Tag Archives: Cliff Lee

Offensive ending to 2019 a harbinger for winning Phillies in 2020?

There is no arguing that the Philadelphia Phillies 2019 season can rightly be considered a failure. The final 81-81 record and fourth place divisional finish was a major disappointment to an organization and fan base that began the season with lofty expectations.

The Phillies entered the season’s final month with a winning record at 69-65. Though they had fallen to third place by that point, the club was still squarely in the postseason hunt at just 3.5 games behind the second NL Wildcard playoff berth.

Over that final month, the Phillies produced just a 12-16 record, collapsing in both the standings and that playoff hunt. In the end, they finished eight games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for that second NL Wildcard spot.

However, despite the losing record during the month of September 2019, there were positive signs which might bode well for the 2020 Phillies campaign to come.

While much was made last season of injuries to the bullpen and inconsistencies across the starting pitching rotation – and those did indeed exist, and were obvious contributing factors to the final record – one fundamental offensive statistic also reveals a big part of the problem.

In 2019, the Phillies offense finished 14th, or middle-of-the-pack among the 30 teams of Major League Baseball, with 774 runs scored. Seems about what you might expect for a .500 ball club, right?

But when you take a glance only a little bit beyond those overall numbers you find more than just a middling group of run producers. The 2019 Phillies hitters cannot even be considered to have been simply inconsistent. This was actually a truly schizophrenic bunch.

The magic number for the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies turned out to be four. Score four or more runs, and you win the vast majority of the time. Don’t reach that mark and you lose.

The Phillies were 72-23 during the 2019 season in those games in which the offense produced at least four runs scored. That figure was fourth-best in the 15-team National League, trailing only the baseball’s top regular season club, the LA Dodgers, as well as the World Series champion Washington Nationals and the NL Central champion Saint Louis Cardinals.

However, when the Phillies offense failed to reach that four-run mark, the club went just 9-58, a .134 winning percentage that was 14th of the 15 National League clubs.

The deficient pitching was a big part of that latter poor record. When the Phillies offense couldn’t score, the pitching wasn’t good enough to win games on their own.

For some perspective, the franchise-record 102-win Phillies team of 2011 failed to score at least four runs in 78 games. Last year’s club was 11 games better in that regard. The 2011 club with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Raul Ibanez leading the way finished just 13th in the NL in runs scored that year.

But that 2011 Phillies ball club also went 30-48 during games in which their offense failed to score at least four runs. It was the outstanding pitching of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Vance Worley, and a solid bullpen led by closer Ryan Madson that made such a record possible.

The Phillies addressed their offensive shortcoming that year, acquiring the dynamic bat of Hunter Pence just prior to the trade deadline. The club produced at least four runs in 27 of the first 36 games with Pence in the lineup and nearly doubled their lead in the NL East over that six week period.

The point of all this being that had the 2019 Phillies been able to score at least four runs more frequently – and they averaged 4.78 per game – they would have been a winning ball club. That’s even with their poor pitching. They may even have been a playoff team. Of the top eight teams in average runs scored per game, seven reached the 2019 postseason.

Despite their poor 12-16 record over the month of September, the offense finally began to produce more consistently. During the season’s final month the Phillies set a new franchise record for home runs in a single month by slugging 46 long balls.

It wasn’t just a power surge. Beginning with games of August 27, the Phillies stole 23 consecutive bases without being caught. This was the first such successful stolen base streak by the club in a decade. Their 81.3% success rate overall in 2019 was the fifth-best by any Phillies team since the statistic was first tracked over a half-century ago.

With the increased power linked up to the effective use of speed over that final month, the Phillies offense produced at least four runs in 16 of 28 games. The hitters averaged 6.78 runs scored per game during the month, two more runs per game than over the full season.

Certainly the Phillies 2020 offense cannot be expected to score four or more runs in 90 games, and the team will not average more than 6.5 runs per game. That would be the pace set by the team in September of last season.

Also, it wasn’t as if much of that increased production came from those expected to be regulars in 2020. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, the club’s two most consistently productive hitters over the course of the season, had fairly normal production levels in September.

Meanwhile, a few of the others had a poor month. Rhys Hoskins slashed just .170/.274/350 over 117 plate appearances. Scott Kingery slashed .191/.232/.393 over 96 plate appearances during September. Jean Segura was .238/.253/.333 during the month. Those three, expected to be regulars in 2020, combined for nine homers, 28 RBIs, 34 runs, and nine stolen bases in September.

