We recently wrote about the top five individual seasons by players and pitchers in Phillies history.
The lists included familiar names like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Dick Allen and Roy Halladay. The exercise got us wondering about the greatest individual seasons in franchise history by position, so we took a stab at it. The only caveat is we only considered seasons from 1900 and later because it seems anybody in the 1800s could fall out of bed and hit .400 or win 30 games.
Here is our list:
C: Darren Daulton, 1992 (.270, 27 HR, 109 RBIs, .908 OPS)
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Daulton’s 1992 season is that he put up those numbers while catching 141 games. Daulton caught 146 the following season, but since then, the only other Phillies catcher to catch that many in a single season is Mike Lieberthal (143) in '99. Daulton slashed .270/.385/.524 with a 156 OPS+ in '92. He led the National League in RBIs, made the All-Star team, finished tied for sixth for NL MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger Award.
1B: Ryan Howard, 2006 (.313, 58 HR, 149 RBIs, 1.084 OPS)
The Big Piece smashed 26 home runs in his final 63 games. Opposing managers and pitchers wanted nothing to do with him by that point, intentionally walking him 28 times in that stretch. He was intentionally walked three times in a 14-inning game against the Reds on Aug. 11 and three times in a 14-inning game against the Braves on Sept. 27. Cincinnati intentionally walked Howard to load the bases in the 14th inning at Citizens Bank Park. (To be fair, Phillies pitcher Aaron Fultz was due up following a double switch.) Overall, Howard slashed .313/.425/.659 with a franchise-record 58 home runs, 149 RBIs, a 1.084 OPS and a 167 OPS+. He won the NL MVP Award, made the All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger.
2B: Chase Utley, 2007 (.332, 22 HR, 103 RBIs, .976 OPS
Utley missed 29 games in 2007, when Nationals right-hander John Lannan hit him with a pitch and broke his right hand in late July. If Utley stayed healthy, he could have edged Jimmy Rollins for NL MVP honors. Utley slashed .332/.410/.566 with a 146 OPS+ in ’07. Considering Utley’s pace and games missed, he could have finished with 59 doubles, six triples, 27 home runs, 126 RBIs, 128 runs scored and a 9.6 bWAR. No player who received an MVP vote that season posted better than an 8.7 bWAR (Albert Pujols). Rollins had a 6.1 bWAR. Even then, Utley’s 7.8 bWAR ranked third behind Pujols and David Wright (8.3). A truly remarkable, and perhaps the most underrated season in Phillies history.
SS: Jimmy Rollins, 2007 (.296, 30 HR, 94 RBIs, .875 OPS)
Rollins won the NL MVP in 2007 for a couple of reasons. He slashed .296/.344/.531 with a 119 OPS+. He had 38 doubles, 20 triples, 139 runs scored and 41 stolen bases to become one of only four players in baseball history to have 20 or more doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in a season, joining Curtis Granderson (2007), Willie Mays (1957) and Wildfire Schulte (1911). But Rollins’ season was more than just the numbers. He also called the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East after they acquired Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton in the offseason. OK, Garcia and Eaton flopped, but Rollins did not. He backed up his words with inspired play and paced the Phillies to their first division title since 1993.
3B: Mike Schmidt, 1980 (.286, 48 HR, 121 RBIs, 1.004 OPS)
Schmidt’s 1980 season is the greatest single season by a position player in Phillies history. He slashed .286/.380/.624 with 48 home runs, 121 RBIs, a 1.004 OPS and a 171 OPS+. He won the NL MVP Award, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. He made the All-Star team. He earned World Series MVP honors, too, helping the Phillies win their first world championship in franchise history. Schmidt put up better offensive numbers in the strike-shortened '81 season, when he won his second of three MVPs. But Schmidt’s '80 campaign will be the one people remember most.
LF: Dick Allen, 1966 (.317, 40 HR, 110 RBIs, 1.027 OPS)
Allen played 91 games in 1966 at third base, but also 47 in left field. It allowed us the opportunity to place him on this team. Allen slashed a remarkable .317/.396/.632 with 40 home runs, 110 RBIs, 1.027 OPS and a 181 OPS+. Remember, he put up those numbers in a pitcher’s era. The late Allen should finally make the Hall of Fame in 2021, a long overdue honor for one of the greatest but most underrated sluggers in baseball history.
CF: Lenny Dykstra, 1993 (.305, 19 HR, 66 RBIs, .902 OPS)
Dykstra’s 1993 season is burned into the memory banks of every Phillies fan alive to see it. Because anytime a Phillies leadoff hitter struggles, inevitably a fan wonders why the organization can’t find a leadoff hitter like Nails. But Dykstra’s '93 season is more the exception than the rule. He slashed .305/.420/.482 with a 144 OPS+. He led the big leagues with 143 runs. He led the NL with 194 hits and 129 walks. He finished second for NL MVP behind Barry Bonds.
RF: Chuck Klein, 1933 (.368, 28 HR, 120 RBIs, 1.025 OPS)
Klein won the NL MVP in 1932, but he won the Triple Crown in '33. He slashed .368/.422/.602 with 28 home runs and 120 RBIs. He led the big leagues in hits (223) and batting average. He led the NL in doubles (44), home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS+ (176) and total bases (365). He finished second for NL MVP behind Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell. The left-handed-hitting Klein took advantage of a right-field wall at Baker Bowl that stood just 280 feet from home plate. (Fenway Park’s Green Monster is 310 feet from home plate.) It explains his 1.305 OPS at home and.774 OPS on the road. Still, it counts.
SP: Steve Carlton, 1972 (27-10, 1.97 ERA, 30 complete games)
Lefty’s 1972 season is one of the greatest by any pitcher in baseball history. Besides his record and ERA, Carlton made 41 starts, completed 30 games, threw 346 1/3 innings and struck out 310 batters. He led the big leagues in wins, complete games, ERA+ (182) and FIP (2.01). The lefty led the NL in ERA, starts, innings, strikeouts, batters faced (1,351) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.56). Carlton won the NL Cy Young Award, finished fifth for MVP and made the All-Star team. The most impressive part about Carlton’s season is that he put up those numbers on an awful team. The '72 Phillies finished 59-97. Carlton won a record 45.8 percent of his team’s games that season. No pitcher has won more games or thrown more complete games since Carlton in '72. No pitcher has thrown more innings since 1973.
RP: Tug McGraw, 1980 (5-4, 1.46 ERA, 20 saves)
Anytime anybody thinks about the greatest season by a relief pitcher in Phillies history it comes down to McGraw’s 1980 season and Brad Lidge’s 2008 season. (Apologies to Jim Konstanty’s 1950 NL MVP campaign.) McGraw edges Lidge because he tossed 92 1/3 innings in 57 appearances as a multiple-inning reliever. The Phillies also rode McGraw hard in the postseason, pitching him 15 2/3 innings in nine games. He was gassed by the end, but he still struck out Willie Wilson for the final out in Game 6 of the World Series.