Power Ranking the Top 100 Philadelphia Phillies of All Time
Presidents Day has passed. Pitchers and catchers have reported. Soon there will be cracks of the bats and gloves in Clearwater, Florida, and the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies will take the field with a view to making history.
For years now, Philadelphia has enjoyed the services of several of the finest players ever to put on the Phillies uniform—guys like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels.
But in the last couple of years, the Phillies have really upped the ante, acquiring Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee again in an effort to put together the finest rotation in not only Phillies history, but perhaps baseball history as well.
What better time, then, to take a look at the history of the Philadelphia Phillies and reflect upon the top 100 Philadelphia Phillies of all-time.
It is a list that could very soon be turned on its ear.
100. Roy Halladay
Call it an honorary position.
Roy Halladay has been a Philadelphia Philly for one year, and in that one year he has already surpassed the achievements of so many Phillies pitchers.
One perfect game, one post-season no-hitter, one 20 win season and one National League Cy Young Award.
Imagine where we'll have him ranked after Year 2.
Honorable Mention: Cliff Lee
He's already been with the Phillies once, and helped guide them to a World Series.
Now he's back, and in five or six years from now should be high ranking on this list.
Of course, that's why we play the games.
99. Dolph Camilli (1934-1937)
A big lefty first baseman, he had a penchant for home-field hitting (which will soon become a recurring theme).
In 1936, 24 of his 28 home runs came at home.
He was still a very good hitter, though, and hit .295 with a .395 on-base percentage in four seasons with the Phillies.
98. Jim Thome (2003-2005)
Signing Jim Thome was a terrible move by the Phillies.
They spent a boatload of money on Thome, and although he had two-and-a-half great years in Philly, he delayed Ryan Howard's arrival by at least one season, maybe two.
Nevertheless, he had two monstrous years for the Phils while he was here.
97. Randy Wolf (1999-2006)
I'm not crazy about Randy Wolf being on this list.
But he is. And you can't really do anything about it.
So we move on.
96. Lee Meadows (1919-1923)
Lee Meadows lost 20 or more games twice for the St. Louis Cardinals between 1915 and 1919, and then pitched in two World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925 and 1927, winning a championship in 1925.
In between, he pitched five years for the Phillies and performed better than his 48-61 record would indicate.
95. Jamie Moyer (2006-2010)
Actually, I'm not completely sure Jamie Moyer belongs on this list.
He hasn't been much better than Kyle Kendrick the last four years, and I know Kendrick doesn't belong on this list.
94. Jack Baldschun (1961-1964)
Jack Baldschun spent five seasons as the Phillies' closer. In 1961, he led the NL in games pitched as a rookie, and then pitched over 110 innings in each of the next three seasons.
In five years with the Phillies, he compiled a record of 39-34 with 59 saves and a 3.18 ERA, though the saves have been credited after the fact since the statistic wasn't introduced until 1969.
To put his 59 saves in perspective, from 1962 to 1964 Baldschun finished fifth, third and third in saves in consecutive years with totals of 13, 16 and 21 saves.
By comparison, Jose Mesa finished fifth, fourth and 10th in the NL in saves in his three years with the Phil, with totals of 42, 45 and 24.
93. Al Holland (1983-1985)
The team's closer for two seasons in 1983 and 1984, Al Holland amassed over 50 saves with the Phillies.
Holland came over in the trade that also brought Joe Morgan to town, and he left in the trade that brought Kent Tekulve to town.
92. Jose Mesa (2001-2003)
The Phillies' all-time leader in saves. Whatcha gonna do?
Honorable Mention: Ricky Bottalico (1994-1998, 2001-2002)
We got this list down to 101 players, and Ricky Bottalico was the last to go, so he gets an honorable mention here adjacent to Jose Mesa, whom we really didn't want to include but had to.
Back-to-back seasons with 34 saves, a respectable 3.70 ERA (115 ERA+) during his seven seasons with Philadelphia, and more than twice as many strikeouts as walks.
91. Dutch Leonard (1947-1948)
Just two years before the Whiz Kids went to the World Series, Emil John "Dutch" Leonard pitched 225.2 innings with a 2.51 ERA (156 ERA+), 16 complete games and a shutout.
He led the NL in losses with 17.
Humorously, Leonard only pitched for the Phillies for two of his 20 seasons, but he was outstanding both years, compiling a 2.60 ERA (152 ERA+) in his two seasons.
However, because he went 17-12 one year and 12-17 the other, he only finished with a .500 record.
90. Syl Johnson (1934-1940)
Syl Johnson went 36-51 with a 4.05 ERA (108 ERA+) in seven seasons with Phillies, and still makes the list.
It has been a long century for this Phillies franchise.
89. Manny Trillo (1979-1982)
During four years with the Phillies, second baseman Manny Trillo won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers, went to three All-Star games and won a World Series.
88. John Titus (1903-1912)
John Titus didn't make his major league debut until he was 27 years old, but he was a very good hitter who could hit for average and get on base.
Titus also had over 20 or more outfield assists for seven straight seasons.
87. Lefty O'Doul (1929-1930)
Lefty O'Doul saw parts of five seasons from 1919 to 1928 with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and New York Giants, but never stuck.
He got traded to the Phillies before the 1929 season and became a megastar. He led the NL in plate appearances with 731, and in those plate appearances collected a league leading 254 hits.
He also scored 152 runs, hit 32 home runs, drove 122 RBI and batted .398. He drew 76 walks against just 19 strikeouts, and fell just shy of 400 total bases with 397.
O'Doul had a very good season in 1930, and then got traded to Brooklyn. Despite amazing numbers, he only lasted in Philly for two seasons.
This is a point I will expound upon when we discuss Chuck Klein. Never trust a lefty in the Baker Bowl, never trust a slugger in the late 1920s and early 1930s and definitely never trust the combination of the two.
86. Billy Wagner (2004-2005)
146 strikeouts and 26 walks.
Yes, Billy Wagner played for the Phillies for only two seasons.
But he was amazing in those two seasons, in a way very few Phillies have ever been.
85. Dave Cash (1974-1976)
A fascinating hitter, Dave Cash was an All-Star who led the NL in at-bats in all three years with the Phillies, and in 1976 he struck out only 13 times in 666 plate appearances.
He also averaged over 200 hits per season in Philly and led the league in hits in 1975 with 213.
As a second baseman and sometimes third baseman, he was the predecessor to Placido Polanco.
84. Stan Lopata (1948-1958)
Stan Lopata was a part-time catcher for the Phillies for seven years from 1948 to 1954.
In 1955, at the age of 29, Lopata hit 22 home runs in only 99 games, and the Phillies decided they should get this guy some more playing time.
In 1956, Lopata played 102 games at catcher and 39 games at first base, for a total of 146 games—the only time in his career that he topped 450 plate appearances—and hit 32 home runs with 95 RBI, 96 runs scored, 33 doubles and 75 bases on balls.
Lopata went to the All-Star game, finished 20th in the MVP voting and never played a full season again.