One of the biggest run producers for the Phillies during September 2019 was Brad Miller. The utility man received 56 plate appearances during a month in which he slashed .327/.339/.800 with eight home runs, 11 RBIs, and 12 runs scored. Miller played in 66 games and made 26 starts for the Phillies last season after joining the club in mid-June. The 30-year-old is currently a free agent.

The addition of Zack Wheeler to the starting rotation and expected better seasons from both Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta should combine with better health and consistency from the bullpen in the coming season to give the Phillies better results on the mound.

Given reasonable health in 2020 by the key players in the lineup, the increased offensive production of September 2019 could indeed be a harbinger of better days to come. The performances of Hoskins, Kingery, and Segura this coming season will be pivotal in making that happen.

Combine even a modest turn towards those better offensive numbers with a similarly modest increase in performance from the pitching staff, add them to the presence of new manager Joe Girardi, and it all could well add up to that elusive winning record and playoff berth in 2020 for the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

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Phillies top seasonal performances of the 2010’s

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Bryce Harper‘s 35 homers in 2019 were the most by a Phillies player for any season during the 2010’s decade

 

Two weeks from today will be New Year’s Eve and we will be formally ringing out 2019 as well as the decade of the 2010’s.

A few weeks back, I presented a WAR-based list of the top 10 Phillies players of the past decade. With this piece, I’m going to look at individual seasonal performances.

Who provided the top home run seasons, stolen base seasons, strikout seasons during the course of the last 10 years of Phillies baseball?

Just another way to capture a period of time in franchise history. So, here are the top 10 individual season performances in a variety of categories by Phillies players during the 2010’s decade.

HOME RUNS

  1. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 35
  2. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 34
  3. Ryan Howard, 2011 – 33
  4. Ryan Howard, 2010 – 31
  5. Rhys Hoskins, 2019 – 29
  6. Domonic Brown, 2013 – 27
  7. Jayson Werth, 2010 – 27
  8. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 25
  9. Maikel Franco, 2016 – 25
  10. Marlon Byrd, 2014 – 25

RBIs

  1. Ryan Howard, 2011 – 116
  2. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 114
  3. Ryan Howard, 2010 – 108
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 96
  5. Ryan Howard, 2014 – 95
  6. Maikel Franco, 2016 – 88
  7. Rhys Hoskins, 2019 – 85
  8. Raul Ibanez, 2011 – 84
  9. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 83
  10. Domonic Brown, 2013 – 83

RUNS

  1. Jayson Werth, 2010 – 106
  2. Jimmy Rollins, 2012 – 102
  3. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 98
  4. Shane Victorino, 2011 – 95
  5. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 92
  6. Cesar Hernandez, 2018 – 91
  7. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 89
  8. Odubel Herrera, 2016 / Jimmy Rolllins, 2011 – Ryan Howard, 2010 – 87

STEALS

  1. Ben Revere, 2014 – 49
  2. Juan Pierre, 2012 – 37
  3. Shane Victorino, 2010 – 34
  4. Jimmy Rollins, 2012  / Jimmy Rollins, 2011 – 30
  5. Jimmy Rollins, 2014 – 28
  6. Odubel Herrera, 2016 – 25
  7. Shane Victorino, 2012 – 24
  8. Ben Revere, 2013 / Jimmy Rollins, 2013 – 22

BATTING AVERAGE

(min. 300 PA’s)

  1. Carlos Ruiz, 2012 – .325
  2. Juan Pierre, 2012 – .307
  3. Ben Revere, 2014 – .306
  4. Ben Revere, 2013 – .305
  5. Carlos Ruiz, 2010 – .302
  6. Placido Polanco, 2010 – .298
  7. Odubel Herrera, 2015 – .297
  8. Jayson Werth, 2010 – .296
  9. Cesar Hernandez, 2017 / Cesar Hernandez, 2016 – .294

WINS

  1. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 21
  2. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 19
  3. Cliff Lee, 2011 / Aaron Nola, 2018 / Cole Hamels, 2012 – 17
  4. Cole Hamels, 2011 / Cliff Lee, 2013 – 14
  5. Aaron Nola, 2019 / Aaron Nola, 2017 / Jeremy Hellickson, 2016 / Cole Hamels, 2010 – 12

