Roy Halladay and the 25 Best Starters in Philadelphia Phillies History
The Philadelphia Phillies have 99 problems, but a starting rotation isn't one.
Sure, the problems they're facing heading into the offseason may not be exactly on that scale, but there are some worries that we'll be hearing about over the next three months or so. In the market for a closer, shortstop and bench players, as well as a possible third base upgrade, the Phillies have their share of problems. Once again, pitching isn't one of them.
Even now that their aces are down to three, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will be joined by the likes of rookie phenomenon Vance Worley and either Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick. This is assuming that no outside additions are made—also just a possibility—as the club remains in contact with the agent for that fourth ace, Roy Oswalt.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has always felt strongly about the need for starting pitching on a championship-caliber club, so it has never been surprising to see him make stunning moves for starters. His rosters have been chock full of them—a theme that he shares with Phillies general managers of the past.
Over the club's lengthy history, some of the game's all-time greats have worn a Phillies uniform, as well as some great pitchers who aren't as well known. Does Halladay stand among this group of Phillies greats? Is he tops in the current rotation?
There's only one way to find out! Let's list the greatest starting pitchers in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies!
Something to Consider...
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Over the last month or so, I have published a couple of similar lists to this one by ranking the greatest pitchers in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies in general, and more narrowly, by ranking the team's greatest relievers. This list is going to look a little different, and that is a reason explained with a simple answer.
Like the list that was specific to relievers, this list was specific to starting pitchers. For that reason, I considered facets of a pitcher's game that would be more relevant to starters, for example, complete games. A number of other statistics were also taken into consideration for this list, including wins, ERA, ERA+, WHIP and innings pitched.
As always, I believe that a pitcher is most valuable to a club over a span of time. The longer the tenure of a pitcher, the more potential he has for impact on the organization, so pitchers with longer tenures receive a little extra attention. With that having been said, pitchers who achieved specific feats with the Phillies, for example, Cliff Lee leading them to the World Series in 2009, were not forgotten.
25. Roy Halladay
What better way to kick off this list than with a bit of a surprise?
For a normal pitcher, cracking a list like this with just two years with a specific franchise under his belt would be nearly impossible. But I think that we've all learned by now that Roy Halladay is not a normal pitcher. After joining the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2010 season, "Doc" captured the National League Cy Young Award in his first season with the Phillies, and he put up similar numbers in 2011.
Halladay has been named to the All-Star Game in each of his two seasons with the Phillies, winning 40 games in just two seasons, posting an ERA of 2.40 and a WHIP of just 1.041. He was tied for the league-lead in wins in 2010, as well as complete games, shutouts and innings pitched, and he led the league in hits, batters faced, BB/9 and SO/BB. In 2011, he expanded his statistical dominance to ERA+, posting a mark of 164 to lead the league.
24. John Denny
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired John Denny from the Cleveland Indians in September of 1982, as the club made a push for the postseason; but ultimately, they did not reach that goal. Instead, the team acquired a man who would play a large role in the success of their starting rotation over the next few seasons, including two clubs that would make the playoffs.
Denny won a league-leading 19 games in 1983, winning the National League Cy Young Award with ease. All in all, he had a great career with the Phillies' organization that lasted four seasons, in which he won 37 games and posted an ERA of just 2.96 and a WHIP of 1.225.
The Phillies later traded him to the Cincinnati Reds for Tom Hume and Gary Redus.
23. Syl Johnson
The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds franchises have both been around for a long time, so it shouldn't be surprising to learn that these clubs have struck numerous deals over the years, once of which sent Syl Johnson to the Phillies for a package of three players.
Johnson had a solid, seven-year career with the Phillies, and though he was never a "dominating" pitcher, he was always the type of guy to keep his team in contention. He won 36 games for the Phillies but never played for a good team; and his record shows that.
22. Larry Jackson
When the Philadelphia Phillies made a trade with the Chicago Cubs early in the 1966 season, they believed they were getting a veteran right-handed starter to fall into the rotation behind Jim Bunning and Chris Short. And they did. In retrospective, this will always be remembered as the trade that sent Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins to the Cubs for a 35-year-old starter.
