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Phillies Best Ever, by Position

Posted By Bill Baer On November 26, 2010 @ 11:23 am In Graphs,MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Sabermetrics | 29 Comments

MLB Network recently aired an episode (likely a re-run) of Prime 9 where they looked at the best players at each position during the 1980’s. The usual candidates were mentioned: Gary Carter at catcher, Don Mattingly at first base, Ryne Sandberg at second, Cal Ripken at shortstop, Mike Schmidt at third — just to name a few. Since I have been beating the “Utley is super duper awesome” drum so loudly for a while, I was interested to see where the present-day second baseman ranks among his peers in Phillies franchise history.

Rk Player WAR From To Age PA OPS
1 Chase Utley 38.7 2003 2010 24-31 4324 .894
2 Tony Taylor 11.9 1960 1976 24-40 6424 .668
3 Placido Polanco 11.5 2002 2010 26-34 2112 .772
4 Dave Cash 10.9 1974 1976 26-28 2238 .719
5 Juan Samuel 9.8 1983 1989 22-28 3780 .749
6 Otto Knabe 9.8 1907 1913 23-29 4057 .643
7 Manny Trillo 6.1 1979 1982 28-31 2022 .689
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/26/2010.

In chart form:

Utley, over the course of his career, has been three times as valuable to the Phillies as the franchise’s second-best second baseman, Tony Taylor.  He also has the five best single seasons (and six of the top-ten) by a Phillies second baseman.

Rk Player WAR/pos Year
1 Chase Utley 7.7 2009
2 Chase Utley 6.6 2008
3 Chase Utley 6.6 2007
4 Chase Utley 6.2 2005
5 Chase Utley 5.7 2006
6 Dave Cash 4.7 1974
7 Granny Hamner 4.4 1954
8 Dave Cash 4.3 1975
9 Chase Utley 4.2 2010
10 Tony Taylor 4.0 1963
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/26/2010.

Prorating WAR to 700 PA, Utley ranks sixth among all Major League second baseman dating back to 1901.

Rk Player WAR WAR
700 PA
1 Rogers Hornsby 127.8 9.4
2 Jackie Robinson 63.2 7.6
3 Eddie Collins 126.7 7.4
4 Nap Lajoie 84.4 7.2
5 Joe Morgan 103.5 6.4
6 Chase Utley 38.7 6.3
7 Joe Gordon 54.9 5.9
8 Bobby Grich 67.6 5.8
9 Charlie Gehringer 80.9 5.5

While the above is simply overkill on a dead horse that has been beaten thoroughly, it does lead to an interesting question: who are the Phillies’ best players all-time by position? I sped to Baseball Reference’s Play Index to find out.

Catcher

Darren Daulton: 21.9 WAR

Notables:

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 4.2 WAR

First Base

Ryan Howard: 20.9 WAR

Notables:

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 1.2 WAR

Third Base

Mike Schmidt: 108.3 WAR

Notables:

  • Dick Allen: 37.1 WAR (2nd)
  • Scott Rolen: 28.3 WAR (3rd)

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 71.2 WAR

Shortstop

Jimmy Rollins: 30.3 WAR

Notables:

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 13.2 WAR

Left Field

Sherry Magee: 47.6 WAR

Notables:

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 15.9 WAR

Center Field

Richie Ashburn: 52.3 WAR

Notables:

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 22.5

Right Field

Bobby Abreu: 46.6 WAR

Notables:

  • Johnny Callison: 35.0 WAR (2nd)
  • Chuck Klein: 30.9 WAR (3rd)
  • Jayson Werth: 15.4 WAR (6th, with between one-third and one-half the PA of other qualifiers; trails only Abreu on a per-700 PA basis)

Range between 1st and 2nd place: 11.6 WAR

Starting Pitching

  • Robin Roberts: 67.8 WAR
  • Steve Carlton: 63.5 WAR
  • Pete (Grover Cleveland) Alexander: 54.6 WAR
  • Chris Short: 36.0 WAR
  • Curt Schilling: 34.6 WAR

The big takeaway from this is that the Phillies’ best first baseman, second baseman, and shortstop since 1901 (about 110 years) played in the 2007-2010 “post-season era”. All three were home-grown, to boot.  Throw in Werth, arguably the franchise’s second-best right fielder, some historically-great base running, consistently-elite defense, and solid pitching, and you have a  tasty recipe for playoff success.


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