After 28 years of waiting, the Philadelphia Phillies have finally won the second world championship in team history. Behind stellar pitching, timely offense, and solid defense, the Phils vanquished the talented Rays, four games to one.
This championship drive truly was a total team effort for the Phillies, with everyone making a significant contribution to the team's success. Below, I will go through each man on the 25-man postseason roster and describe how they were a key part of ending the Phillies' championship drought.
Starting Position Players
Carlos Ruiz -This guy is the biggest unsung hero of the playoffs. Ruiz played great baseball in the NLCS and World Series, coming up with numerous clutch hits and taking over the starting catching job through the stretch drive and the postseason, doing a great job of controlling the pitching staff.
Ruiz hit a combined .344 in the NLCS and World Series, including a big second inning home run in Game Three, in which he also recorded the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Ryan Howard - It is certainly safe to say that without the big bopper, the Phillies could have been sitting at home in October. He carried the offense in September, hitting .352 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in the month, helping the Phillies surpass the Mets for the N.L. East crown.
After struggling in the NLDS, Howard batted a .293 combined in 10 NLCS and World Series games. He found his power when the World Series shifted to Citizens Bank Park, connecting for an important home run in Game Three and then crushing two bombs in Game Four and driving in six runs total in those two games.
Chase Utley - The best second baseman in the major leagues showed his talents on the big stage. He hit .353 in the NLCS, willing the Phillies to the championship, with his sixth-inning home run off Derek Lowe in Game One, perhaps turning the tide of that whole series, as the Dodgers had gotten off to a dominant start.
In the World Series, Chase connected for two big home runs, one in the first inning of Game One, giving the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish, and the other a key shot in Game Three.
But the biggest impact Utley made in the playoffs was his defense. The middle infield of the Phillies turned countless clutch double plays throughout the postseason, and Utley flashed brilliance throughout.
One of the most memorable plays of these playoffs will be from Game Five, where on a tough grounder up the middle, Utley raced to his right to keep the ball from getting into the outfield, faked the throw to first, and then fired home to catch Jason Bartlett, preserving the tie score and allowing the Phillies to go on and take the lead immediately after.
Jimmy Rollins - The catalyst at the top of the Phillies order, it can always be said that the team goes as Rollins goes. He scored 10 runs in 14 playoff games, and when Jimmy scored, the Phillies did not lose.
In the clinching games of both the NLDS and NLCS, Rollins led off with home runs, getting the Phillies off to a hot start by himself both times. In the World Series, he used line-drive hitting and speed in games Three and Four to give the offense a boost.
His defense was also outstanding throughout the postseason as the other half of the double play combo with Utley. Rollins was a Gold Glover last year and showed why he deserves the award again.
Pedro Feliz - The much-maligned third baseman with a bad habit of constantly chasing the first pitch (he has walked just 182 times in his nine-year career) came through big for the Phillies in the playoffs.
Feliz batted .375 in the Fall Classic, including the game-winning RBI single in the deciding fifth game. In addition, he played outstanding defense all season, giving the Phillies their only competent third baseman since Placido Polanco. He is as deserving of a Gold Glove as any N.L. third baseman.
Pat Burrell - The longest-tenured Phillie has endured a ton of criticism throughout his nine seasons with the club but has always been a productive hitter. In the playoffs, he came through big again.
Burrell slugged two home runs in the clinching Game Four of the NLDS in Milwaukee and also hit the game-winning homer in Game One of the NLCS.
In the World Series, he really struggled at the dish, but came through big when it mattered most. Burrell's only hit of the series was in Game Five, when he led off the seventh inning with a double off the center field wall, which led to the winning run.
Shane Victorino - Among position players, either Utley or Victorino would have to be the playoff MVP. "The Flyin' Hawaiian" did everything for the Phillies this postseason, with his bat, glove, legs, and attitude.
Shane set a Phillies all-time playoff record with 13 RBI, and every one of them was clutch. He hit a grand slam off CC Sabathia in Game Two against the Brewers, a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game Four of the NLCS against Jonathan Broxton, and gave the Phillies their first two runs of Game Five of the World Series with his first inning single.
In addition, he went toe-to-toe with the Dodgers after Hiroki Kuroda threw at his head, firing up the Phillies, who would go on to dominate the series and advance to the fall classic.
Jayson Werth - Werth became the full-time right fielder about midway through the year and proved he belonged. He hit .315 in the playoffs, while his speed and defense both posed problems for opponents.
Jayson stole two bags in the World Series, and his presence on the base paths was constantly a distraction to Rays pitchers. His rocket home run in Game Four drove a stake into the heart of Tampa and his RBI single in the sixth inning of Game Five helped the Phillies clinch the title.
He finished with 17 playoff hits, including eight in five World Series games.
Chris Coste - Due to the emergence of Carlos Ruiz as a postseason force, Coste only played in one playoff game, when he was the DH in Game One of the World Series.
However, who knows if the Phillies would have gotten where they did without Coste. He played 98 games as catcher this season, providing nine home runs and 36 RBI from the position, offensive production Carlos Ruiz could not give.
Greg Dobbs - A key part of the Phillies team all year, Dobbs set the franchise record for single-season pinch-hits, stealing several victories for the Phils.
In the playoffs, Dobbs hit .500 and was always a guy Charlie Manuel could have confidence in when looking to his bench.