83. Ryan Madson (2003-2010)
Ryan Madson has been an indispensable member of the Phillies' playoff teams of the last four years, and he is steadily climbing the Phillies' list for appearances by a pitcher all-time.
Madson enters the 2011 season in sixth place with 429 games. However, if he appears in 34 games this season, he will move into third place on the Phillies all-time games played by a pitcher list, behind Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton.
82. Greg Gross (1979-1988)
Greg Gross is the all-time Phillies leader for pinch hits and ranks fifth on the all-time major league list.
After being a starter for the Houston Astros from 1974 to 1976, Gross moved to the Cubs for the 1977 and 1978 season and began to develop a reputation as a pinch hitter.
Gross was traded to the Phillies as part of an eight-player trade before the 1979 season and would spend the next 10 seasons in Philly.
The usage of Gross nearly exclusively as a pinch hitter is fascinating, because it would appear as though he was really a quite good hitter.
He hit .333 with a .422 on-base percentage in 1979, striking out only five times in 206 plate appearances. In fact, he struck out less than 10 times in a season seven different times in his career.
Of course, he also went eight seasons without hitting a home run, and only hit a home run three of his 17 seasons.
81. Erskine Mayer (1912-1918)
Erskine Mayer spent most of seven season with the Philadelphia Phillies, twice winning more than 20 games and finishing with an ERA in the twos three times.
Mayer started two games in the 1915 World Series, losing one and taking a no-decision in the other despite allowing only three earned runs in 11.1 innings pitched.
Four years later, Mayer would take part in a far more infamous World Series, finishing Game 5 of the 1919 World Series in which the Chicago White Sox threw the championship.
80. Dan Casey (1886-1889)
Dan Casey went 72-59 with a 2.91 ERA in four seasons with the Philadelphia Quakers from 1886 to 1889. In 1887, he went 28-13 and led the league in ERA and shutouts.
79. Pete Rose (1979-1983)
There are great Phillies, and there are great players who played for the Phillies.
Pete Rose falls into the latter category.
When you think about it, it is kind of amazing that after going to four World Series with the Cincinnati Reds, Rose went to two more with the Phillies.
People have praised Derek Jeter for being a winner throughout his career, but he never proved that he could do it with any team other than the Yankees.
Well done, Pete. Hopefully, some day the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame will grow up and put you in there.
You definitely belong.
Honorable Mention: The 1983 Philadelphia Philllies
The 1983 Philadelphia Phillies may have been the most dysfunctional team ever to go to the World Series.
The manager of the team, Pat Corrales, got fired in the middle of the year and replaced by Paul Owens. Many of the players on the team were brought in for the 1983 season, and after the Phillies lost the World Series, they were gone.
And so it is that here, in the honorable mention section, we remember that Willie Hernandez, the closer for the 1984 Detroit Tigers and winner of the 1984 AL MVP and Cy Young Awards, was a member of the Phillies in 1983. We also remember the Sarge, Gary Matthews Sr.
We also remember that future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tony Perez were Phillies for that one season.
79. Jim Fogarty (1884-1890)
An outfielder who also played in the infield and pitched a couple of games, Jim Fogarty played with the Quakers from 1884 to 1889 before jumping to the Philadelphia Athletics of the Players League.
In 1887, he led the league in plate appearances and walks while stealing 102 bases. In 1889, he led the NL with 99 stolen bases.
After his year playing for the Quakers, he developed tuberculosis and died at the age of 27.
78. Kent Tekulve (1985-1989)
In 1987, at the age of 40, Kent Tekulve pitched 105.0 innings over 90 games. Tekulve was only in Philly for three-and-a-half years, but he pitched in 291 innings with a 3.01 ERA during that time.
77. Placido Polanco (2002-2005; 2010-Present)
A two-time Philadelphia Philly, Polanco is a classic blue-collar baseball player.
He hits for a good average, which makes his general lack of offensive production easy to overlook, and he doesn't make a lot of errors, which makes his general lack of range and arm on defense easy to overlook.
But for what he is, he is pretty awesome.
76. Earl Moore (1908-1913)
Earl Moore is one of the poster children for the inconsequentiality of wins for pitchers.
He was awesome in 1909 when he went 18-12. He was awesome in 1910 when he went 22-15. And he was awesome in 1911 when he went 15-19 and led the NL in losses.
75. Elmer Flick (1898-1901)
A forgotten hero of the past who had his best years in Cleveland but was still awesome with the Phillies from 1898 to 1901.
In four years with the Phils, Flick hit .338 with a 907 OPS and scored exactly 400 runs.
He led the league in RBI in 1900, driving in 110 in only 138 games while also collecting 200 hits and scoring 106 runs.
Like Nap LaJoie, Flick attempted to jump to the new American League with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Flick and LaJoie were the property of the Phillies and couldn't play for another baseball team in Pennsylvania.
No matter; American League boss Ban Johnson moved Flick and LaJoie to Cleveland, where both players enjoyed successful careers.
74. Al Orth (1895-1901)
Although probably better known for leading the AL in wins with the New York Yankees (then the Highlanders) with 27 in 1906 followed by leading the AL in losses with 21 the following year, Al Orth came up with the Phillies and compiled a 100-72 record from 1895 to 1901.
Oddly, despite the fact that he won just more 200 games (204), Orth managed to split those wins almost perfectly between the NL (100) and the AL (104).
72. Mitch Williams (1991-1993)
Mitch Williams had three successful years in Philadelphia, during which he accumulated 102 saves.
If not for one stupid Joe Carter home run, this ranking would be a bit higher.
71. Brett Myers (2002-2009)
Largely regarded as unfulfilled talent with the Phillies, he nevertheless did whatever was asked of him during his time in Philadelphia, including serving as an ace, as a closer and as a middle of the rotation guy.
Plus, his walk against C.C. Sabathia in the 2008 NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers was a crucial moment in the march to the 2008 World Series and one of the great moments in Phillies history.
70. John Denny (1982-1985)
John Denny was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the 1982 season for Wil Culmer, Jerry Reed and Roy Smith.
Denny won the 1983 National League Cy Young Award and was a part of one of the most dysfunctional World Series teams since the 1919 Chicago White Sox.
69. Gene Garber (1974-1978)
Gene Garber was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the heart of Amish country, and was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was later traded to the Kansas City Athletics and then purchased from the A's by the Phillies.
In five seasons pitching for the Phils, Garber went 33-22 with a 2.68 ERA in 250 appearances.
68. Jayson Werth (2007-2010)
Jayson Werth is to the Phillies of the last four years what Elmer Flick was to the 1898-1901 Phillies and what Manny Trillo was to the 1979-1982 Phillies.
Briefly awesome, then suddenly gone.
67. Andy Semenick (1943-1951; 1955-1957)
Andy Seminick was a very good hitting catcher in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
He hit 24 home runs and 68 RBI in 109 games in 1949, then had the exact same numbers again in 130 games for the Whiz Kids in 1950.
Seminick was the incumbent catcher when Stan Lopata began to emerge, and Lopata eventually enabled the Phillies to trade Seminick to the Reds in 1952. Seminick returned to Philly 1955, and his career ended a couple of years later.
