Philadelphia Phillies: Ranking the 10 Greatest Teams in Franchise History
In more ways than one, waiting for the 2011 regular season to begin was especially taxing for guys like myself.
After the Philadelphia Phillies nabbed Cliff Lee from the clutches of the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, the flurry of headlines began to develop. That echoed throughout the offseason, and Lee joined a rotation filled with Cy Young winners, backed by a lineup filled with All-Stars.
As we patiently waited for Opening Day and the 161 games that would follow, fans, ball scribes and former players alike wondered whether the 2011 version of the Phils' would be the greatest team in the history of the franchise.
Though the team is, technically, off to one of the hottest starts in baseball, that is yet to be determined. However, it does open the door for an interesting question. What exactly was the greatest team in the history of the Phillies?
Before we break those team downs into an order, I think it's important that we establish what exactly constitutes a "great" team.
Obviously, every team breaks camp with the hopes of winning the World Series, and a couple of championship teams will appear on the list, but does that automatically make them numbers one and two?
Not on my list. I've been pretty vocal about the postseason being a crap-shoot for sometime now, and I think there is a growing voice for this argument. A lot of times, the "best" team is outdone by the "hottest" team.
With a number of variables going into the postseason, it isn't fair to automatically call one franchise's team the best because they've won a World Series, and I won't.
At the same time, however, winning a championship is the greatest accomplishment, and surely, will not go unnoticed.
Yet there's much more to a "team" than the caliber of names on it's roster. I think we can all think of a number of star-studded teams that have underperformed, and in the lengthy history of the Phils', there are a couple of those as well.
So what is a great "team?"
In relevance to this slide show, the best teams will be the guys who came together and left everything they had on the field.
A team consists of every guy playing his role the right way, and thus, an excellent, consistent effort will put certain teams ahead of other ones, as we count down the greatest Philadelphia Phillies teams of all time.
The Greatest of All-Time? Not Yet.
Honorable Mention: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies
A lot of people expected to see the current edition of the Phils' on this list, but that won't be the case.
While they certainly have put together an All-Star-caliber cast of players, it's impossible to measure their overall success against teams that have played complete seasons and accomplished some of the greatest feats in all of baseball.
So while the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels attempt to pitch their way into Philadelphia Phillies' history, they still have quite a way to go. At this time next year, this slide show could look quite different—but not now.
10. 1964 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Dick Allen
Surprisingly enough, despite being one of the greatest teams in the history of the franchise, the 1964 version of the Phillies didn't make the postseason.
All they did was win 92 games and finish tied for second in the National League with the Cincinnati Reds and behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Playing their home games in Connie Mack Stadium, this team scored 693 runs and allowed 632.
For die-hard Phillies fans, a lot of favorites were on this team, and a lot of familiar names appeared on the roster.
Bobby Wine handled the shortstop position, while one of the greatest outfielders in the history of the franchise, Johnny Callison, helped anchor the lineup.
The bench was littered with familiar names, including father of the Phils' current general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Ruben Amaro, and fellow utility player Cooke Rojas.
However, the best player on this team was controversial third baseman, Dick Allen. He posted a slash line of .318/.382/.557, and slugged 29 homers for the Phils'.
On the pitching side of the ball, this team featured a decent set of starters as well.
Led by Jim Bunning and Chris Short, who racked up 19 and 17 wins respectively, the Phillies got contributions up and down their staff. Dennis Bennett and Art Mahaffey also had wins in the double digits, and Jack Baldschun collected 21 saves.
9. 1950 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Robin Roberts
Unlike the team from 1964, the 1950 Phillies made the postseason. In fact, they were the best team in the National League, finishing atop the division and taking home the National League pennant.
A very good offensive team, the 1950 team scored 722 times, playing their home games in Shibe Park, and allowing 624 runs on the other side of the ball.
As stated above, this was a very good offensive team that received contributions from up and down the lineup. In fact, they received contributions from nearly every spot in the lineup, starting with Richie Ashburn at the top, Willie Jones and Del Ennis in the middle, and Andy Seminick at the end.
The real story of this team, however, was the pitching staff, led by Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.
He won 20 games that season, posting an ERA of just above three. Curt Simmons also collected 17 wins, and Jim Konstanty won 16 games out of the bullpen, along with converting 22 saves.
8. 2009 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Chase Utley
After a historic 2008 season, the Phillies began their quest for a repeat title in 2009 behind a prolific offense. However, as it would turn out, it was a tough season for the Phils' and some of their top stars through and through.
A home crowd that sold out Citizens Bank Park for every home game of the season watched this offensive attack score a good majority of its 820 runs, while the pitching staff allowed 709 runs in total throughout the season.
The pitching staff was a bit of surprise for the Phils' in 2009—in some ways, a pleasant surprise, and in others, not so much.
After collecting his first World Series ring and receiving the honors of NLCS and World Series MVP, Cole Hamels opened the season as the team's ace, but hardly pitched like it.
Of course, that title would be handed over to mid-season trade acquisition, Cliff Lee—and so the Philadelphia-Lee love-fest began.
Offensively, the Phils' were a juggernaut, plain and simple. Four of the lineup's sluggers—Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth—went deep more than 30 times.
