Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Most Spellbinding Teams in Franchise History
You don't have to be a fan of baseball to know what a spellbinding team is. Sports fans around the world know what it means to fall in love with their team; to feel as though the players on the field are an extension of themselves.
When the team wins, you feel jubilation. When the team loses, you get that bitter taste of defeat. When your team, that you've followed through thick and thin, wins it all, the feeling is of pure ecstasy.
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies know that range of emotions quite well, because you don't reach 10,000 losses without having to endure the lowest of lows. The Phillies have had their share of losing seasons, and the fan base slept, dormant until the franchise returned to it's winning ways.
Now that it has, there is no doubt that the city of Philadelphia is a baseball town, and there are few things that fans of the Phillies wouldn't do to support their teams.
So the question must be asked: Which teams in the history of this franchise were the clubs that we simply couldn't do without? This isn't a slideshow ranking the greatest teams, but instead, the clubs that had the will to win, a storybook finish, or the teams that we couldn't pry our eyes away from.
25. The 2004 Phillies
By the time the 2004 season rolled around, both the Phillies and their fans were tired of losing. Finishing third in the standings in 2003, the Phillies were ready to make a run at the division title, moving into their brand new ballpark and if all went according to plan, revitalizing a dormant fan base.
As things would turn out, however, Citizens Bank Park would not host a postseason game in it's inaugural season. The Phillies won 85 games and finished in second place to the Atlanta Braves.
At the time, however, there were signs of hope. At the MLB level, young shortstop Jimmy Rollins was making a name for himself, and the Phillies' farm system was ready to produce a number of top prospects. Jim Thome slugged 42 home runs to lead the offense, which supported a surprising 14-game winner, Eric Milton.
24. The 2006 Phillies
Though they hadn't reached the postseason since 1993, two consecutive second place finishes had the Phillies feeling confident heading into the 2006 season, and reinforcements were on the way.
In the off-season, the emergence of slugging first baseman Ryan Howard allowed the Phillies to trade Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox, bolstering their outfield in the process by adding fan-favorite Aaron Rowand. Joined by a number of offensive threats like Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, and Bobby Abreu, the Phillies were quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
However, they just didn't have the pitching to compete yet. Cole Hamels would make his MLB debut in 2006, joining Brett Myers in the rotation. However, the rest of the staff struggled, and though the Phillies would win 85 games, they would once again finish in second place, this time, to the New York Mets.
23. The 1986 Phillies
After winning the World Series at the beginning of the decade, the rest of the 1980s was a roller coaster of emotions for the Phillies and their fans, filled with tremendous winning years and ones that were on the opposite end of the spectrum.
One of the better years was 1986, as Mike Schmidt neared the end of his career, but players like Von Hayes finally emerged as legitimate hitters. Though the Phillies had an interesting blend of talent in '86, they didn't have the pitching to conquer the eventual division champions, the New York Mets.
The rotation was led by Kevin Gross, who pitched to a .500 record and an ERA north of four, and though Steve Bedrosian would capture the Cy Young Award a year later, he pitched more like a middle reliever in '86, and the Phillies, as a team, would win just 86 games.
22. The 1975 Phillies
In 1975, the Phillies were on the cusp of becoming one of the best teams in the National League over the next several seasons, and the fan base could feel it. After several years of losing seasons, the Phillies had assembled several talented players and were ready to take on the competition.
They had vastly improved on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the team was led by the exploits of a pair of young power hitters in Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski, who were complemented by players like Dick Allen and Jay Johnstone.
On the pitching side of the ball, Steve Carlton had become a phenomenon in Philadelphia, and the Phillies had added a number of talented young pitchers to their staff, including Tom Underwood and Larry Christenson, as well as veteran reliever, Tug McGraw.
Though they couldn't capture the NL Pennant in 1975, they could feel it was close. The Phillies won 86 games and finished in second place.
