Ryan Howard, 2006 NL MVP. Chase Utley, future NL MVP. Jimmy Rollins, 2007 NL MVP. Pedro Feliz. That’s the Phillies’ infield as of this afternoon.
Howard is a stud who, in three seasons, has won a Rookie of the Year and an MVP and driven in like a billion runs. Utley probably would have won the MVP last season if he hadn’t missed a month due to injury. And Rollins DID win the MVP. That is, without a doubt, one of the greatest young infields you will ever see (especially when you consider that Rollins and Utley are both above average fielders, too).
And then there’s Pedro Feliz. He of the .721 career OPS. He whose career high OBP is .305. He whose career batting average of .252 does nothing to help the fact that he averages 28 walks a season. Simply put, he is a terrible — TERRIBLE — offensive player at a position where offense is generally expected.
Some of my favorite parts of the ESPN.com article:
“If we get this done, he’s an upgrade defensively and he’s a run-producer,” general manager Pat Gillick said.
Sorry, Pat, but Feliz is not a run-producer. He benefited greatly by batting behind Barry Bonds and his ridiculous on-base percentage, but that is all. Stick with the “defensive upgrade” argument, because it’s the only one that’s not demonstrably false.
“We got better,” Manuel said. “He’s a good defensive player. He’s got power. He’ll hit probably sixth, seventh, somewhere in there. I think putting him down in our lineup will help him. He was called on to hit in the middle of the lineup in San Francisco. A couple years ago, he might’ve been pressing to do too much because they had Barry Bonds there.”
When life gives you lemons named Pedro, make crap up until it tastes kind of like lemonade. I’m sure there was LOTS of pressure always coming up to bat with Bonds on base and always having reporters ignoring you because Bonds is on the team, and I am 100% positive that THAT, and not a lack of offensive ability, is why Pedro Feliz has a career OBP of .288 and 3.3 times as many strikeouts as walks.
Feliz batted .253 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs last season with the San Francisco Giants.
Feliz will likely replace the trio of Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Abraham Nunez that the Phillies used last season. Philadelphia’s third basemen batted .255 with 11 homers and 76 RBIs last year. Dobbs and Helms remain on the roster.
Note: yes, .255 is higher than .253, and 76 is more than 72. Also better: the combined .321 OBP of last years third basemen (versus Feliz’s .290); their 32 doubles (Feliz had 28); and their 59 walks (double Feliz’s 29).
Yes, the Phillies infield defense improves with the addition of Feliz. But to paint this as anything other than a defensive upgrade is just plain dishonest.