The Phillies are hitting .228 as a team through 65 games, which is the fourth-worst mark in all of baseball. Their .690 OPS ranks 25th out of 30 teams and is 24 points below the National League average. Several of the lineup’s young hitters have struggled to meet expectations or replicate the burst of success they experienced late last season. They are not generating enough offense to give themselves a realistic chance to survive what has been thus far a miserable month, and Gabe Kapler acknowledged as much after his team’s offense was mostly silenced over seven innings by Rockies starter Tyler Anderson in a listless 7-2 defeat last night:
There’s no disputing that our offense is not clicking. It’s very clear that we’re not getting a lot of hits. It’s very clear that we’re not scoring a lot of runs. It’s very clear that earlier in the season we were working deeper counts. We were just having better all-around at-bats. I don’t know if me getting frustrated will be helpful for our hitters. I’m not going to display frustration to them.
Nor should he. The recent chatter on sports talk radio from hosts and callers centers around a shared frustration about Kapler’s overly optimistic post game press conferences that routinely feature him pissing positive all over a group of savvy baseball writers and sports media that know better:
“I’m out. Today I am out. I am done. I can’t take that mentality anymore. I am sick of hearing from him.” – @HARRYMAYES975 on Gabe Kapler. Kapler said after the game yesterday that he won’t express frustration…
— Mayes and Myrtetus Middays (@975Middays) June 14, 2018
I totally get this sentiment. Check my Twitter feed during games. I want to fight my television screen on a nightly basis. There’s at least even odds I’m going to put my fist through it in the next two weeks because the Phillies blow right now, and what’s more, they an absolutely brutal product to watch. They are 3-8 in June, have one everyday player hitting over .260 in Odubel Herrera, a player who also happens to be mired in a hideous three-week slump that has precipitated a nearly 80-point plummet from what was not so long ago his sterling batting average. As a team, this offense has only cracked five runs more than once this month, and there are growing concerns that there is no end to these struggles in sight. With that said, what’s Kapler supposed to do?
Will screaming at Scott Kingery raise his .597 OPS? Will expressing public disappointment with Aaron Altherr alter his .183 batting average? Will going on a tirade in the middle of the clubhouse like Lou Brown did in Major League II make Odubel Herrera stop striking out in 31% of his at bats the way he has since May 20?
Of course it won’t. And here’s the thing, the “They need someone to kick these guys in the ass” mentality should be reserved for teams that dog it. For teams filled with selfish and lazy players. For teams that are going through the motions. That’s not this team. Now, the offensive may not be this bad, but it’s clearly flawed and a positive uptick isn’t going to be ignited by the manager lighting up, publicly or privately, a group of young players who must already feel immense pressure to perform and prove they belong at this level. I can’t say I agree with what most of Kapler does, but I’m with him on this one. If you happen to think this lineup is just a swift kick in the ass or public bashing from turning the corner, I’ve got news for you, they are going to need a lot more than that, and Kapler knows it.