Yesterday was another interesting but predictable day in Phillies organization baseball. By a little after the noon hour we knew the Clearwater Phillies lost again and the Reading Phightins won another one run game. By mid-afternoon we knew the ultra boring big league Phillies would not score enough, if any, runs to win a baseball game.
I was interested in finding out what gives here. We have already written too much about the trials and tribulations of the worst team in minor league baseball, the Threshers. And we can barely watch the non-production of last place Phillies but what about the Reading Phightins going 11-1 in one run games this season?
Baseball Reference is the most fascinating site about baseball on the Web. With yesterday’s one run win, the Phightins are now 19-17 on the season in the Eastern League. They have scored only 139 runs and given up 174 runs. Baseball Reference has something called the Pythagorean W-L estimate. The pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team’s winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. Its says Reading’s record should be 14-22.
I don’t believe in luck. I believe luck is the combination of “hard work and opportunity” So it must be someone who meets that description that is making the difference. Could it be its former closer “100 miles” Ken Giles? No. He is longer on the team. Could it be the great but error prone Cesar Hernandez? No. He got the call to the big team and was not in yesterday’s lineup for the another one run win. Could it be the brilliance of career minor league Manager Dusty Wathan or the minor league department? Doubt it.
Ah! which player is constant to all these one run wins? It’s former 2013 minor league gold glove second baseman, now third baseman, Carlos Alonso. In the last two, one run wins, he has homered to provide the winning margin in Tuesday’s game and he homered again yesterday to give the Phightins a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. The pitching promptly gave up two home runs to allow the game to be be tied up. Then, Alonso scored the winning run in the top of the 10th to provide the winning margin in the 5-4 win over New Hampshire.
The Phillies minor league department sees Alonso as a utility player. He is now playing mostly at third base. They have had him start in left, third, short and second this season. I see him as key part of any winning baseball team.
Winning baseball in close and late situations takes more than luck. It takes heady ballplayers who go all out all the time. It takes players who show up for every pitch not when they want to. It takes intelligent focus and clutch play, not false hustle and hollow stats. That sounds like the description of a player named Carlos Alonso that we have been watching the last two seasons.