25 Most Talented Philadelphia Phillies Rosters Never to Win a World Series
Talented teams miss the World Series all the time. It's a common occurrence. In any one season, you're going to have at least six very good teams capable of playing in the Fall Classic. Simple math tells us that there isn't enough room for all of them in the end. Just one.
So while the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies are unique in the fact that they were so talented—on paper—at the beginning of the season, but missed the postseason all together—they certainly aren't alone.
They're not even alone in their own history. For the simple fact that there are a lot of good teams playing for one prize every season, a lot of talented rosters are kept from a World Series title.
The '12 version of the Phillies are just one example. Including the train wreck that was the Phils this season, here are 24 others.
I can't say for certain, obviously, but I would imagine that the 1916 season was one of the most anticipated campaigns in the history of Philadelphia baseball.
A year earlier, the Phillies had made their first trip to the World Series, and though they were trounced by the Boston Red Sox, they made an impression. They were a good team with the talent to make it back to the postseason in '16.
The Phillies would finish in second place that season, thanks in large part to incredible seasons from Pete Alexander and Eppa Rixey, who would combine to go 55-22.
This team just didn't have enough offense to contend for a World Series title again. While Gavvy Cravath was incredible, he just didn't have enough of a supporting cast to make some noise.
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The 2003 Phillies were probably better than their third place finish suggests.
They had the offense. Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu all posted an OPS north of .800, and Placido Polanco barely missed that plateau. Three players—Thome, Abreu and Pat Burrell—hit at least 20 home runs.
If the pitching stepped up, they could have been good. Kevin Milwood had an average season and guys like Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf and a young Brett Myers weren't necessarily ready to turn this club into a contender.
Talented roster. Just didn't produce.
I imagine that there was a sense of urgency for the Phillies and their fans heading into the 1917 season. While they still had plenty of talent, their window was closing fast. This club wasn't getting any younger.
The lineup still featured Gavvy Cravath, but there wasn't much of a supporting cast. That would be the ultimate downfall of this club.
It certainly wasn't the pitching. The Phillies went with a four-man rotation of Pete Alexander, Eppa Rixey, Joe Oeschger and Erskin Meyer and all four of them were above average in '17.
They ultimately just didn't have enough talent to topple the first place New York Giants.
The 1953 season isn't one that gets much publicity in the city of Philadelphia. While most of the "Whiz Kids" were still hanging around, they weren't the same team that they were in 1950. That club missed its moment; lost some of its luster.
In true Phillies fashion, at least for the time period, the "front office" sold off some of those players and called upon inexpensive replacements—a strategy that doesn't work often in this game.
That would eventually cause the Phillies to go into a downward spiral, but for this season, it worked. Guys like Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis, Smoky Burgess, Earl Torgeson and Granny Hamner had good offensive seasons and helped put runs on the board.
Keeping runs off of the board was the duty of a four-man rotation anchored by the dynamic one-two punch of Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons.
They ultimately didn't have enough to make a run at a World Series, but this was a good team.
If there was any one player capable of leading the Phillies to the World Series in the 1960s, it was Johnny Callison—the franchise player and leader for more than a decade.
Sadly enough, he never got that opportunity. He played on some good clubs, like this 1963 version, but never got a shot at the postseason with the Phils.
In '63, however, I imagine that people felt that their fortunes were changing. The Phillies were about to field a very good club that included Callison, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez and Wes Covington. They would also get a glimpse of the future when phenom Dick Allen made his debut.
They just didn't have enough pitching to compete yet. Ray Culp, Chris Short and Dennis Bennett were a solid trio, but none were ready to lead a rotation. Jack Baldschun had great year as the closer and Johnny Klippstein had an excellent year.
The pieces were in place for the 1964 campaign.
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The 1980s would start with a bang for the Phillies and go out with a whimper, but 1986 was caught right in the middle.
With Mike Schmidt on the tail end of his career, it was time for Von Hayes to step up and lead this club, and though he never really could, he did have a solid season in '86. John Russell, Juan Samuel and Milt Thompson helped give this lineup some thump.