STRIKEOUTS

  1. Cliff Lee, 2011 – 238
  2. Aaron Nola, 2019 – 229
  3. Aaron Nola, 2018 – 224
  4. Cliff Lee, 2013 – 222
  5. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 220
  6. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 219
  7. Cole Hamels, 2012 – 216
  8. Cole Hamels, 2010 – 211
  9. Cliff Lee, 2012 – 207
  10. Cole Hamels, 2013 – 202

INNINGS

  1. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 250.2
  2. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 233.2
  3. Cliff Lee, 2011 – 232.2
  4. Cliff Lee, 2013 – 222.2
  5. Cole Hamels, 2013 – 220
  6. Cole Hamels, 2011 – 216
  7. Cole Hamels, 2012 – 215.1
  8. A.J. Burnett, 2014 – 213.2
  9. Aaron Nola, 2018 – 212.1
  10. Cliff Lee, 2012 – 211

SAVES

  1. Jonathan Papelbon, 2014 – 39
  2. Jonathan Papelbon, 2012 – 38
  3. Jeanmar Gomez, 2016 – 37
  4. Ryan Madson, 2011 – 32
  5. Jonathan Papelbon, 2013 – 29
  6. Hector Neris, 2019 – 28
  7. Brad Lidge, 2010 – 27
  8. Hector Neris, 2017 – 26
  9. Jonathan Papelbon, 2015 – 17
  10. Seranthony Dominguez, 2018 – 16

 

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Philadelphia Phillies Team of the 2010’s

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Few Phillies flames ever burned-out more quickly than Brown’s, who nonetheless made the team of the 2010’s

 

The decade of the 2010’s began with the Philadelphia Phillies at or near the pinnacle of baseball. The club was a two-time defending National League champion, and in the midst of what would become five consecutive NL East crowns.

You could easily understand thoughts at that point, and even a year later, that the Phillies might become the 2010’s Team of the Decade in Major League Baseball.

The fall came hard and fast, and fairly unexpectedly. By mid-decade the club had plummeted to the very bottom of baseball.

The leaders of those league and division championship teams disappeared over time, some due to age, some to injury, some in trades to replenish a farm system that would never deliver the help needed to turn things around.

Over the course of the ten years ending with this past 2019 campaign the Phillies went a cumulative 787-833. They finished in last place in the NL East on three occasions and have not enjoyed a single winning season since the first two.

As the decade draws to an end, the Phillies have now stabilized as a .500 team thanks to a handful of prospects developing into contributors and a few impact trades and free agent signings.

But this piece isn’t about looking ahead, it is a look back. In particular, this is one man’s selection of the Phillies Team of the 2010’s.

I decided to put together this team in a bit of a unique fashion. Rather than try to pick the best overall players in the fullness of the decade as others have, I opted instead to look at the actual performance of individual Phillies regulars during each particular season.

This Phillies team is therefor made up of the best individual WAR seasons turned in by a player for the team at each position on the diamond. I’ve listed the player name, their top season, and some of their more important stats and notes, including that Baseball-Reference WAR mark.

PHILLIES TEAM OF THE 2010’s

First base – Ryan Howard, 2010: .276/.353/505, 31 HR, 108 RBIs, 87 runs, 2.7 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 10th in NL MVP voting.

Second base – Chase Utley, 2010: .275/.387/.445, 16 HR, 65 RBIs, 75 runs, 13 steals, 5.8 WAR. NL All-Star.

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins, 2014: .243/.323/.394, 17 HR, 55 RBIs, 78 runs, 28 steals, 3.9 WAR.

Third base – Placido Polanco, 2010: .298/.339/.386, 6 HR, 52 RBIs, 76 runs, 3.2 WAR.

Left field – Domonic Brown, 2013: .272/.324/.494, 27 HR, 83 RBIs, 65 runs, 2.8 WAR. NL All-Star.

Center field – Shane Victorino, 2011: .279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 61 RBIs, 82 runs, 19 steals, 5.5 WAR. Led MLB with 16 triples. NL All-Star. Finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Right field – Jayson Werth, 2010: .296/.388/.532, 27 HR, 85 RBIs, 106 runs, 13 steals, 4.5 WAR. Led NL with 46 doubles. Finished 8th in NL MVP voting.

