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The Rare Breed of the Lifelong Phillie

With so many Phillies on the trading block, it's very possible this off-season that we see a major chunk taken out of the list of lifelong Phillies.

Phillies lifers . . . and Olympians too!
Phillies lifers . . . and Olympians too!
Brian Garfinkel

In sports fan mythology, a figure that looms large is the player who started his career with a team, finished his career with that team, and played for that same team the entire time in between.  Mike Schmidt.  Jackie Robinson.  Willie Stargell.  Lou Gehrig.  Ted Williams.  Walter Johnson.

We mythologize these lifers partly because they are some of the greatest to ever play the game.  But we also honor them because we value loyalty.

Mike Schmidt was not only the greatest third baseman to play the game, but he also was a Philadelphia Phillie, through and through.  He didn't linger into his golden years bouncing from enemy team to enemy team just to get a few extra bucks.  No, he bled Phillies red his entire career.

We fans love these lifers.  However, for Phillies fans, the list of lifers isn't very long, and it could possibly get much shorter this off-season.

Let's start with a definition.  I'm not including in my list of lifelong Phillies players who had a short career and never played for another team.  There has to be some cut-off.  Otherwise, the list would include "lifelong" Phillies Mauricio Robles, Thomas Jacquez, Brad Harman, and Mike Cervenak.  Needless to say, that isn't that interesting of a list.

So I put the cut-off at a minimum of 7 years.  This is a substantial amount of time to play baseball.  Also, in the modern era, 7 years means the player has, in most cases, stayed past his 6 team-control years.

With this cut-off, the Phillies have had 16 lifelong players over the course of their entire franchise history.  Eight have been position players; eight have been pitchers.  Here are the two lists:

Name Yrs From To G BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Mike Schmidt 18 1972 1989 2404 0.267 0.38 0.527 0.908 147
Jimmy Rollins 15 2000 2014 2090 0.267 0.327 0.424 0.751 97
Chase Utley 12 2003 2014 1478 0.285 0.37 0.488 0.858 125
Ryan Howard 11 2004 2014 1331 0.265 0.355 0.526 0.881 130
Terry Harmon 10 1967 1977 547 0.233 0.311 0.292 0.604 69
Carlos Ruiz 9 2006 2014 935 0.271 0.357 0.406 0.763 104
Putsy Caballero 8 1944 1952 322 0.228 0.273 0.274 0.547 50
Kevin Jordan 7 1995 2001 560 0.258 0.297 0.363 0.660 69

Pitchers Yrs From To G GS ERA ERA+
Larry Christenson 11 1973 1983 243 220 3.79 99
Bob Miller 10 1949 1958 261 68 3.96 101
Cole Hamels 9 2006 2014 275 274 3.27 125
Ryan Madson 9 2003 2011 491 18 3.59 122
Kyle Kendrick 8 2007 2014 226 185 4.42 91
John Boozer 7 1962 1969 171 22 4.09 83
George Chalmers 7 1910 1916 121 78 3.41 93
Jack Meyer 7 1955 1961 202 24 3.92 101

A few things of note on these lists.  First, there are some pretty crummy players on the position players list.  I remember Kevin Jordan and how bad he was.  I don't remember Putsy Caballero or Terry Harmon, but they were also pretty bad.  It's amazing that these three Phillies make this list.

On the pitching side, other than Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson, the rest of the list is quite mediocre (at best).  And other than Larry Christenson and the three modern era Phillies, the players on the list are not players who have any real footprint in Phillie lore.

But probably most notable for our current purposes is that this list could drastically shrink this off-season.  Of the 16 players listed here, 6 of them are current Phillies and all 6 could be gone by the start of the season.  Kendrick is already a free agent and is likely not returning to the Phils.  Hamels and Howard are going to be the subject of trade rumors for as long as they remain on the Phillies.  That leaves Utley, Rollins, and Ruiz.  All three are aging but valuable contributors who are likely to stay with the Phillies through their current contracts but also could possibly move to another team.

Chances of all 6 leaving this off-season are low, but I think the chances are quite high that the list of 16 lifelong Phillies is shorter by at least 2, maybe 3, by the start of the April.

Where would that then put the Phillies overall in this category?  I looked at the 16 pre-expansion franchises and found their 7+ year lifers.  Here's the ranked list:

The Phillies sit right in the middle now, but if they were to lose all 6, they'd plummet on this list.

Of course, this isn't just about what happens this off-season.  Kendrick is probably gone, so that leaves the other 5.  Who among them is most likely to finish his career with the Phillies?  You can answer that in the poll question and debate that in the comments.  I'll leave my full thoughts on that for another day.

In the meantime, as the Phillies look to clean house this winter, keep in mind that some of the players who may be going elsewhere are part of this very rare breed of lifelong Phillies.