Roundtable: How many games will Phillies win in 2018?


Following the Philadelphia Phillies 2007-2011 run of National League dominance, the team has suffered through six consecutive non-winning seasons, the most recent five of which have been losing seasons. You wouldn't expect the year after a 66-96 season to be the year that trend is bucked, but the Phillies were 37-38 after the All-Star Break in 2017. They'll have a full year of Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro in 2018. General manager Matt Klentak signed Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana this offseason, giving rookie manager Gabe Kapler two veterans presences in an otherwised inexperienced clubhouse.

There's reason, for the first time in over half of a decade, for Phillies fans to be excited entering the season. How excited they should be is the question.

The Phillies over/under for wins in 2018 is 75.5, per Bovada. FanGraphs Depth Charts seems to think that over/under is reasonable, as they project the Phillies will go 76-86 in 2018. PECOTA, however, projects that the Phillies will go 81-81, topping the New York Mets for second place in the National League East.

We polled our staff on how many games they believe the club will win in 2018. The question produced a spread that you don't normally see when discussing how many games a team will win before a season: 

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Ed Bolden and Black Baseball in Philadelphia


By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

In February I wrote an article about Satchel Paige pitching in the Phillies farm system for three years in the late 1950's, one step away from the mound at Connie Mack Stadium. Paige had his moments in the majors on several occasions in the years immediately after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, allowing other negro leaguers to sign minor and major league contracts. This spelled the beginning of the end for the proud negro leagues. Many negro leaguers eventually played in the majors or in major league farm systems, but others, whether due to racism, insufficient talent, old age or otherwise, never got their moment to shine on the sport's biggest stage. 

Philadelphia baseball fans know that the Phillies have infamously lost more games than any other professional sports franchise in the world. Some of these fans are aware that the Athletics once called Philadelphia home and won five championships during their half-century tenure in the city. Fewer are aware that the city was also home to two championship caliber baseball teams in the first half of the 20th century, the Hilldale Daisies and Philadelphia Stars. Both clubs owed their success and prominence to owner and marketing extraordinaire Ed Bolden. 

At Sports Talk Philly, we strive to provide the best Philadelphia based sports content available. It is with great pleasure that I announce that over the next week we will publish, with permission, a book excerpt from Dr. Courtney Smith's recent book, Ed Bolden and Black Baseball in Phildelphia. Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor of History and Political Science at Cabrini University and has presented her research at regional and national conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. Additionally, she serves as the Managing Editor for the peer-reviewed Black Ball: A Journal of the Negro Leagues. Without further adieu, I present the first portion in this series which will eventually comprise all of Chapter 3. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Chapter 3

The Fall: Ed Bolden and Hilldale 1925-1930

    Over the first fifteen years of his career in black professional baseball, Bolden established himself as the next in a long line of African American leaders in the Philadelphia area. He led Hilldale on a steady progression from a sandlot team to a World Series champion. Additionally, Bolden asserted leadership within the larger world of black professional baseball. He spearheaded the formation of an African-American corporation to support Hilldale. He also established a league, the Eastern Colored League (ECL), that brought together top eastern black professional baseball teams and that mirrored a similar organization Andrew Rube Foster established in the Midwest. Though all owners shared governance powers within the ECL, Bolden served as the league’s first chairman and represented the ECL’s public voice in the Philadelphia Tribune and other black newspapers. In the ECL’s first three seasons, Hilldale reigned as the league’s dominant team, winning three pennants on its way to its World Series victory over the Kansas City Monarchs in 1925.

