Philadelphia Phillies: 3 Greatest Players in Team History at Every Position

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIISeptember 27, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: 3 Greatest Players in Team History at Every Position

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    What is greatness? The dictionary defines it as an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average. The Philadelphia Phillies have arguably their greatest roster in their entire 121-year history of a professional sports franchise, so this seems as good a time as ever to celebrate the greatest players ever to wear the Phillies uniform.

    Don't be surprised to see a lot of current Phillies on this list. After all, we are in the midst of the greatest era of Phillies baseball ever.Starting pitchers and closers will be included on this list.

    Here is a ranking of the three greatest players in team history at every position.

3. First Base- Pete Rose

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    Pete Rose a.k.a. "Charlie Hustle" was the missing piece the Philadelphia Phillies needed to win the 1980 World Championship. He played with the Phillies from 1979-1983 and compiled a line of .291/.365/.361 during those four seasons.

    He didn't hit home-runs (8 as a Phillie) but he did everything else really well. He swiped 51 bags, scored nearly 400 runs and knocked in 255 runs with the Phightin's.  Rose's ability to switch-hit and make contact was a huge difference for the 1980 team.

    Much love to GM Paul Owens for doling out the cash and acquiring Pete Rose.

2. First Base- John Kruk

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    Take one look at John Kruk and you can see why he was such a fan favorite in Philadelphia. Kruk had (has) a working man type of appearance, but he never let his belly stop him from being great.

    Kruk played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1989-1994 and was the poster-boy for the 1993 team that won the National League pennant. During his tenure with the Phillies, he hit for an average of .309, had 62 HR, and 390 RBI.  

    You may be surprised to know that the "Krukker" even swiped 33 bags with the Phil's. He had a great eye and a pretty swing that sure made it easier to love the guy.

    Just plain awesome that Kruk has become a superstar on TV with ESPN as well.

1. First Base- Ryan Howard

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    Ryan Howard has been a Philadelphia Phillie since 2004 and he has put up some monstrous numbers along the way. Howard won the Rookie of the Year Award (great movie BTW) and Most Valuable Player Award in consecutive seasons.

    Only three players in MLB history have done that and Howard is one of them. Howard had four straight seasons of at least 45 home runs and 135 RBI, which had only been matched by "the Babe" and steroid-user Sammy Sosa. 

    Howard's value to this team (even while overpaid) and line-up can not be overlooked. Jayson Werth was an All-Star player hitting behind "The Big Piece," and now he is a .220 hitter that is the definition of an overpaid player.

    Howard has been as durable a player as anyone on the Phillies and is clearly the Phillies greatest 1B of all-time. Career numbers of .274/.368/.560 with 286 HR and 861 back up that statement.

    Howard may be overpaid but the Phillies did the right thing in rewarding "The Big Piece" to their line-up.

3. Second Base- Juan Samuel

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    It's awesome to see Juan Samuel back with the Philadelphia Phillies as third base coach. He played with the Phillies from 1983-1989 and he was one of the best offensive 2B of his era.

    He hit for an average of 263 with the Phillies and he showed some power for the position with 100 HR and 413 RBI. He had above-average speed which enabled him to score 523 R and steal 249 bags in Philadelphia.

    Samuel had at least 10 home runs, triples, doubles and stolen bases in his first four seasons with the Phillies and he was traded away in 1989 to the hated New York Mets for the then sane Lenny Dykstra (and Roger McDowell.)

    Juan Samuel was tough as "Nails."

2. Second Base- Manny Trillo

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    Manny Trillo played four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1979-1982 and he cemented his legendary status in Philadelphia in 1980 as second baseman of the 1980 World Championship team.

    Trillo won three Gold Gloves (all as a Phillie) and he owned a career .987 fielding percentage. Trillo was like a vacuum in the field, and that's even more impressive considering he was playing on the turf (cement) of Veterans Stadium.

    Trillo was known as one of the best defensive 2B in MLB while with the Phillies, but he also had some solid offensive numbers as well. A slash line of 277/.321/.369 would have Chase Utley salivating at this point, and his 19 HR and 160 RBI were a bonus to his sound play in the field.

1. Second Base- Chase Utley

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    Chase Utley will go down in history as one of the most beloved Philadelphia Phillies of all-time. He is in the midst of his worst season ever but it seems like the guy can do no wrong.

    And for good reason.

    Utley has been one of the core members of this team during their reign as NL East Champions, and he has endeared himself to Phillie Nation with his blue-collar play, legendary work ethic and clutch hitting.

