100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 10 – Bobby Abreu

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 17, 2009 02:00 PM Comments: 82

Bobby Abreu

Career w/Phillies: .303 AVG / 195 HR / 814 RBI / 254 SB

In 1997, the Phillies traded longtime shortstop Kevin Stocker to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In return, the Phils received outfielder Bob Abreu, a soon-to-be 24-year-old roster filler who performed invisibly for the Astros a year previously. Abreu was selected by the Rays in the expansion draft, but that same day Tampa thought they wouldn’t need a potential fifth outfielder candidate. Little did they know who Abreu would become. The Phils, however, would reap those benefits.

Abreu would run off a nine-year career where he’d break .300 six times. He’d break 100 runs six times. Somehow he’d break 100 runs batted in five more times as a Phillie. To be short, Abreu was a complete offensive machine. His specialty was getting on base. Only once during his Phillie career did he finish under .400 in OBP, and that was a .393 mark in 2001, still pretty good. That’s because the patient Abreu walked frequently — he averaged about 105 walks per season as a Phillie. Also a consistent hitter, he averaged close to 175 hits per year.

Abreu’s considerable power was at its best in 2001 (31 HR) and 2004 (30). That season might be his best — he earned his first of two All-Star berths, and a Silver Slugger while finishing third in the NL in steals with a career-high 40. The next season Abreu made a second consecutive All-Star team and rewarded Phillie fans with maybe his most memorable moment: Swatting more than 40 home runs in the Home Run Derby, setting a then-derby record.

Other memorable moments? Remember Abreu’s dribbler that beat Aaron Heilman and the Mets in April 2006? Or his game-winning inside-the-park home run in 2000 against the Giants — one of 15 game-winning inside-the-park homers in baseball history.

But that derby moment stands out because Abreu played for some bad teams. Only later in his Phillie career did he play on better teams, but Abreu’s three postseason opportunities came with different teams, and all were quick exits. In the field Abreu was mediocre, to say the least, but somehow earned a Gold Glove in 2005. There are also some who say the Phils only became a great team when they traded Abreu in 2006. Is it true? Hard to actually admit it, but to be blunt, Abreu was considered the team’s star late in his Phillie days. He could never be the go-to guy, but he was absolutely an offensive juggernaut. Two-time 30-30 player. Seven-time 20-20 player.

Comment: Argue about Abreu’s placement, but glance at those numbers. Simply awesome. Abreu was wildly consistent and produced a career arc that most players would salivate over. His power came as he hit his prime, yet his .300 average remained in tact. He could run, he could hit, he could score, he could play passable defense. Considering Abreu had his best years while Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero and others tore up baseball, one might say Abreu will be looked upon as one of the great underrated players in baseball history. But even simpler: Abreu is absolutely one of the greatest Phillies in history. He opens the top 10.


100 Greatest Phillies: 11 – Sherry Magee

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 16, 2009 04:13 PM Comments: 23

Sherry Magee

Career w/Phillies: .299 AVG / 75 HR / 886 RBI / 387 SB

Born in Clarendon, Sherwood Magee became one of the most underrated hitters of all time, leading the Phillies through the Dead Ball Era with a high combination of power, speed and contact. Signed in 1904, Magee immediately made a mark, hitting .277. His average would dip below that only once more. Seven times he finished in the top 10 in National League home runs; seven times as a Phillie he finished in the top 10 in triples. His slugging percentage twice crept above .500; his on-base percentage once crept above .440. He was an RBI machine, leading the league three times. He was a stolen base machine, reaching the top 10 multiple times. He racked up bases, he scored runs. 1910 was probably his best year, when he hit .331 to lead the National League. While forgotten to an extent, Magee was given the chance to make the Hall of Fame because of a veterans committee effort; he didn’t get enough votes. Still, his unbelievable offensive consistency is almost second to none in Phillie history.

Comment: Another early-day Phillie with great offensive numbers, Magee simply hit the ball well. Is he a Hall of Famer? Maybe. But the Dead Ball Era doesn’t get the respect it might deserve. Still, we know Magee is a legend, and maybe not quite a top 10 player. But right on the cusp.

And starting tomorrow, we’ll begin the top 10. If you know your Phillies, you know which 10 are remaining. We’ll unveil No. 10 tomorrow at the St. Patrick’s Day tailgate party at Bright House Field.


