Picking the Philadelphia Phillies' All-Postseason Team
Well, this feels strange.
For the first time since the final day of the 2006 regular season, there will be no postseason baseball in the city of Philadelphia. That's right. Two teams from the National League East will be heading to the postseason and neither of them will be the Philadelphia Phillies.
A third place finish here in 2012 will effectively end the Phillies' string of five consecutive NL East titles and force them on the outside of the window looking in.
But those five consecutive titles produced some excellent moments and highlighted a number of big time performers. They added to the Phillies' rich postseason history and pushed most of this club's core into Philadelphia sports history.
Since there won't be a postseason in Philadelphia this year, we'll take a look back instead. We'll use each of those postseason moments and other great games in Phillies' history to build a 25-man roster of this team's greatest postseason performers.
C: Carlos Ruiz
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The Line: .254 / .380 / .408, 4 HR
Is it a coincidence that one of the Phillies' most dominant stretches in their history comes with Carlos Ruiz firmly implanted as their starting catcher? I don't think so.
Ruiz's entered the lineup as a defense-oriented catcher tasked with handling a pitching staff, but left the postseason as one of the Phillies' biggest bats.
"Chooch's" postseason success has earned him the jovial nickname of "Senor Octubre."
1B: Ryan Howard
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The Line: .259 / .357 / .488, 8 HR
Ryan Howard is kind of a funny choice for this list.
One look at his numbers show that he's been successful in the postseason, especially in some of his earlier appearances. He has slugged eight home runs, which would rank among the Phillies' all-time leaders.
On the other hand, he's been bad at times as well. He has struck out at least 10 times in two different seasons, and was twice left standing at the plate with the club's season on the line.
I prefer the body of work, but if you want to go with another first baseman, I'd be okay with that.
2B: Chase Utley
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The Line: .262 / .402 / .500, 10 HR
The list of realistic second baseman for this slide show was a short one—as in one. But I'm sure that Chase Utley's body of work would have made him an easy choice anyway.
Of course, when you think of Utley and the postseason, a couple of World Series moments come to mind.
In 2008, the Phillies squared off with the Tampa Bay Rays en route to capturing their second World Series title, thanks in no small part to one of the greatest, heads-up plays of all-time by the second baseman, who would fake a throw to first to nab a runner coming home and make it look easy.
A year later, the Phillies would return to the World Series. Utley owned New York Yankees pitching, hitting five home runs in that series to tie a postseason record.
3B: Mike Schmidt
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The Line: .236 / .304 / .386, 4 HR
The third base situation for this list is an interesting one.
On one hand, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the pick here is Mike Schmidt—1980 World Champion, three-time MVP and the greatest Phillie of all-time.
Then you get to actually dissecting his numbers and Schmidt wasn't so great. More often than not, he came up empty at the plate in the postseason, outside of a pair of stellar series. He was money when it mattered most during the 1980 World Series and good during the NLCS in 1983.
The real surprise is that no one was better as a whole.
SS: Jimmy Rollins
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The Line: .250 / .314 / .372, 3 HR
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Phillies' history knows that the shortstop position has been a traditionally weak one for this ball club. You can count the above average performers on one hand and would have fingers to spare.
Picking out a top performer for a shortstop in the postseason narrows the list down even further and Jimmy Rollins is really the only shortstop that makes sense here.
Though the postseason has been a struggle at times for Rollins, there have been times where he has made baseball on the biggest stage look easy as well.
He was a member of that 2008 World Champion club and had one of the best series for a position player of all-time in 2011 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
LF: Greg Luzinski
The Line: .244 / .326 / .524, 5 HR
While there is often a strong dialog about Mike Schmidt's poor postseason performance in small, inner circles, I think that the reason that we don't hear more about it is because Greg Luzinski was up to the challenge of picking up the slack.
Strangely enough, the only series that "The Bull" wasn't successful in was the 1980 World Series, where Schmidt tore the cover off of the ball.
Luzinski was very good during the rest of his postseason career, including the 1978 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he slugged a pair of home runs.
CF: Shane Victorino
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The Line: .269 / .338 / .446, 6 HR
A lot of these selections were pretty clearly defined. This one wasn't. This one came down to what you find more valuable for this kind of slide show—a single, electric postseason or a consistent body of work.
I prefer the latter, so my choice is Shane Victorino.
"The Flyin' Hawaiian's" postseason tenure consists of a few memorable home runs, most notably a grand slam against then-Milwaukee Brewers starter C.C. Sabathia and a game-tying home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
More on him in a bit, but if you prefer Lenny Dykstra's 1993 World Series, I would have no problem with that.
RF: Jayson Werth
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The Line: .268 / .379 / .608, 13 HR
The Phillies' all-time leader in postseason home runs may be a surprising name. It's Jayson Werth.