Andy Seminick fun fact: The Phillies traded Seminick to the Reds for, amongst others, Smoky Burgess. When Seminick returned to the Phils, he was once again traded for Smokey Burgess, amongst other players.
66. Lenny Dykstra (1990-1996)
Acquired from the New York Mets along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel, Lenny Dykstra became the centerpiece of the Phillies 1993 World Series team.
Dykstra had an unbelievable 1993 season, leading the league in plate appearances, at-bats, runs, hits and walks, after having failed to play more than 85 games in either of the previous two seasons.
As it turned out, Dykstra's 1993 seasons was unbelievable because it was also too good to be true.
It was later revealed that Dykstra used steroids during his career, which may explain why it was effectively over at the age of 31.
65. Pinky Whitney (1928-1933; 1936-1939)
The Phillies' third baseman from 1928 to 1932, Pinky Whitney had what we would describe as five "grain-of-salt" seasons with the Phillies.
We call them grain-of-salt seasons because they need to be taken with a grain of salt.
First of all, the Phillies were incredibly stacked. Second of all, they played in a drastic hitters' park.
Third, it was one of the most offensively explosive periods in major league history.
Four out of five seasons with over 100 RBI.
Two seasons with 200 or more hits.
Two seasons with over 40 doubles.
Consecutive seasons batting .301, .327 and .342.
That Whitney's offensively productive years were over by the age of 28 indicates how much Whitney's era and environment influenced his performance.
64. Carlos Ruiz (2006-Present)
Carlos Ruiz will be 32 years old in 2011, which is a shame because he is only now the full-time catcher for the Phils and he has established himself as one of the elite catchers in the game.
Catching Mount Rushmore will be his reward for years of hard work.
63. Turk Farrell (1956-1961; 1967-1969)
In 1962, Turk Farrell joined the Houston Colt .45s, and had the type of season a pitcher can only have for an expansion team.
Farrell, who'd spent the previous five seasons as a reliever for the Phillies, plus half a season with the Dodgers, started 29 games, pitching 11 complete games and finished another nine games.
His ERA for the season was 3.02 (124 ERA+), and he had 203 strikeouts compared to just 55 walks in 241.2 innings pitched. He also had a fantastic WHIP of 1.097. But because he was pitching for the Colt .45s, he went 10-20. Yikes.
Farrell started and ended his career as a reliever for the Phillies despite his six seasons as a starter for the Colt .45s/Astros in the middle. He was 47-41 in nine seasons with the Phils, and managed a 3.25 ERA with 65 saves.
Farrell's life came to premature end when, in 1977, he was killed in a car accident in England.
62. Dick Bartell (1931-1934)
Dick Bartell was an excellent defensive shortstop and a pretty good hitter. He was with the Phillies for four years and led the NL in sacrifice hits twice.
During his career, Bartell was traded four times for a total of 10 players, which calls into question his personality. He was, in fact, a ferocious competitor, and earned the criticism of many on and off the field.
61. Dave Bancroft (1915-1920)
Although he came up with the Phillies and spent the first five years of his career in Philadelphia, Dave Bancroft is better known as the slick fielding shortstop for the New York Giants and Boston Braves.
Bancroft went to the World Series with the Phillies in his rookie season, and then made three more trips with the Giants from 1921 to 1923.
Generally regarded as one of the finest fielding shortstops in baseball history, his numbers are hard to relate to from a modern perspective.
In his first two years in the league, he made 60-plus errors each year, and rarely had fewer than 40 in a full season.
He was not known for his hitting, but he scored 100 runs or more three times, and had 209 hits in 1922.
60. Steve Bedrosian (1986-1989)
Three things you have to understand about the 1987 National League Cy Young race.
First, 1987 was an incredibly odd year in which the ball was flying out of all the ballparks, especially in the National League.
Other than a hot summer, we've never come up with a good explanation for the offensive outburst of 1987.
Before the post-1993 explosion, 1987 was known as the Year of the Home Run.
Second, Steve Bedrosian was only the third National Leaguer to save 40 games in 1987, and no pitcher won 20 games. Voters were still very into milestones in 1987, and had not yet soured on saves.
And third, in one of the strangest statistical oddities of all time, Nolan Ryan led the NL in ERA with a 2.76 and in strikeouts with 270 but ended up with a bizarre 8-16 record.
Thus, the best pitcher in the National League was basically disqualified for the Cy Young Award by his won-loss record, there was no 20-game winner, and Bedrosian had just put up a saves number that was still wowing people.
And that is how a very good relief pitcher for a fourth-place team won the 1987 Cy Young Award.
59. Charles Buffinton (1887-1889)
In three seasons pitching for the Philadelphia Quakers from 1887 to 1889, Charle Buffinton pitched 1112.1 innings, won 77 games, and had an ERA of 2.89.
In 1888, Buffinton pitched 400.1 innings, going 28-17 with a 1.91 ERA (154 ERA+), allowing six home runs with a WHIP of 0.957.
Of course, it pales in comparison to his 1884 season with the Boston Beaneaters (Braves), during which season he started 67 games, threw 587.0 innings and went 48-16 with a 2.15 ERA and 417 strikeouts.
58. John Kruk (1989-1994)
There must have been something in the water in Philadelphia in 1993 because that team's big three—John Kruk, Darren Daulton and Lenny Dykstra—all performed far better that season than they'd ever performed before or than they would perform since.
Kruk scored 100 runs and drew 100 walks in 1993, the only time he ever did either of those things. He batted .309 with a .400 on-base percentage in six years with the Phils.
Kruk is one of many players whose careers were either sidetracked or effectively ended by the 1994 players strike.
57. Brad Lidge (2008-Present)
Say what you will about his struggles in 2009 and his rocky 2010.
Brad Lidge had one of the finest seasons of all time by a closer in 2008, refusing to blow a single save on his way to closing the door for the Phillies' run to the World Series title.
And oh by the way, by the time the 2011 season draws to a close, he'll likely be the Phillies' all-time saves leader.
56. Juan Samuel (1983-1989)
Juan Samuel looked like the next great power-speed combination in the mid-1980s. From 1984 to 1987, he averaged 100 runs per year, hit 78 home runs and stole 202 bases, and also hit 59 triples.
Of course, he also averaged over 150 strikeouts per season and couldn't get on base to save his life.
How a player can steal 72 bases while posting an on-base percentage of .307 boggles the mind.
When the Phillies traded Samuel to the New York Mets in 1989, the Mets got a prematurely aging second baseman whose best days were behind him, and the Phillies got what would be the centerpiece of their 1993 World Series run in Lenny Dykstra.
55. Lave Cross (1892-1897)
A 19th-century third baseman, Lave Cross was amazing in 1894.
In just 122 games he had 210 hits, 128 runs, 35 doubles, 10 triples, seven home runs and a whopping 132 RBI. He also hit .387 while striking out only seven times.
Cross played for four different Philadelphia teams in his career—the Phillies, the Athletics of the old American Association, the Quakers of the Players League, and the Athletics of the American League—and had over 1300 runs and RBI during his career.