Catcher – Carlos Ruiz, 2012: .325/.394/.540, 16 HR, 68 RBIs, 56 runs, 4.6 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 28th in NL MVP voting.

Starting pitcher – Aaron Nola, 2018: 2.37 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, 3.01 FIP, 17 wins, 33 starts, 149 hits over 212.1 IP with 224 strikeouts, 10.5 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 3rd in NL Cy Young Award voting. Finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Relief pitcher – Jonathan Papelbon, 2014: 2.04 ERA, 0.905 WHIP, 2.53 FIP, 2 wins, 39 saves, 45 hits over 66.1 IP with 63 strikeouts, 2.9 WAR.

The top two players on the 2019 club, catcher J.T. Realmuto and right fielder Bryce Harper, were edged out at their respective positions. 2012 “Chooch” slipped past JT by a 4.6-4.4 margin, and Werth’s 2010 campaign slid by Bryce’s Phillies debut in a 4.5-4.2 finish.

The top WAR figures of the early-decade great starting pitchers Roy Halladay (2011 – 8.8), Cliff Lee (2011 – 8.5), and Cole Hamels (2014 – 6.6) were beaten out by Nola’s fantastic 2018 season.

 

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Top 10 Philadelphia Phillies players of the decade

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Cole Hamels tossed a no-hitter during his final start with the Phillies at Wrigley Field in July 2015

 

Despite the fact that this decade technically ends with the year 2020 and not the current year of 2019, many sources are using the turn from the 10’s to the 20’s as an excuse to pop out some “end of the decade” pieces and lists.

Who am I to buck that trend?

With that in mind, over the next few weeks, I am going to take a glance back at the 2010’s in Phillies baseball.

It was a decade that began with such promise, with the Phillies as one of baseball’s best teams. But it all fell apart rapidly, with the club degenerating into one of baseball’s worst by the middle of the decade.

During these final weeks of 2019, I am going to examine how and why that happened. I am also going to present a few lists, including the best individual seasons and games from the last ten seasons.

The first look back today at the 2010’s is a list presenting the top Philadelphia Phillies players of the decade. Rather than make it a subjective list, I decided to consult the folks at Fangraphs.

Using their research tools, I came up with the top WAR figure accumulated by each position player and pitcher between the years 2010-19 while with the Phillies. Those players are presented here in order, from 10-1.

10. Odubel Herrera (10.8 WAR)

Herrera won a starting job with the Phillies out of spring training in 2015. He remained the starting center fielder with the team until his suspension at the end of this past May due to a scandalous domestic violence incident. Herrera slashed .276/.333/.423 and produced 60 home runs, 233 RBIs, 294 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases over 2,492 plate appearances. He was a 2016 National League All-Star.

9. Shane Victorino (10.8 WAR)

Tied with Herrera in WAR, “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” was ranked higher here since he accumulated that WAR total over nearly 800 fewer plate appearances. He was the Phillies starting center fielder as the decade began, a position he held until being dealt away at the July 2012 trade deadline. Victorino slashed .267/.336/.433 with 44 home runs, 170 RBIs, 225 runs scored, and 77 stolen bases over 1,665 plate appearances with the club prior to his trade. He won a 2010 NL Gold Glove and was a 2011 NL All-Star, receiving NL MVP votes that season.

8. Carlos Ruiz (10.9 WAR)

The Phillies primary catcher until being dealt way in August 2016 to the Dodgers, “Chooch” was a fan favorite for a decade. While with the Phillies during the 2010’s he slashed .275/.359/.400 with 46 homers, 263 RBIs, 262 runs scored, and 14 steals over 2,625 plate appearances. Ruiz received NL MVP votes each year from 2010-12 and was a 2012 National League All-Star.

7. Cesar Hernandez (11.6 WAR)

Hernandez has been the Phillies starting second baseman since August 2015, so the entirety of the second half of the decade. He made brief appearances in the two years prior as well. Hernandez has slashed .277/.352/.381 with 46 home runs, 253 RBIs, 407 runs scored, and 80 steals over 3,282 plate appearances during the decade. He scored more runs than any other Phillies player during the 2010’s.