Regardless of how lopsided the trade may be now, nearly 50 years later, Jackson still had a three-year career with the Phillies. He was an excellent defender, at one point in time recording 109 total chances without an error. He was just as good on the mound, winning 41 games for the Phillies and posting an ERA of 2.95 along with a WHIP of 1.178. He even managed to toss a one-hitter against the New York Mets.
Following the 1968 season, he was selected by Montreal Expos in the expansion draft, but instead, chose to retire, forcing the Phillies to send shortstop Bobby Wine to the new franchise.
Photo Credit: www.1968topps.blogspot.com
21. Charlie Buffinton
Charlie Buffinton spent just three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, but those three seasons were excellent, as he took over as the staff ace. He posted 77 wins with an ERA of 2.89, along with a WHIP of 1.203 and 115 complete games.
Though his career with the Phillies was brief, Buffinton certainly made his mark as a dominant pitcher. Twice in his Phils career he tossed one-hit shutouts. Some believe that his career was slowed by a heart condition, and he died in 1907 aged at just 46.
20. Red Donahue
When the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Red Donahue from the St. Louis Browns prior to the 1989 season, it was considered a big deal. Not only did they receive $1,000 in cash from the Browns, but also traded a pair of very good hitters in Jack Taylor and Jack Clements, as well as Lave Cross and Tommy Dowd. Quite a haul for the Browns, seeing as how Donahue had lost 35 games for them that season.
Donahue's career took off with the Phillies, however. He won 72 games for the Phils and posted an ERA of 3.26. Though he never led the league in any statistical categories or won a major award, he did throw a no-hitter against the Boston Beaneaters in 1898—the first at the Philadelphia Baseball Grounds, which would become the Baker Bowl—a hitter-friendly park.
He must have really liked the Browns, however, as he jumped back to that team prior to the 1902 season.
Photo Credit: www.baseball-reference.com
19. Kid Gleason
Long before he was the manager of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox team, more popularly known as the Black Sox, that conspired to roll over for the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, Kid Gleason was a very good starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Before his career was marred by scandal, Gleason won 78 games for the Phillies and posted an ERA of 3.39. He threw more than 1,300 innings and pitched 132 complete games before joining the St. Louis Browns.
He could also hit a bit as well. Gleason would later go on to become the starting second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles.
18. Terry Mulholland
Terry Mulholland is often overlooked as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and that probably has something to do with the fact that he played with more teams than I have fingers. Regardless, it seems as though people often forget just how effective he was as a member of the Phillies' rotation.
A former first-round draft pick of the Giants, he came to Philadelphia as part of the deal that sent former Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian to San Francisco. In total, Mulholland spent six seasons with the Phillies, winning 62 games and posting an ERA of 3.81 and a WHIP of 1.230. In more than 1,000 innings, he tossed 38 complete games, and was an All-Star during the 1993 season.
In 1990, he got the ultimate revenge on the team that drafted him by throwing a no-hitter against the Giants—the first at Veterans Stadium.
He was later traded to the New York Yankees for a package of Kevin Jordan, Ryan Karp and Bobby Munoz.
17. Earl Moore
Earl Moore joined the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1908 season and would spend the next six seasons as a member of the club's rotation. He got the nickname "Crossfire" because of his unorthodox pitching style; and having a reputation as a winner doesn't hurt your stature.
With the Phillies, Moore won 67 games in 1,150 innings, tossing 76 complete games and recording an ERA of 2.63. He even led the league in strikeouts in 1910. After his six seasons with the Phillies, his contract was purchased by the Chicago Cubs.
16. Frank Corridon
Frank Corridon is left off of a lot of all-time lists because he made a name for himself throwing an illegal pitch—the spitball. In fact, he believes that he was the inventor of the spitball, after realizing that it had a weird trajectory to the plate after being dropped into a puddle. However, in his defense, when he was throwing the spitball, it wasn't considered an illegal pitch.
