Jul 152010

July 15 By Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Staff Writer

Reviewing a team’s first-half statistics is a little like poring over a Daily Racing Form. There are a lot of interesting numbers. And in some cases, they accurately portray what has and hasn’t happened.

But numbers alone can’t predict what’s going to occur in the horse race that is a baseball second half.

If, for example, Brad Lidge rediscovers himself, Ryan Madson doesn’t kick anything, and J.C. Romero can control his fastball, the Phillies’ woeful first-half bullpen statistics could be meaningless curiosities by August and September.

The same can be said for Raul Ibanez, should his 2010 be the reverse of 2009 and the leftfielder finishes with a bang and not a whimper.

And if a couple of those second-half numbers are attached to the uniforms of newly acquired Phillies who contribute immediately, a lot of ugly first-half stats will be rendered moot.

Still, as the third-place Phils begin the season’s second half Thursday night in Chicago, a few numbers bear watching:

43 That’s the Phillies’ surprisingly low stolen-base total through 87 games. Only three NL teams – Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta – have fewer. The Phils’ speed game, once nearly as significant as their power, has been slipping. They stole 136 bases in 2008, 119 last year. Some of this year’s running problems can be blamed on Jimmy Rollins’ absences, of course. But how do you explain Jayson Werth’s five stolen bases, or the five Chase Utley managed before going on the disabled list? Since the Phillies probably won’t approach last year’s home-run total of 224 – with 91 at the break – they will have to produce runs by other means. It’s not as if they can’t steal. Their success rate of 84 percent is baseball’s best.

26 That’s Ryan Howard’s disturbing walk total – only sixth best on the Phillies. His dip in home-run power isn’t nearly as dramatic. He collected 107 bases on balls in 2007, but his totals have continued to dip, to 81 in 2008 and 75 last season. Either opposing pitchers are less afraid of the Phillies’ cleanup hitter or Howard has gotten even less selective. Only six of his walks have been intentional, compared to 35 in 2007. You’d think that with the way Werth and Ibanez have scuffled, no one would pitch to Howard.

Click here for the full article…