6. Jimmy Rollins (16.0 WAR)

The Phillies all-time hits leader, “JRoll” opened the decade as the club’s starting shortstop, a role he had held since the 2001 season. Prior to his December 2014 trade, Rollins slashed .252/.323/.390 over 2,999 plate appearances with the Phillies during the 2010’s. He also had 70 home runs, 266 RBIs, 380 runs scored, and 127 stolen bases. His steals total was the most of any Phillies player during the decade. In 2012, Rollins won his fourth and final career NL Gold Glove.

5. Roy Halladay (16.8 WAR)

The late ace pitcher is the lone Phillies Wall of Famer on this countdown, though he will undoubtedly be joined in that honor by a number of the others over time. “Doc” won 55 games with the club from 2010 through his injury-forced retirement in 2013. Across 103 starts he registered a 3.25 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, and allowed 649 hits over 702.2 innings with 622 strikeouts. Halladay was the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner, the runner-up in 2011, and in both seasons was a National League All-Star and received NL MVP votes.

4. Aaron Nola (17.2 WAR)

The new Phillies ace, Nola was the club’s first round pick at seventh overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. He debuted the following season, and became a 2018 NL All-Star during a season in which he finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting and received MVP votes as well. Nola has allowed 669 hits over 771.1 innings across 127 starts while striking out 826 opposition batters. He also has career 3.49 ERA and 1.172 WHIP marks to date.

3. Chase Utley (19.1 WAR)

The top position player on the countdown, “The Man” was the Phillies starting second baseman until an August 2015 trade. He slashed .265/.348/.425 with 72 home runs, 331 RBIs, 347 runs scored, and 59 stolen bases in his 2,804 plate appearances with the club during the decade. He was a National League All-Star in both 2010 and 2014.

2. Cliff Lee (19.6 WAR)

Lee did not open the decade with the Phillies, having been dealt way to Seattle on the same day in December 2009 that Halladay was acquired. However, he returned as a free agent for the record-setting 2011 campaign and remained with the club until forced into retirement by injuries in 2014. He won 41 games with a 2.89 ERA and 1.085 WHIP, allowing 697 hits over 747.2 innings across 106 starts with 739 strikeouts during the decade. Lee finished third in the 2011 NL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in 2013 and was an NL All-Star in both seasons, also receiving NL MVP votes in 2011.

1. Cole Hamels (25.6 WAR)

Far and away the leader among Phillies players in WAR during the decade, the homegrown Hamels was a primary cog in the starting rotation until being dealt away at the 2015 trade deadline. He won 66 games with a 3.07 ERA over 179 games, 178 of those starts. Hamels allowed 1,038 hits over 1,193.1 innings during the decade while with the club, striking out 1,158 opposing batters. He was a National League All-Star in both 2011 and 2012, and finished among the top eight in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2011, 2012, and 2014.

 

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2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes six former Phillies

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Who will be the next former Phillies player to receive a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame?

 

35 formers players are enshrined with plaques. Two managers and a pair of executives as well. Even five broadcasters and 10 writers whose work was featured in Philadelphia have found a place at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That makes a grand total of 52 individuals with ties to the Phillies organization now honored with a place in Cooperstown. Who will be next?

The official nominees for 2020 enshrinement as a player were announced earlier this week. The ballot submitted by the Hall for voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) includes six players who pulled on a Phillies jersey at some point in their career.

All six of these players left an indelible impression on Phillies fans during their stay with the ball club. Three of them even performed during Veteran’s Stadium days. The six players are pitchers Curt Schilling, Cliff Lee, and Billy Wagner, outfielders Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibañez, and third baseman Scott Rolen.

Let’s take a look back at a snapshot of each player’s overall career and their time in Philadelphia. I’ll also give you my opinion as to their chances of actually gaining enshrinement with their own plaque at the Hall of Fame. The players are presented in alphabetical order.

BOBBY ABREU

MLB: 18 seasons (1996-2012, 2014)

Phillies: Nine seasons (1998-2006)

Stats: WAR – 60, Slash – .291/.395/.475, 2,470 hits, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBIs, 1,453 runs, 400 stolen bases, 574 doubles, 59 triples

Career highlights and awards: 1996 Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year. 1999 Venezuelan Winter League Player of the Year. 1999-2001 Phillies Player of the Year. 2004-05 All-Star, 2004 Silver Slugger Award, 2005 Gold Glove Award, 2019 Phillies Wall of Fame, Led MLB in triples 1998, Led NL in doubles, received MVP votes in six seasons.

