The Philadelphia Phillies continue my series whereby I compose a 25-man roster of the best seasons in franchise history. Despite being one of baseball's oldest teams, the Philadelphia Phillies were wildly unsuccessful for the vast majority of their history, not winning a World Series until 1980 and only recently becoming a power-house in the National League with four division titles, two pennants, and a world title in the last four years. Because of this, many of these seasons are very recent.
When 2012 rolls around, Darren Daulton won’t be celebrating the 20th anniversary of his most statistically spectacularly season, but rather preparing for his own ascension as the Mayan calendar draws to a close. A big believer in numerology, one wonders if the numbers 156, 27, 109 – which were his OPS+, HR, and RBI respectively – hold any meaning for the former all-star.
If Ryan Howard always hit like he did in 2006, it would’ve been hard to question Ruben Amaro’s decision to give him a five year contract extension. Indeed, Howard dominated the National League in oh-six, leading the circuit with 58 moon-shots, 149 RBI’s while posting an OPS+ of 167. His .313/.425/.659 line shines particularly bright amongst his career numbers – probably due to the .279/.364/.558 line he posted against southpaws and hasn’t been able to come close to duplicating. Howard won a questionable, but certainly not outrageous MVP over Albert Pujols in 2006; since then the comparison hasn’t been quite as favorable to the Philadelphia first baseman.
Utley missed 30 games in 2007 but still amassed 300 total bases while hitting .332/.410/.566 while scoring and driving in 100 runs. The all-star second baseman played his customary superb defense and helped get the Phillies to their first playoff appearance since 1993.
Widely regarded as the finest third baseman of all-time, Mike Schmidt led the National League with 48 homers, 121 RBI and a .624 slugging percentage. He also led the league in OPS+ at 171 – the first of five consecutive years in which he paced the league in that category. Defensively, the Hall-of-Famer was as solid as ever, earning his fifth (of ten) gold gloves. His all-around play helped guide the Phillies to their first ever World Championship and earned him his first of three MVP awards.
It’s kind of remarkable that three of the four infield positions on this team are from the current slate of Phillies until you consider how this is, by far, the most successful era in Phillies history. For his part, Rollins claimed that the Phillies – not the Mets – were the team to beat NL East in Spring Training. 7 months later, he was proven right; in between, he became the first player to hit 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season. Like his double-play partner, Rollins played superb defense to cap his all-around play and won the league MVP award.
Lefty O’Doul’s career began as a pitcher, but he quickly developed arm problems and was converted to the outfield where he became one of the most dominant hitters in the National League for a brief but glorious period. In 1929, he led the league with a .398 batting average as well as a .465 OBP and even set the NL season record for hits at 254.
Overshadowed by some of the other center fielders of his day, Richie Ashburn excelled for fifteen seasons in the National League, predominantly with the Phillies. Ashburn compensated for his lack of power with a keen eye, averaging 89 walks a season, including 97 in 1958. Ashburn won the batting title at .350 that year and used his speed to rack up 30 stolen bases and 13 triples.
In 1930, Chuck Klein had 59 doubles, 170 RBI, and a .386 batting average – and it was his second best season (in part because of how 1930 was such a ridiculous year for offense). In 1933, Klein won the NL triple crown with a .368 batting average, 28 home runs, and 120 RBI, as well as pacing the league with a .422 on-base percentage and .602 slugging percentage. Only a career year by Hall-of-Famer Carl Hubbell prevented Klein from winning his second consecutive MVP award.
Steve Carlton had won of the most remarkable years in baseball history in 1972, winning 27 games for a team that won just 59. Starting every fourth day all season long, he led the league in innings pitched with 346.1 (including 30 complete games!) as well as strikeouts (310) and ERA (1.97). Despite the poor quality of his team, Carlton was recognized for his efforts with his first of four career Cy Young Awards.
In 1915, Grover Cleveland Alexander led the league in…everything. ERA (1.22!), WHIP (0.842!), wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, complete games…everything. And then he basically repeated that performance the very next year.
After winning their second straight National League pennant in 2009, the Phillies showed what they thought of one of the best pitchers in baseball when they traded staff ace Cliff Lee and top prospect Kyle Drabek to bring Roy Halladay to town. Halladay rewarded their Phillies for their faith by dominating in his first year in the senior circuit. Doc went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA over a league-high 250.2 innings to become just the fifth pitcher in baseball history to win a Cy Young Award in each league.
Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts led the majors in wins for four consecutive seasons from 1952-1955 and won over 20 every year from 1950-1955. He went 28-7 in ’52 but was even better a year later, finishing 2nd to Warren Spahn in ERA and WHIP – but in about 80 more innings.
John Denny paced the NL with 19 victories and placed 2nd and 5th in ERA and WHIP respectively to take home his first and only Cy Young award while leading the Phillies to the World Series.
C – Bob Boone, 1978: 115 OPS+ and a gold glove.
1B - Dolph Camilli, 1937: Led league with .446 OBP
IF/OF – Dick Allen, 1966: League-leading .632 slugging percentage and 181 OPS+.
SS – Larry Bowa, 1978: Defense earned him 3rd in MVP voting.
OF – Greg Luzinski, 1977: Bull placed 2nd in MVP voting in 1975 and 1977
OF – Lenny Dykstra, 1993: Leadoff man paced league in hits, walks and runs.
OF – Sherry Magee, 1910: Led league in runs, RBI, as well as slash stats (.331/.445/.507)
Closer – Brad Lidge, 2008: 41/41
Setup – Steve Bedrosian, 1987: NL Cy Young winner with 40 saves.
Fireman – Jim Konstanty, 1950: NL MVP won 16 games in relief, saved 22.
Fireman – Tug McGraw, 1980: “I don’t know. I’ve never smoked Astroturf.”
LHP – Billy Wagner, 2005: 0.837 WHIP, 87 strikeouts in 77.2 innings.