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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #49 Stan Lopata

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, January 23, 2014 01:00 PM | Comments: 8
Features, History, Phillies Nation Top 100 - 2014

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #49. 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. To view this year’s Top 100 Phillies list, click here.

Please check back tomorrow morning for #48.

#49– Stan Lopata

Years: 1948-1958

.257/.355/.459, 116 HR, 18 SB in 2545 PA

Previous Rank: New to Rankings

fWAR Phillies Rank: 35th among position players, 51st among Phillies

Signature Series: Hit 32 HR with .267/.353/.535 in 625 PA in All-Star 1956 season

Made two-straight All-Star teams (1955-1956)

“Stash” was one of the most unlikely stars in Phillies history. Tabbed the starting catcher over veteran Andy Seminick prior to the start of the season in 1949, Lopata ended up starting less games than Seminick but put up a solid .271/.330/.425 line with 8 HR in 261 PA as a 24-year old rookie. Lopata would remain the back-up catcher for the 1950 Whiz Kids and reached the World Series. By 1951, Lopata was fighting injuries and was being shuttled back and forth between Philadelphia and the Triple-A Baltimore Orioles. Lopata would return to the Phillies full-time in 1952, becoming one of the league’s most productive back-ups, hitting 14 homers with a .290/.369/.544 line in 298 PA.

It was during the 1954 campaign that Lopata adapted a batting stance so low that Jeff Bagwell would be envious. In 1955, Lopata would split time with the returning Seminick and a June hot streak (.339/.382/.613, 5 HR) would push Lopata on to the All-Star team. Lopata would return to the All-Star team in his only year with the Phillies where he accumulated over 450 plate appearances, hitting 32 HR. Despite his limited playing time, Lopata ranked fifth in homers among catchers, had the sixth best walk-rate among catchers, ninth in OBP, and fourth in slugging among catchers between 1948 and 1958. Despite rarely being a starter, Lopata, and his signature glasses, was one of the very best catchers the Phillies had and was one of the best catchers in baseball for eleven seasons.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 673 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 schmenkman

    Between Seminick and Lopata, and also Smokey Burgess, from 1949 through 1956 Phillies catchers hit a combined .270/.366/.456 (a wRC+ of 120, and 38 WAR).

    That made them the 2nd best catching core in the majors over that period, behind only Yogi Berra and the Yankees (wRC+ of 123, and 44 WAR).

     
  • Posts: 17 whizkidfanatic

    Avatar of whizkidfanatic

    Stan Lopata was a good guy who suffered some injuries that cut his career short after 1957.

    He developed his peculiar crouching stance after some advice from HOFamer Rogers Hornsby.

    When teammate John Wyrostek asked Hornsby what he thought about Lopata as a hitter, Hornsby mentioned that he wasn’t picking the pitch up soon enough. Stan then developed his crouch and immediately began hitting much better.

    A good ballplayer who was quiet and professional.

     
  • Posts: 498 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    I remember seeing him catch for the Phillies during the mid-50′s when I was a young boy (smile). Watch the games shown in black and white on a 19″ screen TV .

    I loved to watch “Stosh” Lopata in a low crouch facing the pitcher. The opposing pitcher would often be annoyed with Lopata. Home plate umpire would called pitches (balls) in favor of Lopata because of his low stance.

    I’m not sure I would rank Lopata that high (#49) when you look at the overall criteria including defensive skills and calling pitches but I’m not complaining.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phil

    Must be too young to remember Puddin Head Jones.

     
    • Posts: 498 Bruce

      Avatar of Bruce

      I remember Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones. (smile) If I remember correctly, he played 3B. He used to have some funny lines such as “my dogs (feet) are killin’ me”. Great Dodger killer with clutch hits in close games. Especially memorable to me is the Robin Roberts vs. Don Newcombe (of Brooklyn Dodgers) pitching duels and Jones would delivered.a dramatic hit to drive in the eventual winning run.

       
      • Posts: 716 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        A quick search finds this article from early 1950, titled “Willie Jones Loves to Hit Dodger Balls” (I’m not kidding):

        http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19500428&id=3oJOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=skIDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6758,5189023

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        schmenkman,

        That’s an awesome link. There are a few interesting ads and articles, including the one about the White Sox getting swindled by agreeing to pay $1,000 to the Pirates for a “pitcher” which turned out to be a broken pitching machine. Sadly, 56 years later, the White Sox got revenge on PA’s other baseball team by selling the broken pitching machine named Freddy Garcia to the Phillies for Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        “Puddin’ Head” wasn’t the brightest bulb but he was a very good ballplayer and a fixture at 3rd during my childhood. Had a couple of very good years as a hitter but really shined defensively. A two-time all-star selection in the earlier part of his career.

         
 
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