21. The 1913 Phillies
At the back end of this list, you'll noticed a unique pattern taking hold. A number of these Phillies' clubs had a ton of talent, and simply couldn't push themselves to a first place finish. That's exactly the case for the 1913 Phillies, who's roster featured a number of players now considered all-time greats in Phillies' history, and would eventually win a World Series.
In 1913, the club was just putting it all together. The offense featured a number of entertaining hitters, including the powerful Gravvy Cravath, and excellent hitters in Sherry Magee, Dode Paskert, and Fred Luderus.
The pitching rotation featured a one man army in Pete Alexander, who would will most of the clubs he was on to winning seasons. In 1913, however, he was complemented by a number of pitching powerhouses in Tom Seaton and Ad Brennan.
This club would go on to win 88 games, finishing in second place to the New York Giants.
20. The 2005 Phillies
If you're willing to take a look at the bright side, the 2005 season was an interesting one for a number of reasons for the Phillies. First and foremost, it represented a symbolic changing of the guard.
After injuring himself during the season, Jim Thome was replaced by promising power hitter Ryan Howard, who would eventually force the Phillies to trade Thome. At second base, Chase Utley stepped in and became an immediate contributor as an everyday player.
With strong additions to the bullpen, the Phillies were also just about ready to field a contending team. With Cole Hamels on the way a year later, players like Billy Wagner and Brett Myers made fans ponder the future.
The team would win 88 games that year, and though they would finish in second place, the message was clear: The times were changing.
19. The 1982 Phillies
After winning a World Series a couple of seasons ago, and with many of those pieces still in place, the Phillies were still a very good team heading into the 1982 season, and fans had high hopes for their success. However, the team vastly underperformed.
A number of players had down seasons, including the hit king, Pete Rose, and the Phillies couldn't sustain an offensive attack through the season to complement a tremendous pitching staff that included Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson, Mike Krukow, Ron Reed, and Tug McGraw.
The problem with this club was obvious: They were getting older. With their window of opportunity closing, the Phillies finished in second place in '82, winning 89 games and hoping their roster wasn't on the decline.
18. The 1901 Phillies
At the turn of the century, you would have believed that the Phillies had the star power to make a run at the World Series title. Still without a championship to their credit in their entire existence, things were looking up for the club in 1901.
The name of the game for this Phillies' club was pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Their staff was a three-headed monster composed of a number of greats, including Red Donahue, Bill Duggleby, and Al Orth, all of whom won 20 games that seasons.
They just didn't have the offensive attack to support that pitching. Though Elmer Flick and Ed Delahanty both had tremendous seasons, they were the only two whose contribution to the club was above average. The rest of the club had an average to below average season, and that just wasn't going to cut it.
The Phillies won 83 games and finished in second place to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
17. The 1917 Phillies
By 1917, the Phillies had finally made their first trip to the World Series a couple of seasons prior, but still did not have their first trophy. On the bright side, a number of great players from the 1915 club remained on the roster in 1917, and the Phillies made another run at the title.
Once again, the pitching staff was led by Pete Alexander, who won an incredible 30 games on the season. He was joined by several other, very good pitchers, including the man to the left of your screen, one of the greatest left handed starting pitchers of all-time, Eppa Rixey.
Once again, it was a weak offensive unit that led to this club's demise. Gavvy Cravath's career was beginning to wind down, and players like Fred Luderus and Dode Paskert had down seasons. Though the club won 87 games, they would finish 10 games behind an excellent New York Giants team.
16. The 1916 Phillies
Remember everything I just said about the 1917 Phillies? Well, you can apply that statement to the 1916 version of the club as well.
One of the reasons that the 1917 club was expected to do so well was the same reason as in 1916—A number of players that had just played in the World Series were returning to the Phillies with hopes of, this time, capturing the championship.
Once again led by Pete Alexander, who would win 33 games, and Eppa Rixey, the Phillies still managed to find ways to come up short. Just four men posted an OPS greater than .700, and the only to post one better than .800 was the only legitimate power hitter the club had: Gavvy Cravath.
