Thursday, September 24, 2009

What a Difference A Year Makes

Going into this season many people thought that the Philadelphia Phillies had a great shot at defending their World Series championship. Right now things look good for the Phillies as they are 88-63 and have all but clinched their division. However a few key players are having terrible years which could bring down the whole ship.

Brad Lidge

For about the last 3 weeks every time I go to watch Sportsnet they play a promo where they show all the sports that they cover. In one part of the promo they talk about how they cover the World Series. In this particular clip they show Brad Lidge on his knees in Game 5 of the World Series just after striking out Eric Hinske to win the series for the Philadelphia Phillies.

That moment capped off one of the greatest single seasons for a closer in MLB history. 12 months later Lidge is having one of the worst seasons of his career. He is 0-7 with a 7.24 ERA and 10 blown saves in 41 chances and is 0-2 with 5 saves and a 10.29 ERA in his last nine appearances.

Lidge's fall from grace has been catastrophic. Last year he was brilliant going 2-0 with 41 Saves in 41 opportunities and had a 1.95 ERA becoming the first closer in Phillies history to have a perfect season.

He would continue his amazing success in the playoffs going 7 for 7 in save chances and bringing a World Series title back to Philly for the first time in 28 years.

Lidge was one of the feel good stories of the year as his career had gone off track after falling apart in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS when he gave up that mammoth home run to Albert Pujols but it was not to be. Many thought that he had turned a corner and would once again return to his role as an elite closer in the league.

The Phillies have guaranteed themselves a place in the playoffs and will hope that Lidge can regain his form so they can make another World Series run.

Cole Hamels

Last year Cole Hamels was proving himself to be a true MLB ace and was considered by many to be one of the best pitchers in the NL. This year he has been anything but and has looked ordinary. His pitches lack the movement they had last year and his stats are worse across the board.

2008 - 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 196 Ks
2009 - 10-9 with a 4.07 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and 157 Ks

Not only is Hamels no longer the best pitcher in the NL but he isn't even the best pitcher on his own team. Jamie Moyer leads the team in wins (12), Cliff Lee leads the team in ERA (2.65), and J.A. Happ leads the team in complete games (3).

Like Lidge Hamels was a massive part of the Phillies success in the playoffs last year and will once again be counted on. In 2008 Hamels made 5 starts in the post-season and went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and was named MVP of the World Series. Don't mean to sound like a broken record but Hamels needs to get better in a hurry.

Jimmy Rollins

Talk about taking a nosedive. Rollins has had one of the biggest drop offs statistically of any player in MLB this year. Here is a list of the statistical categories in which he has seen a decline:

Triples - from 9 down to 4
Walks - from 58 down to 40
Stolen Bases - from 47 down to 30
Batting Average - .277 down to .245
On Base % - from .349 down to .290
Slugging - from .437 down to .411
OPS - from .786 down to .701

He has seen his power numbers increase but at the cost of everything else. It was only 2 years ago that Rollins was named NL MVP and now his numbers are brutal. He has lost a lot of his effectiveness at the plate and has also taken a slip with his defense. J Roll needs to step up his game.

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