Corridon spent five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, collecting 59 in his Phils career after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs for Shad Berry in 1904. He posted a WHIP of 1.174 along with an ERA of 2.61, tossing 81 complete games in just 112 starts.
15. Charlie Ferguson
Charlie Ferguson spent just four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he had the skill set to be one of baseball's all-time greats. In just four seasons, he pitched more than 1,500 innings and recorded 99 wins. He posted an ERA 2.67 and a WHIP of 1.117. In 170 starts, he pitched 165 complete games and 13 shutouts.
His career was cut drastically short when he came down with typhoid fever prior to the 1888 season and passed away. In 1889, four teams wore a black crepe on their uniforms to commemorate his career, and still today we wonder just how good he could have been.
14. Cole Hamels
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Who would have thought that when the Philadelphia Phillies drafted Cole Hamels out of high school back in 2002 that we would be sitting here discussing him as one of the organization's all-time greatest starting pitchers?
Still just 27 years old, Hamels has cemented his legacy in the city of Philadelphia, posting a record of 4-0 en route to the team's second World Series title in 2008.
Hamels has already pitched six seasons as a member of the Phillies' rotation, logging 74 wins and posting an ERA of 3.39. He is the owner of a career 1.141 WHIP, boosted by the 1.082 mark he posted in 2008 to lead the league, as well as the 0.986 mark he posted in 2011, bested only by Clayton Kershaw.
Hamels has been named to the All-Star team twice, and is eligible for free agency following the 2012 season. Assuming that he and the Phillies are able to agree on a contract extension, Hamels could skyrocket up this list by the end of that contract.
13. George McQuillan
George McQuillan spent a couple of stints with the Philadelphia Phillies, the best of which came during the early 1900s. In total, he spent six seasons as a member of the Phils' rotation. As a rookie, he sent some of the longest-lasting records in Major League Baseball history; and though his career with the Phillies was brief, it was also memorable.
McQuillan recorded 54 wins, completing 72 of his 103 starts with the Phils and posting 17 shutouts. To date, he is the Phillies' all-time leader in ERA (1.79), WHIP (1.020) and H/9 (6.9).
He would later be traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a massive eight-player swap that didn't reap many benefits for the Phillies.
12. Al Orth
Similar to Frank Corridon, learning the now forbidden spitball seriously altered the course of Al Orth's career. Those who were fortunate enough to have seen him pitch and document his career wrote that Orth was not overly talented. He had excellent command of his fastball which he changed speeds on frequently.
In fact, it was rumored that he only threw variations of the fastball, including the spitball. Unlike most pitchers of the time period, he didn't throw a curveball, thus creating his nickname, "The Curveless Wonder."
Orth spent seven seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, picking up 100 wins and posting an ERA of 3.49. He completed 149 of the 173 starts he made, logging a WHIP of 1.330 in more than 1,500 innings. He jumped from the Phillies to the Washington Senators later in his career, where he also spent time as a pinch-hitter and semi-regular player.
11. Jim Bunning
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Jim Bunning from the Detroit Tigers prior to the 1964 season, and his acquisition proved to be one of the greatest moves in the history of the franchise. He played a major role in the success of the 1964 club before being overworked by manager Gene Mauch, playing a role in one of the worst collapses in the history of baseball.
Bunning, who of course is best remembered for throwing a perfect game with the Phillies on Fathers Day, spent two different stints with the Phillies, six seasons in total. He won 89 games and posted an ERA of 2.93. He was a workhorse in his career, leading the league in games and innings pitched multiple times. With the Phillies, he threw 65 complete games and pitched more than 1,500 innings.
He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967 before re-signing with the Phillies, who would later retire his number 14, several years later.
10. Dan Casey
Dan Casey is one of the few pitchers on this list to pitch each of his seasons in Philadelphia as a member of the Philadelphia Quakers. He spent just four seasons with the club from 1886-89, but in those four seasons he pitched more effectively than most pitchers to have come through the organization.
He won 72 games with the Quakers and posted an ERA of just 2.91. He completed 128 of his 142 starts, posting a WHIP of 1.261 in nearly 1,200 innings.