This club won 91 games, but was bested by the Brooklyn Robins, who won 94.
15. The 1964 Phillies
1964 wasn't a great year to be a fan of the Phillies, but few teams in the history of this organization have ever taken the fans on a more entertaining thrill ride.
Of course, the 1964 season will forever be remembered as "The Phold" by Phillies' fans. After several years of losing seasons, the Phillies had a team that was ready to contend in 1964 under manager Gene Mauch. With 12 games to play, the Phillies held a six game lead over the rest of the National League.
The postseason seemed almost like a guarantee.
Never count your chickens before they hatch. The Phillies would go on to drop 10 straight games and be swept by the St. Louis Cardinals in the final series of the regular season, finishing in second place and watching the Cardinals go on to win the World Series.
Of course, if you're the type of person who would prefer to find the silver lining in these types of situations, Jim Bunning did toss the first perfect game in the history of the franchise in 1964.
14. The 1978 Phillies
By the 1978 season, the Phillies had become used to losing in a new and unique manner. After playing excellent baseball for the two previous summers, the Phillies had reached the NLCS and been sent packing by the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.
Heading into the summer of '78, a lot of the pieces of those clubs remained in play, and the Phillies, though confident about their club, began to lose confidence in their ability to seal the deal.
At the plate, the club was once again led by the exploits of slugging third baseman Mike Schmidt, who by his terms, would have a down season. Greg Luzinski would help to alleviate some of the pressure on Schmidt by hitting 35 home runs, and a couple of unlikely offensive threats like Bob Boone, Richie Hebner, and Garry Maddox would help carry the offense.
This Phillies team also had the pitching to win a World Series. Just a year removed from his second of four Cy Young Awards, the staff was led by lefty ace, Steve Carlton. Dick Ruthven had one of the best seasons of his career, and young guns like Randy Lerch and Larry Christenson were joined by veteran hurlers like Jim Kaat, Ron Reed, and Tug McGraw.
Once again, the Phillies finished in first place in the NL East, but dropped their second straight NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series that would haunt this club for the next few seasons.
13. The 2007 Phillies
Jimmy Rollins set the tone for the 2007 Phillies, and subsequently, the fate of the direction of the franchise, early in Spring Training, when he was asked about how he felt about the Phillies' chances of finally winning the division that year. The shortstop responded with one of the most memorable Phillies quotes of all-time, saying, "The [New York] Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally. But that's just on paper."
The whole "team to beat" phrase took off in the city of Philadelphia, and the fans saw it as a battle cry. After years of finishing in second place in the division, the Phillies were finally the team to look out for, but Rollins knew what he was talking about. They still had to put their money where their mouth was.
So that team, an offensive power house led by Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and the gang battled well into the month of September, but for most of the season, trailed those Mets in the standings.
After losing their 10,000th game in franchise history earlier in the season, the tide was about to change. The Mets fell into a long slump, and on the final day of the season, all the Phillies had to do to win the division was defeat the Washington Nationals, and they did.
Brett Myers closed out the regular season for the Phillies, who would then face the Colorado Rockies in the postseason. They were quickly humbled. The Rockies swept them right out of the playoffs, teaching the Phillies a valuable lesson that would alter the fate of the franchise moving forward.
12. The 1981 Phillies
The Phillies had to be feeling good about their chances heading into the summer of 1981. After several seasons of coming up short, the club had finally achieved its ultimate goal in 1980—winning the World Series. With an eye on the '81 season, a lot of that club remained intact, with a few key additions arriving to the roster.
After having one of the best seasons of his career in 1980, Mike Schmidt followed that campaign up with his second straight NL MVP Award, and was joined on offense by Gary Matthews and Pete Rose to create a balanced offensive attack.
After winning his third Cy Young Award during the championship run, Steve Carlton once again led the pitching staff. He was phenomenal yet again in 1981, finishing third in the Cy Young voting—an award that would eventually go to Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching sensation (and future Phillie,) Fernando Valenzuela.