    Starting in 1925 and accelerating over the next four years, Bolden faced dissent and criticism that steadily undermined his leadership and standing within black professional baseball. Most of the criticism that Bolden faced stemmed from his tendency to use white umpires, instead of black umpires, in both regular season and postseason games. Even though Bolden led an African American corporation, some people within black professional baseball and in the black press regarded his use of white umpires as a betrayal. As Bolden endured the dissent and criticism, Hilldale’s standing within the ECL dropped, and the team faced financial difficulties. The combined problems took a personal toll on Bolden, and he suffered a nervous breakdown in September 1927. Bolden’s breakdown temporarily took him away from black professional baseball. Once Bolden returned, he pursued aggressive actions designed to protect Hilldale at any cost. His actions precipitated the demise of two leagues, the ECL and the short-lived American Negro League (ANL). He also faced mounting criticism for his continued use of white umpires and his association with white businessmen.[i]

    Bolden’s seemingly heartless and cutthroat actions stemmed from an increasingly dire situation facing Hilldale and other black teams. An economic downturn hit African Americans in Philadelphia and other major cities several years before the Stock Market Crash grabbed newspaper headlines. The downturn hurt already-vulnerable African Americans and weakened, or even eliminated, their ability to patronize teams like Hilldale. Though Bolden earned high marks at his full-time Post Office job, his annual salary stood at only $1900. Similarly, many people within Philadelphia’s growing African American population found employment in modest-paying or low-paying jobs. The economic downturn both limited the number of jobs available to African Americans and limited their buying power of their annual salaries. Such a situation meant that Bolden had to fight for every dollar from African American baseball fans in the Philadelphia region. It also meant that Bolden explored another option for maintaining Hilldale’s operations—a partnership with a white businessman.[ii]

    For Bolden, the year 1930 marked his ugliest year in his black professional baseball career. His experiences during that year reflected the limits and the effectiveness of the self-help philosophy that had guided him since he had established the Hilldale Corporation. Garvey’s Pan-Africanist movement floundered in the late 1920s as Garvey faced deportation from the United States and his business ventures faltered. Similarly, Bolden’s determination to lead a black enterprise and to foster a black corporation floundered as economic conditions among his base of supporters diminished. His determination to uphold high standards, combined with a personal health crisis, unearthed a streak of ruthlessness in his actions. His willingness to turn to white capital as a means of support triggered a fierce response from other members of the corporation and black sportswriters. That fierce response demonstrated the sense of pride that Hilldale instilled and the persistence of the hope that black capital could support black enterprises. That fierce response also drove Bolden from black professional baseball and, for a time, seemed to close the door on his career.[iii]

Race and Umpires

            Umpire-related issues bedeviled Bolden and other baseball owners for many years. Unlike the arrangement in Major League Baseball, ECL and NNL teams selected their own umpires for their home games. As a result, confrontations between players and umpires and allegations of umpire bias marred many games. Prior to the start of the 1924 season, Bolden and other ECL owners felt compelled to adopt new regulations for on-field conduct. The new regulations designated the field captain or playing manager as the only people eligible to resolve on-field controversies or deliver protests against umpires’ calls. The new regulations also prohibited players from engaging in umpire baiting. Players faced ejection and fines for baiting umpires; they faced a fine of $100 for assaulting umpires. Bolden and the other owners also imposed some regulations upon umpires because they believed that “the appearance of [the] umpires and their efficient service have a tendency to upbuild organized baseball.”[i] For the umpires, the new regulations called upon them to arbitrate unbiased games, use discretion when removing players from games, and to act promptly when ejecting players. Umpires faced expulsion for failing to adhere to the vague guidelines.[ii]

The 1924 World Series between the Kansas City Monarchs and Hilldale sparked some renewed discussion about the use of black umpires. Prior to the World Series, a National Commission composed of Bolden, Foster, and other representatives from the ECL and NNL made arrangements for the series. As part of those arrangements, the representatives chose white umpires to work at all of the games. The use of white umpires drew some mild criticism from writers in the Pittsburgh Courier. One writer lamented that the use of white umpires contradicted the overall spirit of the series and represented an insult to the black umpires whom both leagues had used during the season. The writer, however, reasoned that the leagues used the umpires in order to avoid any claims of bias toward Hilldale or Kansas City.[iii] A few weeks later, the Courier’s W. Rollo Wilson mentioned black umpires in his regular column. Wilson used his column to “respectfully invite the [ECL’s] attention to the proposition advanced by us some time since—NEGRO umpires, paid by the league, rotated among the cities of the league.”[iv] As Wilson reasoned, if “colored men can play baseball they can umpire baseball games and should be given the chance to do so.”[v]