It was the pitching that came up short for this club. The best starter was 22-year-old Bruce Ruffin, who made 21 starts and won nine of them. Shane Rawley also had a solid season as a starter and Steve Bedrosian, who would win the Cy Young a year later, would prove to be a capable closer.
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After making decent strides in 2003, you could definitely see this offense coming together.
Jim Thome, who had an MVP-caliber season the year prior, had another fantastic year at the plate for the Phillies in 2004 and he was joined by guys like Mike Lieberthal, Jimmy Rollins, David Bell, Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu.
This was a solid offensive club with a Little League style pitching staff.
As far as ERA+ is concerned, the only pitcher to have even an "average" season was Randy Wolf, who barely met that requirement. What the staff lacked in starters it made up for with a decent relief corps that consisted of Billy Wagner, Rheal Cormier, Tim Worrell and Ryan Madson, among others.
Almost a forgotten year of baseball in the city of Philadelphia because it was sandwiched between a pair of World Series appearances, the Phillies were a very good team in 1982, and you would see bits and pieces of both World Series rosters.
One of the most notable changes was the replacement of Bob Boone with Bo Diaz behind the plate. Ivan de Jesus had taken over at shortstop for Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews had replaced Greg Luzinski in left field.
The result was a good offensive club that was still finding their footing as a cohesive unit.
On the mound, the Phillies had a trio of starting pitchers that carried them through the regular season in Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson and Mike Krukow. While Tug McGraw nursed a bad season in the bullpen, Ron Reed stepped up in a big way as the closer.
This club would only finish in second place.
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People won't make much of a fuss over the 2005 Phillies in hindsight because they missed the postseason, but this was a very good team that could have been there with a bit more luck.
And pitching. They definitely could have used some more pitching. The "ace" of their staff was right-handed starter Jon Lieber and the best starter on the staff would be Brett Myers. They did have a solid bullpen, anchored by the now-infamous Billy Wagner.
It was a tremendous offense that carried this team. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both posted an OPS of greater than .900. Pat Burrell, Kenny Lofton and Bobby Abreu all posted OPS marks north of .800.
With a little more pitching, this team could have made some noise.
1960-69 wasn't a good decade of baseball for the Phillies. Despite putting together a great roster in 1964, the team would eventually collapse and miss the postseason all together. I can't imagine the mood in the following seasons was great.
That includes 1966, when some of the players from that '64 roster remained and had their eyes set on a bit of redemption.
While they'd ultimately come up short, it certainly was not for a lack of talent. Dick Allen had an MVP-caliber season and guys like Bill White and John Briggs proved to be competent complements.
On the mound, Jim Bunning had one of the best seasons of his career, winning 19 games, and he was joined in the rotation by crafty lefty Chris Short. Larry Jackson also had an excellent season and Darold Knowles proved to be a capable closer.
They say the first time is always a special one.
On a similar note, I would love to have been a fly on the wall in 1915 to see what the postseason atmosphere was like in Philadelphia for the first time, as the Phillies readied themselves to square off with the Boston Red Sox for a World Series title.
It had to be spectacular.
And while the Red Sox would eventually make quick work of the Phillies, it certainly was not because of a lack of talent.
On the mound, the Phillies were one of the best teams around, anchored by the legendary ace Pete Alexander. Behind him were three more pitchers just above average in Erskine Mayer, Eppa Rixey and George Chalmers.
This team wasn't great offensively, but the duo of Gavvy Cravath and Fred Luderus had enough bat to go around.
It's almost impossible to talk about the infamous 1964 season without giving it a negative connotation, and I think a lot of that comes back to the fact that the Phillies were so talented and failed to make the most out of their opportunity.
This was a team that could score runs and keep them off the board.
The offense was paced by a 22 year old superstar in the making in Dick Allen—one of the greatest raw talents to ever play the game. He was joined by guys like Wes Covington and Johnny Callison to create a formidable lineup.
On the other side of the ball, Jim Bunning and Chris Short were a lethal one-two punch that gave other teams fits. Relievers Jack Baldschun and Ed Roebuck made any lead they had stick just about whenever they got the chance.
