Philadelphia Phillies: Why Vance Worley is the Most Underrated Player in MLB

Patrick DiamondCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 26: Starting pitcher Vance Worley #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the bottom of the ninth inning during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 7-2.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Even on the days when he takes the mound, Vance Worley is the least talked-about member of the Philadelphia Phillies pitching rotation. With the way Worley has been playing this season, he just may start to finally get the respect he deserves. 

At the beginning of the season, the Philadelphia starting rotation was the most talked about commodity in all of baseball. Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt were all expected to be anchors for the team with the fifth and final spot up for grabs.

As expected, the first three have been nothing short of spectacular. Oswalt, on the other hand, has missed much of the season due to a persisting back injury and is now struggling to return to form.

With injuries to the former Houston Astros hurler as well as veteran Joe Blanton, fans once were understandably worried about how they would round out the pitching rotation. 

They aren’t worried anymore. 

In short, Worley has been phenomenal this year. In 19 games played, the "Vanimal," as Phillies fans affectionately call him, has posted a 10-1 record with a 2.85 ERA and 90 strikeouts. The Phillies have won 13 consecutive games with Worley as a starter.

That stat gives him and Philadelphia the third-most consecutive start wins in the National League in the last 15 years. 

What’s even more impressive is that he’s done all of this under, and often off, the radar. 

Had Worley been putting up these kinds of numbers on a dismal Astros, Twins or even White Sox pitching staff, the coverage would be different. There he’d be an ace or top three in the rotation for sure.

Instead, Worley basks in the shadows of three MLB titans. The names ahead of him on the depth chart will all likely be written down once it is time to vote for the recipient of the NL Cy Young award. 

Still, in 10 of his 17 starts it is Worley that has allowed only one or fewer runs. Even more impressive is Worley hasn’t lost a start for the Phils since his May 29 game against the New York Mets.

When stats like these go unnoticed, underrated doesn’t even begin to explain it. 

Fortunately for Worley, he’s not entirely underrated in Philadelphia. Fans have not let his astounding accomplishments go unnoticed. “Vanimal” shirts and signs have showed up all over Citizen’s Bank Park and the fans always let Worley know he is appreciated by giving him generous amounts of support at home games. 

Worley has a theory as to why he is such a big hit with Philadelphia fans.

"I think it's my stupid haircut and glasses more than anything," he says.

Who doesn’t love a nice Mohawk?  

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