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MLB History Contest: The All-Time Philadelphia Phillies Roster

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MLB History Contest: The All-Time Philadelphia Phillies Roster

A few weeks back, I proposed an MLB History Contest to the baseball freaks on Bleacher Report.

The task?  Choose an MLB franchise—other than the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals—and construct an all-time team. 

The franchise had to be city specific—hence you couldn't just choose "the Giants" and put Mel Ott in the outfield with Barry Bonds, or Christy Mathewson and Carl Hubbel in the rotation with Juan Marichal.  

I started the contest off by offering up my all-time Oakland Athletics.  Bleacher regulars J.C. Hagan, Marty Andrade, Ben Gunby, and David Finocchio followed up with their all-time Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, and San Francisco Giants, respectively.  

While the contest was short-lived, I feel it was quite stimulating for those who took part.  And to be honest, I've been thinking about the whole thing for the last two weeks. 

A lot.

To be completely transparent here, seeing Hagan's Cubs made me extremely jealous.  I had chosen the Oakland A's because they were the team of my childhood—but the fact of the matter is that I only had 40 or so years of ballplayers to choose from. 

Once I saw the all-time Cubs, I immediately started thinking of teams that would have a more varied selection of picks. 

After all—this was supposed to be a history contest, not just a contemporary history contest.

That being the case, I recently decided I would bring the contest back and set out to put together another all-time roster.  But which team would I choose?

For various reasons, I settled on the Philadelphia Phillies.

Why the Philadelphia Phillies, you ask?

In the words of John Belushi: "(burp) WHY NOT?" 

The Phillies are a franchise with quite a rich history.  Most of that history revolves around losing.  

Their all-time winning percentage is an abysmal .469.  To put it in perspective, the only teams who have a worse record over the years are the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Furthermore, the Phillies have been in Philadelphia since 1884.  In over 120 years of playing baseball in the City of Brotherly Love, they have exactly one World Series championship to show for their efforts.

Yes, you read that right.  No other historical team can brag about that kind of mediocrity—not even the Cubs.

But despite so many generations of poor play, the Phillies have hosted some great players over the years.  And when you put those players together...you end up with one spankin' awesome ball club. 

Without further ado, I present to you the all-time Philadelphia Phillies.

 

LINEUP

1) Billy Hamilton (DH)

Career Stats (14 seasons): .344 BA, .455 OBP, .432 SLG.  40 HR, 736 RBI, 1690 R.  1187 BB, 218 SO, 912 SB.

Career Honors: Led league in BA in 1891 and 1893, OBP in 1891, 1893, 1894, 1896, and 1898, and stolen bases in 1889, 1890, 1891, 1894, and 1895.

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1894—.404 BA, .523 OBP, .528 SLG.  4 HR, 87 RBI, 192 R.  126 BB, 17 SO, 98 SB. 

Comments: Probably the best not super-well-known player in MLB history—and a damn fine leadoff man. 


2) Napoleon Lajoie (2B)

Career Stats (21 seasons): .338 BA, .380 OBP, .467 SLG.  83 HR, 1599 RBI, 1504 R.  516 BB, 85 SO, 380 SB.

Career Honors
: Triple Crown Award Winner in 1901.  Led league in BA in 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1904, OBP in 1901 and 1904, and SLG in 1897, 1901, 1903, and 1904.

Peak performance w/ Philly
: 1897—.361 BA, .392 OBP, .569 SLG.  9 HR, 127 RBI, 107 R.  15 BB, 20 SB. 

Comments: Brilliant on both sides of the ball.  Lived in Ty Cobb's shadow throughout his career, but unquestionably one of the best all-around players of his generation. 


3) Ed Delahanty (1B)

Career Stats (16 seasons): .346 BA, .411 OBP, .505 SLG.  101 HR, 1464 RBI, 1599 R.  741 BB, 244 SO, 455 SB.

Career Honors: Led league in BA in 1899, Stolen bases in 1898, OBP in 1895 and 1902, and SLG in 1892, 1893, 1896, 1899, and 1902.

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1895—.404 BA, .500 OBP, .617 SLG.  11 HR, 106 RBI, 149 R.  86 BB, 31 SO, 46 SB. 

Comments: Could hit for both power (relatively) and average—good fit in the three hole.  Played outfield primarily but held down the fort at first in 271 career games.


4) Chuck Klein (RF)

Career Stats (17 seasons): .320 BA, .379 OBP, .543 SLG.  300 HR, 1201 RBI, 1168 R.  601 BB, 521 SO, 79 SB.

Career Honors: NL MVP in 1932; Triple Crown Award Winner in 1933.  Led league in SLG in 1931, 1932, and 1933 and HRs in 1929, 1931, 1932, and 1933. 

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1930—.386 BA, .436 OBP, .687 SLG.  40 HR, 170 RBI, 158 R.  54 BB, 50 SO, 4 SB. 

Comments: One of the most commonly overlooked peak-value hitters in the history of the game.  A slightly lower OBP than Delahanty puts him in the cleanup spot.    


