Recently much has been made of the fact that the Phillies were not hitting with runners in scoring position. Lots of base runners but no clutch hits with runners in scoring position. It’s hard to win games without getting base hits with RISP. For the guys in the minor league system it is the quickest way to move up and make the big bucks. Nothing beats clutch hitting. I like to look at who is and is not hitting in clutch situations with runners at second or third base.
The Phillies have only two players hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position, Carlos Ruiz (.343) and Shane Victorino (.341) going into action tonight. The Phillies who are not hitting with RISP are Hunter Pence (.224), Ty Wigginton (.206) , Jimmy Rollins (.182), and John Mayberry (.154). Until these guys start hitting with “ducks on the pond” the Phillies will still have trouble scoring runs because without Howard and Utley they do not have many home run threats in the lineup.
The old “bloop and a blast” of past seasons has been a rare occurrence this season. The Phillies have been trying to “manufacture” runs by sacrifice bunting and even using the suicide squeeze play as they did last night to score runs. My favorite play in baseball, the “three run dinger”, apparently have to wait if or until Howard and or Utley return to the lineup.
In the entire organization of the five teams currently playing in addition to the two with the Phillies only eight other players who have been with the same team all season are hitting over .300 with RISP: Lehigh Valley, Domonic Brown (.455); Reading, Troy Hanzawa (.421) and Darin Ruf (.333); Clearwater, Carlos Alonso (.391), Jim Murphy (.366), Cody Asche (.333) and Pete Lavin (.333); Lakewood Mikael Franco (.353). These players are the clutch guys so far this season who like to hit with runners in scoring position. They are the guys you want up with game “close and late”.
Some of these guys are pleasant surprises such as Domonic Brown who has suffered through ham string problems and most recently a swollen knee. Others are newcomers like shortstop Troy Hanzawa who is having a break out year and part time left fielder and utility infielder Carlos Alonso. Just as Cody Asche has done at third, they have made themselves into legitimate major league prospects this season. Though first baseman Jim Murphy played in Clearwater two years ago he is coming into his own this season with the Threshers and leads the entire Phillies minor league system with 34 RBIs. Some scouts have projected Maikel Franco as a major league third baseman. His problem with Lakewood is hitting with the bases empty. He is hitting only .159 with no one on base.
So who is yet to hit this season to their potential in the minor league system with RISP. To me catcher Sebastian Valle has been a disappointment so far for Reading. He is batting only .220 with RISP and has hit only three home runs and has 14 RBIs overall despite hitting out of the clean up spot for most the season. Former first round draft pick, outfielder Anthony Hewitt, is hitting only .162 with RISP but has driven in 14 runs overall. Last year outfielder Derrick Mitchell had a breakout season in the first half hitting over .300 with RISP and finished up with just under a .300 RISP average for the season. This season at AAA he is hitting only .220 with RISP but is tied for the team lead in RBIs with 15 overall.
As Memorial Day and the end of the second month of the season approaches the Phillies organization from top to bottom need more players to be clutch, step up, hit some long balls and start driving in some runs especially when runners get in scoring position.