100 Greatest Phillies: 12 – Curt Schilling

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, March 15, 2009 06:14 PM Comments: 24

Curt Schilling
Starting Pitcher

Career w/Phillies:
16591.1 IP / 101-78 / 3.35 ERA / 1554 K

On October 21, 1993, Curt Schilling became a star. The aggressive 26-year-old right-hander slayed the powerful Toronto Blue Jays batting order, defeating them 2-0 in game five of the World Series. This came after two solid seasons — a 1992 season where he finished with a dominant 2.35 ERA (fourth) and a 1993 campaign where he finished 16-7 with a 4.07 ERA. It was the game that launched a dominance many have not seen in baseball. But that dominance didn’t quite occur right away. For three seasons Schilling battled through injury while baseball battled through labor troubles. He still finished with respectable totals (18-23 with an ERA near 3.30), but what most astonished were his strikeout totals, which neared 200 by 1996. In 1997 he exploded, going the full year with a 17-11 record, a 2.97 ERA and 319 strikeouts, leading the league. In 1998 he recorded 300 strikeouts again, this time going 15-14 with a 3.25 ERA. Injuries slowed him in 1999, but Schilling still finished 15-6 with a 3.54 ERA and 152 Ks. In 2000 he was still doing his thing, but problems with management forced Schilling out of Philadelphia via trade. Though he extended his career by almost a decade, helping Arizona and Boston win championships with 20-win performances, he’ll remain a Phillie, first and foremost. Schilling became dominant as a Phillie, throwing some incredible games during his heyday.

Comment: Say what you will about Schilling’s character, but his pitching cannot be denied. He was a stone-cold dominator, annually a top 10 finisher in strikeouts, ERA and complete games, most times leading the league. He was the unquestionable ace of the Phillies during his career, and between Carlton and Hamels, no one was better. He just misses the top 10, but as Schilling might very well hit the Hall of Fame, placement at 12 seems justified.


100 Greatest Phillies: 13 – Billy Hamilton

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, March 14, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 22

Billy Hamilton

Career w/Phillies: .360 AVG / 23 HR / 367 RBI / 508 SB

“Sliding Billy” sounds like an appropriate nickname for Billy Hamilton, a thieving outfielder with an elite bat who gave the Phillies six unbelievable seasons in the late 1880s. His biggest claim to fame? The single-season run-scoring record: An unapproachable 192. He came to the Phils after being purchased from the Kansas City Cowboys for close to $6,000 in 1890. He instantly made his mark, stealing 102 bases in 123 games in 1890 while scoring 133 times. He regularly scored over 130 runs per season, while at times ascending far above 50 stolen bases per season. He was a two-time batting champion, a four-time on base champ while a Phillie and a regular walk king. His career .455 on-base mark is fourth all time behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and John McGraw. His 912 steals are third best ever behind Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. Obviously, Billy Hamilton is a legend.

Comment: If Hamilton played his entire career for the red and white, he would’ve been easily a top five player. As it stands, Hamilton’s unreal combination of hitting and running is unmatched in franchise history — he’s a definite baseball legend and one of the great forgotten Phils.


100 Greatest Phillies: 14 – Jim Bunning

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 13, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 32

Jim Bunning
Starting Pitcher
1964-1967, 1970-1971

Career w/Phillies: 1520.2 IP / 89-73 / 2.92 ERA / 1197 K

Four incredible seasons make Jim Bunning one of the greatest Phillies of all time. Let’s see: ERAs of 2.63, 2.60, 2.41 and 2.29. Win totals of 19, 19, 19 and 17. Strikeout totals of 219, 268, 252 and 253. That’s just dominant. Bunning came to the Phillies through a trade – at the time he was entering his 30s and had a tough 1963 with the Tigers. The Phils took a gamble on Bunning and came out victorious; the right-hander was in the NL top 10 in ERA, wins, strikeouts per nine innings, WHIP, hits per nine innings, shutouts, complete games and strikeouts every season during his first Phillie tenure. Hilariously, he led the league in hit batsmen every season, too. Because of his amazing consistency it’s hard to pick a best season. Maybe that 1964 season, when he finished 19-8. Or 1965, when he struck out a career-high 268 batters. Or 1966, when he threw a career-high 314 innings yet kept his ERA below 2.50. Or is it 1967, when he slung a crazy-low 2.29 ERA? Back in that ’64 season Bunning threw a Father’s Day perfect game. Talk about beautiful moments. The Phils traded Bunning to Pittsburgh after 1967, getting Don Money in return. But Bunning would come back in 1970, going 10-15. He had one more season left in him, finishing with a brutal 5-12 record and 5.48 ERA. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996, and his No. 14 is retired by the Phillies. Today Bunning is the junior senator in Kentucky, and while he’s made his share of controversial comments, he’ll always be a superb right-hander in our eyes.