Werth hit 11 home runs for the Phillies in just four different appearances, three of them which came in two different World Series.
The former Phillies right fielder had his greatest postseason power surge against a former team—the Los Angeles Dodgers—when he slugged three home runs in the 2009 NLCS.
Given some of the other names on this list, it's funny to think that the man who is arguably the Phillies' greatest postseason performer—at least offensively—could conceivably add to his totals as a member of the Washington Nationals.
SP: Roy Halladay
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The Line: 3-2, 2.37 ERA
Anyone who throws a no-hitter in the postseason is a simple choice for a list like this. Only two men in the history of postseason baseball have accomplished that feat.
One of them is Roy Halladay.
But Halladay's postseason no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds was just one of a few excellent postseason performances. Halladay has made five starts and won three of them.
In his most recent postseason performance, he gave up just one run in a gutty, do-or-die performance against the St. Louis Cardinals and his friend Chris Carpenter.
SP: Curt Schilling
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The Line: 11-2, 2.23 ERA
Curt Schilling's postseason career is about as storied as any player on this list, but sadly enough for the Phillies, he only got one shot at the Fall Classic in red pinstripes.
Schilling was the surprise ace of the surprise 1993 Phillies and he made the most of his first opportunity. After a pair of gems in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Schilling would go 1-1 in the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, though he would allow just six earned runs combined.
Though Joe Carter and the Blue Jays denied him in '93, Schilling would eventually take his place among the all-time greats in the Fall Classic. He would go on to win a World Series as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and two with the Boston Red Sox.
SP: Cole Hamels
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The Line: 7-4, 3.09 ERA
The Phillies have a grand total of two World Series titles under their belt, and only one pitcher that has been named a World Series MVP. That man would be Cole Hamels.
Outside of his blunder against the New York Yankees during the 2009 Fall Classic (and the 2009 season as a whole, I suppose), Hamels has certainly proven that he can handle the strain of pitching in a big game.
Still just 28 years old, Hamels already has seven postseason wins to his name, and of course, a ring to boot.
SP: Cliff Lee
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The Line: 7-3, 2.52 ERA
Cliff Lee has been well traveled, so his body of postseason work is a bit larger than some of the other teams on this list.
Of course, the left-handed starter got his first taste of October baseball as a member of the Phillies, who had acquired him midseason in 2009.
Lee would kick off his postseason career in historic fashion, making five starts following the 2009 season and winning four of them, losing zero. A year later he would reach the postseason yet again, this time as a member of the Texas Rangers. He would then get his second taste of defeat in the World Series.
Last season, Lee rejoined the Phillies and reached the postseason for the third straight year, his only start resulting in a disappointing loss against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In total, Lee has already recorded seven postseason wins—four of which came as a member of the Phillies.
The Line: 6-6, 3.26 ERA
It's almost funny to think of Steve Carlton as not being the best pitcher in the Phillies' history, because, while he may have been just that in the regular season, the postseason was a different story.
Now don't get me wrong, Carlton was good—very good. Just not the best.
"Lefty" helped the Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980 and won all six of his career postseason victories as a member of the Phils.
SP: Pete Alexander
The Line: 17.2 IP, 1.53 ERA
The lone member of the 1915 National League pennant-clinching Phillies to make this list is Pete Alexander, and he's a good one.
Arguably the second greatest pitcher to ever play for this organization, Alexander got his only shot at the World Series as a member of the Phillies during that 1915 season and, as usual, he made it count.
Alexander started two games, tossing 17.2 innings in total. He struck out 10 batters while allowing just a pair of earned runs, going 1-1 in an eventual series loss.
SP: Robin Roberts
The Line: 0-1, 1.64 ERA
Robin Roberts only got one shot at the postseason, but he made the most of his opportunity, and let's be honest—who wouldn't want him in their postseason rotation?
The man has a statue outside of Citizens Bank Park!
On a serious note, however, Roberts truly was excellent during the 1950 World Series. He made just one start, but appeared in two games and tossed 13 innings, allowing just two earned runs.
SP/RP: Jim Konstanty
The Line: 15 IP, 2.40 ERA
Jim Konstanty had an interesting postseason back in 1950—the only one of his career.
After spending the regular season as what we would today call the "closer"—a role that would eventually help him to win the National League MVP award that year—Kosntanty would be called on in a pinch to start in the World Series.
The Phillies were in desperate need of a starter. Curt Simmons was unavailable due to military service and Robin Roberts had tossed a complete game to get the Phillies into the Fall Classic.
So the Phillies went with Konstanty. While they would lose that game, it would not be the only action the starter / reliever saw in that series. He would pitch 15 innings and allow just four runs.
RP: Al Holland
The Line: 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 SV, 8 SO, 0 BB
Al Holland was probably one of the most underrated relievers in the history of the Phillies franchise during his tenure with the club.
