Ten seasons without making the playoffs is a long time. Yes, the Phillies franchise has gone MUCH longer than that between postseason appearances, but keep in mind that there used to be considerably fewer playoff spots to be earned. It started to feel like the Phillies weren’t going to ever make the playoffs again unless they allowed every team in. Heck, they pretty much did that in 2020, and the Phillies still missed out.
But just because the Phillies didn’t make the playoffs, does that mean they didn’t have any talent during that time? Surely, there must have been a couple solid players or two along the way.
Here is my take on the all-drought team. These were the best players at each position during that long, painful, playoff-less stretch. I wasn’t sure exactly how to define the parameters of the team, so I decided that any players who were on either the 2011 or 2022 rosters were ineligible.
Sadly, that eliminates most of the best players from that stretch. What’s left is...well, you’ll see. Just remember, you don’t miss the playoffs ten straight years -and finish in last place three of those years - if you have an abundance of talent.
First base - Tommy Joseph
My lasting memory of Tommy Joseph is that when he was called to the majors, everyone was surprised to find that he looked like he was about 40 years old.
What is this phenomenon where putting a baseball hat on Tommy Joseph makes him look 40?— its only Joe (@JoeTheCynic) July 8, 2017
For a hot second, it seemed like Joseph might be a keeper, but his bat wasn’t quite good enough for a first baseman, and he was soon supplanted by a much better hitter in Rhys Hoskins.
Second base - Cesar Hernandez
In a different world, Cesar Hernandez might have been more appreciated by Phillies fans. He had a .352 on-base percentage and played some solid defense. But working against him was the fact that he replaced a franchise legend and played for mostly bad teams. I think the guy actually does deserve some applause the next time he comes to town.
Still funny to think about that game earlier this year when Cesar Hernandez stepped out for an ovation from Philly fans and was greeted with silence.— Sad Dad Alf Stan (@saddadbadhad) September 10, 2022
Shortstop - Freddy Galvis
Freddy played in the wrong time period. In the 70’s or 80’s, a good defensive shortstop who could hit double digit home runs would have merited All-Star consideration.
Third base - Maikel Franco
You don’t miss the playoffs for ten straight years without a top prospect or ten failing to pan out. Franco got off to a good start and would sometimes look like he was ready to put it together (Remember when he was “the best eight-hole hitter in baseball?”), but he could never keep those hot streaks going for long. He’d soon go back to losing his helmet on every swing and hitting countless ground balls to the left side of the infield.
Catcher - Cameron Rupp
Earlier this season when people had decided that re-signing J.T. Realmuto was a mistake, and the Phillies should have instead spent the money elsewhere and “found a catcher.” Here’s a reminder that most catchers you “find” look a lot like Cameron Rupp.
I’m surprised to learn that Rupp never played in the majors after leaving the Phillies in 2017. He seemed like a guy who was just good enough to end up on a new team every season until they could find someone better.
Left field - Andrew McCutchen
I felt like the idea of Andrew McCutchen was always better than the reality. He was a great clubhouse guy, and had some big moments, but overall, his on-field performance was a little disappointing considering his reputation and salary. Maybe things would have been different if he hadn’t gotten hurt in 2019.
Center field - Ben Revere
Revere was an interesting player, as he had one great tool (speed), one good tool (hitting), one average tool (fielding), but had one of the weakest arms in the majors and almost zero ability to hit the ball out of the park. But when he did connect, it was magical:
One of my personal favorite ‘Forgotten Phillies,’ the contact-prone Ben Revere.— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) April 20, 2020
Here’s his first career home run, which came after a drought of *1,466* at-bats.
He would go on to hit just SIX more homers over his 8 year career.
A power hitter if there ever was one. pic.twitter.com/ZvQwbqVOhf
Revere was another player who might have been viewed as a solid role player on a good team but was miscast as a leadoff hitter for some bad Phillies teams.
Right field - Nick Williams
Williams got a bit of a raw deal from the Phillies. I was never that high on him, but he seemed to be treated unfairly by Gabe Kapler, and in Spring Training of 2019, he was set to be the Phillies’ every day right fielder...right until they signed a marquee free agent to replace him. He basically never saw the field after that
Starting rotation - Jeremy Hellickson, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Jerad Eickhoff
And here is where you see exactly why the Phillies went so long between playoff berths. The Phillies had Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels for the early part of the drought and Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola at the end. But in the middle? There were some ugly, ugly rotations.
Here’s the sad thing: Vince Velasquez may epitomize the drought more than any other player, and I don’t know if it's entirely coincidental that they return to the playoffs the season after they got rid of him. And I still couldn’t think of four pitchers who were better than him!
Closer - Jonathan Papelbon
Paps isn’t well liked by Phillies fans, but the guy generally did his job effectively. He never seemed all that happy to be in Philadelphia, but can you blame him? He thought he was joining a 100-win team with multiple aces in the rotation. Instead, the team fell to pieces soon after his arrival.
Manager - Pete Mackanin
Do the 2018 Phillies make the playoffs if they were led by the steady Mackanin, rather than allowing Gabe Kapler to learn how to be a manager on the job? Probably not, but it was still a bad decision to fire him.