(This post is from one of our finest commenters on Phillies Nation, Don M. You can catch him in the comments section almost daily, giving his take on all things Phillies.)
Right around the time when Pitchers and Catchers (or in the Phillies case, ACES and Catchers) reported to Spring Training, MLB Network began listing their “Top 100 RIGHT NOW” player rankings. The very nature of the topic is to start debate, as there is no clear right or wrong answer. I believe that MLB Network had seven Phillies on their countdown: Shane Victorino #82, Cole Hamels #71, Roy Oswalt #51, Cliff Lee #31, Chase Utley #26, Ryan Howard #25, and Roy Halladay #2.
I never quite found out what their criteria were… but Mariano Rivera was #11 overall!?? So you know it was kind of a joke to begin with.
In talking with Pat Gallen, I mentioned that it would be interesting to get everyone’s take on the Top 10 Phillies – RIGHT NOW, so Pat told me to give it a shot. Where I would rank our Phillies, if starting a team, looking at their possible impact in the next 3 seasons?
Here is what I came up with:
- 1. Roy Halladay
- 2. Cliff Lee
- 3. Cole Hamels
- 4. Ryan Howard
- 5. Chase Utley
- 6. Roy Oswalt
- 7. Placido Polanco
- 8. Jimmy Rollins
- 9. Carlos Ruiz
- 10. Ryan Madson
Roy Halladay -Best pitcher in the game, and from the looks of it, should be able to continue dominating for years to come. Halladay was a very easy choice for #1.
Cliff Lee/ Cole Hamels -I understand that my Cole Hamels selection will catch a lot of criticism, but he’s got better career numbers than Cliff Lee in ERA (3.53 vs. 3.85), WHIP (1.18 vs. 1.26), Batting Average Against (.242 vs. 260), and K’s per 9 (8.94 vs. 6.93). Hamels is also 5 years younger. I see Cole being in Cy Young contention for the next decade or so, and as his baseball-smarts catch up to his talent, he has a chance to be SCARY-GOOD very, very soon.
Cliff Lee has the better postseason numbers, and thus, a slightly higher ranking, but unlike the rest of our pitching staff, Cole is seemingly still on the way up. If we were saying the next 5-10 years, Hamels would be my #2, but with the time limit at 3 seasons, it’s Lee by a hair.
Ryan Howard/ Chase Utley – Chase doesn’t have the power numbers that Ryan Howard has, but potentially has the ability to switch positions at some point is his career if needed. 1b, LF … and yes Howard is a first baseman, but I don’t know how long he’ll hold up – being a big framed guy. He’s been doing a lot to work on flexibility and weight loss the past few seasons… so we’ll see. I’ve stated before that I think Ryan Howard is a definite Hall of Famer, and Chase Utley still has work to do… but starting a team today? It’s a tough call, and if it wasn’t for the recent injuries of Utley, I would probably give him the nod. You just can’t help but consider the fact that his all-out play might be taking its toll on his body.
Roy Oswalt - There is no questioning what he’s accomplished in his career, but from what we’ve heard lately, “Little Roy” only has a few years before he wants to call it quits. I think we’ve seen the best of him, but a declining Roy Oswalt is still better than most. (I’m among the guilty in not giving Oswalt the credit he deserves; he’s actually got a lower Career ERA (3.18 vs. 3.32), identical WHIP (1.18), and a slightly lower Batting Average Against (.252 vs. .254) than Halladay)!!! If we knew Oswalt wanted to keep pitching for at least 3 more years, he would be ranked much higher!
Placido Polanco – Polly was one of the most difficult for me to rank. He doesn’t do any one thing to make him stand out, but instead it’s all the little things. He isn’t as great a defender as Rollins, but he is a better all-around hitter. Also, I would be willing to bet that Polanco could play every single position on the field, if needed. People hate the term “professional hitter,” but that to me most perfectly describes what Placido Polanco is. Gun-to-my-head and had to pick one player to simply get on base?? I’m probably taking Polanco.
Jimmy Rollins – (My all-time favorite Phillies player). All those games on that bad Vet turf, a few injuries the past year. Rollins is prime defender at one of the most important positions on the diamond. I wonder how many years he has left and if he can stay at Short Stop the whole time? Again, in the next 3 years, I think Rollins is still great enough with the glove, and good enough with the bat to warrant this ranking.
Carlos Ruiz – You have to love the way Chooch has developed into one of the best game-callers, and defensive catchers in baseball… his bat arrives when the pressure is on. He’s a big game player, and huge reason the Phillies have succeeded over the past few years. (Many will say he could be ranked higher, but with the talent of our pitching staff, I believe that they could do pretty well calling their own games, etc. …there is no doubt that Chooch enhances their abilities though!)
Ryan Madson – Has developed into one of the best setup men in all of baseball, he’s got good enough stuff to change that title to “one of the best CLOSERS in all of baseball.” Ryan looked shaky in the closer’s role earlier in his career, but he seems to thrive under pressure –he’s a big game pitcher, and possible successor to Brad Lidge. (I can’t imagine the pressure of the 9th inning is anything greater than that of the Setup Role in the postseason?) I believe Madson can make the transition.
Juuuust a bit outside – Honorable Mentions:
Shane Victorino – I’m clearly not the biggest Victorino fan in the world, but his speed is Game Changing (HE JUST DOESN’T USE IT ENOUGH!!!). If he could learn how to freaking bunt, we could see a dangerous leadoff man with Gold Glove OF skills …but as long as Victorino would rather hit HRs than simply use his speed get on base, he stays off my list.
Domonic Brown – The Phillies scouts have been very smart with what players they want to keep, and who they think is expendable (i.e. Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Michael Taylor). There was NO chance that they were going to let Domonic Brown go, as they truly believe he’s got a chance to be great. A still-young, 5 tool player… lets hope he’s the real deal… and if that’s what the Front Office believe, I buy it! If this list was projecting more than 1, 2, 3 years away… I think Brown makes my list and some of the older guys (i.e. Polanco) would slide down.
I’ll be interested to see who everyone else picks… and just how bad my own selections were!
Let me have it!!.. DonM