That’s going to be the extent of the Phillies’ season in 2020. Possibly more, if they decide they are going to make the playoffs. Possibly less, if the pandemic that is rising yet again in the country decides to throw a monkeywrench into plans.
Either way, we know that 60, with apologies to three, is the new magic number. Knowing that, we automatically think about records and how they can be broken. With a lot of teams, there will be some new marks set for what players will do in 60 games or less. The Phillies are no different. In their long history, they have seen some players play in that many games and actually do quite well for themselves. One of them is fairly recent, some of them are ancient history. So let’s put together an All 60 Team, comprised of players who have only played in 60 games or less in a season while wearing red, or maroon, pinstripes.
What we’re not looking for is the best 60 game stretches at each position. That list would littered with your Mike Schmidts, your Chase Utleys, your Ryan Howards. No, I want to see who played in only a little more than a third of a season with the Phillies and still provided a big impact. So, let’s fire up Stathead (the new name for the Play Index) and set the following parameters:
- He had to have played in 60 games or less
- He had to have had at least 130 plate appearances (a semi-regular role)
- In the modern era (1900 and after)
Without further ado:
C - Carlos Ruiz, 2016 - 48 G, 197 PA, .261/.368/.352, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1.6 WAR
This was Ruiz’s last hurrah with the team. After winning a World Series and becoming one of the more beloved members of the organization, the Phillies traded the fan favorite to the Dodgers to give him another chance at winning a championship.
It was a classy move by the team, something they didn’t have to do, but they wanted to do right by the players that got them that title years earlier, so Ruiz was sent to Los Angeles to try one last time. Of course, the most notable part of that deal would end up being when Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the team got angry that A.J. Ellis was included in the deal back to Philadelphia.
1B - Rhys Hoskins, 2017 - 50 G, 212 PA, .259/.396/.618, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 2.1 WAR
This one is cheating a bit.
When Hoskins was called up, he actually played more left field (29 GS) than first base (21 GS), but hey - it’s my show and I’m making him the first baseman.
In the midst of some of the worst baseball that we have had here in recent memory, that glorious summer where Hoskins hit a home run what felt like every day was something to behold. While he hasn’t quite delivered on the promise of that glorious run, he’s still a key cog in this current Phillies team and he’ll be expected to produce at an above average clip.
2B - Johnny Evers, 1917 - 56 G, 219 PA, .224/.333/.279, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1.1 WAR
You might have come for the insight about Johnny Evers, so here is what is written about his time in Philadelphia, courtesy of SABR’s BioProject:
He had a poor year in 1916, and after batting a meager .193 over the first half of 1917 the Braves placed him on waivers. Evers spent the second half of that season with the Phillies, who played him sparingly and released him at season’s end. The following year he earned a spot on the Opening Day roster of the Boston Red Sox but was released before appearing in a single game.
But I’m not here to talk about Evers. I want to talk about the guy who finished 0.1 WAR behind Evers on the Stathead search - Tadahito Iguchi. Yes - TADAHITO IGUCHI!
Iguchi made his claim to Philly fame by being acquired by the team when John Lannan assaulted Chase Utley with a fastball, breaking his wrist and sending the team into a panic. Without Utley, they’re chances at catching the Mets were almost slim and none.
With his season that he had for the team, hitting .304/.361/.442 in 156 plate appearances, he saved the team. He capably filled in for the team’s All-Star second baseman and prevented them from collapsing. When Utley returned that year and they went on that tear at the end of the year to clinch the division, they should’ve thanked Iguchi.
After all, there’s this:
SS - tie - Ralph LaPointe, 1947 - 56 G, 230 PA, .308/.362/.355, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 1.2 WAR
Dave Bancroft, 1920 - 42 G, 185 PA, .298/.337/.363, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1.2 WAR
Man, the Phillies history is littered with bad shortstops, outside of Jimmy Rollins.
Granny Hamner is a name that populates the leaderboards of team shortstops. Larry Bowa is there as well. Bancroft shows up from time to time as well. By 1920, he was largely finished with the Phillies, so the team decided to trade him to the New York Giants where he was quite productive for a few years, winning two World Series with the Giants. An interesting note is how much the team received for him. From SABR:
His batting average rose consistently for the next five seasons, and in 1918 he led NL shortstops in chances handled for the first of four times. In five seasons in Philadelphia Bancroft established a reputation as a smart, scrappy ballplayer, well suited to the scientific game–exactly the type of player John McGraw coveted. At McGraw’s suggestion, Giants owner Charles Stoneham telephoned Phillies president William Baker on June 7, 1920, and offered shortstop Art Fletcher, pitcher Wilbert Hubbell, and $100,000 for Bancroft. An incredulous Baker took the first train to New York the next morning and consummated the deal, bringing along the National League attorney as a witness lest Stoneham try to back out.
When he wanted to manage, McGraw would trade him to the Boston Braves, where he took over as the youngest manager in the league at that time. Another player went with him to Boston, someone who would go on to be a slightly more successful manager in his time - Casey Stengel.
LaPointe’s season with the Phillies was his only season in Philadelphia and one of only two he played in baseball. However in that season, he would hit well enough to make the postseason Rookie All-Star team, but was traded to the Cardinals in the offseason as part of a package for Dick Sisler. Stuck behind two Cardinal legends, he would go to the minor leagues and never return.
3B - Placido Polanco, 2002 - 53 G, 228 PA, .296/.353/.427, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 2.2 WAR
It is quite easy to make a case for Polanco as the most underrated player in Phillies history. Some might remember him more as a member of Cardinals or the TIgers, but actually played the most games of his career in Philadelphia (688). He won a Gold Glove at third base for the Phillies as a 35 year old. He was really, really good while here, but he doesn’t get the credit he is actually due.
OF - Hunter Pence, 2011 - 54 G, 236 PA, .324/.394/.560, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 2.3 WAR
What a wonderful ball of energy that Pence was when he arrived. He was undoubtedly a shot in the arm for the team. However, as we all are aware, the offense was sputtering as the season wore down and even Pence’s energy and offensive prowess couldn’t propel the super rotation to a World Series berth.
With pitchers, I’m going to cheat a little bit. If we can figure that 60 games is a little bit more than a third of a full season, to determine which pitcher was the best over 60 games, I’m going to set the parameters as someone with 13 or fewer starts in a season and was a starter only with no relief appearances (this becomes relevant). Since we usually think of starters as taking between 29-33 starts in a year, 13 feels like a bit more than half, so yeah, I’m going to run with it.
SP - Max Butcher, 1938 - 12 GS, 98 1⁄3 IP, 2.93 ERA (4.13 FIP), 7.0 K%, 7.5 BB%, 136 ERA+, 2.7 WAR
An interesting name that I could not find much about. SABR doesn’t have a biography on him, which was odd. A Google search reveals that he was the pitcher opposite Johnny Vander Meer in the latter’s second consective no-hitter, which is something. This season he had with the Phillies was the first of two half seasons he had with the team since he was traded in 1939 to the Pirates for Gus Suhr.
There you have it, the best players by WAR in Phillies history that played in 60 games or less in a season. Let’s hope that we can substitute a name or two on this list after the 2020 season is done.