On the base paths they were just as dangerous, as Utley, Werth, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino each swiped more than 20 bags.
Utley, however, was "the man" that made this lineup go. He posted a slash line of .282/.397/.508, and slugged 31 home runs. Of course, who can forget the historic five home runs he hit during the World Series, where he tied Reggie Jackson's record—against the New York Yankees.
7. 1899 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Ed Delahanty
At a glance, it's hard to appreciate just how good this team was. When you consider the fact that they played in an era when the season was just 152 games long and still finished with the fifth most wins in the history of the franchise, it sheds some light on the situation.
There's much more to it than that though.
This team consisted of many players that made up the Philadelphia Phillies throughout the late 1890's, and boy were they good.
This team from 1899 was particularly special, as they proved to be an offensive force in a time where offense could be hard to come by. Led by Ed Delahanty, Nap Lajoie and Elmer Fick, the Phils' of 1899 scored an incredible 916 runs.
Of course, they couldn't have done so without "Big Ed" Delahanty. He had arguably the greatest season in the history of the franchise, posting a slash line of .410/.464/.582, with nine home runs and 137 RBI.
They were very good from a pitching standpoint as well. The staff consisted largely of five very good starting pitchers, including three guys—Wiley Piatt, Red Donahue and Chick Fraser—with more than 20 wins.
Al Orth and Bill Bernhard were also very good, both registering ERA's below three, and the former collecting 14 wins of his own. As a whole, the staff finished within the top 10 of every major pitching category except strikeouts.
6. 1993 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Lenny Dykstra
A lot of people around the city of Philadelphia believed that this was the team that was finally going to do it.
With the last World Series title having come in 1980, a trip down Broad Street was long overdue, and the 1993 Phils' had the spunk to take home a title.
As we all know by now though, it wasn't meant to be. After winning 97 games in the regular season and battling their way to the World Series, Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays took the collective heart of the Phillies and their fans and crushed it with a walk-off home run.
That shouldn't take anything away from this team though, which was easily one of the best in the franchise's history.
Their pitching staff was solid, but not what made them great. The staff ace, Curt Schilling, recorded 16 wins, but finished with an ERA above four.
The greatest facet of this staff was a trio of relievers by the name of Larry Andersen, David West and Mitch Williams. Andersen and West finished with sub-three ERA's and appeared in more than 60 games a piece, while "Wild Thing" saved 43 games.
This team could hit though, and timely hitting is what got them into the playoffs and eventually, into the World Series.
Four regulars—John Kruk, Kevin Stocker, Lenny Dykstra and Jim Eisehnreich—finished with batting averages better than .300. They led the league in a number of offensive categories, including hits, doubles and walks, finished second in triples and fifth in home runs.
Dykstra was the glue that held this lineup together. In one of his personal best seasons, he posted a slash line of .305/.420/.482, with 19 home runs, 44 doubles and 129 walks.
5. 2010 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Roy Halladay
The 2010 version of the Phillies was a surprising team in more ways than one.
For starters, they were supposed to be an offensive juggernaut, but pitching ruled the day as they slumped through most of the regular season thanks to injuries.
That had no ill effect on the likes of Roy Halladay or the rest of "H2O," however, who dominated the National League over the final months of the season and helped the Phils' coast to the best record in baseball.
Despite not being as good as advertised, the Phils' were still a good offensive team. With names like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth eventually slotted into the lineup, you knew they were going to score some runs, and score they did. In fact, they finished second in the National League in runs scored.
After the team acquired former Houston Astros' ace Roy Oswalt at the deadline, however, all eyes turned on a starting staff set up for postseason success. He joined Halladay and a resurgent Cole Hamels to form the most menacing top-three in all of baseball.
That staff was led, of course, by Roy Halladay, who proved to be the best pitcher in baseball during the 2010 season. His numbers speak for themselves—21-10, 2.44 ERA, 9 CG, 4 SHO, 219 SO and 30 BB—but do they really do him any justice?
The man also tossed a perfect game against the Florida Marlins last season, and in his first ever postseason start, he no-hit the Cincinnati Reds.
Halladay's heroics were not enough for the Phils' however, as the mortal rotation and struggling lineup fell to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
4. 1980 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Steve Carlton
For the city of Philadelphia, this Phillies team was a long time coming. For a city so infatuated with its sports, missing that World Series title was almost painful. This team gave the city hope.
Some of the most popular Phils' of all time were on this team, and for good reason—they brought the title back to city of Philadelphia.
This team was successful because they had a great blend of pitching and offense. At the plate, the Phils' featured one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball in Mike Schmidt, but had an excellent supporting cast.
From Pete Rose, to Greg Luzinski to Bake McBride, this offensive team could do it all. In fact, they finished within the top five in every major offensive category except stolen bases, caught stealing and walks.
Even with Schmidt manning third base, the best player on this team was Steve Carlton. "Lefty" had one of his most memorable seasons in 1980, posting a record of 24-9 with an ERA of 2.34.
Along with Dick Ruthven, Tug McGraw and the rest of the pitching staff, the 1980 Phils' hurled their way into postseason glory and brought the first World Series title to Philadelphia.
