Over the last couple of months during this shutdown of baseball, I’ve presented a series here at The Bell. Each piece in the series has presented a position-by-position comparison of the 1980 and 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship teams. You can find a link to each of those individual comparisons below.
So, now it’s time to make a final determination: which was the greatest Phillies team of all-time?
As I pointed out early on during the series’ presentation, arguments can be made that some other Phillies team was better than either of those 1980 or 2008 clubs. Perhaps you prefer the regular season 102-win team from 2011 or either of the 101-win teams from 1977 or 1978. Maybe the pennant winners from 1915, 1950, 1983, 1993 or 2009 is your choice.
For me, winning during the regular season is great. Winning a division crown gets you into postseason play. Winning a pennant gets you a spot in the Fall Classic. However, the ultimate goal is to actually win a world championship. To walk away with the trophy and, these days, to enjoy a victory parade with your fans.
Only those 1980 and 2008 Phillies teams managed to both navigate through a long Major League Baseball regular season to reach the playoffs, but then also went on to fight through the crucible of October postseason baseball to win the World Series.
To make the determination of which team may have been better, a look at the individual comparison pieces in the series to see if they reveal anything of interest. There were 11 such comparisons, one for each of the eight positions on the diamond and then three more covering the starting rotations, bullpens, and bench groups.
The 2008 Phillies came out on top in my evaluation of the starting rotation, bullpen, bench, shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. The 1980 Phillies won out at catcher, third base, first base, and right field.
Back in April, the folks at legendary board and simulation game Strat-O-Matic played out a fantasy series between the two teams. In that best-of seven series the 1980 Phillies came out on top, clinching the victory on Schmidt’s three-run home run in the top of the 9th inning of Game 6 at Citizens Bank Park.
However, I’m going the other way. These are two great teams. Both had all the ingredients needed to compete with any baseball team at any time in the game’s history. For me the 2008 Phillies were just a little bit better overall, especially in the depth and quality of their bench and bullpen.
That’s the call here. The greatest team in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise reached that pinnacle when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske and dropped to his knees, where he was then mobbed by Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and the rest of the gang.
5.28.20 – Right field
5.05.20 – Center field
4.27.20 – Left field
4.18.20 – First base
4.16.20 – Second base
4.10.20 – Shortstop
4.02.20 – Third base
3.30.20 – Catcher
3.24.20 – Bench reserves
3.20.20 – Relief pitching
3.18.20 – Starting pitching