Comment: Okay, so Bunning has a retired number and is a Hall of Famer. But brass tacks: He had just four great seasons with the Phillies. Sure, they were amazing seasons, but there were merely four of them. His final run in Philly actually stained his mark a tad. That all said, I think it’s pretty appropriate Bunning is ranked where he is. And he is a living Phillies legend.


100 Greatest Phillies: 15 – Cy Williams

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 12, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 14

Cy Williams

Career w/Phillies: .305 AVG / 217 HR / 795 RBI / 77 SB

Only three players born before 1900 ever hit 200 home runs: Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby and Cy Williams. A massive power hitting center fielder, Williams was a four-time National League home run champion. His 41-homer season of 1923 was one of the top longball seasons in the National League for a long time. He backed that total up with a 24-homer season in ’24 and an 18-homer season in ’26, before swatting 30 more in 1927, again leading the league. How did he do it? The left-handed slugger pulled the ball at will, and with Baker Bowl’s short distance to right field, Williams was made to hit in Philadelphia. And because of his pull style, managers developed the “Williams shift,” sending fielders to the right side of the diamond to defeat Williams. That shift is employed today, especially against Phillies current slugger Ryan Howard. Williams ranks sixth on the club’s all time home run list, along with a 10th-place showing on the RBI list and an eighth-place rank on the franchise hit list. The prodigious hitter is also 11th all time in batting average, coming in at just under .306. He finished his Phillie career in 1930 after slowing down his offensive output. He became an architect before passing in 1974.

Comment: A forgotten legend, Cy Williams was a superb home run hitter who could drive the ball enough to support a fine batting average. Credit the Baker Bowl and the live-ball era for some of his success, but his place in Phillie historic leader boards are evidence he deserves a top 20 ranking.


100 Greatest Phillies: 16 – Del Ennis

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, March 11, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 36

Del Ennis

Career w/Phillies: .286 AVG / 259 HR / 1124 RBI / 44 SB

Born in Philadelphia, Del Ennis got to live a boyhood dream by playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. And boy, did he make it work. Recruited out of Olney High School, Ennis flew right away with a solid rookie season. He hit .313, driving in 73 while hitting 30 doubles at age 21. His career took off from there, scoring six total top-15 finishes in MVP voting as a Phillie while boasting big numbers – eight seasons of 20 or more homers, including two 30-homer years. His best, of course, was that magical 1950 season, when at age 25, Ennis hit .311, hitting 31 homers and driving in a career-high 126. That total led the league; he’d score nine top-10 finishes in RBI over his Phillie career. He ended his Phillie career after being traded to the Cardinals for Bobby Morgan and Rip Repulski in 1956. At the time, he was the all-time franchise home run king; he’d give up that throne to Mike Schmidt 25 years later. He died in 1996 after complications with diabetes. He is buried in Roslyn.

Comment: We continue to straddle the line with guys who aren’t quite Hall of Famers, but boast impressive resumes. Ennis was a standout, pure and simple. He could hit anything; of course, he was overshadowed by some legends who played during his time. And he was a Philly boy. Utmost respect for Ennis.


100 Greatest Phillies: 17 – Greg Luzinski

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 10, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 37

