Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Phillies' All-Time World Series Best

For all those Phillies fans who thought they had this team figured out heading into the World Series, join me in raising your hands in the air like you just don’t care. A World Series championship wipes away the worries of second-guessers, right?

What was known was obvious: Charlie Manuel is a good guy but he won’t win any awards for his in-game management. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard are going to shine offensively on the big stage while the bottom of the lineup continues its rally-killing ways. And our pitching will dominate.

Well, going one out of four ain’t so good—kind of like the big hitters’ big-game production.

The Phillies overwhelming World Series title—they didn’t trail for even half an inning—arrived because Manuel was a genius, the bottom of the lineup was tops, the subs rose, and the pitching was outstanding.

The only Phillies regulars to hit above .300 for the World Series were not the big-name stars: Jayson Werth (.444), Carlos Ruiz (.375), and Pedro Feliz (.333). Howard (.286) was the only one of the big guns to hit above .230: Rollins (.227), Utley (.167), and Burrell (.071) put together World Series hitting displays that usually lead to disaster.

So, how good historically were the efforts of Werth, Ruiz, Feliz, and the pitchers compared to past Phillies World Series performances?

Unfortunately, as fans know, it doesn’t take long to study the comparisons. The 2008 team was just the franchise’s sixth World Series team—and three of those Series were losses in five games or less.

If you were to name the best Phillies World Series performances, you would assume the team’s legends would fill the lineup, guys like Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, and Greg Luzinski.

And you’d be half-right. Here are the best Phillies World Series performances at each position (click on the names to see their stats):

Starting Pitchers:
Grover Cleveland Alexander (1915)
Robin Roberts (1950)
Steve Carlton (1980)
Cole Hamels (2008)
Ken Heintzelman (1950)

Relief Pitchers:
Tug McGraw (1980)
Jim Konstanty (1950)
J.C. Romero (2008)

Pitching and first-base production are the two spots Phillies players have come through most consistently in the World Series. All of the team’s historically best pitchers stepped up when it counted, with 2008 Series MVP Hamels able to rank just fourth on the list.

McGraw, of course, was magic in ’80; the only reason Brad Lidge, who put together the best season of relief pitching in Phillies history, is not on the list is because he only pitched two innings, though they were perfect.

Bob Boone (1980)

Boone was a monster in ’80, hitting .412, driving in four runs, scoring three times, and finishing with a .500 OBP. He edges out Ruiz and his magnificent 2008 Series.

First Base:
Fred Luderus (1915)

Who? With guys like Ryan Howard, Pete Rose (1983, ’80), and John Kruk (1993), how does some no-name win out? Easy: He was a star—the only offensive one in 1915—who hit the Phillies’ first World Series home run and drove in 6 of the team’s 9 RBIs in the 4-games-to-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Second Base:
Mariano Duncan (1993)

What? The Phillies have had Hall of Fame-caliber second basemen in Utley and Joe Morgan (1983), as well as 1980 NLCS MVP Manny Trillo. Doesn’t matter. Duncan collected 10 hits and five runs in the six-game Series loss to the Blue Jays.

Granny Hamner (1950)

This is the closest competition with both Hamner (.429) and Larry Bowa (.375 in 1980) starring in the Series. But Hamner had a higher slugging percentage (.714 to Bowa’s .417) thanks to two doubles and a triple.

Third Base:
Mike Schmidt (1980)

After a “Who?” and a “What?” at two other infield spots, third base is a “Duh!” Schmidt had two homers, 7 RBIs, scored six runs, hit .381, and was the Series MVP.

Lenny Dykstra (1993)
Jayson Werth (2008)
Bake McBride (1980)

Here’s a roll call of star Phillies outfielders over the years: Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis, Chuck Klein, Pat Burrell, Greg Luzinski, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Calllison, Garry Maddox, Cy Williams. But none make the World Series list. Go figure.

Dysktra’s ridiculous 1993 postseason included his 4-homer, 8-RBI World Series. McBride (.304) and Werth (.444) both had sneaky-good Series outings. There’s not really any other close competitors. Again, go figure.


Kurt said...

Your ability to pull stats together is truly amazing. Of course, you could also be going on the premise that no one is actually going to check your numbers.

John Roach said...

Ahhh, the beauty of the Internet.

Did I mention I was a three-time All-American and two-time MVP of the ACC? Well, technically that's John Roche of South Carolina, but close enough!