The twin issues of race and umpiring blossomed again during the 1925 season. For the first time, the ECL decided to use a rotating crew of umpires, and it hired a white man, Bill Dallas from the Evening Ledger, as the crew’s leader.[vi] In response, Tribune sports editor J.M. Howe drew a cartoon depicting the ECL as an Uncle Tom character. Speaking for the ECL, Bolden wrote a letter strongly objecting to the cartoon and defending Dallas’ hire. Bolden decried the cartoon as “untimely and unfair,” particularly since the ECL’s decision to hire Dallas reflected its desire to provide teams with “a system of competent umpiring.”[vii] Bolden praised Dallas as conscientious, capable of making decisions regardless of a player’s race, and more experienced than other umpires in the ECL. The ECL, therefore, made a logical and sound decision to make Dallas the leader of its umpiring crew.[viii]

            Even with the rotating crew of umpires, controversy and conflicts continued to mar many ECL games, and similar incidents engulfed the NNL. In the middle of the season, two NNL umpires wrote a letter to the Pittsburgh Courier’s Rollo Wilson. The umpires asked for patience and understanding for their fellow umpires who occasionally made mistakes. They also chastised the newspaper for publishing managers’ and owners’ complaints, which they regarded as propaganda for the league, and asked for more balanced coverage.[ix] One month after their letter appeared in the Courier, Rube Foster announced that he had released most of the NNL’s umpires. One of the released umpires, Bert Gholston, had co-written the letter published in the Courier. When he announced his decision, Foster used the opportunity to criticize the “wretched” umpires whose work “had been anything up to the standard.”[x] He detailed the umpires’ shortcomings—bad decisions that led to on-field disruptions, lack of knowledge about baseball’s rules, and not using the correct hands to call balls and strikes.[xi] Shortly after Foster unleashed his rant against the NNL’s umpires, an ECL game between Hilldale and Harrisburg featured fights both on the field and in the stands. The game prompted Wilson to lament about the normality of rowdy baseball in the ECL and about the poor state of umpires in the league. He noted that one of the umpires at the Hilldale-Harrisburg game called time to get a drink of water; the pause seemed to help Hilldale’s pitcher. The umpire also refrained from punishing a player who threw dirt at him to protest a call. Wilson cautioned that such actions threatened the ECL’s integrity and had the potential to drive fans away from ECL games.[xii]

            As the 1925 season reached its conclusion, concerns and anger involving umpires remained potent. After his release, Gholston blamed race as the key factor in the on-going conflicts between teams and umpires. He accused several NNL teams of planning to physically attack black umpires and of refusing to respect black umpires’ decisions. He also claimed that the lack of respect for black umpires touched the entire league and not simply a few teams.[xiii] Wilson again devoted space in another one of his regular columns to the umpire situation, boldly proclaiming that “EASTERN LEAGUE UMPIRES HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A KU KLUXER WOULD HAVE AT A BANQUET OF THE ‘HELL FIGHTERS’ IN HARLEM!”[xiv] He provided some details on more evidence of biased umpires in recent ECL games and disavowed the rotating umpire system, a system he once advocated. Though Wilson focused his ire at the “bimboes” who worked as umpires, he placed some of the blame upon the ECL and the umpire supervisor Dallas.[xv] He reasoned that the lack of support they provide to competent umpires compel those umpires to favor the home teams and, therefore, exacerbate grievances against all umpires.[xvi] 

            Wilson’s diatribe foreshadowed reactions from black sportswriters concerning the ways Bolden conducted his business. For Wilson, the treatment accorded black umpires likely rankled him because it played into ugly stereotypes concerning African Americans. If black umpires could not effectively assert their authority over black players, then Bolden and other officials had no choice but to use white umpires. The image of white umpires restoring order over black players within a black league could lead to suggestions that African Americans could not govern their own affairs. The use of white umpires, furthermore, could lead to broader suggestions that black men could not occupy positions of authority and that segregation statutes maintained a proper sense of order in American society.