Matt Stairs - One swing was all it took to enter Stairs into Phillies lore forever. His mammoth two-run blast won Game Four of the NLCS for the Phillies, turning around the momentum and allowing the Phils to move toward the championship.
Geoff Jenkins - Needless to say, Jenkins has not lived up to the expectations placed on him when he signed a two-year deal before the season, but he also had one big swing for the world champions. His leadoff double in the sixth inning of Game Five led to the Phillies' third run of the day, giving them the momentum to win the series.
Eric Bruntlett - Bruntlett filled in admirably when Jimmy Rollins missed a month early in the season with a sprained ankle, playing good defense and helping the Phillies to stay afloat in the NL East.
His primary role throughout the playoffs was as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement for the slow-footed Pat Burrell. Bruntlett scored the winning runs in both Games Three and Five of the World Series.
So Taguchi - OK, Taguchi is the one guy I can say made absolutely no on-field contributions to the team this season. He was terrible throughout the year: He could not hit, bunt, or defend.
He did provide us with a great comedic moment though, when a reporter, following the clinching game of the World Series, asked Charlie Manuel about his importance to the roster. It was classic seeing Manuel sit up there after winning a championship and have to praise the merits of a reserve outfielder who didn't step foot on the field. Look this video up if you can.
Cole Hamels - Named the World Series MVP, Hamels was really the MVP of the entire playoffs. He truly developed into an ace in this postseason, with the Phillies knowing they would win each time he took the mound.
Cole was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the playoffs and was the winning pitcher in the opening game of each series, and the starter in both the NLCS and World Series clinchers. He struck out 30 batters in 35 innings while allowing a measly 23 hits.
Brett Myers - If Myers hadn't gone down to the minors in midseason and turned his year around, the Phillies would never have gotten to October. He went 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA in the second half of the year, pitching the way the Phillies expected when they named him the opening day starter.
In the playoffs, he went 2-1 and was a solid No. 2 behind Hamels. He out-dueled Sabathia in Game Two of the NLDS, going seven strong innings, while drawing a key walk and adding a base hit.
He also helped himself win in Game Two against the Dodgers, notching three hits and three RBI. All told, Myers hit .800 for the postseason.
Joe Blanton - Speaking of pitchers becoming hitting stars, in Game Four of the World Series, "Joe the Lumber" got just the third hit of his entire career: It was a home run.
In addition to his hitting exploits, when Blanton was acquired in July, he really shored up the back end of the Phillies' rotation. The Phillies went 9-4 in his 13 starts for them, making him a big reason why they made the playoffs.
In the postseason, Blanton was 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and was the winning pitcher in the NLDS clincher.
Jamey Moyer - The 45-year old struggled in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but if he didn't have the year that he had, the Phillies would have been sitting at home. Moyer was the Phillies' leader with 16 wins during the regular season and was a stabilizing presence for a young pitching staff.
In his first career World Series start, in Game Three, he out-dueled Rays star Matt Garza, the ALCS MVP. Moyer gave the Phillies 6.1 solid innings, leading the way for what would eventually be a 5-4 victory. The Philly-area native, who was at the 1980 victory parade, earned his way back there in 2008.
Scott Eyre - The Phillies picked up Eyre off waivers and he filled an immediate need as a guy who could consistently get left-hander out. He did a great job for the Phils, with a 1.88 ERA down the stretch, and in the World Series, he was used to neutralize Akinori Iwamura in two key situations.
J.A. Happ - Happ's main contribution was the fact that he was at least good enough to be trusted to be on the roster, allowing the Phillies to demote Kyle Kendrick, who imploded in August and September.
Clay Condrey - While he didn't pitch much in the playoffs, Condrey was a guy Manuel had confidence in all season. He pitched in 56 games, posting a 3.26 ERA and getting many key outs. He did a great job stepping up when the top bullpen guys were worn out.
Chad Durbin - When I saw him warming up during the seventh inning of Game Five, I said "anything but Durbin," but he did, however, do a great job for the Phillies this year. Durbin was a low-key signing, but his contributions made the Phillies' bullpen one of their strengths.
In the playoffs, he appeared in six games, allowing just one earned run. He was steady all season, and although his second-half ERA jumped to 4.33 after a 1.89 in the first half, he was a reliable reliever all season for the Phils.
J.C. Romero - Romero has been great since coming to the Phillies in the middle of the '07 season. He pitched 7.1 scoreless innings in the playoffs, including 4.2 in the World Series, on the biggest stage.
The four outs he recorded in the seventh and eighth innings of Game Five allowed the Phillies to take the lead, retain it, and get the ball into Brad Lidge's hands to close it out.
Ryan Madson - Madson has always been a solid reliever, but in the playoffs, he turned into a star. He had an 0.64 ERA with 17 K's in 14 IP in September, and that was just a precursor to what he did in the playoffs.
Madson took the mound for 12.2 stellar postseason innings, striking out 12 and allowing just three earned runs. His fastball frequently topped 95 MPH and combined with one of the league's best change-ups, he was nearly unhittable.
Brad Lidge - And now we get to the only guy more unhittable than Madson. Including his N.L. record-tying seven postseason saves, Lidge was a perfect 48-for-48 in save opportunities this season.
He allowed just one run in 9.1 playoff innings, striking out 13, including Eric Hinske, the last out of the World Series. Lidge allowed just six hits in the playoffs, and with his dominant slider, he never allowed the Phillies to be threatened.
For my money, Brad Lidge was the Phillies' most valuable player this year, but as you can see, they all played major roles in this championship.