The Phillies have a rich history. Established back in 1883, the Phillies are the oldest one-name team in all of professional sports. During that time, they’ve seen many players don the red pinstripes. Many are forgettable. Some are unforgettable. And a select few have made a name for themselves as Hall of Famers. With the 2017 season almost to an end, let’s build the Phillies all time starting nine.
We’ve seen many good pitchers come through our town. Who can forget the era of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee? Going back a little further than that gives us the great careers of Robin Roberts and Jim Bunning. But the best pitcher who has ever played for the Phillies is Steve Carlton.
Carlton is a member of the 300-win club with 329 wins, 241 of them with Philadelphia. He’s fourth all-time in strikeouts with 4,126, trailing only Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. He was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards, was a Gold Glove winner in 1981, and won the final game of the 1980 World Series.
One of his more impressive feats occurred in 1972, when he won almost half of the Phillies wins, counting for 27 of the team’s 59 wins. The Phillies retired his number in 1989 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994 with 96% of the vote.
Mike Lieberthal could make a compelling case here, but there’s no question the best Phillies catcher is Darren Daulton. He was a three-time All-Star in 1992, 1993, and 1995.
He also led the National League in RBI in 1992 with 109, and won the Silver Slugger award that same year. Daulton was the heart and soul of a rag-tag group of players who won the National League pennant in 1993, and has even been credited as the reason why the Marlins won the World Series in 1997.
He may not have the flashiest of numbers as some of the other guys on this list, but there’s no question that his positive attitude and infectious smile will be remembered by Phillies fans for a long time.
There are three names that come to mind – Dick Allen, Pete Rose, and Ryan Howard. Allen was one of the most prolific hitters when he was with the Phillies and was a Rookie of the Year winner. Rose was a World Series winner in 1980, and is baseball’s all-time hits leader. Still, Howard has surpassed both.
Regardless of how his career ended, Howard was an integral part of the Phillies success from 2007-2011. He’s one of only four players in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in back to back seasons.
During his 13 seasons with Phillies, Howard amassed 382 home runs, and was the quickest player in history to reach both the 100 and 200 home run mark. He holds the Phillies single season home run record with 58 in 2006, and was a World Series champion in 2008.
Is there really any question as to who the best second baseman in Phillies history is? I don’t think so. Chase Utley was a six-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner, and a World Series champion. He made up half of the best middle infield combination for the Phils, and was the de facto leader of the club with his hustle and work ethic.
He tied a record in 2009 for the most home runs hit in a single World Series with five. Before injuries plagued the end of his career with the Phillies, Utley was well on his way to becoming a Hall of Fame candidate. Chase has gone down as one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Phillies uniform, as evidenced by his return to town in 2016 when he was cheered as a member of the Dodgers. Hopefully one day, we see him back in a Phillies uniform, sitting in the dugout, in some managerial capacity.
Mike Schmidt is not only the best third baseman in Phillies history, he’s also the best third baseman in baseball history. Where to start with his storied career?
Schmidt is a member of the 500 home run club, a 12-time All-Star, a three-time MVP, ten-time Gold Glove winner, six-time Silver Slugger winner, a World Series champion, and a first ballot Hall of Famer. With all those accolades, it’s no wonder Schmidt is the Phillies all-time leader in total bases, home runs, RBI, and walks.
Two World Series champs lead the way here, in Larry Bowa and Jimmy Rollins, with Rollins claiming the number one spot.
“J-Roll” is the Phillies all-time hits and doubles leader, and was the 2007 National League MVP. During his time in Philadelphia, he made three All-Star teams, and won four Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger. He’s also one of four members of the 20-20-20-20 club.
Rollins’ “team to beat” statement helped fuel a team that would go on to be one of the best teams in baseball, and later win a World Series in 2008. He was one of the most dominant players at his position for a decade, and should be in the Hall of Fame.
To get the best left fielder in Phillies history, we need to go all the way back to 1891. There, we have the career of Ed Delahanty, who was a Phillie from 1891-1901. “Big Ed” led the league in batting, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases at least once in his career. He’s one of only a handful of players to bat over .400 in three seasons, and his career average of .346 ranks fifth all-time.
Delahanty was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.
Some remember him as a broadcaster, but the greatest center fielder to play for the Phillies is Richie Ashburn. “Whitey” was a career .308 hitter, and had more hits than any player during the 1950’s.
Ashburn made it to six All-Star games and led the National League in hitting twice. Ashburn had 47 years of service to the Phillies, first as a player and then as broadcaster. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995, and his legacy lives on at Citizens Bank Park; Ashburn Alley and the “Richie ‘Whitey’ Ashburn Broadcast Booth” are both named after him.
Chuck Klein had three separate stints with the Phillies in the early 1900’s. I gave consideration to Bobby Abreu, but between his lackadaisical attitude and the fact the Phillies finally became a playoff team when they traded him, he didn’t make the cut.
A career .320 hitter, Klein is a member of the 300 home run club and was a Hall of Fame inductee in 1980.
Take a look his 1930 numbers. That season, Klein hit .386 with 250 hits, 158 runs, 59 doubles, 170 RBI, .687 slugging percentage, 445 total bases, and 107 extra base hits. I dare you to find a better overall season than that.
Photo: Shannon (via Flickr)