    In nine seasons with the Phillies, Utley has hit .290/.377/.505 with 187 HR, and 691 RBI. He has turned himself into a solid defensive 2B and his sweet swing is a thing of beauty. How he can flick his wrist and generate so much power still baffles me.

    Well it did when he was still hitting for power...

3. Short Stop- Dave Bancroft

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    David Bancroft played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1915-1920 and he makes this list largely due to his defensive play. The Hall of Famer was widely considered the best defensive infielder of his era and his smooth hands and strong arm earned him the nickname, "Beauty."

    Bancroft had a line of 251/.330/.319 with the Phillies and he added 14 HR, 162 RBI and 331 R. The Phillies eventually traded him away to the hated Giants where he became the type of offensive player that was Hall worthy.

    You may have guessed that the list of shortstops is pretty weak for the Phillies.

2. Short Stop- Larry Bowa

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    Larry Bowa played 13 of his 16 professional baseball seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and he played with the same fire and tenacity that he brought to Philadelphia as a manager. Bowa compiled a line of 264/.301/.324 during his tenure with the Phillies, and added 421 RBI, 816 R and 288 SB.

    He was aggressive on the base-paths and was the type of blue-collared baseball player that Philadelphia fans adore. Bowa collected two Gold Gloves (1972, 1978) with the Phillies, while also posting a ridiculous career fielding percentage of .980.

    Bowa utilized his quickness to play deeper in the hole and get to more balls. He had terrific range and he compensated for what he lacked in arm strength with accuracy.

    His defense up the middle, in particular, was a huge reason the Phillies won the World Series in 1980. .

1. Short Stop- Jimmy Rollins

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    Larry Bowa may indeed be the greatest defensive shortstop to ever play for the Philadelphia Phillies, but Jimmy Rollins is (was?) the complete package offensively and defensively and that's why he is No. 1. Rollins has been an everyday player for the Phillies since 2001, and he has compiled a line of .272/.329/.431 over that time.

    Rollins has hit 388 doubles, 100 triples, 168 HR, knocked in 722 RBI and swiped 371 bags. Rollins will certainly be a Wall-of-Fame inductee down the road but will this be the last season for J-Roll in Phillies pinstripes?

    Rollins won the Gold Glove each year from 2007-2009 and there is a good chance that he could win it again in 2011. He has one of the best arms in baseball and he still has the quickness to make the seemingly impossible play possible. 

    Rollins has been a staple in the Phillies lineup as their lead-off hitter during their greatest era in team history. He may not be a prototypical lead-off guy, but Phillies Nation knows that when Rollins is getting on base and scoring runs there is a great chance the Phillies will win.

    Rollins is the one guy on the Phillies that will talk some smack and he certainly can back it up. Rollins brings the swagger for this team and he backed up his bold statement back in 2007 of being the, "Team to beat" by winning the NL MVP.

    Rollins became the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 30 steals and 20 triples in the same season. That'll do Jimmy, that'll do.


3. Third Base- Dick Allen

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    Dick Allen played 544 career games at 3B for the Philadelphia Phillies (more than the 312 at 1B and 187 in OF) and he won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1964. Allen had successive home run totals of 29, 20, 40, 23, 33 and 32 with the Phillies from 1964-1969.

    Allen was in the prime of his career when the Phillies traded him due to his overall jerk-like behavior. Drinking before the game and showing up late may work for Allen Iverson but not you Dick Allen.

2. Third Base- Scott Rolen

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    Scott Rolen was one of the greatest defensive infielders in team history and the Philadelphia Phillies were willing to make him their franchise player. Rolen felt that the team was not committed to winning and promised that he would not re-sign with the club.

    The Phillies traded Rolen for a bunch of stiffs, but they later used that money to lure the prize of the free agent market at that time in Jim Thome to Philly. The rest as they say is history.

    Rolen played with the Phillies from 1996-2002 and he compiled a line of .282/.373/.504. He had good power, evidenced by his 150 HR and 559 RBI. Scott Rolen may go down as one of the most hated Phillies of all-time, but he still may find himself in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday.

    For the SABR-nerds, Rolen is 12th in career WAR for third baseman with a +71.6, and a career batting line of .284/.369/.498 is pretty impressive. Who knows what would have happened if Rolen stayed in Philadelphia, but I'm pretty happy with the likes of Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Utley and Howard.

    Hey Scott, 3.68 million fans in 2011 alone ensure that this team will stay committed to winning and committed to excellence.

1. Third Base- Mike Schmidt

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    The shrine outside of Citizens Bank Park says it all: Michael Jack Schmidt is the best third baseman to ever play MLB. He played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-1989 and could quite simply do it all.