5) Mike Schmidt (3B)

Career Stats (18 seasons): .267 BA, .380 OBP, .527 SLG.  548 HR, 1595 RBI, 1506 R.  1507 BB, 1883 SO, 174 SB.

Career Honors: Gold Glove Award Winner in 1976-1984 and 1986; NL MVP in 1980, 1981, and 1986.  Led league in OBP in 1981, 1982, and 1983, and SLG in 1974, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1986.    

Peak performance w/ Philly
: 1980—.286 BA, .380 OBP, .624 SLG.  48 HR, 121 RBI, 104 R.  89 BB, 119 SO, 12 SB.

Comments: Never a bad thing to have the best all-around third baseman in baseball history batting fifth in your Lineup.


6) Richie Ashburn (CF)


Career Stats (15 seasons)
: .308 BA, .396 OBP, .382 SLG.  29 HR, 586 RBI, 1322 R.  1198 BB, 571 SO, 234 SB.

Career Honors: Lead league in BA in 1955 and 1958, OBP in 1954, 1955, 1958, and 1960, and stolen bases in 1948.   

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1958—.350 BA, .440 OBP, .441 SLG.  2 HR, 33 RbI, 98 R.  97 BB, 48 SO, 30 SB.

Comments: Whitey easily finds his way into any conversation of the best defensive center fielders to ever play the game.  What is lesser known however is that he hit pretty damn well too.


7) Bob Boone (C)


Career Stats (19 seasons): .254 BA, .315 OBP, .346 SLG.  105 HR, 826 RBI, 679 R.  663 BB, 608 SO, 38 SB.

Career Honors: Gold Glove Award Winner in 1978, 1979, 1982, and 1986-1989

Peak performance w/ Philly
: 1978—.283 BA, .347 OBP, .425 SLG.  12 HR, 62 RBI, 48 R.  46 BB, 37 SO, 2 SB.

Comments: Beats out Daren Daulton because of his work on the defensive end.  Some say Bob Boone had a better glove than any Catcher ever—even Pudge.  Having a defensive legend like Boone behind the plate is surely worth the hit this team takes on offense by putting him in the Lineup.


8) Larry Bowa (SS)

Career Stats (18 seasons)
: .260 BA, .300 OBP, .320 SLG.  15 HR, 525 RBI, 987 R.  1507 BB, 1883 SO, 174 SB.

Career Honors
: Gold Glove Award Winner in 1972 and 1978.      

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1975—.305 BA, .334 OBP, .377 SLG.  2 HR, 38 RBI, 79 R.  24 BB, 32 SO, 24 SB.   

Comments: Shortstops aren't exactly the Phillies forte—hence Larry Bowa.  That said, he's sound defensively and can be counted on for 20-30 stolen bags in a given year.


ROTATION

SP: Grover Cleveland Alexander (R)

Career Stats (20 seasons): 373 W, 208 L, .642 WPG.  2.56 ERA, 3.45 lgERA, 135 ERA+.  2198 SO, 951 BB, 4868 H. 

Career Honors: Triple Crown Award Winner in 1915, 1916, and 1920.  Lead league in Wins in 1911, 1914-17, and 1920, ERA in 1915, 1916, 1919, and 1920, and strikeouts in 1912, 1914-17, and 1920.        

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1915—31 W, 10 L, 376.3 IP.  1.22 ERA, 2.74 lgERA, 225 ERA+.  241 SO, 64 BB, 253 H.     

Comments: One of the few best to ever step onto the mound—an honor to have him as my ace.

 

SP: Steve Carlton (L)

Career Stats (24 seasons): 329 W, 244 L, .574 WPG.  3.22 ERA, 3.70 lgERA, 115 ERA+.  4136 SO, 1833 BB, 4672 H. 

Career Honors
: Triple Crown Award Winner in 1972, Cy Young Award Winner in 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982, and Gold Glove award winner in 1981.  Lead league in Wins in 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982, ERA in 1972, and Strikeouts in 1972, 1974, 1980, 1982, and 1983.

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1972—27 W, 10 L, 346.3 IP.  1.97 ERA, 3.59 lgERA, 1982 ERA+.  310 SO, 87 BB, 257 H.   

Comments: Lefty's number two?  Yep—that's how tight this rotation is.

 

SP: Robin Roberts (R)

Career Stats (19 seasons): 286 W, 245 L, .539 WPG.  3.41 ERA, 3.86 lgERA, 113 ERA+.  2357 SO, 902 BB, 4582 H. 

Career Honors: Lead league in Wins in 1952-1955, Strikeouts in 1953 and 1954, and Complete Games in 1952-1956. 

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1952—28 W, 7 L, 330 IP.  2.59 ERA, 3.66 lgERA, 141 ERA+.  148 SO, 45 BB, 292 H. 

Comments
: From '52-'55, Roberts was as good an ace as any—let alone a number three.

