This year the Phillies can attribute a lot of their success to the seemingly never-ending array of aces that they trot out to the mound. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and even Vance Worley have pitched this team to the top of not only their division but the entire major leagues.
While the rotation's success on the mound was nearly a given, I’ve been pleasantly surprised on a number of occasions when the pitchers have helped themselves at the plate. It might not be much but any contributions a pitcher can make at the plate to help himself are huge. Which got me to thinking about Phillies pitchers both past and present that carried a big stick and actually knew how to use it. So I bring to you this list of the 10 greatest Phillies hitting pitchers of all time.
When considering the criteria for who should make the list, I decided to make the qualifications include just about anything and everything. The fact is making a list of the greatest hitting pitchers is kind of like making a list of the greatest tackling kickers, which is to say it’s not easy. So for this list a pitcher could have had a solid career hitting, or just one good season, or even one good game and made the cut.
The numbers aren't always impressive, and I'm almost positive that some of the names on this list will be completely unknown to you, but I did a pretty thorough job of checking the record books and I think I've got all the best candidates. Then again this is only one man's opinion so feel free to leave me a comment after you've read through the list and let me know if I forgot anyone or if you'd have ranked them differently.
With that being said, step into the batter's box because here comes the first pitch.
In case you were wondering, the picture on that last slide was Joe Blanton.
Yes, Joltin' Joe Blanton got a little bit of consideration for being on this list. In his four years with the Phillies, Joe has batted .121 and has only five RBI. So what possible reason could I have had for almost putting him on the list? Well that would be Game 4 of the 2008 World Series and his one and only career home run. It was a memorable moment, and made him the only Phillies pitcher and one of only 13 pitchers in history to have hit a home run in the World Series.
I also considered putting Cole Hamels on the list. It must have been due to the fact that I've always thought that he looked like a good hitter, because once I checked out his numbers I realized they're not even good for a pitcher. In six seasons with the Phils, Hamels has a .161 average and only 18 RBI.
What would you say if I told you that Omar Olivares hit over .300 in his time with the Phillies? It would be hard to believe right? How about if I told you that he also hit a home run one out of ever two plate appearances with the Phils. I must be lying right? Surely a man with those kind of stats should rank higher on this list.
Well, no he shouldn't rank higher on this list, and don't call me Shirley.
The reason Mr. Olivares is seen above rocking a Pirates jersey is because I couldn't even find a picture of him in a Phillies uniform. Omar played in only five games for Philadelphia during the 1995 season. But he did make two plate appearances in those games, and he managed to hit a home run in one of them. His official stat line as a Phil has him batting .500 with one home run and two RBI. His time with the team was short lived, but he certainly made the best of it.
The Wolf-pack is back and coming in at No. 9 on the list of all time greatest Phillies hitting pitchers.
Randy Wolf spent eight seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and in that time managed to crank four home runs and knock in 34 RBI. His best year was in 2003 when he tallied three of those four home runs for eight RBI and hit .267. The raw numbers might not be that great but the average is fairly decent.
Much like Cole Hamels, I always thought that Wolf looked like a good hitter, at least for a pitcher, but the numbers weren't as good as I expected.
No he's not an actor and he's not related to Ashley Judd. I told you that I really scoured the record books and this fellow played four seasons for the Phils, starting all the way back in 1945.
Over those four years, ole Oscar managed to hit one home run and knocked in an astounding 12 RBI while hitting .257. Those numbers are sad even for a pitcher, but I uncovered one little piece of information that convinced me to give him a spot on the list.
In 1946, the same year that he hit that one home run and knocked in eight of those 12 RBI, he also managed to hit .316. Unlike the deceiving average of Omar Olivares from earlier, Judd actually had 86 plate appearances during the year so this was actually a legitimate .300 season for a pitcher.
Clifton Phifer Lee, (I didn't know Cliff was in A Tribe Called Quest) was probably the biggest inspiration in getting me to make this list. He's also the only pitcher on this list who had a picture that showcased his home run trot.
Lee's got a nice stroke—Charlie Manuel has even used him to pinch-hit once or twice when his bench was thin—but the fact is he's really only had one-and-a-half seasons where he's even gotten the chance to do it.
This season Cliff has two home runs and seven RBI while batting .212. As you'll see further down the list, those numbers aren't spectacular but I feel like he's improving as the season goes on. A few more years in Philadelphia and he might move up this list.
When you get your own statue outside of Citizens Bank Ballpark, you've probably done something right. This statue of Robin Roberts is based more off of his 234 wins than his prowess at the dish but Double-R could hit a little as well.
