PHILADELPHIA -- The best teams do not always win the World Series.
Case in point: the Phillies.
Here is a look back at the five best regular seasons in franchise history:
The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games behind arguably the greatest rotation in baseball history. The greatest? Yes, arguably. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt led a rotation that amassed a 27.0 WAR, according to FanGraphs. No rotation in history posted more WAR than that. The rotation’s 2.86 ERA remains the best in baseball since 1985. Its 2.98 FIP remains the best since 1988. Its 18 complete games remain the most since 1998. The Phils added right fielder Hunter Pence in July to add pop to the lineup, but the team with the best record in baseball ran into the red-hot Cardinals in the National League Division Series. Halladay lost to his best friend, Chris Carpenter, in Game 5 of the best-of-five series, 1-0.
The Phillies have not been to the postseason or had a winning season since.
Philadelphia celebrated the country’s bicentennial throughout the summer, which included the All-Star Game at Veterans Stadium. But even without the Midsummer Classic, baseball in Philadelphia was more fun than it had been since 1964 (other than those final two weeks, of course). The Phillies won 101 games, setting a new franchise record. But they ran into the Big Red Machine in the NL Championship Series. The Reds swept the series, 3-0.
The Phillies enjoyed a second consecutive 101-win season -- the most wins in the NL -- but fell short again in the NLCS. Fans remember this one for Black Friday, when the Phils blew a two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning in Game 3 against the Dodgers at the Vet. Greg Luzinski could not catch Manny Mota’s fly ball at the left-field wall with two outs, which scored a run to cut the lead to one. Then, Davey Lopes’ ground ball deflected off Mike Schmidt and into the right hand of Larry Bowa, who fired a throw to first. Lopes was ruled safe and the tying run scored. Bowa still insists Lopes was out, and instant replay seems to confirm this. Regardless, the Dodgers scored another run to take the lead, the Phils lost the game and the Dodgers eventually won the series, 3-1.
One wonders how history might have changed with high-definition TV and instant replay.
The Phillies won 97 games, more than any other team in baseball, behind a rotation that included Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth led the way offensively. But the Phils ran into Cody Ross and the Giants and lost in six games in the NLCS.
Joe Carter ended this wild run by one of the most memorable teams in franchise history. The Phillies won 97 games, upsetting the Braves in the NLCS before getting to Game 6 in the World Series against the Blue Jays. Then Mitch Williams slide stepped and Carter hit one out.