Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greatest Ever: Philadelphia Phillies

Continuing my series about the greatest pitchers and position players in the history of each franchise, today I'll tackle the Philadelphia Phillies.

Position Player

Contenders: Richie Ashburn, Ed Delahanty, Mike Schmidt.

The Winner: Ashburn was a great centerfielder in the 1950s, and a very good leadoff man. His fielding statistics are better than anyone who ever played the position, but Bill James studied the issue and attributes those stats to the fact that the Philadelphia pitching staffs of that era were filled with flyball pitchers. That's not to denigrate Ashburn, only to stop people from claiming he was better than Mays or Speaker or Andruw Jones simply because of fielding stats.

The real battle for supremacy among Phillies position players comes down to Schmidt vs. Delahanty. Delahanty was a devastating hitter who played from 1888 to 1903. In fact, he was probably the best hitter of his era. His OPS+ is off the charts. He didn't hit many homers because few did during that era, but he hit so many doubles and triples that if he'd played in the Schmidt era, he would almost certainly have hit many home runs.

Schmidt, you probably know about. He's the greatest third baseman of all time, period. At the plate, he had power and patience. In the field, he was practically flawless.

It's not close: the greatest ever at his position vs. maybe the 20th or 30th greatest outfielder. I'll take Schmidt.


Contenders: Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton.

The Winner: Both Alexander and Carlton are among the 10 greatest pitchers of all time, while Roberts in the top 20 or 30. Alexander is usually rated higher than Carlton, so starts with an advantage. But what hurts Alexander's candidacy is that only 190 of his 373 wins came as a Phillie, whereas 241 of Carlton's 329 victories came with Philadelphia. (Roberts won 234 of his 286 games as a Phillie.)

I'm going to pick Carlton for this particular honor because of his longer tenure with the club, not necessarily because he was a better overall pitcher but rather because he was a better Phillie.

1 comment:

kansasblogger said...

Good call on Ashburn. Few people even know the name, but he played like we was drinking Purple, and the stuff wasn't even around back then. Nice picks!