Greg Luzinski

Career w/Phillies: .280 AVG / 223 HR / 811 RBI / 29 SB

“The Bull” was a state of being as much as it was a nickname. Greg Luzinski, a hulking, brutish man of 225 pounds, was one of the most feared sluggers in Phillies history. Drafted by the Phils in the first round in 1968, Luzinski made his mark at age 21, in 1972. Playing a full season in the outfield, Luzinski hit 18 home runs, and just as impressive, recorded a .281 average. That would be the hallmark of Luzinski’s splendid career: While his power ballooned, his average remained solid. His best hitting season was 1977, when he hit .309 with 39 home runs and 130 runs batted in. He finished second in National League MVP voting to George Foster and his 52 homers. Luzinski also had a fantastic 1975 season, hitting 34 bombs, driving in 120 and hitting .300. Again he finished second in MVP voting, this time to Joe Morgan (.327, 67 SB). The Bull would have a few more great offensive seasons until 1980, when injuries derailed him to a tune of 19 HR, 56 RBI, .228 AVG. Breaking the hearts of Phillie fans after the ’80 world championship, Luzinski was allowed free agency and signed with the White Sox. He returned to form there, hitting 84 homers primarily as the team’s designated hitter. Despite his final seasons in Chicago, Luzinski is forever a Phillie. His No. 19, mutton chops, chubby face and nice demeanor lives on at Bull’s BBQ at Citizens Bank Park.

Comment: The four-time All-Star was one of the top sluggers of the 1970s, but never reached the star power of the Fosters, Stargells and Schmidts of the world. Still, The Bull was a great home run hitter, and an imposing presence on the list. The man just ahead of him … very, very slightly better.


100 Greatest Phillies: 18 – Gavvy Cravath

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 09, 2009 04:59 PM Comments: 15

Gavvy Cravath

Career w/Phillies: .291 AVG / 117 HR / 676 RBI / 80 SB

Part of the 1915 National League championship team, Clifford Carlton Cravath was not just a skilled hitter, but very likely the second best hitter of his time. Between Honus Wagner in the early 1900s and Rogers Hornsby and Babe Ruth in the 1920s, there was Ty Cobb, and there was Gavvy. For seven consecutive seasons he hit more than 20 doubles, averaging 10 triples per season in that period. And he was also a potent home run hitter, maxing at 24 (a single-season “modern-day” record until Babe Ruth broke it in 1919) in that special 1915 season. He led the league in homers that season, and in five other seasons. He led the league in RBI two times, and led the league in OPS three times. He finished second in MVP voting in 1913, when he hit .341 with 19 homers and 128 RBI, a career-best season. These days that would likely be a 60-homer, 160-RBI season. He was that good. Sadly, he never got a great chance in the majors — after starting slow, the White Sox traded him to the Washington Senators, who quickly moved him to a minor-league team. He didn’t get regular playing time until he landed with the Phillies at age 31. The rest, however, is history.

Comment: Gavvy had a seven-year run almost unparalleled in Phillie history. He was easily the National League’s biggest home run threat, and just a downright great offensive player. Compared to those ahead of him, Cravath lacked longevity and superior all-around play. But ultimately, Cravath was — for a couple years — the biggest home run hitter in baseball. Not necessarily a Hall of Famer, he comes eekingly close


100 Greatest Phillies: 19 – Jimmy Rollins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, March 08, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 37

Jimmy Rollins

Career w/Phillies: .277 AVG / 125 HR / 544 RBI / 295 SB

No player has personified the fighting city of Philadelphia quite like Jimmy Rollins. The scrappy but wildly athletic Oakland, Calif., kid came to Philly after being selected in the second round of the 1996 amateur draft. He played sparingly in 2000, but became a full-fledged regular during the 2001 season. Instantly he found himself thrown into a Wild Card race, and though the Phils didn’t win, Rollins quickly learned he was coming into an organization on the turn forward. Hitting .274 with an NL-best 46 stolen bases, Rollins finished third in Rookie of the Year voting to two fellow living legends: Roy Oswalt and Albert Pujols. Rollins suffered a sophomore slump in 2002 but improved in ’03 despite lower homer and stolen base numbers. He finally came into his own in 2004, starting a string of strong seasons that was capped by an otherworldly 2007: 30 HR, 94 RBI, .296 AVG, 139 R, 38 2B, 20 3B, 41 SB. The main reason for the Phils first division crown in 14 years, Rollins had his best Phillie moment on clinching day — a triple that sealed a monumental 20-20-20-20 MVP campaign. Despite an injury Rollins turned in another strong season in 2008, stealing a career-best 47 bases. A four-time triples leader, a three-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glover and a one-time MVP, Rollins is one of the great leaders in Phillies history, and a downright tremendous player.

Comment: One of the toughest battles in ranking the Phillies was between Rollins and No. 20, Johnny Callison. I ultimately went with Rollins because of the accomplishments at a defense-first position, the MVP and the leadership of a world championship team. It was very, very close. A few more strong seasons and Rollins is a top 10 player, and maybe a Hall of Fame consideration.

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