Phillies look back on several close losses

Numbers tell story of Philadelphia's first 12 games in 2017

Phillies look back on several close losses

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies can look back at the season's first 12 games and say they should have won more than four.

They had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning once in Cincinnati. They had the winning run at the plate in the ninth inning three times at Citizens Bank Park. They lost Friday's game against the Nationals in the 10th inning and blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning Sunday at Nationals Park.

But there are few, if any, moral victories in a 162-game season. The reality is the Phils lost those six close games and enter Tuesday's series opener against the Mets at Citi Field with a 4-8 record.

Here is a look at some numbers about Philadelphia's start:

1. The Phillies have shown more patience at the plate, ranking second in the Major Leagues with 4.07 pitches per plate appearance. They finished 27th last season, averaging 3.81. To put that into perspective, if they maintain that pace, it could mean more than 1,500 pitches seen in 2017.

Perhaps the improved discipline has helped the Phils swing at better pitches. They are ninth in the Majors in scoring, averaging 4.67 runs per game, and 15th with a .721 OPS. Yes, it is a small sample size, but there is improvement there, considering the club ranked last in scoring (3.77 runs per game) and OPS (.685) last season.

Phils score 12 in the 1st

Of course, remove the 12-run first inning against Washington starter Jeremy Guthrie on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park and the offense is averaging just 3.67 runs per game, which would rank 24th. But certainly, Philadelphia has looked more competent at the plate than last year.

2. Cesar Hernandez is off to a great start, posting a 1.008 OPS in 56 plate appearances. He is not hitting the ball much harder, but he is hitting the ball more in the air, which has helped. According to Statcast™, Hernandez's average launch angle has increased from 5.6 degrees last season to 11.4 degrees this year.

Hernandez goes 3-for-4

3. Maikel Franco has run into some bad luck. He has a .561 OPS in 51 plate appearances, but his .158 BABIP is 188th out of 193 qualified Major League batters. Franco's average exit velocity is 93.8 mph, which is sixth among 121 batters with 30 or more at-bats of balls in play.

4. The pitching has hurt. Phillies starters have a 4.50 ERA, which is 25th in the Majors. The bullpen has a 5.62 ERA, which is 24th. Opposing hitters are hitting the ball an average of 89.0 mph against Phils pitchers, which is eighth among all pitching staffs in baseball.

5. The outfield has made just two three-star catches or better in 11 chances, according to Statcast™. Those are catches with a probability of 75 percent and below. It is the fifth-lowest percentage in the Majors.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.