            Umpire-related controversies plagued Bolden and the ECL again in 1926 particularly since the owners discontinued the use of a rotating umpire system. Instead, the league reinstated the policy of allowing home teams to hire umpires. Consequently, visiting teams frequently complained about biased calls, and players engaged in altercations with umpires. In one altercation, Hilldale’s Phil Cockrell punched an umpire after the umpire changed his mind on a call. According to the accompanying story in the Tribune, the fight brought local cops out onto the field, and one of the cops hit Cockrell in the back of his head as he left the diamond. Bolden tried to assert leadership on the issue by fining Cockrell $100 and suspending him for five days. Through his actions, Bolden probably intended to make an example out of Cockrell and to discourage other players from attacking umpires. Bolden actions, however, seemed like a desperate attempt to assert his authority over and bring order to an increasingly unruly ECL. Criticism surrounding umpires represented only one of several serious problems plaguing Bolden and the rest of the ECL. The other problems targeted Bolden’s leadership and deeper questions about the way black baseball should operate in American society.[xvii]

♦ ♦ ♦

[i] “Status of Umpires Discussed at Meet of Commissioners,” Philadelphia Tribune 19 April 1924.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] “Final Arrangements and Complete Details Are Made for East-West Baseball Classic,” Pittsburgh Courier 20 September 1924; “The Sportive Realm,” Ibid. 1 November 1924.

[iv] W. Rollo Wilson, “Eastern Snapshots,” Ibid. 22 November 1924.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “White Newspaperman is Picked by Eastern League as Supervisor of Umpires,” Ibid. 28 March 1925.

[vii] “Hilldale Manager Takes Exception to Howe Cartoon,” Philadelphia Tribune 4 April 1925.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] “Comes to Bat in Behalf of Umpires,” Pittsburgh Courier 18 July 1925.

[x] “Foster Explains Action in Releasing Umpires,” Chicago Defender 22 August 1925.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] J.M. Howe, “Sport Sidelights,” Philadelphia Tribune 1 August 1925; Wilson, “Eastern Snapshots,” Pittsburgh Courier 1 August 1925.

[xiii] “Umpires Not Given Support Says Gholston,” Philadelphia Tribune 5 September 1925.

[xiv] Wilson, “Eastern Snapshots,” Pittsburgh Courier 12 September 1925.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] “Near Riot at Shore When Cops Beat Cockrell; Bacharachs Win Game 1-0,” Philadelphia Tribune 14 August 1926; “Diamond Dust,” Ibid.; William G. Nunn, “Diamond Dope,” Pittsburgh Courier 14 August 1926; Wilson, “Eastern Snapshots,” Ibid. 21 August 1926.

[i] “White Newspaperman is Picked by Eastern League as Supervisor of Umpires,” Pittsburgh Courier, 28 March 1925; “Hilldale Manager Takes Exception to Howe Cartoon,” Philadelphia Tribune 4 April 1925.

[ii] Lanctot, 142-205.

[iii] Judith Stein, The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press), 248-273.

Alfaro leads Phillies past Orioles at Spectrum Field

By: Matt Alberston, Sports Talk Philly staff 

Final: Phillies 9, Orioles 6

Clearwater, Fla.  — The Phillies won their first game of the Grapefruit League schedule today with a 9-6 victory over the visiting Baltimore Orioles at Spectrum Field. Zach Eflin started the game for the Phillies and was able to get ahead of hitters with a good fastball clocked around 95mph and good breaking balls, but subsequently fell behind hitters. He was pulled in the second inning. 

Jorge Alfaro supplied the majority of the offense for the Phillies today, as he went 2-2 with a walk and a grand slam home run in the 2nd inning. His home run paced the day until the Orioles closed the gap to within one run in the late innings, at which time the Phillies' offense rose to the occasion and scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to stay ahead for good. 

Today's early spring contest should be viewed exactly as that, a spring training contest, where pitchers will work on location. A few dazzling plays were made by both teams in the field today, such as the Orioles' Cedric Mullins' diving catch in centerfield to end the inning and Nick Rickles' quick stab at first base to keep a run from scoring in the late innings. 

Manager Gabe Kapler experimented with the lineup today, leading off with recently signed free agent Carlos Santana followed by 2017 rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins. The pair combined to go 0-5 with a strikeout, walk, and run scored. It will be interesting to see if Kapler continues to test this lineup possibility and figure out who can hit in the five hole. 

