Shortly after the completion of the 2008 World Series, site patriarch Tim Malcom begun a noble quest: to identify the 100 greatest Phillies in the history of the franchise. Tim’s list was comprehensive, sparked much debate and included everyone from Randy Lerch to Mike Schmidt and everyone in between.
A lot has changed in the five years since Tim compiled the list. Well, perhaps a lot is an understatement: Tim left Phillies Nation just a few months after the final entry was complete, the Phillies would continue their most successful run in franchise history by winning three more division titles, and Phillies Nation saw many changes in personnel and in media space. Who would have thought then that we would have a weekly television show?
For the success this site has had in the last five years, we owe it to our readers. And five years later, we owe our loyal and engaged readership a revised Top 100, one that incorporates all of the advantages Tim did not have and one that is far enough away from the conclusion of the franchise’s historic run to assess it properly.
The things that we have at our disposal that Tim did not are many. They include very much improved and more user-friendly Baseball Reference and FanGraphs sites that make assessing turn-of-the-19th-century players in context a little easier. There has also been a significant explosion in use, and acceptance, of wins above replacement level (WAR) as a tool of comparison among players. We also have a much larger pool of writers to deliberate amongst now.
In addition, many of the players on the 2008 championship team, and the ensuing division winning-teams, were, rightly, unaccounted for on Tim’s original list. For instance, Shane Victorino, who would win two more Gold Gloves after 2008 and appear as an All-Star twice as a Phillie after the World Series victory, was excluded from Tim’s list. With the benefit of hindsight and advanced analytics, you will see more players from the 2008 championship team on this edition of the list.
You will also see folks who did not make the first list that have not played in 80, 90, or in some cases, over 100 years replacing players you or your parents may have watched play at the Vet. This may jar you. It also may jar you that Al Orth, a turn of the century fastballer, may have jumped 20 positions on or list in either direction without having played a game in the meantime. Part of those jarring feelings are what make lists like these, and baseball, so special: everybody’s perception is different.
A perfect illustration of this is how the list was developed: Pat and I spent many hours ranking, debating, re-ranking, and re-debating the Top 100. There are a few players that were particularly contentious where Pat and I had to simply walk away and come back to with cooler heads.
Surprisingly, one of those debates involved Von Hayes.
But in that, Pat and I found that our ideas about baseball, while very similar, were very different at their core. Pat valued contributions to a championship or winning team while I did not mind a hired assassin having two or three career years on the Phillies. Pat took great consideration to off-the-field behavior and some to fan interaction where I couldn’t care less. We even discussed consideration of known steroid users versus suspected steroid users versus perceived clean guys – Pat erred on the side of caution with steroids where as I took a more liberal approach.
In the process, Pat and I came to agree on the ranking of the Top 100 Phillies players of all-time, what we believe is a delicate balance of two similar but completely different view points with a hint of Tim Malcom’s work thrown in as well.
You can expect to see groups of five Phillies revealed each day, with more popular or notable Phillies receiving their own entry. Each Phillie was ranked based solely on their time with the Phillies, so awards and championships won with other teams do not count. Pat and I made our decisions based off of our own understanding or interpretation of the following: impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics.
With each entry, we will provide some information about the player, including their franchise rank in fWAR, where they were on the 2008 edition, etc. and why the player ranks where he does on the list. The list is reserved for players only – this means you won’t be seeing Charlie Manuel or Paul Owens on this list.
We look forward to a lively an active debate. We will begin with some stats of our own:
- 29 of the players in this year’s list are brand new to the Top 100
- The largest positive jump in position from the previous list to the new Top 100 was 42.
- The largest negative fall in position from the previous list to the new Top 100 was 66.
- There are four active Phillies in the Top 27.
- There are seven players who remain in the same spots as they did in 2008.
- The largest jump for an active player was +28.
Numbers 100 through 96 will be posted tomorrow. We sincerely hope you enjoy the list and look forward to your participation.