100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 36 – Nap Lajoie

Nap Lajoie
Second Baseman
1896-1900

Career w/Phillies: .344 AVG / 32 HR / 458 RBI / 87 SB

Napoleon Lajoie. One of the greats. Maybe the greatest second baseman ever. And he began his career as a Phillie. His Phillies career wasn’t too shabby, either, as he broke in at age 21 and hit .326 in limited time. His big years started in 1897, when he hit .361 and drove in 127 at age 22. The next season he again drove in 127, but hit a pedestrian .324. Though his power would dissipate, his slick hitting would continue, as he’d score a .378 and .337 averages in his final two Phillies seasons. Also a base thief, he accumulated 20 or more steals three times. He was among league leaders in home runs, hits and doubles as a Phillie, before deciding to play for the Athletics in response to a National League salary cap. Playing for the other Philly team he hit .426 (an AL record) in 1901. After that unreal season, the Phillies obtained an injunction to bar Lajoie to play for another team except the Phillies. But the injunction was only valid in Pennsylvania, so Lajoie was sold to the Cleveland franchise, who became popular because of Lajoie. Without Nap, the Cleveland Indians may have never happened.

Comment: Darn. Thanks to a salary cap, the Phillies went without potentially its greatest player ever. Instead, the Phils got a few amazing years out of baseball’s first star. Because of his otherworldly play, Lajoie deserves respectful placement on the list.

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