3.) 1976 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Mike Schmidt
Some of the teams leading up to that 1980 championship team were some of the greatest of all time. One of those teams was the 1976 version of the Phillies, led by MVP third baseman, Mike Schmidt.
Even with 101 wins, this team didn't have the best record in baseball, and that would show as the postseason rolled around.
They pitched and slugged their way through the regular season, but were ousted by the team that had the best record in the National League—the Cincinnati Reds—in the NLCS.
This Phils' team had a very steady rotation, with each and every starter registering an ERA of less than four. Led by Steve Carlton, who had another "Lefty"-like season winning 20 games, Jim Kaat, Jim Lonborg, Larry Christenson and Tim Underwood all pitched well, and the bullpen was nearly untouchable.
With Ron Reed and Tug McGraw at the back end, the starters felt safe leaving with a lead.
This was a scary offensive team though. They could score a ton of runs and put them up fast with the long ball.
Dick Allen and Greg Luzinski had big offensive seasons, but none had a better season than that of the greatest Phillie of all time, Mike Schmidt. He posted a line of .262/.376/.524, and slugged 38 home runs for the Phils'.
2.) 2008 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Chase Utley
I nearly made this team No. 1, because I nearly convinced myself that this was the greatest Phillies' team of all time. After a little mental debate, however, I decided to leave this team at No. 2, despite their accomplishments.
After so many years of struggling teams throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, this team was sweet music for the city of Philadelphia. Finally, the promises had come true.
The team's top prospects, like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Cole Hamels had developed into stars and cashed in on postseason glory. They met the Cinderella Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series and swiftly defeated them in five games, bringing the title back to Broad Street.
This was a team that could put up some big offensive numbers in a hurry. They led the league in a bevy of offensive categories, including home runs, where they sat alone at the top. In fact, Carlos Ruiz was the only regular not to record double digits in home runs.
Led by Utley, this team left the rest of the NL in the dust. The All-Star second baseman posted a slash line of .292/.380/.535, with 33 home runs.
The pitching staff was led by a breakout season from left hander Cole Hamels, who completely dominated the opposition in the postseason, winning NLCS and World Series MVP honors, and pitched to a 3.09 ERA during the regular season.
Surprisingly enough though, it was the "Ageless Wonder" Jamie Moyer who led the team in wins with 16, and right handers Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick each had double digits in the win column.
This staff would hand the ball off to one of the best bullpens in the National League. Guys like Chad Durbin, JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre each pitched at the highest level, earning the moniker of "The Bridge to Lidge," in reference of course to closer Brad Lidge, who was a perfect 48 for 48 in save opportunities.
1. 1977 Philadelphia Phillies
Best Player: Mike Schmidt
This selection can probably cause a bit of a debate, but isn't that what's great about baseball? I can already hear it, "What are you, an idiot Greg? You put this team in front of two teams that won the World Series?! C'mon man!"
Just hear me out here.
Yes, this team came up a bit short in its quest for a World Series title, and I definitely considered that when I put the 2008 team in the No. 2 spot (and again when I put the 1980 team in the No. 4 spot), but at the same time, this team was an absolute force in the National League.
Not only did they have a lineup that could tear the cover off of the baseball, but the pitching staff was equally as good. Basically, it came down to, "Did not winning the World Series make this team any weaker than the squad from 2008?"
And the answer was no. In short, they were a better team than the one that won the World Series in 2008.
The pitching staff was, once again, led by a select few. Of those few were familiar names like Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson, Ron Reed and Tug McGraw. Carlton added another 23 wins to his Hall of Fame resume, Christenson won 19 games of his own, while McGraw and Reed dominated the opposition late in ball games.
However, they were far from the only contributors. Gene Garber had one of the best seasons of his career as the closer, collecting 19 saves and posting an ERA below three. In the rotation, a young Randy Learch stepped up in a big way, much in the same way that Kyle Kendrick stepped up for the 2008 Phillies.
Normally, in the National League, there is more than one weak spot in a lineup. Along with the pitcher, the opposition can usually get out of a jam by attacking certain hitters.
That wasn't the case with this team, who would go on to score 847 runs—the most in the National League—and finish second in home runs.
Simply put, there were no weak spots in this lineup. Bob Boone handled the bat well while being one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and the middle infield duo of Larry Bowa and Ted Sizemore made up for their lack of power with consistency.
Once again, however, the best player on this team was Michael Jack Schmidt. After all, isn't that what makes him the greatest Phillie of all time?
He posted a slash line of .274/.393/.574, with 38 home runs (second on the team in home runs to Greg Luzinski, for some context). In fact, one could argue that Luzinski was the most valuable player on this team, as he slugged 39 home runs and drove in 130 runs.
That debate should be reason enough as to why this was the greatest Phillies team of all time.
What's Your List?
As always, I think it needs to be mentioned that this is in no way an official list of the greatest Phillies teams of all time. That said, it is my list. The greatest thing about baseball is that you can never be right, and you can never be wrong. So with that in mind, let me see what your list looks like in the comments section! Tell me why you agree or disagree with my list, and how you would fix it!
All statistical data is courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.