WP: Tyler Viza (1-0)  ❖  LP: Dylan Bundy (0-1)  ❖  SV: N/A

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Eflin, Phillies look for first win of the 2018 Grapefruit League campaign

By Matt Albertson, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

CLEARWATER, Fla — The Philadelphia Phillies return to the diamond for the third time this year on Saturday when they take on the Baltimore Orioles in Grapefruit League action. Young rotation hopeful Zach Eflin will toe the slab for the Phils against Baltimore's Dylan Bundy, a 13 game winner in 2017. 

On Friday, the Phillies kicked off the Grapefruit League slate with a 2-1 defeat against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Starter Nick Pivetta struggled early, surrendering two runs in the first inning, including a home run to leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson. Left fielder Danny Ortiz scored the only run of the game for Philadelphia with a home run off of Toronto hurler Sean Reid-Foley.

Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler hinted during the offseason that recently signed free agent Carlos Santana has the tools to hit leadoff, and has placed the veteran first baseman in the leadoff spot to this afternoon's game. Rhys Hoskins will bat second, which means it's clear that Kapler wants his two power hitters to have more at-bats in this game and put the pressure on early in the first inning. 


Starting Pitching Matchup:

Away Team (W-L) Home Team (W-L)
RHP  Dylan Bundy RHP Zach Eflin
(2017 13-9, 4.24 ERA) (2017 1-5, 6.16 ERA)

Continue reading "Eflin, Phillies look for first win of the 2018 Grapefruit League campaign" »

Satchel Paige Almost Played for the Phillies?

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

Over the past few months, Tim Kelly, myself, and other Sports Talk Philly staff have presented our Top 25 Players to Ever Play a Game for the Phillies breakdown. Lists are fun because they create arguments and mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of the game and its history. Nevertheless, we presented a few qualitative and quantitative arguments as to why each player was ranked where they were on our list. Last year, I reviewed a few players who missed the Top 25 list. This year, I'm going to go a different route, along the lines of the infamous Sandlot line, "heroes get remembered, but legends never die." Except nobody remembers that baseball legend Satchel Paige almost played for the Phillies. 

Continue reading "Satchel Paige Almost Played for the Phillies?" »

Top 25 Players to Ever Play a Game for the Phillies: No. 2, Jimmie Foxx

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

World War II put Major League Baseball in a serious bind for talent. Athletes were made available for service, despite the fact that President Franklin Roosevelt deemed baseball essential. Unlike 1917, when baseball shortened its season when the United States entered the fray, Major League Baseball ran full length schedules throughout World War II. With prime players like Ted Williams and Bob Feller ditching baseball uniforms for military uniforms, the majors were depleted of talent that kept fans coming to the games. As a result, players who wouldn't have been considered for the majors suddenly found themselves on the highest stage in baseball, like one-armed Pete Gray in St. Louis and aged veterans like Jimmie Foxx, who signed with the beleaguered Phillies in February 1945 after being released by the Cubs the previous year. 

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Unlikely Miracles: Backup Quarterbacks in the Super Bowl

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

In 2014, Nick Foles was entrenched as the Eagles starting quarterback after posting an unbelievable 2013 season which concluded with an early exit from the postseason. Personally, I was still unsure of Nick Foles as THE guy. Plenty of quarterbacks have played a good season but flamed out in following years. It's hard to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Despite his leading the 2014 Eagles to a 6-2 record prior to a season-ending collarbone break, I still wasn't convinced.

Continue reading "Unlikely Miracles: Backup Quarterbacks in the Super Bowl" »

Top 25 Players to Ever Play a Game for the Phillies: No. 3, Steve Carlton

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

Steve Carlton is one of the top five pitchers of the 20th century and probably the second best left-handed starter behind only Warren Spahn.

Carlton was acquired via trade from the St. Cardinals in exchange for then-Phillies ace Rick Wise, who just the year before hit two home runs - the only runs scored - and threw a no-hitter in the same game. But the Philadelphia Phillies traded Wise for Carlton, a member of the 1967 World Series champion Cardinals, who had a "down" year in 1971 when he went for 20-9 with a 3.56 ERA in 273.1 innings pitched. 