54. Tony Gonzalez (1960-1968)
In 1962, Tony Gonzalez hit 20 home runs in only 118 games. The following season he played in 155 games, hitting 36 doubles and 12 triples, but his power was completely as his home run total dropped down to four homers.
He played for the Phillies for nine seasons. In 1967 he hit .339 in what would be his best season.
53. Shane Victorino (2005-Present)
Now entering his seventh season with the Phillies after being selected in the 2004 Rule 5 draft, Shane Victorino has been a crucial part of the Phillies success these last five years.
He is an All-Star and a three-time Gold Glover, and he has both speed and developing power.
52. Spud Davis (1928-1933; 1938-1939)
In eight seasons as the Phillies' catcher, Spud Davis hit .321 with a .374 on-base percentage and 363 RBI.
He also walked more than he struck out, threw out roughly 40 percent of base stealers, once hit .349 in 141 games, and led the league in runners thrown out in 1931.
Davis ranks in career batting average for a catcher behind Joe Mauer, Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey.
It is unfortunate that Spud Davis really is a name lost to history, because he was an awesome catcher by 1930s standards.
51. Tony Taylor (1960-1971; 1974-1976)
A member of the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum, Tony Taylor is the Phillies' all-time leader in games played at second base.
Taylor stole home six times, made a fantastic play to save Jim Bunning's perfect game and lived through the epic collapse of the 1964.
Not a particularly great hitter or fielder, Taylor was nonetheless a fixture for the Phillies for over the years.
50. Jim Konstanty (1948-1954)
In 1950, Stan Musial hit 28 home runs with 109 RBI and 105 runs scored. His batting average was a league-leading .346, and he also drew 87 walks against just 36 strikeouts.
And yet Musial finished second in the NL MVP voting behind Jim Konstanty, a Phillies relief pitcher who led the league in games, games finished, and saves, though the statistic had not yet been invented.
He also went 16-7 without starting a single game, and only allowed 11 home runs in 152.0 innings pitched.
49. Cole Hamels (2006-Present)
The sky is the limit for this kid. Ten years from now Hamels could very well be a Top 20 Philly of all time.
48. Jack Clements (1884-1897)
Jack Clements was the Phillies primary catcher from 1885 to 1897 and played exactly 1,000 games with the franchise.
In 1890 he hit seven home runs with 74 RBI and a .315 average, which was pretty elite for a catcher in those days.
Then, in 88 games in 1895, Clements hit .394 with 27 doubles, 13 home runs and 75 RBI. Quite the haul for a 30-year-old catcher.
47. Kid Gleason (1888-1891; 1903-1908)
Kid Gleason began his career with the Phillies in 1888 at the age of 21 and finished his career with the Phillies 20 years later with two appearances at the age of 41.
For most of his career he was a slick-fielding, pretty-good-hitting second baseman. In 1897, while with the Giants, he hit one home run but had 106 RBI. He led the NL in plate appearances with 699 in 1905, at the age of 38.
However, for the first seven years of his major league career, he was a pitcher. In 1890, he went 38-17 in 506.0 innings pitched.
By 1894, though, he was far more of a hitter than a pitcher, and he made the switch.
46. Willie Jones (1947-1959)
The Phillies' third baseman from 1949 to 1958, Willie Jones had some power and a pretty good glove.
As a potential indication of misguided baseball strategy, Jones hit 22 home runs with 81 RBI to lead the team in 1951, but also led the National League with 19 sacrifice hits. That was the same year that Richie Ashburn hit .344 but also had 17 sacrifice hits.
45. Von Hayes (1983-1991)
A fascinating player who may have been the 1980s version of Bobby Abreu, Von Hayes played for the Phillies for nine seasons and did some underrated things.
In 1984, he stole 48 bases. In 1986, he led the NL in doubles and runs scored while finishing two RBI shy of 100 and a home run short go going 20-20. In 1987, he drew 121 walks, giving him a .404 on-base percentage while batting only .277.
Hayes enjoyed arguably his best season in 1989, when he hit 26 home runs, stole 28 bases, drew 101 walks and scored 93 tuns. Then his career short-circuited and he played only one more season.
If you look at the careers of Will Clark, Von Hayes, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and some others like them, you'll notice that as offense exploded in the 1990s, their once promising/dominant careers tailed off.
It makes you wonder.
44. Mike Lieberthal (1994-2006)
Mike Lieberthal made his debut with the Phillies in 1994, the year after their 1993 World Series appearance, and left the Phillies after the 2006 season, the year before their first of four straight division titles.
That's just bad timing.
Lieberthal is the bridge from Darren Daulton to Carlos Ruiz and was a good catcher himself, though his offensive numbers are not nearly as impressive when you consider the league he played in.
As a further indictment against the Gold Glove system, Lieberthal's only Gold Glove conveniently came in 1999, the year he hit 31 home runs and batted .300. It was also the year he led the league in passed balls.
Which stat do you think the Gold Glove voters were looking at?
43. Eppa Rixey (1912-1920)
Eppa Rixey was a good pitcher. His career ERA of 3.15 was 15 percent better than the league he played in, and his 266 wins were plenty. He won 20 or more games four times, and missed all of the 1918 baseball season due to World War I.
He also led the NL in losses twice, losing more than 20 games both times, and his career didn't really take off until he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the age of 30.
Still, the notion that Bert Blyleven barely got into the Hall of Fame by the skin of his teeth while Eppa Rixey comfortably resides there is troublesome.
Lighten up, BBWAA.
Fun Eppa Rixey Fact: In 1921 he allowed one home run in 301.0 innings pitched.
42. Granny Hamner (1944-1959)
Granny Hamner debuted with the Phillies in 1944 at the age of 17, and by 1950 was a grizzlied veteran by Whiz Kid standards, leading the league in games played with 157 at the ripe old age of 23.
Hamner hit 17 home runs in 1952 and then 21 in 1953, which represented extraordinary power for a shortstop of his era. He also drove in over 80 RBI four times, which used to be a big deal.
In 1962, after having been retired for three years, Hamner made three appearances as a relief pitcher for the Kansas City Athletics.
41. Ron Reed (1976-1983)
Think of Ron Reed as the Ryan Madson of the 1970s and 1980s.
Reed, as middle reliever and sometimes-closer, was an indispensable part of six Phillies playoff teams.
He pitched in 21 postseason games for the Phils, a team record, and gave up only a single run in five career World Series games.
40. George McQuillan (1907-1910; 1916)
In 1907, the Phillies brought George McQuillan up and he pitched six games, completing five and finishing a sixth.
He pitched three shutouts, allowed 21 hits and three runs in 41 innings, and finished the season 4-0 with a 0.66 ERA.
He set a record that season for pitching 25 innings before allowing his first major league run, a record that stood until Brad Ziegler topped it for the Oakland A's in 2008.
The following season, McQuillan went 23-17 with a 1.53 ERA in 359.2 innings, throwing 32 complete games and seven shutouts.
At that point, you'd have to imagine the Phillies thought they had a superstar on their hands. Unfortunately, McQuillan struggled throughout his career with alcoholism and syphilis.
