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Phillies Nuggets: Who will be 2018 Wall of Fame inductee?

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Due to extenuating circumstances, this weekend's Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park will mark the first time since 1977 in which the Phillies don't induct a new member to their Wall of Fame. The Wall of Fame didn't exist until 1978, so this is the first time since it was created that the Wall will go a year without adding at least one new member. 

Though some feel that this should usher in a new era of the team not forcing an induction each season, there's too much money to be made on tickets and merchandise, especially while the Phillies are a bad team, for that to become a trend. 

So who's up next for induction?

Scott Rolen

The Phillies essentially cleared the ballot off this season to assure that Pete Rose would be the 2017 nominee. When it became clear that the Phillies could no longer honor Rose, I suggested, much to the chagrin of our Facebook commenters, that the Phillies instead honor Rolen.  

In parts of seven seasons with the Phillies, Rolen hit .282 with 150 home runs and 559 RBIs, while posting a WAR of 29.47 (per Baseball Reference). While with the Phillies, Rolen won the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year, made one All-Star appearance and won three Gold Glove Awards.

Rolen, of course, left Philadelphia on bad terms. After reportedly turning down a 10-year/$140 million contract extension, Rolen's relationship soured with then-manager Larry Bowa. General manager Ed Wade, aware that the team was likely to lose Rolen in free-agency, eventually traded Rolen to the St. Louis Cardinals for a package that included Placido Polanco, one of the names that filled out the 2017 Wall of Fame ballot

One of the reasons I felt 2017 was such an ideal time to put Rolen on was because the team could sneak him in without much fan consent, and could still make the case that he was obviously the most deserving player left on the list after Rose (I would argue he was more deserving than Rose). While Rolen deserves to get in, I'm just not sure when it's going to happen. 

Jim Fregosi

SportsTalkPhilly.com's Frank Klose suggested to me after the team announced Rose wouldn't be inducted in 2017 that it would be an appropriate time to honor the late-Phillies manager.

With the recent passing of Darren Daulton (much more on him later in the post), 1993 reminiscence is at an all-time high. Fregosi, of course was the manager of the 1993 team that improbably won the National League title. There's no doubt that a weekend honoring the memories of both Fregosi and Daulton would be a special weekend.

With that said, Fregosi's record in six seasons as the club's skipper was 431-463, so it's appropriate to wonder whether he's deserving of induction. 

That's not to say that he shouldn't appear on the ballot or that he can't be fondly remembered, but he's probably not someone that's going to be voted in. 

Bobby Abreu

Abreu certainly had his detractors during his time in Philadelphia -- some of which he brought on himself -- but Phillies fans and the organization's decision-makers aren't stupid. There's no doubt that Abreu is deserving of induction, and he's a near lock to be placed on the wall at some point in the next five seasons. 

Abreu had seven seasons with the Phillies with a 5-WAR or higher, made two All-Star Game appearances and won a Silver Slugger Award. He didn't have a better career than Rolen, but he did have a better Phillies career than Rolen, as evidenced by him ranking at No. 10 on SportsTalkPhilly.com's countdown of the 25 greatest players in the history of the team. 

Though some viewed the 2006 trade of him to the New York Yankees for what amounted to nothing as addition-by-subtraction, it's impossible to debate that he's one of the better pure offensive players that has ever played for the Phillies. Over a decade after his exit from Philadelphia, I think fans have become more aware of that, which should bode well if he's included on the ballot next year for the first time. 

Roy Halladay

Halladay's a strange case. In my mind, he's a no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer, and if given the choice between him and Rose, I would probably have picked his individual Phillies' career. With that said, I think he falls into the same category of someone like Jim Thome, who had incredible moments in Philadelphia, but his overall body of work falls short of warranting induction.

Thome, of course, was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2016, largely based off of his first two seasons in Philadelphia, in which he hit a combined 89 home runs. Thome played parts of four seasons in Philadelphia, but his extremely productive first two seasons, along with the fact that he was extremely likable, are why he's on the Wall of Fame. Halladay's case is quite similar. 

In his first two seasons with the Phillies, Halladay won a combined 40 games, 17 of which were complete-games. In 2010, he threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in the regular season, before throwing just the second ever playoff no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS. He won the National League Cy Young in 2010, before finishing second to future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw in 2011, which some disagreed with at the time

The problem for Halladay is that he was essentially finished after 2011, and struggled through two more seasons in Philadelphia. The Phillies presumably lowered the eligibility requirements for the Wall of Fame from five seasons to four seasons to benefit players like Thome and Halladay, but it's still fair to question whether Halladay has a large enough body of work to deserve induction onto the Phillies Wall of Fame. 