He pitched one of the finest seasons in baseball history for the Quakers in 1887, when he posted a record of 28-13 with an ERA of 2.86.
9. Rick Wise
The mention of Rick Wise often brings to mind another pitcher for fans of the Philadelphia Phillies—Steve Carlton. After signing Wise as an amateur free agent in 1963, he pitched in Philadelphia for seven seasons before being dealt to the Redbirds for a young lefty, Carlton. It was arguably the greatest trade in the history of the organization.
With that being said, it seems as though people often forget just how good of a pitcher the Phillies were trading for that left handed sensation. Over his seven-year tenure with the Phillies, Wise collected 75 wins and posted an ERA of 3.60. He tossed 52 complete games and threw more than 1,200 innings to the tune of a 1.302 WHIP.
His most memorable moment with the Phillies came on June 23, 1971, when he not only pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds but also hit two home runs to provide all the offense he would need!
8. Eppa Rixey
The Philadelphia Phillies took a small chance by signing Eppa Rixey, simply because he didn't take the route of most players of the time to the major leagues. He was the ace of the University of Virginia's pitching staff, and signed a contract that bypassed the minor leagues and sent him right to Philadelphia.
Rixey was a smart guy with a Southern accent, who taught Latin when he wasn't pitching. That helped grab him the nickname of "Jephtha." He got his reputation from his skill on the mound, however. With the Phillies he collected 87 wins and posted an ERA of 2.83 eight seasons. He compiled more than 1,600 innings and posted a WHIP of 1.245.
The Phils would later trade him to the Cincinnati Reds for the pair of Greasy Neale and Jimmy Ring.
7. Tully Sparks
Though Tully Sparks made his Major League debut for the Philadelphia Phillies, he made just one start for the team before jumping to the Pittsburgh Pirates the following season. Luckily for the Phils, after a couple of brief stops around baseball, Sparks returned to Philadelphia and enjoyed a great, nine-year career for the team.
He was just two innings shy of eclipsing 1,700 for his Phillies career, and he collected 95 wins with an ERA of 2.48. Sparks completed 150 of the 198 starts he made, logging a WHIP of just 1.133. He also managed to toss 18 shutouts in his tenure with the Phils.
6. Curt Simmons
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Curt Simmons' history is certainly entertaining. As the Philadelphia Phillies and relatively new owner Bob Carpenter tried to bring money back into the franchise, the team took to the Lehigh Valley area to square off with the region's best high school players. On the mound for the high school kids was Simmons.
Many expected the content to be a rout, noting that high school kids didn't have much of a chance against professional players, but Simmons would have none of it. He struck out 11 Phillies in the game, which ended in a tie.
Carpenter signed Simmons to a lucrative deal shortly thereafter.
Simmons made his Major League debut for the Phillies the same year, and he would go on to be an integral part of the "Whiz Kids" team that captured the National League pennant in 1950. In a career spanning 13 seasons with the Phils, Simmons collected 115 wins in all and posted an ERA of 3.66. He was named to the All-Star team three times and tossed 18 shutouts among his 109 complete games.
5. Chris Short
Chris Short was an extremely difficult pitcher to place on this list for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, he spent most of his career bouncing back and forth between several different roles, so I had to narrow his numbers down to those of a starting pitcher. Once I did that, however, I found the results to be very surprising. He was really good as a starter.
Not having had the pleasure of watching him pitch first hand, it is hard to imagine that Short had the same type of success as Curt Schilling, so I went back and did some reading and in the long run, the numbers don't lie.
Short signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1957, and in total, spent 14 seasons with the organization. As a starting pitcher, he won 115 games and tossed 88 complete games, all to the tune of an ERA of just 3.47. He logged more than 2,000 innings and posted a WHIP of 1.284.
He was surprisingly efficient as a starter. Enough to convince me that he was worthy of a spot in the top five. Thoughts?
4. Curt Schilling
When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Curt Schilling to a contract before the 1992 season, they were getting a guy coming off a couple of really bad seasons and a whole lot of potential. It was ultimate low risk, high reward deal that teams speak of, especially for the Phillies, who weren't quite ready to be contenders.
