The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #47. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff.
From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.
Please check back Monday morning for #46.
#47 – John Kruk
.309/.400/.461, 62 HR, 33 SB in 3001 PA
Previous Rank: 33 (-14)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 32nd among position players, 46th among Phillies
Signature Moment: At-bat in the 1993 All-Star Game against Randy Johnson
Made three consecutive All-Star Teams (1991-1993)
The Kruker arrived in Philadelphia with Randy Ready in a trade that sent Chris James to San Diego on June 2, 1989. The trade was a fortuitous one for the Phillies: Kruk would play parts of six seasons with the Phillies, making three-straight All-Star teams from 1991 through 1993, successfully splitting time between the outfield and first base while James hit .264/.314/.429 in a half season for San Diego before being traded to the Cleveland Indians, making no All-Star teams.
Kruk didn’t look like a baseball player: listed at 5’10″, 170 lbs on his rookie card, Kruk often took the field looking disheveled, often with stubble, unkempt hair, most notably worn in a mullet, and what looked like an increasingly large paunch. Kruk was lampooned by Saturday Night Live’s Chris Farley and would write a book, I Ain’t an Athlete, Lady in 1994. Yet, despite all that Kruk had to work against, Kruk was a leader on the 1993 pennant-winning Phillies squad that would reach the World Series.
Kruk is the Phillies All-Time leader among first baseman with at-least 3,000 PA in batting average and OBP and is fifth in the same group in slugging. Among first baseman from 1989 through 1994, Kruk trailed only Frank Thomas in OBP and ranked eighth in OPS, higher than Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Andres Galarraga among others. Kruk was one of the most likable players in Phillies history but also one of the most underrated: his appearances on three consecutive All-Star teams were deserved and his World Series performance (.348/.500/.391 in 30 1993 World Series PA) was one to remember.
Kruk has gone on to become a somewhat larger than life character outside of baseball. An errant pick-off attempt by Mitch Williams in 1994 broke Kruk’s protective cup but led to a screening that helped detect testicular cancer. While Kruk was the fodder for comedians throughout the 90s, he has become quite the media personality in his own right, joining the ESPN Baseball Tonight crew in 2004 and remaining there to this day. In 2003, Kruk was elected via fan vote as the first baseman on the All-Vet Team and in 2011, Kruk was inducted on to the Phillies Wall of Fame.