Tommy Joseph has not been the most impactful surprise for the Phillies in 2016, but he almost certainly has been the best story. At this point everyone is aware of Joseph’s injury struggles and how his career was almost over. With Darin Ruf’s struggles Joseph got a chance at the big leagues and he has been decent ever since. At the time of this writing Tommy Joseph is batting .262/.311/.522 with 21 home runs in 331 PAs. Rather than focus on the full season I want to look at the ups and downs, because they show a player really growing into being a productive big leaguer.
Let’s start with the basics, BB% and K%.
It has been an up and down year for Joseph. He has mentioned recently that he would like to have a higher on base percentage and he certainly seems to be accomplishing that. I went looking into Jospeh’s left/right splits given that we know he has some platoon splits. As you can guess, his RH splits drive the ups and downs, but they do show up on the left side as well. For now though I think those splits have too small a sample size to be really meaningful, so for now I want to use July 1 as our cut off point. Here is the basic stat breakdown on Joseph around that cut off point.
Pre July 1: 136 PA 2.2% BB% 25.7% K% .223/.235/.446
July 1 to present: 195 PA 8.7% BB% 19.5% K% .292/.364/.579
That is a pretty incredible turnaround and one that points to a player that might be a bigger part of the Phillies future. He is doing that line with a .300 BABIP so the main regression points is maintaining the walk and contact rates, because we know the power is real.
I said I would move away from R/L splits, I lied. Because I want to approach them again, this time only in the Post July 1 split.
Here is Joseph vs LHPs: 62 PA 9.7% 14.5% K% .255/.323/.564 .214 BABIP
There is some lack of luck here, also the lack of consistent playing time as Joseph was in a strict platoon for some of the time. The walk and strikeout rates are really nice though and Joseph should mash LHPs going forward.
He is the RHP split: 133 PA 8.3% BB% 21.8% K% .310/.383/.586 .346 BABIP
Now there is some unsustainability here in the BABIP, but if that trended more towards his composite .300 line he is still a .270 ish hitter with a .340+ on base vs his weakness. The walk and strikeout rates are very good, and we can see how they are really fueling the strong second half.
The last thing I found interesting in the Post July 1 splits.
vsLHP: 8.5% Oppo%
vsRHP: 23.6% Oppo%
Now this makes sense. Lefties are going to have the ball usually coming in towards Joseph and it is going to be easier to pull the ball, and it turns out all of his opposite field balls vs LHPs have been flyballs. Righties are going to try and break the ball away from Joseph so it is important to be able to hit the ball the other way. And he has his share of infield fly balls with that, but also a large about of line drives. It is mostly singles, but what it shows is a hitter who is able to adapt and shoot one the opposite way when pitched that way.
I don’t want to predict that Joseph can repeat his second half, but he has shown great strides in cutting his strikeout rate, making huge improvements to his walk rate, and in making other small improvements. If he Joseph can carry over a lot of those gains over a full year, he can be a valuable member of a contending baseball team.
Image by Baseball Betsy