This was a great team. They were in first place for most of the season until fatigue caught up to them in September and they ultimately "pholded" out of the postseason picture.
This 1983 team was probably a lot better than they should have been, mainly because of just how old most of these guys were, but they were definitely a good team.
Regardless of their age, this lineup featured a pair of future Hall of Famers in Mike Schmidt and Joe Morgan, and they were joined in the lineup by the likes of Pete Rose, Gary Matthews, Garry Maddox and Von Hayes.
Even at 38 years old, Steve Carlton was Steve Carlton. But oddly enough, it was John Denny who had the best season for a starting pitcher, eventually resulting in a Cy Young Award.
Any bullpen that features Al Holland, Tug McGraw and Ron Reed is a good one.
If the 1981 season wasn't shortened by a strike, I think the Phillies could have won their second consecutive World Series title. They had the talent, and I just think that if things weren't so hectic, they would have done it.
But that's just a personal opinion and obviously not what happened. Just what could have been.
The lineup was stacked with great hitters from top to bottom. Gary Matthews, Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose had good seasons that helped to pace the offense.
Steve Carlton and Larry Christenson paced the starting rotation while guys like Tug McGraw and Ron Reed made leads hold once they reached the bullpen.
This was a good team.
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They may not have captured a World Series until 1980, but in the latter half of the 1970s, the Phillies built some of their greatest rosters of all-time.
Of course, that's not much of a challenge when you have the two players you would eventually call your greatest hitter and pitcher of all-time on the roster. The Phillies just built around them successfully.
That hitter, of course, was Mike Schmidt. In 1977, he was joined by Greg Luzinski, Jay Johnstone and Richie Hebner—all of whom had great years at the plate.
It was starting pitching that was this team's greatest problem. Outside of Steve Carlton, there was no bridge to an excellent bullpen that included Tug McGraw, Ron Reed and Gene Garber.
When the dust settled, people were surprised that this Phillies team reached the postseason, and why shouldn't they have been? This was the club that erased a seven-game deficit in the NL East to overtake the New York Mets atop the division.
And while they were quickly dispatched from the postseason by the red-hot Colorado Rockies, there was no shortage of talent on this roster.
The Phillies boasted one of the league's most potent offenses in 2007 with five players—Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand—who posted an OPS north of .800.
A little more pitching would have helped this club a lot. Both Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick had good seasons, and Brett Myers made a "smooth" (relatively speaking) transition into the bullpen, but it just wasn't enough.
In 1913, the Phillies were finally putting some of the pieces together that would help them contend for the World Series in a couple of years.
They finally had a dynamic offense. The lineup contained a number of players who would have above average years at the plate including Fred Luderus, Hans Lobert, Sherry Magee, Dode Paskert and Gavvy Cravath.
But it was the pitching that truly made this team great. Pete Alexander needs no explanation, but I would venture to argue that this club's best pitcher was a man by the name of Tom Seaton, who won 27 games. They were also joined by Ad Brennan, Eppa Rixey and George Chalmers.
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The 1993 Phillies are a funny kind of team for a list like this. It's all about perspective.
If you were previewing the '93 season from an April perspective, the Phillies were nothing short of a joke. There were very few players on that team that looked as though they were ready for baseball and stood as a stark contrast to the clean, crisp Atlanta Braves.
They were castaways. Lovable losers.
Now if you look at the '93 season in retrospect from that October, they were one hell of a team—an unbelievable group of players that found chemistry in the strangest of places and nearly shocked the world.
One thing that can't be argued is that this club could hit. Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Kevin Stocker, Dave Hollins, Lenny Dykstra and Jim Eisenreich all posted an OPS better than .800.
The starting pitching was good too. Curt Schilling, Danny Jackson, Tommy Greene and Terry Mulholland formed a formidable rotation, and it was Schilling who had the lowest ERA+ of the bunch.
After two consecutive trips to and failures in the NLCS, a lot of people believed that this Phillies team had what it takes to reach and capture a World Series title in 1978.
