March 31, 2023

Healthy Mind Begin From Healthy Physic

Phillies Add Josh Harrison To Replenish a Depleted Bench

6 min read
Josh Harrison
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports activities

Again on January 5, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski informed members of the media that he was largely finished making moves. Two days later, he finalized a deal for Tigers nearer Gregory Soto. On January 19, Dombrowski made an analogous assertion, claiming he wasn’t planning to add any more players forward of spring coaching. Earlier than the month was up, he flipped the swap once more, signing infielder Josh Harrison to a one-year, $2 million contract. That is the newest instance of what’s changing into a pattern for Dombrowski: stunning the Philadelphia devoted with higher gamers and larger budgets than they had been anticipating.

A celebration pooper would possibly let you know that signing Harrison isn’t on the identical stage as Dombrowski’s massive shock from final winter, when he inked Nick Castellanos and pushed the Phillies’ payroll over the luxurious tax for the very first time. Then once more, a good larger occasion pooper would possibly reply by mentioning that Harrison was value 2.1 extra WAR than Castellanos final season. The primary occasion pooper may reply by citing Harrison’s mediocre Steamer projections for the upcoming yr; the most important occasion pooper of all would chime in to remind you that no quantity of shock free-agent signings will cancel scholar debt or decelerate rising sea ranges or make Dick Monfort stop talking. However I’m getting off matter now.

Signing Harrison isn’t a season-altering transfer, however it’s additional proof the Phillies are keen to spend the mandatory {dollars} to maintain up within the NL East. A extra optimistic fan may also see the symbolism of this signing, as Dombrowski continues to proper the wrongs of the earlier entrance workplace regime. The Phillies first signed Harrison to a minor league deal again in November 2019 however in the end selected Neil Walker as their utility infielder as an alternative. Harrison ended up taking part in 33 video games for the Nationals that season with a 108 wRC+; Walker, then again, performed simply 18 video games in Philadelphia, posting a dismal 43 wRC+, getting DFA’d in September, and retiring not lengthy after. The Phillies missed the postseason by one measly recreation that yr, and it’s arduous to not marvel if protecting the right infielder would have made all of the distinction. Signing Harrison in 2023 doesn’t get the Phillies to the playoffs in 2020, however it closes the door on a irritating entrance workplace resolution from one of the crucial irritating seasons in current reminiscence. However once more, I digress.

Harrison isn’t a significant signing for the Phillies, and his wage is a drop within the bucket for a staff that’s spent $399 million on free brokers this winter. Even so, this acquisition comes as a pleasing shock for followers who had been ready to see Kody Clemens make the Opening Day roster. Philadelphia gave up two useful bench bats within the Soto commerce: Matt Vierling, an important line-drive hitter towards left-handed pitching, and Nick Maton, a flexible infield defender. Harrison is each of these issues, and he’ll assist fill the holes these two left behind. Anticipate him to take a 26-man roster spot from Clemens and to be the primary man that Rob Thomson calls on when he wants a righty pinch-hitter. Harrison will share utility duties with Edmundo Sosa, giving the Phillies two strong backups ought to any of their beginning infielders miss vital time.

Harrison spent the 2022 season with the White Sox, for whom he slashed .256/.317/.370 and hit seven house runs in 119 video games. The veteran complemented his common bat with strong protection and useful versatility, taking part in 90 video games at second and one other 23 at third, and placing up 6 DRS and 4 OAA. He additionally crammed in briefly at shortstop and in left subject. Harrison gained’t be getting common reps at both of these positions, however he can cowl in a pinch. His outfield talents are significantly related for the Phillies, who solely have room for one true outfielder on their bench. Harrison might get the occasional begin in an outfield nook when Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber wants a break day.

Whereas his glove stays an asset, Harrison’s bat took a step backward final yr. After two straight seasons with a wRC+ over 100, his efficiency dipped beneath league common in 2022:

Josh Harrison’s Current Efficiency

2020 91 .278 .352 .418 .139 .288 6.6% 13.2% 108
2021 558 .279 .341 .400 .121 .313 5.6% 13.4% 104
2022 425 .256 .317 .370 .114 .297 4.9% 16.7% 98

There’s nothing significantly worrying right here. Harrison’s strikeout charge went up, however it’s nonetheless glorious in comparison with league common. In the meantime, his energy numbers dropped, however so did league-wide energy; his ISO fell by seven ticks, however his ISO+ rose by 5. General, he was much less productive on the plate in 2022 than he was the yr prior, however that’s to be anticipated for a 12-year veteran in his age-34 season.

If there’s a trigger for concern, it lies beneath the floor — particularly, within the batted ball knowledge. When Harrison succeeds, he does so by making loads of contact and hitting a number of line drives:

Harrison’s Batted Ball Stats

12 months Contact% LD%
2020 79.0% 24.6%
2021 82.7% 23.8%

The league-average contact charge as of late is about 76%, and the league-average line drive charge sits round 20–21%. Thus, the common hitter would have recorded about 89 line drives in the identical variety of plate appearances as Harrison from 2020 to ’21; he hit 120. That’s how he remained a productive hitter regardless of his mediocre plate self-discipline and restricted energy. Sadly, in 2022, his line drive charge plummeted; he was nonetheless making a ton of contact, however extra of his batted balls had been going into the bottom:

Harrison’s Batted Ball Stats Half 2

12 months Contact% LD% GB%
2020 79.0% 24.6% 40.6%
2021 82.7% 23.8% 39.4%
2022 81.2% 17.4% 43.8%

Merely put, this isn’t good. All else being equal, a line drive is nearly thrice extra doubtless than a floor ball to end in successful. With out a excessive line drive charge, Harrison gained’t have the ability to preserve a excessive BABIP, like he has for many of his profession, and his efficiency will undergo. One season remains to be a small pattern in terms of line drive charge, so there’s no want for outright panic simply but, however Harrison’s line drive charge is one thing to control, particularly as a result of this wasn’t the one noticeable change in his batted ball profile. As well as, a surprisingly excessive variety of his balls within the air went to the other subject:

Harrison’s Balls within the Air

12 months Pull% Cent% Oppo%
2020 29.3% 41.5% 29.3%
2021 31.3% 38.2% 30.5%
2022 24.2% 38.8% 37.1%

This isn’t essentially a foul factor — Harrison doesn’t hit for a lot energy, so he would possibly profit from spraying the ball to all sides — however such a sudden and dramatic shift in batted ball route might be the signal of an issue, particularly when mixed with a steep drop-off in line drive charge. Certainly, this is perhaps an early indication that Harrison’s skill to determine pitches and time pitchers is on the decline. In additional assist of that principle, he swung at extra pitches exterior the zone and fewer pitches inside it this previous season, and when he chased, he was extra more likely to miss. His strikeout charge bore the results.

Bearing the warning indicators in thoughts, Harrison could also be in for additional offensive decline in 2023, however there’s no disgrace in that. The final time he signed with the Phillies, it regarded like his profession is perhaps nearing an finish. He was coming off a yr with a 22 wRC+ and -0.9 WAR, and he was left off the roster days earlier than the season started. Since then, he’s performed three extra seasons, earned one other $9 million, and formally reached 10 years of huge league service time. He has put collectively a powerful profession, and there’s nothing flawed with settling right into a bench function in his twilight years.

If re-signing Harrison symbolizes how far the Phillies have come, so too does re-signing with the Phillies characterize every little thing that he has achieved. Not so way back, he was minimize by a staff that completed 4 video games beneath .500. Just a few years later, the defending Nationwide League champions are welcoming him again with open arms.

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