The Phillies announced the 2019 Wall of Fame candidates on Monday February 4. The Wall of Fame induction is set for August 3, prior to the 7:05 first pitch against the Chicago White Sox. Fans can select up to three candidates to be considered by the organization for induction. Voting concludes on February 28 at 5pm EST. Details including a bio and stats (where applicable) are included on the ballot's web page (2019 Phillies Wall of Fame ballot)
Last year, the Phillies posthumously inducted pitcher Roy Halladay along with the first "brass" inductee, former GM Pat Gillick. No fan ballot was offered.
The majority of candidates on the 2019 ballot are familiar candidates: Steve "Bedrock" Bedrosian, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Placido Polanco, Scott Rolen, and Manny Trillio. The new faces are Bobby Abreu, Rich Dubee, Doug Glanville, and Bake McBride.
As in previous years, the eligibility requirements are that the candidate must have had four or more years of service to the Phillies and must be retired at least three years. The statistical record is not the only determining factor; longevity, ability, character, "special achievements" and contributions to the club are also considered, according to the Phillies website. The top five consensus fan choices will advance to the club's Wall of Fame Selection Committee who ultimately select the inductee.
The 2017 ballot was relatively weak in comparison to previous years. It appeared as if the club wanted to ensure that Pete Rose would be a consensus top five selection by the fans and ultimately the Committee's selection as inductee, following the precedent set by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016. This happened and Rose was selected as the 2017 inductee until allegations of an illicit relationship with a minor surfaced weeks before Alumni Weekend.
This year's class is a relatively weak one with no obvious inductee. The club seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for living Phillies greats this year. With all due respect to Rich Dubee, a pitching coach appearing on the ballot seems to be a stretch and a ballot non-factor. I realize his tenure included the greatest pitching rotation in recent history but unlike managers and general managers, pitching and hitting coaches exist more in the background. The pool will significantly improve in the coming years as 2008-2011 players become eligible.
I would think that Bobby Abreu, Jim Fregosi, Bake McBride, and Manny Trillo would constitute four of the top five fan choices that the Committee will consider. From that group, I would expect Trillo to be selected by the Committee. He was a central piece to the 1980 World Series championship team and his play in the 1980 National League Championship Series earned him the series MVP. Bobby Abreu is the longest tenured of this group and has the best offensive statistics. Jim Fregosi, of course, managed arguably the most popular team in club history, leading the Phils to the National League pennant in 1993. Finally, Bake McBride was a terrific leadoff hitter for the 1980 Phillies and put up solid numbers during his five year tenure in Philadelphia, slashing .292/.335/.435.
Personally, I consider the Wall of Fame as the absolute best players, managers, and "brass" in club history. Do the ten 2019 candidates fit the bill? Some more than others. As I mentioned earlier, all of the candidates on the 2019 ballot are living. Their appearance on induction day is fun for the fans and critical for the club because they count on sellouts for Alumni Weekend. Deceased personnel "don't put butts in seats" but I think the entirety of Phillies history should be considered. Recently, the ballots seem to be more of a popularity contest more so than the greatest to ever don a Phillies uniform. What do I mean?
The Phillies should do the right thing and induct the four Hall of Famers who are absent from the Wall of Fame. Harry Wright (manager 1884-1893), Napoleon Lajoie (infielder 1896-1900), Elmer Flick (rightfielder 1898-1901), and Dave "Beauty" Bancroft (shortstop 1915-1920) are all long since deceased, but are Hall of Famers in their own regard. Induct them wholesale with one or two living candidates.