He pitched for 14 years in Philadelphia and over that span he belted five home runs and 83 RBI while hitting .166. The average is somewhat lacking, but in his best year over that span Roberts had two home runs and 13 RBI while hitting .252 in 1955.
While not all for the Phillies, it's also impressive to note that Roberts hit 55 doubles and 10 triples in his career.
Let me introduce you to the home run king of Phils pitchers, Rick Wise. That's right, the unassuming looking man pictured in this slide drilled more homers in a single season than any other Phillies pitcher in team history.
Wise played seven seasons with Philadelphia, hitting 11 home runs and 38 RBI with a .218 average. It was his 1971 season that set the mark, when he went yard six times and knocked in 15 RBI while batting .237.
While this list is solely based on hitting, it would be an injustice to Mr. Wise if I did not mention the game he had on June 23, 1971 against the Cincinnati Reds. Not only did he throw a no-hitter, but he also hit two home runs in the 4-0 victory, making him one of only three players in history to throw a no-hitter and hit a home run in the same game.
There's no doubt that that was a great day at the plate for anyone, let alone a pitcher, but the next man on the list had an even better day swinging the bat.
When a pitcher gets a standing ovation and he's tipping his batting helmet instead of his regular cap, then you know something special just went down. I mentioned in my criteria for making this list that a single game could garner someone a spot on the countdown, and this was the man I was referring to.
On June 2, 2002, Robert Person had a Ruthian performance that was so astounding that in a single day he hit as many home runs as he had in the previous seven years. Adding to the absurdity was the fact that he had spent the previous month on the DL, and Person came into the game as a career .116 hitter while being 0-for-10 on the season.
In the first inning with the bases loaded, Person found an 0-1 pitch trespassing in his happy zone and deposited it into the left field stands for a grand slam. As if that wasn't enough, Robert then came up again in the fifth inning and launched a three-run homer into those same left field stands to give him two home runs and seven RBI in the game.
After that game Robert must have just given up even trying to top himself, cause he didn't have another hit for the rest of the year. That's alright though, because at least for one day he was the best hitter in the game.
Brett Myers played eight seasons for the Phillies and managed to hit a staggering amount of RBI, 10 to be exact, while batting .121. Those aren't exactly eye-popping stats but when you make two huge contributions at the plate in the playoffs for a team that eventually won a World Series, then you get a spot high up on this list.
It's Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS against the Brewers and C.C. Sabathia that stands out in most people's minds. Sabathia had been carrying the Brewers since his trade at the deadline and most people expected the Brewers to even up the series behind C.C. But in the second inning with the game tied and two outs, Brett Myers stepped up to the plate and after going down 0-2 he managed to work it back to 3-2, then fouled off some tough pitches and finally drew a walk.
It got a standing ovation from the home crowd and kept the inning alive so that after another walk to Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino came up with the bases loaded and unloaded a grand slam to put the Phillies ahead for good.
Then in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Myers collected three hits and three RBI to help the Phils win again. I'll always remember the look on Myers' face because it reminded me of that look Jordan gave in the finals against the Blazers. After his third hit found a hole in the outfield he got to first base and you could see he was just as confused and surprised as everyone else over his sudden ability to swing the bat, so he just turned and shrugged as if to say "It's just my day to shine."
Lefty is considered to be the greatest Phillies pitcher of all time and it's easy to see why when you consider that he was a seven-time All-Star who won four Cy Young Awards, 241 games and had over 3,000 strikeouts. I think all of those gaudy stats may have influenced me a little even when considering his skills at the plate, but he came up just short of being on top.
All in all, Steve Carlton played 15 seasons in Philadelphia and in that time delivered nine home runs, 112 RBI, and batted .207. I think his best year at the plate was probably 1977, when he had three home runs, 15 RBI and hit .268.
He may have been born Lynwood Thomas Rowe, but look him up on any site or in any record book and you'll see him referred to as Schoolboy Rowe.
Aside from having a sweet nickname, Schoolboy could hit with the best of them. He played in the majors for 15 years starting in 1933, but only five of those seasons with the Phillies. However, in only five short years he managed to blast nine home runs and knock in 40 RBI. His best season with the Phils was in 1943 when he hit four home runs with 18 RBI and a .300 average.
Taking into account everyone on this list, he had the most RBI in a season, the second-highest home run total and the second-highest average. The real shame is that after this monster year he missed out on the next two while serving in the Navy during WWII. Over his entire MLB career Rowe had 18 home runs, 153 RBI and hit over .300 in three different seasons.
That's it folks. I hope you found this list to be entertaining and informative and in honor of Harry Kalas, I am outta hereeeeee!