But 1981 would prove to be more of an adjustment period for the Phillies, who changed several key pieces to their puzzle in the winter. A relatively young pitching staff struggled at times, and though the club finished in first place in the NL East, they lost a close division series to the Montreal Expos.
No repeat was in order in 1981.
11. The 1976 Phillies
There was a lot of optimism in the city of Philadelphia about the sport of baseball heading into the summer of 1976. Just a year earlier, the Phillies had found a way to curb their losing ways and finish in second place in the NL East. With another year of experience under their belt, the Phillies were expected to contend for a World Series, and they did.
The Phillies finished in first place in the NL East for the first year of a three year run. With an offensive attack led by 26-year-old Mike Schmidt, the Phillies were a force to be reckoned with. All three of the Phillies' outfielders (Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, and Jay Johnstone) posted an OPS better than .800, and their slick-fielding infield also featured another slugger: Dick Allen.
With an explosive offensive attack, the Phillies would make some waves with good pitching, and that they did. Steve Carlton won 20 games and finished fourth in Cy Young voting, and the rest of the rotation was an excellent blend of youth (guys like Larry Christenson and Jim Lonborg) and experience (guys like Jim Kaat, Ron Reed, and Tug McGraw.)
However, in the end, this explosive team just didn't have enough boom to win the World Series. They were swept out of the NLCS by the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds.
10. The 2010 Phillies
By 2010, Philadelphia had become a full-fledged baseball town. This city loves a winner, and with two straight trips to the World Series in two seasons prior, the Phillies were certainly a winning franchise heading into the spring of 2010.
Long before the first pitch was thrown, however, the Phillies had already made this season a memorable one in the winter. Incumbent ace Cliff Lee was shipped off to the Seattle Mariners, and the Phillies made a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays to acquire another ace, Roy Halladay.
The hype for Halladay leading into the season was incredible. Moving into the National League, he was expected to distance himself from the rest of the pack and become the best starting pitcher in baseball, and he did. When all was said and done, he was the year's unanimous recipient of the NL Cy Young Award.
That was the name of the game for the Phillies: Pitching. Along with Halladay, Cole Hamels finally emerged as a legitimate ace after adding a cutter to his repertoire, and at the trade deadline, the Phillies acquired a third ace, Roy Oswalt, to complete their rotation.
With more than a few offensive threats, the Phillies' ace-studded rotation was expected to carry them deep into postseason play, and things were looking good after Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in his first ever postseason start, this on the heels of his perfect game against the Florida Marlins in May.
In the NLCS, however, the Phillies' hitters were over-matched. Timely hitting and elite pitching lifted the San Francisco Giants, eventual World Champions, over the Phillies, who had captured their fourth consecutive NL East crown.
9. The 2011 Phillies
When the 2010 season ended prematurely for the Phillies, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect a relatively quiet winter. The team's biggest free agent was Jayson Werth, and the Washington Nationals offered him a contract he couldn't refuse.
However, the Phillies were comfortable with their roster. Ben Francisco had provided quality at-bats off of the bench and would be given a shot at the job in right field, and top prospect Domonic Brown seemed like he was ready to contribute at the MLB level.
With the rest of their regulars returning in 2011 and one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball, the Phillies seemed like a club that would be willing to stand pat over the off-season and take their chances again in 2011.
Then they went out and signed Cliff Lee to a huge deal and blew that whole theory to smithereens.
The "mystery team" up until the very end, the Phillies surprised the baseball world by bringing Lee back to town. With their three aces now four, the Phillies were hands down favorites to win it all in 2011, and the addition of Hunter Pence at the trade deadline only made the race more exciting to watch.
The 2011 season provided one of the most thrilling regular season finishes in history, for as the Phillies swept the Atlanta Braves on the final three days of the season, the Braves were eliminated from playoff contention by the surging St. Louis Cardinals, who would now meet the Phillies in the postseason.