 

SP: Curt Schilling (R)

Career Stats (20 seasons): 216 W, 146 L, .597 WPG.  3.46 ERA, 4.37 lgERA, 126 ERA+.  3116 SO, 711 BB, 2998 H. 

Career Honors
: Lead league in Wins in 2001 and 2004, Strikeouts in 1997 and 1998, and Complete Games in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2001.

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1997—17 W, 11 L, 254.3 IP.  2.97 ERA, 4.25 lgERA, 143 ERA+.  319 SO, 58 BB, 208 H.

Comments: With a 7-2 record and 2.06 lifetime ERA in the postseason, Schilling is a gamer in the truest sense.

 

SP: Jim Bunning (R)

Career Stats (17 seasons): 224 W, 184 L, .549 WPG.  3.27 ERA, 3.74 lgERA, 114 ERA+.  2855 SO, 1000 BB, 3433 H. 

Career Honors
: Lead league in Wins in 1957, Strikeouts in 1959, 1960, and 1967, and Shutouts in 1966 and 1967. 

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1966—19 W, 14 L, 314 IP.  2.41 ERA, 3.61 lgERA, 150 ERA+.  252 SO, 55 BB, 253 H.

Comments: It is commonly forgotten that this Detroit Ace also had four great seasons with the Phils from '64-'67.


BULLPEN


Right Handed Relief Pitcher: Charlie Ferguson

Career Stats (4 seasons): 99 W, 64 L, .607 WPG.  2.67 ERA, 3.25 lgERA, 114 ERA+.  590 SO, 401 BB, 1382 H. 

Career Honors: Finished 2nd in league in ERA and Shutouts in 1886. 

Peak performance w/ Philly: 1886—30 W, 9 L, 395.7 IP.  1.98 ERA, 3.29 lgERA, 166 ERA+.  212 SO, 69 BB, 317 H.

Comments: Had three excellent seasons with Philly before dying of typhoid fever shortly after his 25th birthday. 


Left Handed Relief Pitcher: Rheal Cormier

Career Stats (16 seasons): 71 W, 64 L, .526 WPG.  4.03 ERA, 4.20 lgERA, 104 ERA+.  760 SO, 317 BB, 1248 H. 

Career Honors: None.

Peak performance w/ Philly
: 2003—8 W, 0 L, 84.7 IP.  1.70 ERA, 4.11 lgERA, 242 ERA+.  67 SO, 25 BB, 54 H.

Comments
: Cormier's 2003 is probably the single best season for any full-time Phillies relief pitcher. 


Setup Man: Tug McGraw

Career Stats (19 seasons): 96 W, 92 L, .511 WPG, 180 Saves.  3.14 ERA, 3.65 lgERA, 116 ERA+.  1109 SO, 582 BB, 1318 H. 

Career Honors: All Star in 1972 and 1975.  Finished 2nd in the league in Saves in 1972 and 1973.

Peak performance w/ Philly
: 1980—5 W, 4 L, 20 Saves.  1.46 ERA, 3.79 lgERA, 259 ERA+.  75 SO, 23 BB, 62 H. 

Comments: Besides giving birth to one of country music's most popular singers and inspiring fans nationwide by fighting through a malignant brain tumor for nine months in 2003 (when initially given three weeks to live by doctors), Tug was quite the pitcher for the Phils in the 70s and early 80s.


Closer: Billy Wagner


Career Stats (13 seasons)
: 39 W, 36 L, .520 WPG, 358 Saves.  2.39 ERA, 4.31 lgERA, 180 ERA+.  1014 SO, 258 BB, 521 H. 

Peak performance w/ Philly: 2005—4 W, 3 L, 38 Saves.  1.51 ERA, 4.53 lgERA, 300 ERA+.  87 SO, 20 BB, 45 H. 

Comments: Wagner's stay in Philly was short, but his 2005 season was nothing short of dominating. 


Team Strengths: Offense, Defense, and Starting Pitching. 

Slots 1-5 in the Lineup are occupied by offensive powerhouses in the truest sense, while slots 5-7 are filled by some of the finest defensive phenoms the game has ever seen—at three of the most key defensive positions, I might add (C, CF, and 3B).  Meanwhile, the fact that Steve Carlton is the #2 and Curt Schilling the #4 speaks to the all-around strength of the starting rotation.

Team Weaknesses: Bullpen and History of Losing. 

The relief pitching across the board definitely leaves something to be desired—especially when you consider the short length of time Wagner was around and the inconsistency of Cormier from season to season.  Being the lauging stock of the league for so many years also doesn't help matters.

Overall Analysis: Bullpen or no bullpen, history or no history, I'm confident that this team would easily gallop over any of the other all-time teams—with perhaps the exception of the Cubs, who would give them a run for their money.

Additional Notes: You could field a pretty damn solid roster with the all-time Phillies bench, which includes the likes of Sam Thompson, Bobby Abreu, Lenny Dykstra, Dick Allen, John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Scott Rolen, Pete Rose, and Curt Simmons.

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