First and foremost, the man had some big shoes to fill with both Ron Reed and Tug McGraw on their way out. When the Phillies reached the World Series in 1983, it would be Holland entering in the ninth inning.
And he held up his end of the bargain. In six innings of postseason work for the Phillies, Holland didn't allow a single run to cross the plate.
RP: Ryan Madson
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The Line: 2-1, 2.31 ERA, 35 IP
If anyone played the role of "unsung hero" well in the Phillies bullpen, it was Ryan Madson.
Whether it was as a member of the "Bridge to Lidge" in 2008, as the closer in 2011 or any role in between, Madson was one reliever that always seemed to have success in the postseason (outside of a couple down moments, of course).
In 33 career postseason appearances (all with the Phillies), Madson allowed just nine earned runs and struck out 43.
RP: Brad Lidge
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The Line: 2-4, 2.18 ERA, 45.1 IP
As bad as Brad Lidge may have been at some points of his Phillies tenure, one time that the man always seemed to show up and pitch well was the postseason.
Outside of the 2009 World Series against the New York Yankees, Lidge was money for the Phillies. While "the line" above factors in his tenure with the Houston Astros as well, know that Lidge allowed just four earned runs in the postseason with the Phils—three of which came during that '09 Fall Classic.
Closers tend to get their adrenaline pumping in the most pressure packed environments, and Lidge was no different.
RP: Tug McGraw
The Line: 3-3, 2.24 ERA, 7 SV, 52.1 IP
If there is one guy on this list that you want on the mound late in a ball game with the entire series on the line, it would be Tug McGraw.
McGraw, who helped the New York Mets capture a World Series title before joining the Phillies, would eventually help his new club to their first championship as well.
While his success did not come without failure, McGraw was about as reliable as anyone when it counted most. In 18 postseason innings with the Phillies, he would allow just nine earned runs.
Of course, he was also on the mound jumping for joy after punching out Willie Wilson to end the 1980 World Series.
C: Darren Daulton
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The Line: .281 / .413 / .516, 3 HR
Darren Daulton eventually got his World Series ring, but it is a shame that he couldn't get it done as a member of the Phillies.
Of course, he had that shot in 1993. Daulton had a very solid postseason that year, but couldn't help the Phillies tackle the mammoth obstacle that was the defending champions—the Toronto Blue Jays.
A few years later, Daulton would have a monster postseason as a member of the then-Florida Marlins, which would help them capture the title and land him his first and only World Series ring.
OF: Lenny Dykstra
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The Line: .321 / .433 / .661, 10 HR
I made reference to Lenny Dykstra's mammoth postseason numbers on the Shane Victorino slide, but as I said there and will repeat here—I prefer Victorino's body of work.
Dykstra's postseason success comes in a much smaller sample size—just one postseason in 1993, when the rough and tumble Phillies known as "Macho Row" would attempt to slay the Toronto Blue Jays in what could only be described as a "shocker."
Of course, they would fail, but by no fault of Dykstra's. "Nails" collected 15 hits in just two series that year and almost helped the Phillies to what would have been their second title.
He was also very good in two small postseason roles with the New York Mets, but it just wasn't enough to overtake Victorino.
LH-PH: John Kruk
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The Line: .298 / .431 / .468, 1 HR
After he made the final outs of the last two postseasons for the Phillies, I kind of get the feeling that there are some people that would prefer not to give the starting nod to Ryan Howard.
However, the next best choices—John Kruk and Pete Rose (who's case I will argue on a different slide)—just didn't have a large enough sample size, or success for that matter, to move over Howard.
But Kruk would have come close. It was just one postseason, but it was a good one. In 1993, he would help pace the Phillies offense by collecting 14 hits in the playoffs—including eight during the World Series.
IF: Pete Rose
The Line: .321 / .388 / .440, 5 HR
Calling Pete Rose the utility infielder is almost sacrilege in my mind, but like I said about John Kruk, I just don't think that he had a large enough sample size or enough success in that sample size to justify me putting him ahead of Ryan Howard.
Now, if you're willing to count his success with the Cincinnati Reds and the intangible of "teaching the Phillies to win," that's a different story. But I'm not.
Rose's only real "above average" postseason series with the Phillies came during the 1980 NLCS against the Houston Astros, when he hit .400 and collected eight hits. The rest were just average, and at times during the postseason, "just average" just doesn't cut it.
So he'll be the utility infielder, for the purpose of this slide show.
RH-PH: Pat Burrell
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The Line: .186 / .307 / .381, 5 HR
Rounding out this slide show was not easy. I always include a right-handed pinch-hitter for the sake of balance on these fantasy rosters and there really was not a good option.
So I went with Pat Burrell.
Burrell's five home runs and the fact that he helped the Phillies to just their second World Series title in a big way gave him the edge over a couple of other guys that probably don't belong on a list like this anyway.