Ethan recently published a series of polls of the Good Phight team on the 2010s, finishing with The Good Phight’s Team of the Decade earlier this week. That voting was for the best season in the decade at each position.
Another way to build an all-decade team is by total production throughout the 2010s, and that’s what we’ll explore here.
Given where the Phillies were over this past decade, any such team will likely be a mix of holdovers from the old core with some final good seasons, transition fillers from the middle years, and the new core that’s being built. At least in theory that’s what we would expect.
There are countless ways to select this kind of team, but the starting point here will be a combination of total WAR produced over the decade, and the best season in the decade. We’ll combine them by averaging the two numbers. For anyone familiar with JAWS, this is similar. JAWS (the Jaffe WAR Score system) was developed by Jay Jaffe as a gauge of Hall of Fame worthiness, and it averages two WAR numbers for a player: 1) their total career WAR, and 2) their WAR in their seven best seasons (“WAR7”).
Here the numbers we’ll average are 1) a player’s total WAR with the Phillies in the decade, and 2) their WAR in their best season here. I’ll call that the Schmenkman WAR Score, or SCHMEWS (tm).
If there isn’t a clear leader at a position based on SCHMEWS, we’ll consider postseason play, awards, etc.
By the way, WAR used throughout is the fangraphs.com version. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz
J.T. Realmuto had an excellent first season here to close out the decade, and was justifiably recognized as the best catcher in baseball. Chooch had a very good season himself in 2012, hitting .325/.394/.540 (152 wRC+), and compiling 4.7 WAR, helping him to generate a total of 10.9 WAR in the decade.
First Base: Ryan Howard
If there was a first baseman who was good for more than a couple years, this would be easy. Or if there was a good left fielder who forced Rhys Hoskins off the team if he wasn’t included as the first baseman. But we are stuck with having to do the best we can with what we have.
All the stats in these position tables are the total stats for each player at all positions. But if instead we isolate it to the stats when a player is in the game at a given position, Hoskins has provided more value than anyone — by far — both at 1B, and in LF:
First Base: Hoskins 3.7 WAR, Santana 1.4, Howard 1.3
Left Field: Hoskins 3.5 WAR, Altherr 1.9, Brown 1.7, Pierre 1.6
One option here is to put Hoskins at first, and then fill the three outfield spots with the three best outfielders, without worrying about whether they spent much time at those specific positions.
Instead, we’ll go with Ryan Howard at first, choosing to focus on his two good seasons to start the decade:
2010: .859 OPS and 127 wRC+ (31 HR/108 RBI)
2011: .835 OPS and 124 wRC+ (33 HR/116 RBI)
There are also Howard’s 10th place finishes for the NL MVP in both those years, and the fact he was part of two very good division winning teams, final results notwithstanding.
Second Base: Chase Utley
I thought second base would be a closer battle. After all, this is all post-peak, bad-knees Utley. Even so, both his decade total (19.1) and his best season (5.2) far outpace those of Cesar Hernandez.
It’s a reminder that despite his gimpiness and reduced playing time, Utley was still a very effective and productive player even past his peak. And that’s a big reason why when we look at the leaders in WAR for the 10-year period 2005-2014, Utley is within a hair of leading all MLB position players:
T-1) Pujols 57.8
T-1) Cabrera 57.8
3) Utley 57.6
4) Wright 48.0
5) Holliday 46.6
(And by the way Utley had about a season’s less playing time over those years than either Pujols or Cabrera)
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins
I did not expect the competition at shortstop to be close, and this time the results were not surprising:
Third Base: Placido Polanco
Third was mostly a wasteland in the 2010s, with Polanco posting one good season before getting hurt, a placeholder in Michael Young, unsurprisingly uninspired play from Cody Asche, and then waiting for Maikel Franco to get his act together after a tantalizing 2015.
In the end, the underwhelming but serviceable seasons that Polanco provided at the start of the decade could not be improved upon, and he gets the nod.
Left Field: Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins has started more games at 1B (190) than in LF (162) in his brief career, but not by much. And as mentioned above, over the last decade no one has come close to generating the production he has while in LF.
So while we may not think of him as a left fielder, and may not ever want to see him out there again, he’s earned this.
Center Field: Shane Victorino
Off-field issue aside, thanks to additional playing time Herrera matched Victorino in WAR, and came close in SCHMEWS (ok I feel silly every time I type that).
But Victorino was the better player in every phase, with better hitting, fielding (per game), and baserunning numbers.
Right Field: Jayson Werth
There are guys who spent more than a season in RF during the decade, and guys who were good in RF. But none who did both.
We could have gone with Harper here, but Werth’s slightly higher WAR, and more impressively his much better hitting (146 wRC+), give him the edge.
Here are all the Phillies outfielders of the last 60 years to post a wRC+ better than 146:
Dick Allen (the one year he started in LF)
Greg Luzinski (3 times)
Bobby Abreu (3 times)
Starting Rotation: Hamels, Halladay, Lee, Nola, Oswalt
Unlike most other positions, we can build a very solid starting rotation.
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Like him or (most likely) not, Papelbon pitched well in his time here, good enough to set a new franchise record for Saves.
So in the end the team is very much dominated by the previous core. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but a faster and more impactful rebuild would likely have resulted in a different makeup.