Phillies Talk: Are Starts for Galvis, Asche and Herrera Sustainable?


The Philadelphia Phillies are 4-9 in their first 13 games and already trail by six games in the National League East. Despite hot starts for some unsuspecting candidates, the Phillies remain on of the worst teams in baseball.

This season, the Phillies offense ranks among the worst in baseball. As of today, April 21st, the Phillies rank 27th in batting average, 28th in on-base percentage and 29th in slugging percentage. Some of this is a result of the slow starts by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but the Phillies have been the beneficiary of hot starts from Cody Asche, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis. As the Phillies hope for Howard and Utley to heat-up, it’s fair to wonder whether the hot starts from the aforementioned three will continue.

Cody Asche

First of all, the Asche-Utley comparisons need to stop. Outside of a shorter swing and being an infielder, they are not the same. Now that I got that off my chest, Asche has been great to start 2015. An .884 OPS to start the season is great. The issue is whether or not he can continue to hit at a high clip.

Right now, Asche has a .350 batting average with a 27.3-percent strikeout rate. The high strikeout rate is the first reason that I do not think the batting average is sustainable. Add in his current .481 batting average on balls in play, and it is fair to expect a decline in batting average from Asche. Last year, the highest BABIP is baseball belonged to Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, who hit .373 on balls in play. Asche has a BABIP nearly 100 points higher than what Marte finished with in 2014. Expect that to fall, which will result in a lowering batting average unless Asche starts launching a bunch of home runs, which I wouldn’t expect.

The walk-rate for Asche does look sustainable to me. While I think the current rate of 9.1-percent is high, it is fair to assume he walks eight percent of the time. That could mean his on-base percentage is  somewhat legitimate. That will also fall with a decline in BABIP.

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As far as power goes, I think Asche could hit 15 home runs. Asche does have power and in a smaller sample, there are not too many numbers to go off of, but his 23.6-percent line drive rate from last year leads me to believe there is extra base potential for the young third-baseman.

I would not bet on Asche holding the .475 slugging percentage, but he could very well end up around .420. The early numbers for Asche are encouraging, but they aren’t sustainable—especially the BABIP.

Odubel Herrera

The Phillies appear to have struck gold in the Rule-5 draft. Odubel Herrera impressed this past spring, earning the Opening Day start in center field. Since then, the Phillies center-fielder has posted a .302/.362/.512 slash line. That is the best on the Phillies in 2015.

Apr 18, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera (37) hits an RBI single in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Philadelphia Phillies defeated Washington Nationals 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

While I do like Herrera quite a bit, and have argued that six or so home runs are possible, his slugging percentage will not be sustained. In the minors, Herrera finished with a slugging percentage over .400 just twice. The jump to .500 is just unrealistic. This is a product of the small sample size. With that said, I do believe that Herrera could hit 25 doubles and a few triples given his speed. The home runs may not happen, but I believe Herrera could run into four to six home runs this season. Last year, thirteen players finished with a slugging percentage of .500 or better. Each of those players hit 20 or more home runs.

The batting average and on-base percentages are a big factor for Herrera. This year, Herrera has swiped three bags and he could certainly end up with over 20 for the season. Right now, Herrera has a higher strikeout rate than you would want to see at the top of the lineup, but he is also walking eight-and-a-half percent of the time. In each of his minor league seasons with at least 400 at-bats at one level, Herrera never walked over eight percent of the time. I do believe that Herrera is a much more patient hitter than former leadoff man, Ben Revere; I do not think Herrera walks at an eight-and-a-half percent rate the remainder of the season. A safer bet would be a rate near six percent, which is much closer to what he did in the minors.

Herrera heads into the series against the Marlins with a .394 BABIP, which is somehow close to what he did in the minor leagues. In his 96 games at Double-A last year, Herrera finished with a .389 BABIP. As was stated with Asche, Herrera’s current BABIP would have been the highest in baseball last season. While he is hitting the ball on the ground at a high rate, I bet this balances out in time. Last year, Ben Revere finished with a .330 BABIP. I would say that rate is much more realistic for Herrera since they have similar hitting styles.

I would bet on Herrera being productive at the top of the lineup, but to think that he will finish with the numbers he is on-pace for right now is not realistic. He certainly will not finish with a .500 slugging percentage, and I believe the average and on-base numbers take a dip, too.

Freddy Galvis

The final Phillie off to a hot-start, who has been a complete surprise for the Phillies, is Freddy Galvis. Coming into this season, people did not even want to see Galvis in the lineup. He is now one of the most productive hitters (I can’t believe I just wrote that).Right now, Galvis has a .318/.388/.386 slash line.

For starters, let’s examine his slugging percentage. It is slightly above where Galvis has been for his career, but it is not totally unrealistic. Don’t expect to see this climb over .400, but if he ends up between .360 and .380, I wouldn’t be surprised.

As far as the batting average and on-base percentage go, I don’t buy it. Right now, Galvis holds a .350 BABIP, which like the others, is very high. This would have been a point higher than Mike Trout in 2014. It is hard to buy into a hitter hitting over .300 when their numbers don’t align with what they have done in their career. Sure, Galvis could have a career year, but even then, I don’t buy a .300 plus average.

Right now, Galvis is striking out just over eight percent of the time. In his major league career, Galvis has a strikeout rate of 18-percent. I cannot buy that this rate won’t jump toward his career average, especially in the N.L East.

In the early season, Galvis is making contact on pitches out of the zone 82.8-percent of the time. That is just not sustainable. For his career, Galvis has made contact on 71.5-percent of pitches out of the zone. The jump from last year to this year is 15-percent better. One must also factor in that Galvis has a swing-and-miss rate of nine percent last year. That rate is down to just 5.1-percent this year. I am going to bet that the rate jumps back up when he starts missing those pitches out of the zone. It is just very hard to buy into those numbers being sustainable.

Galvis is also walking at a rate nearly three percent higher than his career average. I am not sold on this either, but for some reason I think he will walk at a rate slightly better than his career average.

Galvis has also been slightly more aggressive at the plate this year, seeing just 3.5 pitches per plate appearance. This is down for 4.02 last year and 3.7 for his career. Once the BABIP drops, the on-base percentage will fall as well. Given his career numbers and the small sample size, I just cannot buy into Galvis being a .300 hitter with an OBP higher than .350.


The 2015 Phillies are not a good baseball team. In fact, they are one of the three worst teams in baseball. Despite that, they have received some hot starts from some unsuspecting players, which is great to see. The problem is that their starts just do not seem sustainable. They are more of a product of small samples sizes than anything. I would expect Asche, Galvis and Herrera to come back to reality in the coming weeks. If you want to remain optimistic about the young players, feel free, I am simple saying don’t be surprised when the numbers come down.

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