Abreu hit the first official home run in Citizens Bank Park history in 2004 and had the last stolen base at the original Yankee Stadium in 2008. 2005 NL Player of the Month in April and 2009 AL Player of the Month in July. Won 2005 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in which he was a starter at the game in Detroit.

Abreu produced two 30/30 (HR/SB) seasons and nine 20/20 seasons. He is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 250 home runs, 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs, 1,000 runs batted in, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases. Hit .284 with a .392 OBP over 79 career postseason plate appearances.

HOF chances: Borderline, but not likely during time on writer’s ballot, though he will justifiably receive votes and support. Abreu is 20th all-time in the right field JAWS ranking, which falls just shy of the Hall of Fame as it trails such players as Larry Walker, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, and Sammy Sosa, who have not been able to get in to this point.

RAUL IBAÑEZ

MLB: 19 seasons (1996-2014)

Phillies: Three seasons (2009-11)

Stats: WAR – 20.4, Slash – .272/.335/.465, 2,034 hits, 305 home runs, 1,207 RBIs, 1,055 runs, 50 stolen bases, 424 doubles, 51 triples

Career highlights and awards: 2009 National League All-Star while with Phillies. Received MVP votes in three seasons. 5x Player of the Week. 2002 Kansas City Royals Player of the Year. In 2004 with Seattle Mariners he  tied the AL record with six hits in one game.

Ibanez became a beloved Yankees player on his heroic late-game performance which led to a victory in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS vs the Orioles. In that game he pinch-hit for a slumping Alex Rodriguez and ultimately became the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a postseason game he did not start; the first to hit two home runs in the 9th inning or later of a postseason game; the oldest player to hit a postseason walk-off home run; and the oldest player to hit two home runs in a postseason game.

In a second stint with Mariners in 2013, Ibanez became the oldest player in MLB history to blast 20 home runs prior to the All-Star break. His 29 home runs that season at age 41 tied Ted Williams for the most homers in a season by anyone aged 40 and over.

Ibanez hit .245 with six home runs and 22 RBIs over 151 career postseason plate appearances. With the Phillies he hit .240 with three homers and 17 RBIs over 108 plate appearances.

HOF chances: Zero as a player. His career 20.2 JAWS mark is 119th all-time among left fielders. Players ahead of him not enshrined include a trio of Phillies Wall of Famers in Greg Luzinski, Sherry Magee, and Del Ennis, former Phillies Lonnie Smith and Gary Matthews, as well as players such as Lance Berkman and George Foster.

CLIFF LEE

MLB: 13 seasons (2002-13)

Phillies: Five seasons (2009, 2011-14)

Stats: WAR – 42.8, 143-91 record. Innings – 2,156.2; Strikeouts – 1,824; K/BB – 3.93; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 3.52/1.196/3.45; 328 games, 324 starts, 29 complete games, 12 shutouts.

Career highlights and awards: 2008 AL Cy Young Award and Comeback Player of the Year. 2008 Warren Spahn Award as baseball’s best lefty pitcher. 4x All-Star. Received Cy Young Award votes in five seasons, MVP votes in two seasons. Led MLB in Wins and Win Pctg in 2008, WHIP in 2010. Led AL in Win Pctg 2x. Led MLB 4x in fewest BB/9. Won his first seven postseason decisions, including Phillies only two wins in the 2009 World Series vs Yankees. Lost two games with Texas in 2010 World Series.

HOF chances: Zero. His 41.6 career JAWS mark is 132nd among starting pitchers in this history of the game. That is excellent, but is well behind the 79.5 mark of Schilling and trails others such as Rick Reuschel, Kevin Brown, Luis Tiant, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, Tommy John, and David Cone among many others who are not enshrined as yet.

SCOTT ROLEN

MLB: 17 seasons (1996-2012)

Phillies: Seven seasons (1996-2002)

Stats: WAR – 70.2, Slash – .281/.364/490, 2,077 hits, 316 home runs, 1,287 RBIs, 1,211 runs, 118 stolen bases, 517 doubles, 43 triples

Career highlights and awards: 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. 8x National League Gold Glove Award at third base, trailing only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) at the position in MLB history. 2002 NL Silver Slugger Award. 7x All-Star. Received MVP votes in four seasons, including finishing fourth in 2004. Had seven RBIs in one game in 2006.

