Top 25 Phillies of All-Time: No. 14, Jim Bunning

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

It's hard to be a multiple-term United States senator, in addition of holding various other elected positions, and be most widely known for something other than those jobs. But former Kentucky senator Jim Bunning, who held office from 1996 to 2011, managed to be so successful in his first life that working in government is still a secondary thought when discussing his legacy. 

Though Bunning spent the most years of his career with the Detroit Tigers, the 85-year-old former pitcher's Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat, a sign of how dominant the seven-time All-Star was in his six seasons in Philadelphia. 

Career accomplishments

  • Seven All-Star Game selections, two of which came with the Phillies
  • National League strikeout leader with Phillies in 1967
  • Won 17 or more games in a season eight times
  • Won 100 games and posted over 1,000 strikeouts in both the National League and American League (source)
  • 224 career wins
  • Over 2,800 career stikeouts
  • Inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1996

Most memorable moment

During his Cy Young winning season of 2010, Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29, before throwing the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history in the NLDS against the Cincinatti Reds. And yet, neither of those are the most memorable no-hitters in the history of the team. 

On Father's Day in 1964, the Phillies defeated the New York Mets 6-0. While 1964 turned out to be one of the most infamous seasons in team history, Bunning created an iconic moment that day, striking out 10 Mets en route to pitching a perfect game. 

Bunning's perfect game was the first in the organization's history, and until the aforementioned perfect game from Halladay in 2010, it remained the only perfect game ever pitched by a Phillie. 

Reasoning for ranking

Bunning scored 35 points per this formula, which actually tied him with Johnny Callison, leaving both historical columnist Matt Albertson and myself to make the decision to slot Bunning over Callison. Bunning had a total WAR of 31.4 with the Phillies, which accounts for nearly half of his 66.9 career WAR. Bunning had a two-plus WAR in five of his six seasons with the team, posting an 8 plus WAR more times with the Phillies than Chuck Klein, Richie Ashburn and Jimmy Rollins combined. There's little doubt that had Bunning spent his entire career with the team he would be in the top 10, if not top five, of this countdown.   

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Formula Explanation

The player rankings formula combines both traditional and advanced statistics/metrics and assigns a point total to each category. These statistics only reflect the player's Phillies career.

First, single season WAR is a primary factor in our rankings. According to WAR's calculations, 2+ WAR is considered a starter, 5+ WAR is All-Star caliber, and 8+ WAR is MVP level.
We totaled the number of seasons that a player performed at a 2+ WAR, 5+ WAR, and 8+ WAR level and assigned a set point value for each category, (+1), (+3), and (+5) respectively.
For example, in 1980, Mike Schmidt complied an 8.8 WAR. This was counted as a 2+ WAR season, a 5+ WAR season, and an 8+ WAR season. So, for 1980 alone, Mike Schmidt earned (9) points for WAR. 
Second, we assigned a point value for amount of years spent with the Phillies. In order to be considered for this list, a player must have been with the organization for a minimum of (5) years. 
Next, we assigned point values for being among the top 25 in particular statistical categories, such as batting average, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, home runs, and OPS for hitters, and ERA, Wins, and WPA (wins probability added) for pitchers. 
Finally, all statistical categories were totaled up using our point based system and ranked accordingly, with historical columnist Matt Albertson and managing editor Tim Kelly of Sports Talk Philly reserving the right to move players up the list, within reason. An explanation of why a player is ranked in a certain spot will be provided, as will an overall score breakdown.
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