Like Thome, I won't kick and scream if Halladay is voted in, which I think he will be if he's on the ballot. I myself probably wouldn't vote for him, though, but I would be glad to introduce him at his Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown. 

Brad Lidge

At some point, Brad Lidge is going to be inducted into the Wall of Fame. Like Halladay and Thome, a sentimental case will carry him in, rather than the overall body of work. 

Lidge could have retired after 2008, his first of four seasons in Philadelphia, and the team would have found a way to include him on the Wall of Fame ballot. Lidge went 41-for-41 in regular-season save attempts during the 2008 regular season, before closing out the final games of the NLDS, NLCS and World Series. He finished the second World Series title in franchise history in a perfect fashion, going 48-for-48 in save attempts in 2008. 

All things considered, Lidge was fairly effective in 2010 and 2011, even though he essentially was throwing his signature slider exclusively. 

The problem? 2009 was one of the worst seasons a closer has had in recent memory, as Lidge blew 11 regular season saves. He also wasn't especially effective during the World Series that year, which, along with a struggling Cole Hamels and a suddenly stagnant offense (besides Chase Utley), went a large way in preventing the Phillies from repeating. Lidge also is just fifth in team history in saves, with Steve Bedrosian, who was on the 2017 ballot, two slots ahead of him. 

It will be interesting to see if Lidge is on the ballot at the same time as Halladay and Abreu if he were to beat either in votes. From here, he shouldn't. But he's going to be on the wall at some point. 

Leftover Dutch Thoughts

  • Darren Daulton admirably fought an aggressive form of cancer for the better part of a half decade. He had nine knee surgeries during his career, which is about as mentally draining of an experience as an athlete can have. He overcame battles with alcoholism after his career. Through all of that, I'm not sure that I've ever heard anyone say anything negative about him, on or off-the-record. That he was taken so young is simply not fair. 
  • As I explained in this week's 80-08 Phillies Podcast, I had the chance to meet Dutch outside of a Phillies game in 2011, just prior to him hosting 'Talking Baseball With Dutch' before a game against the Boston Red Sox. 15-year-old me tried to get him to do an interview for a show that I hosted at the time. He politely declined, as he was minutes away from going on-air. Without me even asking, he asked me if I wanted my dad to take a picture of me with him. Forget athletes or celebrities, that time of kindness is rare in people period. That moment (and the picture) always stuck with me. (Ignore the typo, a lot was going on at the moment of the tweet.)

The Nuggets

  • SportsTalkPhilly.com's historical columnist Matt Albertson has long since made the case for Fred Luderus to be inducted into the Wall of Fame. With fans voting, it's just not going to happen. 
  • Since June 6, Aaron Nola has pitched 80. 1 innings over 12 starts. He has a 2.32 ERA during that period. Perhaps even more noteworthy is that if you combine his April and May numbers from 2016 with the June-today numbers from this summer, he's got a 2.60 ERA in 152.1 innings. So essentially, when he's been at 100 percent over the past two seasons, he's been an ace. 
  • Scott Kingery is going to be the club's long-term second baseman, but it's unfortunate it's probably going to come at the expense of Cesar Hernandez. Over the past two years, Hernandez has been the team's best contact hitter and fields the position very well. SportsTalkPhilly.com's Jason Ferrie examined Hernandez's future earlier this week. 
  • Cam Perkins probably should have been optioned after this: 
  • We just passed the 10-year anniversary of John Lannan breaking Chase Utley's hand during a 2007 game against the Washington Nationals. While the move forced the Phillies to trade for Tadahito Iguchi, who had some key hits for the team down the stretch, and Utley's teammate Jimmy Rollins won the MVP, that pitch hurt Chase Utley's Hall of Fame case. Utley never won the MVP during his career, and actually never even had a top-five finish. In 132 games that season, Utley slashed .332/.410/.566 with 22 home runs and 103 RBIs, while posting a 7.7 WAR (per FanGraphs). It's insane that he never had a top-five MVP finish, but had he not gotten hit in 2007, he would probably have won the award instead of Rollins. He certainly would have finished in the top-five. Subjective awards shouldn't keep someone out of the Hall of Fame, but it's entirely possible this will be one of the nails in the coffin of Utley's already-complicated case. 
  • Is it a sign that I have a problem if I'm already excited for the MLB Winter Meetings? 

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