The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the oldest professional sports teams in America and they have had their fair share of wins and losses. The Phillies are in the midst of their finest decade of baseball ever.
There is a famous old saying: "Offense wins games but defense wins championships." The Phillies have had some of the best defensive players in baseball history lace up their cleats for the ballclub.
Most of the players who are enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame are recognized for their staggering offensive statistics, but an all-around baseball player takes pride in both their hitting and their defense.
Here are the top 15 Philadelphia Phillies defensive infielders in team history.
Steve Carlton won his only Gold Glove in 1981 when an amazing 60 percent of attempted runners were caught stealing. Clearly, the great Bob Boone had a lot to do with that but so did Carlton's move to first.
Carlton had a career .952 fielding percentage and is already widely considered the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time, so why not include him in the list of greatest defensive infielders?
Dolph Camilli played with the Philadelphia Phillies for four seasons from 1934-1937 and never had a fielding percentage below .985. Camilli's placement on this list may be more because of a lack of strong defenders at first, but he certainly wasn't a liability there either.
For those in love with Sabermetric stats, Camilli ranked in the top 10 in WAR his four seasons in Philadelphia.
He may have only played for the Philadelphia Phillies for two seasons, but Travis Lee was one heck of a defensive first baseman. He had a fielding percentage of .993 in 2001 and .992 in 2002.
Lee may be on this list largely because the Phillies have not had many great defensive first basemen, but he did show in his brief tenure here that he was more than an adequate fielder. He was ranked second and fourth in put-outs as a first baseman in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
If only he could hit the baseball...
Dick Bartell was an excellent shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1931-1934. He was known as a fierce competitor that wasn't afraid to tell his teammates what he thought of them.
He had a .953 career fielding percentage and ranked first among shortstops in defensive WAR twice.
Jim Kaat is certainly in the conversation of who is the greatest pitcher ever at fielding their position. Kaat amassed an incredible 16 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1962-1977.
It is a bit ironic that the first year in 16 that Kaat did not win a Gold Glove was during his brief tenure in Philadelphia. Still, Kaat was a Gold Glove winner in two out of the three years with the Phillies.
Over 25 seasons, Kaat had a career fielding percentage of .947 and base stealers were thrown out 34 percent of the time against him. The lefty was able to consistently make some amazing plays as he was extremely athletic for a player that was 6'4".
Cookie Rojas makes this list for his ability to play a myriad of positions and play them well. Rojas was a Philadelphia Phillie for seven seasons from 1963-1969 and he played every position while a member of the team.
The talented Rojas was signed as a second baseman but his athletic ability led to him being moved all around the field.
Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz has become a fan favorite amongst Philadelphia Phillies fans and also with the best starting rotation in MLB. Chooch has allowed only 20 passed balls in his six seasons with the Phillies thus far.
Chooch has thrown out 110 runners for a 28 percent caught-stealing clip over his career, and some of the best pitchers in the game like Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels loudly sing his praise. Ruiz is a master at calling a game and does whatever it takes to help his pitcher out.
Whether he is blocking balls in the dirt or framing pitches, Ruiz's value on this Phillies team can not be overlooked.
The Philadelphia Phillies have not had many great second basemen in their 121-year history as a franchise but Chase Utley certainly helps the argument. Utley was selected in the first round because of his hitting and despite his defense, but his legendary work ethic that Philadelphia has come to love has really paid off.
Utley has established himself as a fine defensive player evidenced by an eye-popping UZR of 86.1 over his career. He has great range and is never afraid to go all-out for a ball. His arm may be average at best, but he still has joined Jimmy Rollins in forming arguably the best double-play combination in team history.
Utley's career .982 fielding percentage and 90 errors (average of 10 per season) are further proof that he has successfully turned himself into a defensive asset rather than liability.
Manny Trillo may have only played four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies but he certainly made them count. Trillo was the second baseman on the 1980 World Championship team, and his .987 fielding percentage that year was even more brilliant considering it was played on the turf of Veterans Stadium.
Trillo may be the best defensive second baseman in Phillies history as all three of his Gold Gloves came when he was on the team (1979, 1981, 1982). Trillo was known for his cannon of an arm and it's safe to say that the Phillies organization got the best Manny Trillo had to offer during his brief stay in the city.