Rolen had five homers in 159 career postseason plate appearances. His two-run home run in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS won the National League pennant for the Cardinals over the Houston Astros. His second inning homer in Game 1 of the 2006 Fall Classic vs Detroit tied the game and helped the Cardinals to victory. Saint Louis would go on to win the World Series in five games.

In June 2010, Rolen slammed his 300th career home run off Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies.

HOF chances: Solid – eventually. Rolen is in his third year of consideration by the BBWAA voters. He barely stayed alive his first year on the ballot, finishing with just 10.2% of the voters support in 2018. But that support rose to 17.2% last year and should continue to rise steadily during the 2020’s. His career JAWS is 10th among all third basemen to ever play the game, and all eight eligible ahead of him are already enshrined. It is possible that it might take a future Veteran’s Committee to get him in, similar to Ron Santo. But modern BBWAA voters are more likely to eventually come to fully appreciate his all-around game.

CURT SCHILLING

MLB: 20 seasons (1988-2007)

Phillies: Nine seasons (1992-2000)

Stats: WAR – 80.5, 216-146 record. Innings – 3,261; Strikeouts – 3,116; K/BB – 4.38; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 3.46/1.137/3.23; 569 games, 436 starts, 83 complete games, 20 shutouts.

Career highlights and awards: 3x World Series champion. World Series and NLCS Most Valuable Player. 6x All-Star who started the 1999 All-Star Game. Received Cy Young Award votes in four seasons, finishing as runner-up 3x. Received MVP votes in four seasons. Twice led MLB in wins and innings pitched. Back-to-back seasons with 300+ strikeouts with Phillies in 1998-99, also reached in 2002 with Arizona. His 319 strikeouts in 1997 passed Steve Carlton to set a new Phillies single-season record.

One of the greatest postseason pitchers of all-time, Schilling’s .846 career winning percentage is highest of any pitcher with at least 10 postseason decisions. He has an all-time record of 11-2 with 120 strikeouts over 133.1 innings across 19 postseason starts, including two shutouts and six complete games.

One of his shutouts came in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series with the Phillies, keeping the team alive against Toronto. He pitched into the 8th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series vs the Yankees for Arizona, a game the Dbacks would eventually win in walkoff fashion. His most memorable postseason performances are likely the “bloody sock” games in which he shut down the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS and the Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series.

Schilling has the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of any of the 18 pitchers in baseball’s career 3,000 strikeout club. In 2013, he was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.

HOF chances: Excellent. Schilling is in his eighth of 10 seasons in which the BBWAA voters will consider his worthiness. Over the last three years his percentage of support has risen from 45% to 51.2% to 60.9% a year ago. Other than the fact that some voters do not appreciate his outspoken conservative political and social speech since retiring, it is hard to understand how anyone could leave him off their ballot. Schilling ranks 27th among all starting pitchers in all-time JAWS, and the only one ahead of him not already enshrined is 19th century hurler Jim McCormick.

BILLY WAGNER

MLB: 16 seasons (1995-2010)

Phillies: Two seasons (2004-05)

Stats: WAR – 27.8, 47-40 record with 422 career saves. Innings – 903; Strikeouts – 1,196; K/BB – 3.99; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 2.31/0.998/2.73; 853 games, 703 finished.

Career highlights and awards: 1999 NL Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year. 7x All-Star. Received Cy Young Award votes twice, finishing fourth in 1999 and sixth in 2006. Received MVP votes twice. Led MLB in games finished in 2003 with Houston and again while with the Phillies in the 2005 season.

Wagner is sixth on the all-time MLB saves leader board. The top three on the list, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith, all went into the Hall of Fame in recent years as the closer and relief pitcher position has been given more respect from voters. Only two ahead of him not enshrined are Francisco Rodriguez and John Franco.

HOF chances: Not likely. This is his fifth of 10 years on the BBWAA ballot. He has received minimal support, with the 16.7% a year ago as his strongest finish. Wagner is just 19th on the JAWS career ranking of relievers. Only a half-dozen ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame. His total number of saves and strikeout dominance help elevate his case over many of the other 13 ahead of him on that list, but I just don’t see him making it on the writer’s ballots. Maybe a Veteran’s Committee will see it differently down the line.

 

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