    He compiled a line of .267/.380/.527 and he is seventh on the all-time HR list with 548. He knocked in 1,595 RBI and scored 1,506 runs all as a Phillie. He was one of the best athelete's of his era and Pete Rose summed it up best when he said, "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's, and I'd throw in some cash."

    Schmidt was a 12-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner (second all time for any third baseman, 1980 World Series champion and 8-time NL HR leader ('74, '75, '76, '80, '81, '83. '84. '86.) 

    The three-time NL MVP ('80, '81, 86) was as good defensively as he was offensively and his use of the old turf at Veterans Stadium was brilliant. That trick revolutionized the position and enabled Schmidt to extend his career at least another three years at 3B. 

3. Right Field- Johnny Callison

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    Johnny Callison played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1960-1969 where he was a four-time All-Star (1962-1965.) He also was the 1964 All-Star Game MVP as well. 

    Callison led the NL in outfield assists four consecutive times, and ended his career among the top five Phillies in triples with 84. In 10 seasons with the Phillies, Callison posted a line of .271/.338/.457.

    He played 1,432 games in Phillies pinstripes and had 1,438 hits. 185 career HR as a Phillie is pretty awesome, but 666 RBI in Philadelphia is a little creepy. Callison was a force offensively and defensively and he is the third best RF in Phillies history.


2. Right Field- Bobby Abreu

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    Is it a coincidence that the Philadelphia Phillies started to win big after they traded Bobby Abreu? It's hard to believe, but it may actually be the truth.

    Abreu played with the Phillies from 1998-2006 and put together some huge offensive seasons. He played in 1,353 games with the Phillies where he compiled an impressive line of .303/.416/.513. He hit 195 HR, 814 RBI and even stole 254 bases while only being thrown out 80 times.

    Abreu ranks sixth on the all-time list for extra-base hits, fourth in doubles, ninth in home runs, eighth in RBI and second in walks for the Phillies. He was a two-time All-Star ('04-05) and even won a Gold Glove for his lack of hustle in right field.

    I never knew a complete refusal to dive for a ball warranted a Gold Glove. You learn something new every day i suppose.

1. Right Field- Chuck Klein

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    Chuck Klein is the greatest RF to ever play for the Philadelphia Phillies and his numbers could compare favorably to anyone that has ever played the position. He won the NL MVP in 1932 with the Phillies and was their first player ever to do so.

    He is also the only Phillie ever to win the Triple Crown, which he did in 1933. Klein was always in the conversation of NL MVP when he was with the Phillies and could be in the argument of best outfielder in team history.

    Look no further than his career numbers of .320 /.379 /.520, with 300 home runs and 1,201 RBI.

3. Center Field- Garry Maddox

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    Garry Maddox has possibly the greatest nickname in all of sports in the, "The Secretary of Defense." Maddox won eight Gold Gloves as a Philadelphia Phillie (second all-time behind Mike Schmidt) and no fly ball was seemingly safe from Maddox's glove.

    The Phillies won two NL Championships and a World Series championship with Maddox patrolling center field. Maddox will always be remembered for his play in center, but his .284 career average, 85 HR, 566 RBI, 556 R and 189 SB  certainly show that he was more than just a defensive stalwart.

2. Center Field- Billy Hamilton

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    Billy Hamilton played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1890-1895 so many fans certainly will not remember him, but he was without question one of the best outfielders the team has ever had. The Hall-of-Famer was inducted into Cooperstown in 1961 and he still has the highest batting average of all time. 

    His .360 average as a Phillie is still more than 10 points higher than Ed Delahanty. Really impressive stuff.

1. Center Field- Richie Ashburn

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    Richie "Whitey" Ashburn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. He is undoubtedly one of the most beloved sports figures in Philly history. For how great of a center fielder Ashburn was, it was the broadcast pairing of Ashburn and Harry Kalas that made him a legend.

    Ashburn was a member of the 1950 "Whiz Kids" team that won the World Championship. He led the NL in batting average twice and finished with a .308 lifetime average.

    Ashburn was a six-time All-Star selection and his No. 1 jersey is retired. The name Whitey will always be one of the most recognizable in Philadelphia.

    He may be gone but in so many ways his legend lives on.

3. Left Field- Sherry Magee

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    Sherry Magee played with the Philadelphia Phillies between 1904-1914 he won a NL batting crown and led the league in RBI four different seasons. Magee cracked the big league ballclub as a 19-year-old and was an offensive force during a time that was considered the dead-ball era. 

    As a Phillie, Magee was in the top ten in batting average five times, in slugging percentage ten times, in runs scored seven times, in doubles nine times, in triples seven times, and in homers seven times.