Placido Polanco may not have the greatest range but he certainly deserves a spot on this list after excelling at two different positions for the Philadelphia Phillies. Polanco was an above-average second baseman for the Phillies from 2002-2005 until a guy named Chase Utley came to town.
Polanco is now back in the City of Brotherly Love and continues to be solid, albeit from a different position (third base). Polanco has won two Gold Gloves and owns a ridiculous .990 career fielding percentage—a career in which he has played six different positions.
Jimmy Rollins may have lost a step or two over his 11 year career as a Philadelphia Phillie but you'd still be hard-pressed to find a better defensive shortstop in the game today. Rollins won the Gold Glove each year from 2007-2009 and there is a good chance that he could win it again in 2011.
To give you an idea of how good Rollins really is in the field you need to look no further than his career fielding percentage of .984. FanGraphs states that Rollins has an UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 48.5, which is always very impressive.
Rollins' quickness has always given him great range and he has a cannon of an arm. He has averaged fewer than 10 errors a season over his career and his defense has been a key cog to the Phillies run in the National League.
The Phillies better think long and hard about re-signing the 32-year-old shortstop who has been their voice and "swagger" from one of the toughest defensive positions in baseball. Rollins will not be a Hall of Famer, but he certainly will be an Ashburn Alley Wall of Famer when his career is over.
Larry Bowa played 13 of his 16 professional baseball seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies where he established himself as one of the finest shortstops in MLB over that time. Bowa collected two Gold Gloves (1972, 1978) while also posting a ridiculous career fielding percentage of .980.
He had great range, quickness and an accurate arm that allowed him to play for so long. His defense up the middle, in particular, was a huge reason the Phillies won the World Series in 1980. His work ethic and hustle have forever endeared Bowa the player to Phillies Nation.
Larry Bowa the manager, on the other hand...
Do you think Scott Rolen regrets requesting a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies? Rolen wished to play for a franchise that was committed to winning and willing to bring in marquee free agents.
The Phillies tried on numerous occasions to re-sign Rolen to a hefty contract but the third baseman refused. Fans may still become enraged by the name of Scott Rolen, but there is no denying that he was one of the finest infielders in Phillies history.
Rolen's range, arm, agility and quickness were all top-notch. His seven years in Philadelphia were solid from an offensive standpoint, but they were an absolute treat from the hot-corner. Rolen never had a season with a fielding percentage less than .948, and he has been called the greatest defensive third baseman of his generation by many experts.
Rolen had 78 errors over seven seasons with the Phillies and has compiled eight Gold Gloves over his career. Only Michael Jack Schmidt and Brooks Robinson have had more Gold Gloves at third base, with 10 and 16 respectively.
As much as it may pain Philadelphia to hear this, Scott Rolen may find himself in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday. He is 12th in career WAR for all third baseman ever with a +71.6, and a career batting line of .284/.369/.498 might do the trick.
It should be said that third base seems to be an under-valued position in the Hall of Fame as only 14 players have been elected to this point and Rolen has never been a factor in the playoffs. So maybe Philadelphia will get the last laugh with Rolen as he demanded a trade before the Phillies became the beasts in the National League East.
Catcher Bob Boone played 10 of his 19 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-1981. Boone was an easy choice to be included on this list as he is widely regarded as the best Phillies catcher of all time.
Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who had a career batting average of .254 and only had double-digit home run's three times. Boone threw out an incredible 731 runners over his career, which translated to a 40 percent caught-stealing rate.
Also, Boone only allowed 57 passed balls in his 10 years as a Phillie. He had a rifle for an arm and was one of the most intelligent players of his era. Only two of his seven Gold Gloves came as a Phillie, but that doesn't diminish his brilliant play behind the plate for the Phightins.
Michael Jack Schmidt is the greatest third baseman to ever play the game of baseball. He had astounding offensive numbers, but he was as complete a player as you'd ever see. Schmidt won an astounding 10 Gold Gloves which is second all time for any third baseman.
Schmidt has a career fielding percentage of .955, which would have been higher if it were not for his time as a second baseman. Schmidt had extremely quick feet, which allowed him to play the hot-corner in a way that may never be seen again.
Schmidt found a way to use the disgrace that was the turf at Veterans Stadium to his advantage. He learned to bounce the ball effectively on the turf which enabled him to play longer, save his arm and revolutionize the position.