Despite three outstanding pitching performances (two from Roy Halladay, one from Cole Hamels,) the Phillies came up short, and one of the most exciting regular seasons in franchise history had one of the most disappointing endings.
8. The 1977 Phillies
Fans around the city of Philadelphia hoped that the Phillies were able to learn from their failures in 1976. After reaching the NLCS, they had been sent packing by the Cincinnati Reds and watched the World Series from their sofas.
After that loss, however, there was reason to be optimistic. The Phillies had a potent offense, the core of which would return in 1977, and on the mound, few men could stand toe to toe with their ace.
Heading into the season, the Phillies believed they would have a strong group of pitchers. Carlton was once again at the head of the staff, winning 23 games in '77 and going on to win the Cy Young Award for his efforts.
The rest of the rotation took a step backwards that season. Though young pitchers Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch both posted double digits in wins, they posted ERAs of 4.06 and 5.07, respectively. At the back end of the rotation, the Phillies featured a pair of veterans. Jim Kaat had a disappointing year, and though Jim Lonborg won 11 games, he posted an ERA of 4.11.
The strongest part of this staff was an incredible bullpen. The Phillies featured four relievers—Gene Garber, Tug McGraw, Ron Reed, and Warren Brusstar—who posted ERAs lower than three.
Though the staff, in total, was about average, the Phillies had the offensive firepower to support them. Mike Schmidt hit 38 home runs and was bested by teammate Greg Luzinski, who hit 39. Bob Boone, Richie Hebner, Gary Maddox, and Jay Johnstone all had above average seasons at the plate as well.
Ultimately, the Phillies couldn't get the job done. Though they would go on to collect a whopping 101 wins, they would once again lose the NLCS, this time, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
7. The 1983 Phillies
After winning the World Series just a few seasons earlier, the sport of baseball was alive and well in the city of Philadelphia heading into Spring Training in 1973. The health of the Phillies' roster? Well, that was a little more questionable.
After capturing five division titles and a World Series with the core of this roster, the Phillies were getting old in a hurry. In fact, the only regular on the roster younger than age 30 would be Von Hayes, who would have a disappointing first season in Philadelphia.
That didn't stop several Phillies, including Mike Schmidt, from having strong seasons at the plate. 39-year-old Joe Morgan showed that he could still be an impact player, and Bo Diaz and Gary Matthews both posted double digits in the home run column.
The strength of this Phillies' team was its pitching. Though Steve Carlton posted a losing record, "Lefty" also posted an ERA of 3.11 and led the league in innings pitched. It was John Denny that had the phenomenal season, winning 19 games and capturing the Cy Young Award.
In the bullpen, the story was much of the same rhetoric. Both Ron Reed and Tug McGraw were at the back end of their careers, but Al Holland was able to step up and close out games in a big way.
The overall age of the Phillies' roster earned them the nickname of the "Wheeze Kids," but this team was still alive and well. In the NLCS, they took revenge on the Los Angeles Dodgers for their NLCS loss years earlier, and would go on to meet the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
The pitching-rich O's proved to be too much to handle, and the Phillies dropped the series four games to one.
6. The 2009 Phillies
On the heels of their 2008 World Series victory, the Phillies were confident about their chances for a repeat title in 2009. During the previous postseason, the club had watched young pitcher Cole Hamels develop into what appeared to be a front line starter, and the core of a dynamic offense would return in 2009.
The offense lived up to its end of the bargain, as four players (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth) all hit more than 30 home runs. Five players on the roster (the previous four names including Shane Victorino) would post an OPS of .800 or better, including Utley and Howard, who both posted an OPS of .900 or better.
Early in the season, it seemed as though pitching would be the bane of this club, for though they were scoring enough runs to win ball games, the club's pitching struggled mightily. Though the club was winning games with Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Jamie Moyer on the hill, each of those three struggled, and it was clear that reinforcements were required.
Enter, Cliff Lee.