McQuillan never broke 300 innings again. He broke 200 innings only three more times, and missed the entire 1912 and 1917 seasons before finishing his career with 23 innings at the age of 33 in 1918.
To this day he remains the Phillies career leader in ERA (1.79) and WHIP (1.020).
39. Tully Sparks (1897; 1903-1910)
Tully Sparks debuted with the Phillies in 1897, pitching one game, a complete game effort in which he allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and four walks while striking out none.
He bounced around for a while after that, appearing in 28 games for the Pirates in 1899, 29 games with the Milwaukee Brewers (who became the St. Louis Browns after 1901) and then with the Giants and Red Sox in 1902.
He returned to the Phillies in 1903 and pitched for the Phillies until 1910, amassing a 95-95 record with the team while pitching seven straight seasons with an ERA under 3.00.
38. Red Dooin (1901-1914)
Red Dooin was a catcher for the Phillies from 1901 to 1914, and served as the Phillies manager from 1911 to 1914.
Dooin was the manager when Grover Cleveland Alexander debuted in 1911, and helped to nurture the youngster along, not that he appeared to need it, since he never struggled at the major league level.
37. Otto Knabe (1907-1913)
Otto Knabe is one of three players on this list whose nickname was "Dutch," which, given that he was from Pennsylvania and played for the Phillies, makes sense, I guess.
Knabe was the second baseman for the Phillies from 1907 to 1913. He had an uncanny ability to draw walks without striking out (94-to-35 in 1911), and he led the NL in sacrifice hits four times.
In 1914 and 1915, he jumped to the upstart Federal League and enjoyed two solid seasons as the player-manager of the Baltimore Terrapins, but 1915 was his last full season of major league ball.
36. Willie Montanez (1970-1975; 1982)
Willie Montanez is one of the few ballplayers to have missed time due to fighting in the Vietnam War.
Montanez hit 30 home runs with 99 RBI in 1971 to finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote. He had some good years, but he never got back to that level again. He left the Phillies after four years.
He finished his career in 1982 by returning to the Phillies and went one for his last 16 at-bats before calling it a career.
35. Fred Luderus (1910-1920)
Fred Luderus was the Phillies' regular first baseman for nine years from 1911 to 1919. He never hit more than 18 home runs in a single season, and hit less than 10 home runs in eight of 12 seasons.
Nevertheless, it was the deadball era, and Luderus finished in the top 10 in the league in home runs eight times.
34. Darren Daulton (1983-1997)
Darren Daulton is now a talk radio personality in Philadelphia, and is treated with great reverence.
"Dutch" has a shockingly brief career for a guy we remember so well. He topped 100 games only five times in his career, and played in more than half of his team's games in only seven seasons.
Nevertheless, in 1992 and 1993 it would be hard to argue there was a better catcher in the NL. In 1992 he led the NL in RBI and in 1993 he went for 24 and 105 while drawing over 100 walks and scoring 90 runs.
He fell short of a championship with the Phils in 1993, but after being traded to the Marlins in 1997 he caught fire. He played all seven games of the 1997 World Series, a classic between the Marlins and Indians, and hit .389 with no strikeouts.
Then, after winning a championship, he retired.
33. Charlie Ferguson (1884-1887)
Charles Ferguson debuted with the Quakers in 1884, going 21-25 with a 3.54 ERA (83 ERA+) in 50 games. He started 47 games, 46 of which were complete games, and finished three more.
The following season, he improved to 26-20 with a 2.22 ERA (124 ERA+). He started 45 games and completed every single one of them.
In 1886, at the age of 23, he had his best season, going 30-9 with a 1.98 ERA (165 ERA+) and 43 complete games. He also struck out 212 batters, topping 200 for the first time in his career.
In 1887, he was a respectable 22-10 with a 3.00 ERA (141 ERA+). He also played 38 games in the field in 1887, and in 72 total games he hit .337 with a .417 on-base percentage and led the Quakers in RBI with 85.
It was to be his last season, however, as he developed typhoid fever in Philadelphia in the offseason and died.
32. Scott Rolen (1996-2002)
Pound-for-pound, Scott Rolen is one of the finest third basemen of all time.
He is an extraordinary defensive player and had several outstanding offensive seasons. If not for longevity issues—the relevant part of his career lasted only about 10 years—he would probably rank right behind Mike Schmidt on the all-time list.
Given the relative brevity of his career, I would find it hard to rank him ahead of George Brett, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Frank Baker or Chipper Jones.
Oh, and he was kind of a jerk who forced his way out of Philadelphia instead of being part of the solution. Imagine an infield of Rolen, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It would have been the greatest of all time.
31. Jim Bunning (1964-1967; 1970-1971)
It gives me no great pleasure to write about Jim Bunning. I disagree with his politics and I disagree with his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Nevertheless, the good voters of Kentucky saw it fit to send him to Washington and the Baseball Writers Association of America saw it fit send him to Cooperstown, despite the fact that better and more talented people have been kept out of both.
Congratulations on your 224 wins, .549 winning percentage, 3.27 ERA and 2,855 career strikeouts, Jim.
You were almost as good as Bert Blyleven.
30. Garry Maddox (1975-1986)
A Gold Glove center fielder and one of the stars of the Phillies 1977 to 1983 dynasty, Garry Maddox will always be remembered for his huge three-run home run in Game 4 of the 1983 NLCS that set the stage for Phillies victory that sent them to their second World Series in four years.
Richie Ashburn is definitely the greatest center fielder in Phillies history, but Garry Maddox may very well be second on the list. It would be a dead heat between Maddox, Roy Thomas and Cy Williams.
29. Chris Short (1959-1972)
But for a single season with the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of his career, Chris Short would have been one of the very few pitchers ever to spend his entire career with the Phillies.
Short spent 14 seasons with the Phillies, winning 20 games in 1966, 19 in 1968 and 15 or more two other times.
Short was an excellent pitcher until the age of 30, but then missed all but two games in 1969 and never made it back to form. He went 9-16 in 1970, 7-14 in 1971, and that was the end of his career as a starting pitcher.
To this day, Short is fourth all-time on the Phillies' win list, behind Pete Alexander, Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts.
28. Tug McGraw (1975-1984)
Tug McGraw was on the World Series winning 1969 New York Mets, and then won a World Series with the Phillies 11 years later. McGraw's best season was arguably 1980, when he had a 1.46 ERA and 20 saves.
27. Pat Burrell (2000-2008)
Pat Burrell went to the World Series with the Phillies in 2008, and went to the World Series against the Phillies in 2010.
Burrell was a very good player in a town that needed him to be great, and consequently his contributions were never appreciated by Phillies' fans for what they were.
26. Bob Boone (1972-1981)
One of the stars of the 1980 World Series and one of the great underrated players of the last 30 years, Bob Boone hit .412 with a .500 on-base percentage and didn't strike out a single time in six games in the 1980 Fall Classic.