With a breakout season under his belt, Schilling took over as the ace of the 1993 club that would win the National League pennant, before being bounced from the World Series by Joe Carter and the Toronto Blue Jays. That season would prove to be a glimpse into the career of Schilling's Phillies tenure.
He pitched with the Phils for nine seasons, collecting 101 wins and posting an ERA of 3.35. A three-time All-Star, he also tossed 61 complete games and 14 shutouts. His excellent 1997 campaign in which he finished fourth in Cy Young voting was bested only by Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Denny Neagle—not bad company.
Though he would request a trade in 2000, many believed a deal for the struggling Phillies to be likely anyhow. When Philadelphia struck a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the fans expected a king's ransom in return.
The Phillies acquired Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla. Not exactly the return they had hoped for.
3. Robin Roberts
Though he made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies just two seasons earilier, by the time 1950 rolled around, Robin Roberts was the ace of the famed "Whiz Kids" who would capture the National League pennant before being bounced from the World Series by the New York Yankees.
Though he is third on this list, Roberts may have had one of the most impressive seven-year stretched of all time from 1950-56, when he was named to the All-Star team in each of those seven seasons, won at least 20 games in all but one, and led the league in games started, complete games, strikeouts, batters faced and K/BB ratio on multiple occasions. In 1952, he narrowly missed out on being named the NL MVP, bested by Hank Sauer.
All in all, Roberts spent 14 seasons with the Phillies, picking up 234 wins. He completed 272 of the of the 472 games he started, posting an ERA of 3.46 and a WHIP of 1.171. After a down year in 1961, he was purchased from the Phillies by the New York Yankees, whom he'd never pitch a game for.
2. Pete Alexander
If you've never heard of Pete Alexander, more commonly referred to by his full name, Grover Cleveland Alexander, then it's probably time to come out from under your rock.
Alexander was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies from the New York State League and would go on to have one of the greatest pitching careers of all-time. He spent eight of his 20 Major League seasons as a member of the Phillies, collecting 190 wins and posting an ERA of just 2.18. He complete 219 of the 280 starts he made for the Phils, posting a WHIP of 1.075.
I could probably write a novel about the number of statistical categories Alexander led during his tenure with the Phils, but I'll narrow things down a bit by saying that he led the league in wins (including three 30-win seasons), games started, complete games, shutouts, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, batters faced, ERA+, WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9 and K/BB on multiple occasions.
As World War I rolled around, there was a fear among the organization that Alexander would be drafted into military service, and before the government had the chance to make those fears official, "Old Pete" was sold to the Chicago Cubs, with then-owner William Baker later admitting that he, "needed the money."
His fears were, however, proven correct, when Alexander was drafted into the United States Army and spent time in France.
1. Steve Carlton
Even with Pete Alexander's heroics fresh in your mind, no man could top the impact that Steve Carlton had on the Philadelphia Phillies as a starting pitcher. Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Rick Wise, the Phillies knew that they were receiving a promising lefty in Carlton, but I'm not sure even they knew exactly the caliber pitcher they did.
Carlton spent 15 seasons as a member of the Phillies, picking up 241 wins and posting an ERA pf 3.09. He made 499 starts and completed 185 of them, logging close to 3,700 innings and posting a WHIP of 1.211. Like Alexander, he led the league in various statistical categories numerous times, including wins, ERA, games started, complete games, strikeouts, batters faced and ERA+.
A 10-time All-Star, Carlton was named the National League Cy Young Award winner four times, and placed within the top five on two more occasions, bested by Randy Jones and Fernando Valenzuela, respectively.
Pound for pound, no pitcher in the history of the organization comes close to having the impact that Carlton did on the Phillies, from his stacked trophy case to the 1980 World Series title. Unless Cole Hamels somehow statistically dominates baseball over the next 10-15 seasons with the Phillies, I'm not sure anyone will come close to knocking Carlton from his perch high above Phillies starting pitchers.