100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 14 – Jim Bunning

Jim Bunning
Starting Pitcher
1964-1967, 1970-1971

Career w/Phillies: 1520.2 IP / 89-73 / 2.92 ERA / 1197 K

Four incredible seasons make Jim Bunning one of the greatest Phillies of all time. Let’s see: ERAs of 2.63, 2.60, 2.41 and 2.29. Win totals of 19, 19, 19 and 17. Strikeout totals of 219, 268, 252 and 253. That’s just dominant. Bunning came to the Phillies through a trade – at the time he was entering his 30s and had a tough 1963 with the Tigers. The Phils took a gamble on Bunning and came out victorious; the right-hander was in the NL top 10 in ERA, wins, strikeouts per nine innings, WHIP, hits per nine innings, shutouts, complete games and strikeouts every season during his first Phillie tenure. Hilariously, he led the league in hit batsmen every season, too. Because of his amazing consistency it’s hard to pick a best season. Maybe that 1964 season, when he finished 19-8. Or 1965, when he struck out a career-high 268 batters. Or 1966, when he threw a career-high 314 innings yet kept his ERA below 2.50. Or is it 1967, when he slung a crazy-low 2.29 ERA? Back in that ’64 season Bunning threw a Father’s Day perfect game. Talk about beautiful moments. The Phils traded Bunning to Pittsburgh after 1967, getting Don Money in return. But Bunning would come back in 1970, going 10-15. He had one more season left in him, finishing with a brutal 5-12 record and 5.48 ERA. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996, and his No. 14 is retired by the Phillies. Today Bunning is the junior senator in Kentucky, and while he’s made his share of controversial comments, he’ll always be a superb right-hander in our eyes.

Comment: Okay, so Bunning has a retired number and is a Hall of Famer. But brass tacks: He had just four great seasons with the Phillies. Sure, they were amazing seasons, but there were merely four of them. His final run in Philly actually stained his mark a tad. That all said, I think it’s pretty appropriate Bunning is ranked where he is. And he is a living Phillies legend.

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