Sunday, February 7, 2016

Phillies' hitting problems at Citizens Bank Park are inexplicable

The Phillies are hitting .229 at Citizens Bank Park. That would mark the lowest batting average at home for any Phillies team since 1914.

Phillies' hitting problems at Citizens Bank Park are inexplicable

(Matt Slocum/AP)
(Matt Slocum/AP)

When Citizens Bank Park opened, it was billed as a hitter's paradise. Opposing pitchers complained of the inviting flower boxes. The Phillies constructed a roster designed to exploit their home ballpark. They hit for power. They clogged the bases with runners. They pitched decent enough to support a robust lineup.

That is what makes eight shutouts in 38 games at Citizens Bank Park all the more stunning. The Phillies have not been blanked at home that many times in an entire season since 1990. The franchise's record for home shutouts is 14, done in 1969 at Connie Mack Stadium. That team finished 63-99 and a staggering 30-51 at home.

Domonic Brown called the current home production "embarrassing." Ryan Howard said, "Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't."

"I don't have an explanation for that," Ryne Sandberg said. "Really don't. But that's something that needs to change. An evening like this, conducive to hitting, we need to do something about that."

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The numbers are beyond alarming.

The Phillies are hitting .229 at Citizens Bank Park. That would mark the lowest batting average at home for any Phillies team since at least 1914. (That is as far back as home splits were tracked.) The 1971 Phillies batted .231 at Veterans Stadium.

Their .297 on-base percentage at home is rivaled by the 1942 Phillies (.292) and 1940 Phillies (.294). Those teams won a combined 92 games and lost 212.

As Sandberg said, Monday was a favorable night for hitting. The Phillies hit some balls hard. They made a majority of their outs in the outfield, whether it be a fly ball or liner. Few fell. The most alarming trend, perhaps, is the Phillies' .362 slugging percentage at home. 

The chart below shows the team's offensive output in every season since the opening of Citizens Bank Park. Note the precipitous decline in slugging percentage.

1 2004 .266 .348 .450 .798
2 2005 .281 .361 .453 .814
3 2006 .274 .353 .462 .815
4 2007 .280 .357 .475 .832
5 2008 .262 .341 .447 .788
6 2009 .263 .341 .455 .796
7 2010 .264 .334 .429 .763
8 2011 .256 .330 .405 .735
9 2012 .253 .318 .404 .722
10 2013 .250 .315 .406 .721
11 2014 .229 .297 .362 .659

That, obviously, is not a winning formula.

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