Boone was not a great hitter—his career .254 average and .661 OPS can attest to that—but he didn't hurt his team with the bat either. He rarely struck out, and walked more than struck out, during his career, and he hit into comparatively few double plays as well.
A six-time Gold Glover, Boone threw out 40 percent of the base runners against him for his career, which is a very good number.
25. Curt Simmons (1947-1960)
Curt Simmons was signed as an amateur free agent before the 1947 season by the Phillies at the age of 17. He was called up to make his debut on the final game of the season and proceeded to pitch a complete game 3-1 victory against the New York Giants.
The next two seasons would not be as kind, as Simmons went a combined 11-23. However, he rebounded in 1950 as a member of the Whiz Kids, going 17-8 with a 3.40 ERA as a 21-year-old.
Then, Philly Fate kicked in. Simmons was called away to serve in the Korean War during the last week of the 1950 season, thereby missing the World Series.
Could the World Series have gone differently if Simmons had been there?
Put it like this: Jim Konstanty, who hadn't started a game in five years, started Game 1 of the Series.
Game 2 was started by Robin Roberts, but Game 3 was started by Ken Heintzelman, who pitched only 125.1 innings during the season and allow more walks than strikeouts.
The Phils lost all three games by one run. So yeah, with Simmons things may have gone differently.
Simmons then missed the entire 1951 season due to the Korean War, but returned the following season to go 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-leading six shutouts. Simmons would go on to be the Phillies ace for the balance of the 1950s.
Simmons was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals after missing all but seven games in the 1959 season and starting the 1960 season by giving up eight earned runs in four innings over four games.
He would end up pitching seven more seasons and finishing his career with a 193-183 record.
He won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1964 against the Yankees in his only trip to the postseason.
He is fifth on the Phillies' career list for both wins and games started.
24. Curt Schilling (1992-2000)
The Curt Schilling that we all remember is the dominant starter of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox World Series championship teams. But of the various teams Schilling played for, the one he spent the most time with was the Phillies.
Schilling won 101 games in Philadelphia, with a 3.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 3.35 ERA (126 ERA+) and two 300-plus strikeout seasons.
Schilling is also one of the few starting pitchers to win a World Series game with three different teams.
And, oh by the way, the next time someone tells you that Andy Pettitte is the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, point out that the categories in which Pettitte tops Schilling are those based on appearances.
In terms of per-game and per-inning performance, Schilling smokes Pettitte.
23. Nap LaJoie (1896-1900)
Nap LaJoie debuted with the Phillies in 1896. In 1897, he hit nine home runs with 127 RBI while scoring 107 runs and leading the NL in total bases at the age of 22.
The following season he went for six and 127 while leading the league in doubles and RBI. He played through injuries in 1899 and 1900, and then jumped to the AL with the Philadelphia Athletics.
In 1901, LaJoie had one of the greatest seasons of all time. In 131 games, he batted .426 with 232 hits, 145 runs, 48 doubles, 14 home runs, 125 RBI and 350 total bases, all of which led the AL.
The following season, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that LaJoie was the property of the Phillies and could not play for another team in Pennsylvania.
AL boss Ban Johnson promptly moved LaJoie to Cleveland, along with Elmer Flick, and LaJoie went on to become one of the greatest players in baseball history.
See? Philadelphia Phillies history really is beset on all sides by bad luck, bad moves and bad players.
22. Greg Luzinski (1970-1980)
Greg Luzinski is one of those guys whom the Steroid Era has essentially wiped from the annals of baseball.
Yes children, there was a time when 300 home runs was impressive.
Yes, there was a time when a player hitting 35 home runs and drawing 100 walks was impressive.
Yes, there was a time when driving in 100 runs four times was impressive.
And yes, there was a time when lumbering sluggers faded out around the age of 33 after 15 seasons spent in the majors.
As late as 1982, at the age of 31, Luzinski enjoyed an excellent year for the Chicago White Sox, and two years later he was done.
21. Cy Williams (1918-1930)
Cy Williams had an excellent career.
He was also a left-handed hitter playing in the Baker Bowl in the 1920s.
In 1923, he led the league in home runs with 41. He hit 26 of his home runs at home and 15 on the road that year.
When he led the NL in home runs with 15 in 1920, he hit 12 at home and only three on the road.
Of course, when he led the NL with 30 in 1927 at the age of 38, he had a dead even 15/15 split.
Strangely, with 13 seasons playing for the Phillies, he is one of the Phillies' longest tenured hitters.
20. Ryan Howard (2005-Present)
We've got Ryan Howard rated conservatively here.
Already 31 this season, Howard has been up and down the last four years after exploding onto the big league stage with the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005 and a 58-home run outburst that was rewarded with the NL MVP in 2006.
Howard is now one of the highest-paid professional athletes in America, and it would be very difficult to make the case that he is not overpaid. Whether he will be able to make good on his $25 million per year salary and continue his march towards 500 home runs and the Hall of Fame remains to be seen.
In 2010, at times he looked good and at times he looked really bad, but even at his best his performance fell short of the elite first basemen in baseball.
At the end of the day, we're in no hurry to move Howard to the top of this list. He could very well be one of the top five Phillies of all time, and there is no sense in disparaging that by anointing him prematurely.
19. Larry Bowa (1971-1980)
The Philadelphia Phillies' starting shortstop for a remarkable 12 seasons, Larry Bowa is a lesson in why you can't always measure the value of a player by his statistics.
Bowa was an inadequate offensive player throughout his career, but he was an asset on defense in an era in which offense at the shortstop position was not common.
In the 1980 World Series, though, Bowa hit .375 with nine hits and three stolen bases in six games.
Bowa's relationship with the Phils continued through his tenure as coach and manager, where he had the type of success that drives superstars out of town and causes the fans to riot.
No one likes to win 85 games every year.
18. Johnny Callison (1960-1969)
Johnny Callison's career with the Phillies fit perfectly within the decade of the 1960s. He was with the Chicago White Sox in 1958 and 1959 and joined the Phillies before the 1960 season.
He enjoyed a great decade, leading the league in doubles once and triples twice, scoring 90 or more runs five times, hitting 30 home runs and accumulating 100 RBI twice and finishing second in the 1964 MVP race.
His last season with the Phillies was 1969, at the age of 30, after which he was traded to the Cubs. He played four more years and retired after the 1973 season.
His 1964 season was marred, of course, by the Phillies blowing a six-and-a-half-game lead in the NL with 12 games to go, and finishing as the MVP runner-up was probably little consolation to Callison.
17. Roy Thomas (1899-1908)
The incomparable Roy Thomas walked 115 times as a rookie in 1899, and then proceeded to lead the NL in walks in six out of the next seven years.
Here is an interesting statistic: Roy Thomas is one of 11 major leaguers all-time to finish his career with a batting average under .300 but an on-base percentage over .400.
Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Mickey Mantle, Jeff Bagwell, Jason Giambi, Lance Berkman, Rickey Henderson, Brian Giles, Bobby Abreu and Lu Blue.
Thomas was also an outstanding defensive center fielder. At his retirement he held the record for center fielders for putouts and fielding percentage.
