Analysis

Lidge: Most Important Season in Phillies History?

This pose should be immortalized. Statue anyone? (PHOTO AP)

“Every once in a while something will come up and we’ll be like, ‘man, that was a pretty amazing year, wasn’t it?'”

Earlier this week, Brad Lidge spoke with 97.3 ESPN FM about the 2008 Championship as well as moving on to the Washington Nationals, who are ripe to finally become a rival of the Phillies. Lidge spoke glowingly of that season, how could he not?

Listening to Lidge answer the question pertaining to that season reminds me of the young adult that is growing up but looks back on his high school or college days with a sense of pride – and also a tinge of sadness because it’s in the rear view. The good old days passed by.

That’s where Lidge is now. He has moved on from the “good old days” with the Phillies and has begun a new chapter in his career. It’s one that has provided plenty of highs (’08 title, perfect season) and plenty of lows (Albert Pujols, 2009 season). However, we’ll always have that special 2008 season.

Just how special was that year for Lidge? Well the numbers say off the charts. Forty-one saves, none blown, and a 1.98 ERA in the regular season. Seven more saves in the postseason, allowing just one run in nine appearances. Other interesting factoids (thank you Recliner GM):

  • 11.94 K/9 is the highest rate in Phillies history among pitchers with 60+ IP
  • Gave up 0 runs in 62 of his 72 appearances
  • Lowest ERA among relievers in the NL with 65+ IP (1.95)
  • One of 9 pitchers in MLB history to have a sub-2 ERA, 40+ saves and 90+ strikeouts in a season
  • Finished 4th in the Cy Young voting and 8th in the MVP voting despite throwing only 69.1 innings
  • On July 25th against Atlanta, Lidge gave up 5 runs in 0 IP. In his other 71 appearances, he had a 1.30 ERA.
  • Right handed hitters had only 12 hits against Lidge the entire season, for a .105 average

I think it’s safe to say this was one of the finest seasons ever by a relief pitcher. Statistically, maybe there were others slightly more impressive. But how many of them ended in perfection and a World Series ring?

From all of those numbers and good feelings came this question: was Brad Lidge’s season the most important in Phillies history? You could make the argument that if he blows a couple of those games, the balance of the season shifts. Perhaps the Phillies miss the postseason if Lidge blows a couple of divisional games? What if he blows a save early in a postseason series? Would the momentum have shifted?

Questions like that are impossible to answer, but one thing is clear – Lidge’s 2008 season was likely as important as any other season we’ve seen in the history of the franchise.

Mike Schmidt had an MVP year in 1980 and, statistically speaking, had an incredible World Series run against the Royals. If Schmidt hits three less home runs during the regular season and knocks in 8 fewer runs, would the Phillies have gotten by? It’s possible. If he hits one homer instead of two in the WS, are the Phillies still champions? Could be.

Does Lidge’s perfect season of 2008 top all else?

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