Continue reading "Top 25 Players to Ever Play a Game for the Phillies: No. 3, Steve Carlton" »

How past second-year head coaches fared in the Super Bowl

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

"I understand what it feels like to win in this city. This city hasn't won and this organization hasn't won in quite some time. It's my job to turn that around." Doug Pedersen said at his first press conference as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles back in January 2016. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie said Pederson "checked the box on everything" and was a "smart, strategic thinker".  A lot of fans questioned the decision to hire Pederson. For many, foggy memories of a horrific 1999 season filled their heads: a 2-7 record as a starter with a 52.4% completion percentage, 1,276 passion yards, seven touchdown passes, and nine interceptions. To top that off, Pederson was an Andy Reid disciple who spent several seasons on Reid's staff in both Philadelphia and Kansas City since 2009. Of course, Reid is the winningest coach in franchise history but also known for his poor clock management, lopsided pass-happy play calling, and inability to win the big games. 

Doug Pederson???

Two years later the fan opinion has turned from disgust and/or skepticism to glee and optimism. Doug Pederson, in just his second season as an NFL head coach, has the Eagles just one game from the ultimate goal - a Super Bowl victory nobody envisioned outside the Novacare Complex at the beginning of this season. 

Pederson's goal is close but the task to realize that goal is enormous. A Super Bowl victory is a rare thing, but to win the Super Bowl in just your second season as an NFL head coach? Rarer. Let's jump into the past and see what precedent exists, if any. Overall, there have been ten different coaches to guide their teams to the Super Bowl in just their second season. 

Coach         Team     Super Bowl Result Opponent
Ray Malavasi     SD Chargers XIV (1980) L 31-19 PIT Steelers
Tom Flores     OAK Raiders XV (1981) W 27-10 PHI Eagles
Joe Gibbs WAS Redskins XVII (1983) W 27-17 MIA Dolphins
Raymond Berry NE Patriots XX (1986) L 46-10 CHI Bears
Barry Switzer DAL Cowboys XXX (1996) W 27-17 PIT Steelers
Brian Billick BAL Ravens XXXV (2001) W 34-7 NY Giants
Mike Martz STL Rams XXXVI (2002) L 20-17 NE Patriots
John Fox CAR Panthers XXXVIII (2004)  L 32-29 NE Patriots   
Ken Wisenhunt ARI Cardinals XLIII (2009) L 27-23 PIT Steelers
Dan Quinn ATL Falcons LI (2017) L 34-28 NE Patriots

The table above shows that second year coaches who make the Super Bowl are 4-6 in the big game. Going deeper into this chart, the record for second year coaches to face a coach with 1+ Super Bowl appearances are  1-3 (Malavasi v. Noll, Gibbs v. Shula, Fox v. Belichick, Wisenhunt v. Belichick, and Quinn v. Belichick). Only three of the above coaches led their teams to the playoffs in their first season while only one of the coaches in the chart above failed to post a .500 or better record in their first season (John Fox's Carolina Panthers were 7-9 in 2002). 

Does it mean anything? Sure. The record shows that it's hard to win in the big game and even harder to win against a coach who has been there before. As is shown above, Belichick's Patriots have beaten three different second year head coaches in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are a dynasty and what that franchise has been able to accomplish since 2000 is nothing short of amazing. Doug Pederson, his coaching staff, and the players will have to execute an excellent game plan to defeat New England on Sunday, but it's not impossible, especially considering the quality and attitude in the Philadelphia locker room. 

Oh, and coaches who wear a visor in the Super Bowl are 2-0 (John Gruden and Sean Payton). Stick with the visor, Doug. 


Top 25 Players to Ever Play a Game for the Phillies: No. 4, Pete Rose

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 

Pete Rose, despite all his personal faults, was one of the greatest baseball players in history. His signing by the Phillies in 1979 was the club's first high-profile acquisition and it paid off.

