2nd in the national league in both batting average and hits. This is one of the few quality moves Ruben Amaro Jr, made before ultimately being replaced as GM, by Matt Klentak. He was selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Rangers system in 2014, and is now almost a give in to be starting in CF, and hitting somewhere in the top third of the order. More importantly, prior years, we have seen lack of hustle, taking plays off and at times seeming to be disinterested. That has not been reported at any point this year, and his defense, well it is near gold glove level so far this year. Let me show you some examples of huge plays in big spots of games.
Not only is the defense superb, not only are the average numbers and hit numbers up, but he is also doing a better of job, with his at bats. If we look at his splits, we see that he has improved on both the strikeout total, and walks.
31 Walks in 138 games last year, or roughly one every 4.5 games, this year he is averaging a walk every 3 games, last year he also struck out roughly 24 percent of his at-bats, with a total of 126 strikeouts in 526 at bats. This year, those numbers would also change. If we push his stats out of a full season, the numbers would like something like this. He is on pace to play 157 games. have roughly 585 at bats, and roughly 99 strikeouts. This year his strikeout total is at roughly 17 percent of his at bats. Those are massive improvements in both areas over one season. All that being said, we will still need to see, how this plays out over the entire year. As we know in baseball, all players go through slumps, no matter how good they are. My hope is if he works the pitcher, and tries to make solid contact but has a good pitch selection, he can still get on base via the walk. I like the strikeouts numbers being down as much as they are, especially on this team, where it still seems they can’t make contact or get the big hit when it is needed. Even with all that, if he continues to to play gold glove defense as he has been all year, then your starting Center Field is set for years.
The best part about the success of Odubel right now and his potential upside, is his salary. He signed a 5 year 30.5 million dollar extension that was valid, for through the 2017-2021 season with options for 2022 and 2023. The salary over the next 3 season breaks down like this.
There are options for both the 2022, and 2023 season at a number of 11.5 million, and 12.5 million dollars respectively. That being said, this was a low risk high reward signing, as they locked him up before he was arbitration eligible, and effectively have him in their control for at least the next 4 seasons, but a potential of 6. Also keep in mind he is currently only 26, the Phillies call this deal like they see it.