According to Bill James, Thomas holds the unofficial record for foul balls in an at-bat—22—and is the only player in major league history with four times as many runs scored as RBI.
16. Jimmy Rollins (2000-Present)
Jimmy Rollins represents a bit of a baseball analyst paradox.
Statistically, Rollins does not put up the type of numbers you'd expect from a valuable player. Even when he won the NL MVP, he was not the most valuable player in the league in a literal sense.
Rollins accumulates a good number of flashy statistics, but he has never gotten on base, taken walks or managed plate appearances well enough to be a great leadoff hitter.
Jimmy's impact on this era of Phillies baseball has been undeniable. His defense at shortstop has been invaluable, and he and Chase Utley make a dynamic double play duo.
His penchant for clutch hits has revealed itself time and again. And for whatever reason, the team is better when he is in the lineup.
In many ways, J-Roll has been the face of the Phillies for the last five years to a greater extent than either Ryan Howard or Chase Utley.
15. Billy Hamilton (1890-1895)
Billy Hamilton's numbers don't make a lick of sense. He stole 100-plus bases four times in his career, and 97 more another season.
In 1894, he took a league-leading 128 walks and only struck out 19 times. He also stole 100 bases, had 225 hits and scored a whopping 198 runs in just 132 games.
It was a different game back then.
14. Del Ennis (1946-1956)
You can add Del Ennis' name to Greg Luzinski's on the list of guys whose careers are hard to appreciate from a 2011 perspective.
Ennis topped 25 home runs and 100 RBI seven times each in an era in which guys like that did not grow on trees.
With the Whiz Kids in 1950, Ennis hit .311 with a league leading 126 RBI and 92 runs scored.
He finished fourth in the MVP voting that season behind teammate Jim Konstanty, Stan Musial and Eddie Stanky.
13. Chase Utley (2003-Present)
At this point in his career, Chase Utley is certainly the Phillies' all-time second baseman and is the elite second baseman of his era (Robinson Cano's continued emergence notwithstanding.)
An elite hitter and fielder, Utley is the complete package in a way that we have rarely seen amongst infielders, who tend to either hit but not field or field but not hit.
To those who might question Utley being so far ahead of Ryan Howard, we offer the following: Chase Utley is a far rarer player than Ryan Howard is.
Howard's No. 1 asset is his power, but left-handed power-hitting first basemen have been relatively easy to come by in major league history.
Meanwhile, Utley's level of offense at second base really is something that we've only come upon a handful of times at the position, and to have an elite defensive and offensive second baseman is incredibly rare.
This praise aside, many local prognosticators have noticed that Utley's batting average rose each year from 2003 to 2006 and then has fallen each year since then, and have asked whether Utley is on the downside of his career.
Let's hope not.
Honorable Mention: Ryne Sandberg
Perhaps the most dysfunctional part of the team mindset that helped build the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies was the decision to trade away long-time shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman of the future Ryne Sandberg in return for Ivan DeJesus.
DeJesus had three ordinary years in Philadelphia at shortstop, while Bowa played for four more years and Sandberg won the 1984 NL Most Valuable Player on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
As we honor Chase Utley as the finest second baseman the Phillies have seen, we remember that there could have been another.
12. Sherry Magee (1904-1914)
A dead-ball era outfielder, Sherry Magee had several excellent seasons for the Phils between 1904 and 1914. He won the batting title in 1910 with a .331 average, and also led the NL with 123 RBI and 110 runs despite hitting only six home runs.
The Phils traded Magee to the Boston Braves after the 1914 season, a season in which Magee led the NL in hits, doubles, RBI and total bases, and promptly went to the World Series.
Magee played his last game at the age of 34 in 1919, and died of pneumonia 10 years later at the age of 44.
11. Sam Thompson (1889-1898)
You gotta love 19th-century baseball.
Sam Thompson didn't get started in baseball until the age of 25. In 1887, at the age of 27, he hit 10 home runs with 166 RBI and won the batting title with a .372 average.
He moved to Philadelphia in 1889. In 1894, he hit 13 home runs, had 147 RBI and batted .415 while only striking out 13 times.
Thompson was a stud. He scored 100 or more runs 10 times in 12 full seasons, and led the league various in hits, RBI, home runs and batting.
His final season was 1898, but in 1906 he made a brief comeback with the Detroit Tigers, playing in eight games and getting seven hits.
At the age of 46.
10. Bobby Abreu (1998-2006)
In their new book "Scorecasting," Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim have a theory about why there are far more .300 hitters than there are .299 hitters in each Major League Baseball season.
Basically, their theory is that players are very mindful of round-number milestones. Thus, if a player is hitting .300 going into the last game of the year, he will either sit out or do everything possible to draw walks before leaving the game early, whereas if he is hitting .299 he will be swinging away.
And yes, they back this up with data.
Anyway, as one of their anecdotal examples, Moskowitz and Wertheim call out Bobby Abreu, whose consistency for round-number accomplishments is startling:
Abreu has hit .300 or .301 twice in his career.
He has finished the season within four runs of 100 seven times, and he has finished the season with between 100 and 110 RBI eight times.
Abreu has also finished the season with between 100 and 110 walks five times, and finished with either exactly 20 or 30 home runs six times.
And at the end of the day, Phillies fans will always remember Bobby Abreu as a guy who took care of the scorecard first and the success of the team second.
His numbers were amazing, but it is no coincidence that the current era of Phillies success came the day they traded away Abreu.
9. Gavvy Cravath (1912-1920)
Gavvy Cravath has an incredibly interesting career. He played in parts of the 1908 and 1909 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Washington Senators, but didn't become a major league regular until the age of 31.
Then, once he got to the majors, he went on a tear unlike any the baseball world had seen.
From 1913 to 1919, he led the National League in home runs six times in seven years, and also led the league variously in runs, hits, RBI, walks, strikeouts, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases.
So what gives, right? Why didn't this guy get to the majors sooner?
The secret is, Gavvy Cravath had a trick for putting up big numbers.
In the minor leagues, Cravath played in a stadium in Minneapolis with a 279 foot right field line, and learned to hit to the opposite field to take advantage.
After he became the property of the Phillies, he found himself playing in the Baker Bowl, where the right field line was 272 feet.
It was a match made in heaven, and Cravath hit 92 of his career 119 home runs at home (yikes!).
History will show that in 1915, Cravath helped lead the Phillies to the World Series but then couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag as the Phils lost 4-1 to the BoSox, a team that featured the player who would soon supplant Cravath as the most feared slugger in baseball, Babe Ruth...
8. Dick Allen (1963-1969; 1975-1976)
Dick Allen leads the All-Star team of players with immense talent and immense egos.
Whether Allen's problems, chiefly in Philadelphia, were caused by his own personality or by the caustic relationship Phillies fans have with their hometown stars is up for debate, but Allen's baseball abilities are not.
Allen finished with the 19th best OPS+ of all time, tied with Willie Mays and ahead of Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Manny Ramirez, Frank Robinson and Honus Wagner.
7. Robin Roberts (1948-1961)
Take a look at the careers of Robin Roberts and Sandy Koufax for a minute.
