Philadelphia Phillies Finish Month of April: Grading the Offense, Player By Player

By Cody Swartz

With a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets today, the Phillies finished the month of April with the team’s most-ever wins (18). At 18-7, the Phillies are in first place not only in the National League East, but actually in all of baseball, leading the Cleveland Indians by half a game.

Carlos Ruiz: He’s certainly not going to top his 2010 numbers, but his .220 batting average isn’t quite as bad as it seems. He was hitting well over one hundred points higher until a recent career-worst slump. He’s drawn enough walks to warrant a .310 on-base percentage and his adjusted OPS of 84 will likely only go up. He’s played in 21 of a possible 25 games this year, and he’s done his usual fine job of handling the pitchers. Grade: C-

Ryan Howard: A lot of pressure is on the big man to produce after he signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension in the offseason. Howard is off to a good start, with a .302/.364/.583 statline to go with six home runs and a major league-leading 27 RBIs. Grade: A

Wilson Valdez: He won’t fool anyone into thinking he’s Chase Utley. The Phillies would actually be better off calling up a replacement level player than playing Valdez, who has cost the Phillies 0.4 wins thus far this season. Valdez is also sporting a slugging percentage (.281) lower than Utley’s career batting average (.293). Grade: F

Jimmy Rollins: Rollins doesn’t have the power to justify his hitting in the third spot in the lineup, but he’s hitting .283, playing his usual stellar defense, and shockingly, leading the team in walks (13). The key for Rollins will be staying healthy for the remainder of the season. Grade: B+

Placido Polanco: Polanco was just born to hit the ball. He’s right around the .400 mark so far in 2011, and leading the major leagues with 39 hits. He’s been a bright spot for an offense that hasn’t lived up to its potential so far this season. Grade: A+

Raul Ibanez: Ibanez has been arguably the worst player in the major leagues this season, at .167/.247/.218 with an adjusted OPS of 28. He’s cost the Phillies 1.1 wins this year and if it weren’t for his expensive contract, the Phillies would certainly be playing either John Mayberry, Jr. full-time. Grade: F

Shane Victorino: According to the statistic Wins Above Replacement, Polanco has been the team’s best hitter this season, but Victorino hasn’t been much worse. He’s at .288 right now and on pace for 25 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 2011. He’s been a bright spot as the team’s leadoff hitter. Grade: A-

Ben Francisco: Francisco has been a pleasant surprise thus far this season. He’s currently tied for the team lead in home runs (4) and if he can keep up his numbers, he’ll end with 25 home runs and 112 RBIs this season, numbers the team would certainly take from a guy who was brought into Philly to be their fourth outfielder. Grade: B+

Brian Schneider: Schneider is a veteran backup with decent power (two home runs so far), but he’s hitting just .077 in 26 at-bats. Grade: F

Ross Gload: Gload has been quiet this season. He hasn’t had many opportunities, with just 16 at-bats. He’s hitting .250 but four singles also gives him just a .250 slugging percentage. Grade: D

Pete Orr: Orr was a long shot to make the team, but he’s fared well in his spot starts so far, hitting at .276 in eight games. If Valdez continues his poor play at the plate, Orr may push for playing time. Grade: B-

Michael Martinez: Martinez is a versatile utility player who can play anywhere on the field, but his offense (.188/.222/.176) needs some work. Grade: D

John Mayberry, Jr: Charlie Manuel is a big fan of Mayberry’s skills, and Phillies fans are starting to see why. Mayberry is hitting at a .345 clip right now, over twice of Ibanez’s batting average. Mayberry hit his first home run of the season today and will probably start platooning with Ibanez soon. Grade: A

Overall: The team has struggled to score runs for much of the season, enduring a two-week slump without even scoring five runs in a game. Without power production from the three and five hitters, the lineup will suffer. The Phillies also don’t have great options off the bench, other than Mayberry. Grade: D+

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