The Phillies made a move to nab Lee from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline, and he became an instant fan-favorite in Philadelphia. With their new ace in tow, the Phillies once again marched towards the World Series, vanquishing the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers from the postseason to meet the American League's pennant winner, the New York Yankees.
The ensuing series was a thrilling, see-saw battle. In his first postseason, Lee made a name for himself by dominating the opposition, and Utley hit a record tying five home runs in the World Series.
However, no matter how electric the offense was, the pitching just didn't have its spark. Hamels continued to struggle, and Brad Lidge, who had been perfect the previous season, was a train wreck in 2009.
Not even longtime nemesis of the Yankees, Pedro Martinez, could save the Phillies from elimination in '09.
5. The 1950 Phillies
It's impossible to talk about the history of the Phillies' organization and its spellbinding teams without mentioning the club from 1950, more famously known as the "Whiz Kids." After years of losing seasons, the Whiz Kids got their name from the young age of their roster and the enormous talent that it held.
Talented on both sides of the ball, the Phillies were a dangerous team that season. The offense was paced by future Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, as well as a number of other Phillies' legends including Del Ennis, Dick Sisler, and Andy Seminick.
The pitching staff had a dynamic one-two punch and the league's best closer. In the rotation, few teams offered a better pair of starting pitchers than future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who would win 20 games in 1950, and lefty Curt Simmons, who would win 17.
At the back of the bullpen waited one of the men who would shape the closer's role into what it is today, Jim Konstanty. He saved 22 games in 1950, appearing in 74 games overall. His workhorse mentality and 2.66 ERA would help him capture the MVP Award in 1950, which was the first time the award was ever given to a relief pitcher.
As talented as they were, the Phillies' postseason hopes came down to the final game of the regular season against the Brooklyn Dodgers—an epic pitching duel between Roberts and Don Newcombe. It was a hitter, however, who would laugh last, as Sisler sent the Phillies home as winners (and into the postseason) with a walk-off home run.
After winning the NL pennant, the Phillies would take on the New York Yankees in the World Series, but offered little resistance, as they were swept right out of the Fall Classic.
4. The 1915 Phillies
The first time is always special.
Well, at least that was the case for the 1915 version of the Phillies, who after years of toiling in the lower portion of the standings were finally about to make their run at the World Series in 1915, with one of the game's all-time great players leading the charge.
As was the case for most teams during the period, the Phillies were built around pitching. At the top of their starting rotation was a one man army by the name of Pete Alexander, who would dominate the opposition for 31 victories and an ERA of just 1.66.
The rest of the rotation was top notch as well, with just one man posting an ERA above three. That was Al Demaree, who posted an ERA of 3.05, but collected 14 victories. The rotation also featured Erskine Mayer, who won 21 games, talented lefty Eppa Rixey, and George Chalmers.
If the Phillies could provide some run support for one of baseball's all-time great starting rotations, they could be in business, and they did. The powerful Gavvy Cravath led the way with 24 home runs, and Fred Luderus had one of the best years of his career with the Phillies.
After winning the National League pennant, the Phillies went on to face the powerhouse Boston Red Sox, and eventually dropped the series four games to one, despite winning 90 games during the regular season.
3. The 1993 Phillies
It's hard to talk about spellbinding teams and not think of the 1993 Phillies almost instantaneously. After all, this was a club that wasn't supposed to win anything. The Atlanta Braves had it going on. They were polished athletes that looked like a winning club, and according to the experts, they were the team to beat.
It was an easy choice to make. The Phillies, on the other hand, looked like a club out of a Disney movie before they realized they could win games. Their players had beer guts and sported the mullet. They didn't look like athletes, but then again, they weren't.
The Phillies' first baseman, John Kruk, once said, "I'm not an athlete. I'm a professional baseball player," and that was the motto that this club seemed to live by.
Led on offense by talented center fielder Lenny Dykstra, it was clear that this club could hit. Eight members of this team—Dykstra, Kruk, Darren Daulton, Kevin Stocker, Dave Hollins, Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain—posted an OPS of .800 or better.