The narrative is well known: the Phillies had outstanding teams in the mid-to-late 1970s, but couldn't get past the Reds and Dodgers in the postseason. Mike Schmidt has often said that Rose was the piece who helped the Phillies get to the World Series and win. Despite posting subpar WAR seasons in each of his four seasons in Philadelphia (1.1 WAR total), his attitude and approach to the game were infections and enlightening for the team's core. 

Rose started his career with the Reds in 1963 and established himself as a premier player and hitter throughout decade, leading the league in hits in 1965 and 1968 and in runs scored in 1969. He won batting titles in 1968 and 1969 as well. In addition to his talent as a hitter, Rose played with a reckless abandon not seen since the negro leagues or Ty Cobb. Teammate Joe Morgan said of Rose, "Pete played the game, always, for keeps. Every game was the seventh game of the World Series. He had this unbelievable capacity to literally roar through 162 games as if they were each that one single game." Of his playing style, Rose said that "I didn't get to the majors on God-given ability. I got there on hustle, and I have had to hustle to's the only way I know how to play the game."

One of the most controversial players in the 20th century, he was both selfish and unselfish; selfish for self promotion and stats and unselfish as a team leader on and off the field, picking up checks when the guys were out or changing positions throughout his career to benefit the team.

Rose dominated the 1970s and helped the Cincinnati Reds emerge as one of the most powerful teams of the decade. His Reds captured four pennants and two World Series titles in the decade and remain the last National League team to win back to back World Series. 

His best season was 1973 when he won his third batting title, slashing .338/.401/.437 and lead the league in hits with 230.

Career Accomplishments

  • All-time hits leader (4,256)
  • 17-time All-Star
  • National League MVP (1973)
  • Rookie of the Year (1963)
  • All-time leader in games played (3,562), plate appearances (15,890) and at-bats (14,053)
  • Two-time Gold Glove Award winner
  • Silver Slugger Award winner
  • Three-time World Series champion: 1975, 1976, and 1980
  • World Series MVP (1975)

*Awards were not factored into the formula

Career-Defining Moment

Rose has numerous career-defining moments: World Series MVP in 1975, his heads-up back up of Bob Boone in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1980 World Series, passing Rogers Hornsby as the National League's all-time hit leader, and passing Ty Cobb as the major league all-time hit leader. If the narrative ended there, Pete Rose would be a household name. Unfortunately he broke baseball's oldest sin - betting on the game, which has come to define Rose to this day.

But for our purposes we're focusing on his playing career. It's hard to pick one milestone over the other, but his greatest personal career accomplishment is easily when he passed Cobb as the all-time hit king. 

Reasoning for ranking

Rose scored 60 points in our formula. He totaled 79.1 WAR, averaging 3.23 WAR over his 24 seasons. He had 16 seasons of 2+ WAR, eight seasons at 5+ WAR and one season at 8+ WAR, totaling 45 points. His .303 batting average ranks 173rd all-time, his 4,256 hits ranks first all-time, his 746 doubles ranks second all-time, his 135 triples ranks 75th all-time and his 1,314 RBI ranks 103rd all-time, totaling 15 points

Rose scored an eight on our subjective importance scale because he was the highest profile signing in team history and helped the club win its first championship in team history. 

Explanation of scientific formula

The player rankings formula combines both traditional and advanced statistics/metrics and assigns a point total to each category. 

First, single-season WAR is a primary factor in our rankings. According to Baseball Reference's WAR 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 nine points for WAR. 
Next, we assigned point values for being among the top 25, top 50, top 100, and top 200 all-time in particular statistical categories, such as batting average, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, home runs, and OPS for hitters; and ERA, wins, and WHIP, FIP, BB/9, H/9, and K/9 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 reserving the right to move players up the list, within reason, based on an "importance" factor. A player will score higher in this subjective category if his acquisition corresponded with a great team career or if they contributed to the club's rebuild or playoff run. A player will score lower if their career didn't correspond with a particularly good season(s) or with a playoff run. It will also be low if this player was traded by the club and became one of the best players in the game after the trade, thus negatively effecting the club's performance or extending a rebuild. An explanation of why a player is ranked in a certain spot will be provided, as will an overall score breakdown.