    The best thing Magee did as a Phillie was get suspended for five weeks after knocking out an umpire.

    Ah the good old days.

2. Left Field- Del Ennis

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    Del Ennis played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1946-1956 and was an offensive force on many teams that lacked talent. Ennis was a bright spot for many years as he posted seven seasons of at least 25 HR and 100 RBI.

    Ennis even had three seasons in which he had 120 or more RBI ('55,'53,'50.)

1. Left Field- Ed Delahanty

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    Ed Delahanty is one of the best MLB players ever. His .346 career batting average is the fourth highest of all time. In 1899, Delahanty played in 146 games and hit a ridiculous .410.

    He hit .400 two other seasons as well. Enough said.

3. Closer- Jose Mesa

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    Jose Mesa is the all time saves leader for the Philadelphia Phillies with 112 believe it or not. He also has the record for most saves in a single season with 45.

    I really didn't want to mention the name Jose Mesa ever again (or his odd-colored glove) but here we are.

2. Closer- Billy Wagner

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    Billy Wagner may have only played with the Philadelphia Phillies for two seasons (2004-2005) but he is still ninth on the all time saves list with 59. He also is sixth on the team's single season save list when he tallied 38 in 2005.

    Wagner never seemed to understand that the fans of Philadelphia were not booing him every time the radar gun said anything below 100 mph. They were booing the radar gun.

    Wagner was absolutely spectacular with the Phillies and his numbers were absolutely ridiculous. 146 strikeouts and just 26 walks certainly back up that statement.

    Too bad he went to the Mets and got pummeled by Pat Burrell and the rest of the Phillies lineup.

1. Closer- Tug McGraw

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    Tug McGraw is fifth on the Philadelphia Phillies all times saves list with 94 and he recorded the final out for the Phil's in the 1980 World Series. He played in Philadelphia from 1975-1984 and his career ERA of 3.14 was outstanding.

    McGraw was one of the nicest guys I've ever met and he left us much too early.

3. Starting Pitcher- Robin Roberts

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    Robin Roberts pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1948-1961 and he led the NL in games started, complete games, batters faced and wins for four consecutive seasons.  He won 20 or more games in all four of those seasons, and won 20 or more games two more times as well.

    A six-time 20 game winner is unheard of anymore but that is exactly what Roberts did. Roberts was a well deserving inductee into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1976.

2. Starting Pitcher- Grover Cleveland Alexander

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    Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1911-1917 and his numbers are flat-out insane. For four straight seasons, Alexander led the National League in starts, wins, innings pitched and K's 

    A 190-91 career record with the Phillies with a miniscule 2.18 ERA and more than 1,400 K's are why he earned the second spot on this list.

1. Starting Pitcher- Steve Carlton

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    Steve Carlton pitched with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-1986 and he compiled some of the greatest single seasons by a starting pitcher in MLB history. Take his first season in Philadelphia for example, in 1972 Carlton led the National League in wins with 27, ERA at 1.97 and strikeouts with 310.

    If those numbers aren't ridiculous enough for you, consider that the 1972 Phillies only managed to win 59 games total and the season was shortened seven games by a strike. "Lefty" was one of the most dominating pitchers of all time.

    Four Cy Young Awards, the second-most K's of any left-handed pitcher (4th overall), and the second-most wins of any left-handed pitcher (11th overall) all contributed to Carlton being an obvious Hall of Fame inductee in 1994.

    Carlton's numbers are mind-boggling.

3. Catcher- Mike Lieberthal

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    Mike "Lieby" Lieberthal played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1994-2006 and was a two-time All-Star. He hit .275 during his 13 seasons in Philadelphia, with 150 homers and 609 RBIs.

    A starter for nine seasons, he caught the most games in Phillies history and is a certain Wall-of-Fame inductee in the future. A solid argument could be made the Lieberthal was the best catcher in Phillies history due to his longevity and offensive and defensive production.

2. Catcher- Bob Boone

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    Bob Boone is one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time and he was a four-time All-Star. He played with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-1981 and completely took the running game away from the opposition.

    Pitches bounced in the dirt were gobbled up by Boone and he had one of the most accurate and strong arms from behind the plate in MLB history. Boone was a decent hitter but he gets his props for his defense and being a huge piece to the 1980 World Series puzzle.

1. Catcher- Jack Clements

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    Jack Clements was a left-handed catcher that played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1884 to 1897. He hit for an average of .394 in 1895, which is still the MLB record for any catcher. Any catcher that throws lefty and nearly hits .400 is the man.

    A career line of .289/.352/.426 with the Phillies is extremely solid for any catcher and that is why he takes home the No. 1 catcher honor.