The real question was whether or not they had the pitching to win ball games, and while the starting rotation lacked a lot of firepower outside of Curt Schilling, a trio of relievers, including Mitch Williams, Larry Andersen, and David West were sensational in '93.
This surprising team was in first place for all but one game during the 1993 season, and as fate would have it, would go on to meet the Braves in the NLCS—a series that the Phillies won in surprising fashion.
Now, all that stood in the way of this team completing its storybook ending was the powerful Toronto Blue Jays, and we know how this story ends. After a compelling, back and forth battle, Joe Carter ended the Phillies' season with one swing.
2. The 2008 Phillies
2008 looked like a promising year for the Phillies.
After becoming the "team to beat" in 2007, the Phillies had learned a valuable lesson from the Colorado Rockies in the postseason: Never take your success for granted. Now, however, the Phillies were a better team. They were a more experienced ground of guys and most importantly, they had a revitalized will to win.
With a core of offensive players that could leave the yard in a hurry, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Pat Burrell, the Phillies were ready to rock and roll. The addition of Pedro Feliz at third base gave the club a supreme defender at the position, and the emergence of Jayson Werth represented yet another threat to go deep.
Offensively, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Phillies could compete for a championship. Whether or not they had the pitching to do so was a different story.
They did. Cole Hamels emerged as one of the game's better left handed starters, and the ageless wonder, Jamie Moyer, led the club in wins with 16. The addition of Joe Blanton gave the Phillies another solid option, while Kyle Kendrick and Brett Myers also logged valuable innings.
As far as pitching was concerned, it was clear that it was the bullpen that made the Phillies champions in 2008. After acquiring Brad Lidge from the Houston Astros, the Phillies' new closer would not blow a single save during the season, and the club assembled a group of relievers, including Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin, that became known as the "Bridge to Lidge" for their consistency.
After winning 92 games during the regular season, the Phillies would meet the Milwaukee Brewers and CC Sabathia in the first round of the postseason, and the Brew Crew offered little resistance. It was then on to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who once again, were forced to watch the postseason from home.
The World Series was a story of two underdogs, as the Phillies met the Tampa Bay Rays. Behind a terrific postseason performance from Hamels, their perfect closer, and a thunderous offense, the Phillies captured their second World Series title in 2008.
1. The 1980 Phillies
By 1980, both the Phillies and their fans had waited an extremely long time for a World Series title, and after losing the NLCS three times before missing the postseason all together in 1979, the chances of accomplishing that goal any time soon were growing increasingly grim.
However, the Phillies were not ready to cave in. The addition of Pete Rose last season made the Phillies a confident team, and as Tug McGraw would always say, "Ya gotta believe!" In 1980, the Phillies did just that.
The offensive attack was paced by the eventual NL MVP, Mike Schmidt, who posted an OPS of 1.004 and slugged 48 home runs. Greg Luzinski added another 19 home runs, and players like Rose, Manny Trillo, and Bake McBride gave the Phillies a balanced attack.
The Phillies also featured the eventual Cy Young Award winner in Steve Carlton, who would win 24 games on the season. Dick Ruthven won 17 games, and young players like Bob Walk and Randy Lerch also contributed at some point.
In the bullpen, Tug McGraw was sensational, showing of his rubber arm and posting an ERA of just 1.46. Along with Ron Reed and Dickie Noles, it was once again the Phillies' bullpen that helped them reach the World Series.
Before that, however, the Phillies would meet the Houston Astros in the NLCS, and a lot of people liked the Astros' chances. Not only had the Phillies been unable to seal the deal in previous seasons, but the Astros had home field advantage and a stellar pitching rotation featuring Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan, and Ken Forsch.
The series went the distances, and the Phillies were able to edge out Ryan and the Astros in a thrilling Game 5 before moving on to face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series, and the rest is history.
After defeating the Royals in six games, the city of Philadelphia celebrated its first World Series title around one of the most beloved Philadelphia sports teams of all-time.