From 1952 to 1955, Robin Roberts led the NL in games started, complete games, batters faced and, perhaps most relevant, wins. He won 20 or more games all four years, and won 20 or more games in 1950 and 1951 as well.
From 1963 to 1966, Sandy Koufax led the league in wins three out of four years, but also led the league in ERA all four years and WHIP three out of those four years.
He topped the league in strikeouts and shutout three times, complete games and innings twice, and although he won 20 or more games only three times, his win totals were 25, 19, 26 and 27.
Keep in mind that obviously Koufax was the better pitcher, but not that much better. Koufax peaked in a pitchers' era in a pitchers' park on one of the highest mounds of the modern era.
Meanwhile, Roberts was pitching at Connie Mack Stadium, which was hitting neutral at best, in an era more favorable to hitters.
We all know what happened to Koufax. Arm troubles forced him to retire at his peak at the age of 30.
Roberts, meanwhile, also began to have arm problems, led the league in losses in 1956 and 1957, and slid into a mediocre phase of his career which lasted ten years.
The point of all this is: When you suddenly disappear in your prime, there is a mystique about you. When you ripen on the vine, people tend to forget how awesome you once were.
I'm not saying Robin Roberts was as good as Sandy Koufax, but if Roberts had retired at age 30 and Koufax had played five more years, we would remember those players very differently.
6. Chuck Klein (1928-1933; 1936-1939; 1940-1944)
Never trust a hitter with big numbers in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and never trust left-handed hitters who put up big numbers in the Baker Bowl.
Chuck Klein was the perfect combination of these two things.
In 1932, Klein won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be the best hitter in the National League and one of the greatest of all time.
Except . . . .
For the year, Klein had 29 home runs, 97 RBI and 92 runs at home, plus a .423 average and a 1.263 OPS.
On the road, he had 9 home runs, 40 RBI, 60 runs, plus a .266 average and an .821 OPS.
After dominating the National League from 1928 to 1933, Klein was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he still performed fine, but was no longer a dominant hitter.
So why is Klein so high?
Hey, lots of guys played at the Baker Bowl, and none of them did what Klein did.
5. Richie Ashburn (1948-1959)
Richie Ashburn comes from what might be best described as the Ichiro Suzuki school of hitting. An amazing contact hitter, Ashburn hardly every struck out but also hardly ever hit for power.
One of the few players of historical significance whose on-base percentage is higher than his slugging percentage, Ashburn walked twice as many times as he struck out and scored way more than twice as many runs as he drove in.
Ashburn was also a fantastic defensive center fielder and the cornerstone of the Whiz Kids team of 1950.
Ashburn swings way to the talent side of the talent-value dichotomy. An incredibly skilled player, what he did wasn't as valuable as a guy like Ryan Howard, who bashes big but strikes out plenty.
Curiously, in 1962, with the Mets at the age of 35, Ashburn hit .306 with a .424 on-base percentage, walking 81 times and striking out only 39 times, and then retired from baseball.
Apparently the humiliation of playing for the worst team of all time—the Mets went 40-120 in their inaugural season—was too much to bear.
4. Ed Delahanty (1888-1889; 1891-1901)
Reasonable minds may differ as to the greatest player of the modern era of Major League Baseball.
Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Honus Wagner—all fine choices.
The 19th-century version of this conversation involves players like Cap Anson, Ed Delahanty, Sam Thompson, Billy Hamilton and Dan Brouthers.
Frankly, a very good argument could be made that Delahanty was the cream of this crop, especially when one considers that Delahanty died tragically when he was kicked off a train for being drunk and disorderly and subsequently fell into Niagara Falls when he tried to walk across a train bridge.
The year before he died, he led the league in doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS+ while scoring 103 runs in only 123 games.
Delahanty had not yet finished adding to a resume that already included 1600 runs, 2597 hits, 522 doubles, 1466 RBI, a .346 average and a .916 OPS.
So why isn’t Delahanty in the No. 1 spot on this list? Because 19th-century baseball was not 20th-century baseball.
For example, six years into Delahanty’s career, the pitching mound was moved back from 50 feet to its current distance of 60 feet 6 inches. The next year foul bunts became classified as strikes. A year after that the infield-fly rule was adopted.
And it wasn’t until two years after his death that the American League was founded.
3. Steve Carlton (1972-1986)
In reflecting upon famous Phillies pitchers, here is a point I think I am ready to make:
Steve Carlton's 1972 season is one of the top five greatest pitching seasons of all time.
When we think of great pitching seasons, so many of the iconic seasons that come to mind are infused with pitcher-friendly circumstances.
Just for example, the 1968 seasons of Bob Gibson and Denny McLain came in the single most pitcher-friendly season of all time.
As another example, Sandy Koufax's best years all came in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball history during a pitcher-friendly 1960's era.
And then there's Carlton's 1972 season.
Playing for an almost historically terrible Phillies team (59 wins, team ERA below league average) in a strike-shortened season (only 155 games), Carlton managed win the Triple Crown, leading the National League in wins with a preposterous 27 (no other pitcher had more than 21), ERA (1.97) and strikeouts (310).
He also lead the league in games started, innings pitched, batters faced, K:BB ratio and complete games with a shocking 30.
The Phillies won a shocking 29 of their 59 wins when Carlton started and lost four of his starts in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs including one in which he pitched 10 shutout innings.
Lots of pitchers have won lots of games for lots of good teams. But no pitchers has ever performed for a terrible team the way Carlton did. And I think that gets overlooked sometimes.
2. Grover Cleveland Alexander (1911-1917; 1930)
In eight years with the Philadelphia Phillies, Grover Cleveland Alexander went 190-91 with a 2.18 ERA (140 ERA+) and 1,409 strikeouts in 2513.2 innings.
From 1914 to 1917, he led the National League in starts, wins, innings pitched, batters faced, complete games and strikeouts every season. He also led the league in shutouts three times and ERA twice.
On many lists “Ol’ Pete” remains one of the top 10 starting pitchers of all time, and on this list he just nudges out Steve Carlton from the top spot amongst Phillies starting pitchers.
1. Mike Schmidt (1972-1989)
The accolades for Mike Schmidt seemingly know no bound.
Definitely the greatest offensive third baseman of all time, and save for Brooks Robinson, he might be regarded as the finest defensive third baseman of all time as well, though that is a murkier topic about which Ron Santo, Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, Ken Caminiti and Scott Rolen would have some things to say.
Schmidt is almost certainly the finest third baseman we've ever seen, and given that Rolen is nearing the end of his career while Alex Rodriguez spent his best days at shortstop, Schmidt's crown is likely safe from his nearest threats of the current generation.
Of course, like all great Philadelphia athletes, Schmidt had a difficult to quantify relationship with the Philadelphia sports fans, and was certainly not the most well loved of the Phillies of the 1970s and 1980s.
Nevertheless, whether Phillies fans realize it or not, with Schmidt on the team, the Phils and their fans were being treated to the exploits of one of the top 25 players who ever played the Major League Baseball.
And he is certainly deserving of the top spot on this list.
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