They had the experience, but that will only take you so far. More importantly, they had the talent.
The starting rotation featured three above average pitchers in Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson and Dick Ruthven. The bullpen featured a few dominant relievers in guys like Ron Reed, Tug McGraw, Warren Brusstar and Gene Garber.
Even in an off year from Mike Schmidt, this was a lineup that could throw some runs on the board. Guys like Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, Richie Hebner and Bo Diaz helped pick up the slack.
A third straight bouncing from the postseason was disappointing, to say the least.
The 1950 Phillies that would come to be known as the "Whiz Kids" thanks to their youth and energy were one of the most exciting clubs of all-time, and they had the talent to match.
Of course, good starting pitching has been known to take you places. The Phillies had one of the most dynamic one-two punches in the game in Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons, and they also managed to mix in the eternally underrated Bubba Church.
But it was the style of offense that made this team exciting. Andy Seminick and Del Ennis provided the thunder, both posting an OPS north of .900 while Dick Sisler joined them as the only other man to post an OPS better than .800.
They also had some guy named Richie Ashburn at the top of the order. I don't think he needs an introduction. You just need to know he was there.
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2010 was the year of Roy Halladay.
The Phillies had acquired their new ace from the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason and set him atop of their starting rotation that also featured Cole Hamels.
It didn't take Halladay long to leave his mark. The man tossed a perfect game against the then-Florida Marlins in May of 2010 and a couple of months later, threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the postseason.
Halladay and Hamels would eventually be joined in the rotation by former Houston Astros' ace Roy Oswalt, so there was certainly no shortage of pitching.
It was the offense that was suspect at times. Had guys that carried the Phillies through the regular season—like Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth—showed up in October, the end game may have been a lot different.
Though they'd be trounced from the postseason without collecting a win, the 1976 Phillies were an excellent club. They'd begin a reign of three consecutive National League East titles before relinquishing that honor in 1979, only to reclaim it a year later.
You don't have to dissect this team to figure out why they were successful. They could rake up and down the lineup. Dick Allen, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox and Jay Johnstone all posted an OPS north of .800.
On the mound, they had four starting pitchers who, at the very least, were average in Steve Carlton, Jim Kaat, Jim Lonborg and Tom Underwood.
And once you dealt with the starting pitching, they would call on the electric duo of Tug McGraw and Ron Reed.
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This was a team built to win the World Series. They won it all in 2008 and only get better for the next season.
Any narrative about this 2009 team should center around an incredible offense. The Phillies had four players—Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth—hit more than 30 home runs that season.
When you consider the fact that they were joined by players like Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that they had one of the deepest lineups in the game at the time.
As had been the case leading up to this point, it was the pitching that was suspect, but the Phillies made a strong move at the trade deadline to acquire Cleveland Indians' ace Cliff Lee, and he was electric with the Phils.
But the story of this team's pitching will always be their inability to come up strong in big moments. Both Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge had as poor postseason and the rest of the staff just couldn't compensate.
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The only thing that shadows the immense talent that was on this roster on Opening Day in 2012 is the colossal failure of this club to enjoy a winning season—at the least.
Including Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the disabled list, the Phillies would eventually field regulars who have appeared in an All-Star Game at six different positions. Carlos Ruiz would later make it seven.
The starting rotation featured three of the best pitchers in the game in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. The front office had addressed the bullpen woes in the ninth inning by splurging on Jonathan Papelbon.
On paper, this could have been the greatest Phillies team of all-time.
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This was one of the best Phillies rosters of all-time. For them to be bounced from the postseason by a team that barely made the tournament (although unarguably the hottest team around at the time) was nothing short of an embarrassment.
The strength of this club was pitching, pitching and more pitching. By the time the calendar flipped into October, the Phillies finally had all four of their "aces" on the field, and throwing the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in one series is an accomplishment.
So to be trounced in the first round? That's a sight for sore eyes.
The offense was suspect at times during the season, but there was no excuse for coming up short in the NLDS. Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence all had above average seasons as the dish.