Analysis

Phillies All-Time Team: First Base

Howard is the best 1B in team history...right? (PHOTO: AP)

It’s up to you to tell us who should be part of the Phillies All-Time team. During the winter, we’ll unveil one position at a time for you to vote on. After all the votes are tallied, and all the position filled, we’ll release the results. Make your vote count!

Below are the top choice and their totals as a member of the Phillies. WAR is used from Baseball-Reference.

  • Ryan Howard (7+ seasons, 2005 ROY, 2006 MVP, 3x all star, 1 WS champ): .271 avg, .915 OPS, 300 HR, 920 RBI, 16.8 WAR
  • John Kruk (6 seasons, 3x all star): .309 avg, .861 OPS, 62 HR, 390 RBI, 17.3 WAR
  • Pete Rose (5 seasons, 4x all star, 1 WS champ): .291 avg., .726 OPS, 8 HR, 255 RBI, 0.3 WAR

Who we’re voting for:

-Ian Riccaboni: For me, Ryan Howard is the Phillies Greatest First Baseman ever, primarily based on his impressive first five seasons in the Major Leagues. Yet Howard’s body of work is less important in Philadelphia than, say, his comparative longevity – Howard already has played the second most games at first base among Phillies all-time despite not reaching the Majors until age 25, which is either a testament to Howard’s durability up until 2012 or a tribute to the fact that the Phillies almost never had a consistent threat at first base.

-Pat Gallen: The numbers above speak loudly. Ryan Howard helped change the face of the Phillies franchise, helping lead them to a title in championship-starved town. He put up one of the best offensive seasons ever by a first baseman in 2006. Pretty easy choice.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. stickballking

    January 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    No Dick Allen nomination?

    • Bruce

      January 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      @stickballking: I certainly agreed with your question. Dick Allen played as many seasons with the Phillies as Howard and and the two other selections. Allen rightfully deserves recognition here.

      • Ian Riccaboni

        January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        As many seasons? Yes. Time at third base? No – was only at first for ~three seasons.

      • Ken Bland

        January 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

        No way, Bruce! Most of his time at first with the Phils was after he came back, and those weren’t Richie Allen seasons.

        It’s really not the lack of games, it’s the lack of quality play at the position that limits him to 3rd, in which he rightfully has zero shot at the honor.

      • Bruce

        January 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        You’re both right Ian and Ken. I didn’t have my “thinking” cap” on. 🙂
        I jumped in with too quickly in defense of Allen without checking his career info on defense. Yes, I knew before and forgot Allen was an excellent 3rd Baseman for the Phillies before switching to 1B full time when traded.

    • joe mazz

      January 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Pete Rose leadership alone hits,runs,stolen bases,doubles,triples come on ryan howard is not a leader or a cluthch hitter

      • schmenkman

        January 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm

        In 1980, all of those hits, doubles, triples, etc. amounted to a line of .282/.352/.354 for a .706 OPS and 99 wRC+, meaning he was about an average hitter. He also played poor defense that year, as he did for most of the latter part of his career.

        I could go through the stats on Rose’s clutch hitting that year, but I’ll just say that they’re mixed, while Howard has been one of the best clutch hitters in baseball in recent years.

        Kruk and Howard were different types of hitters but very close overall. But Rose (with the Phillies) wasn’t really in their league.

  2. Tropic

    January 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Richie Allen

  3. Ian Riccaboni

    January 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Dick Allen played only 315 games at first for the Phillies. His inclusion was debated but was not included because first base was not his primary position over the entirety of his two tenures with the Phillies.

    The following players spent more time at 1B than Allen with the Phillies: Ricky Jordan (501 games), Rico Brogna (487 games), Von Hayes (397 games), and Jim Thome (342 games).

  4. Ken Bland

    January 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Howard’s career beginning is a powerful presence to get him in the discussion. Had something like that continued for about a 10 year run, you could fairly comfortably put him at the top. Although Rose started his Phillie career at age 38, 4 of the 5 years were a net sum of either all around excellence, or close to it, and it’s not like he’s an unequivocal choice, but selecting Howard is a vote against acknowledging the importance of all around game. Howard’s an “okay” choice, but his late career start, and at least signs of late career not great play sure make it tough. Kruk’s a discussable candidate, but if you measure the length of all star level type play out of the field, Dick Sisler should probably be a choice as well.

    Unfortunately, this is a pretty good example of the difficulty of this topic in the first place. The long history of this team is reasonably sad. It’s probably like some of the “newer” franchises, that have been around for 50 years. You’ll find all-time selections that don’t exactly keep embarrasing out of mind. The storied franchises maybe wind up with 1-2 position players at absolute most that don’t represent the all time quality of what you’d expect for an all time player. First base is one of five positions (first, catcher, shortstop, left field) where the Phils don’t have the level of player you’d expect for a century plus old club. In a way, it adds to the charm of the Phils, and you can’t lose fact of it being the homwtown team, but it’s a shame this project isn’t one of 8 position joy rides.

    Vote goes to Pete, with the hope that Ryan can finish strong enough to rake doubt out of the discussion. Most people shortchange how good Rose was. They were too bust hating him as a player, or underrate the heart and mentality of a passionate baseball genius. Even in his age 38-42 years.

    • The Original Chuck P

      January 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      I’d love to hear your definition of all-around game. AS A PHILLIE… AS A FIRST BASEMAN… I guess all-around game doesn’t include power (Rose had none). It certainly doesn’t include speed (Rose stole 51 bases over 5 years, which is better than Howard but 10 SB per season doesn’t constitute someone having speed) or defense (Rose posted a -9 dWAR over five seasons, which is in Howard territory). So Rose AS A PHILLIE was good at hitting the ball – he average 165 hits per season which is 3 better than Howard. Per season, Rose hit about 27 doubles to Howards 30, 1 HR to Howard’s 44, drove in 51 runs to Howards 136, scored 78 runs to Howards 98, walked 65 times to Howard’s 83… but hey, at least he didn’t swing at bad pitches, right? I’ll give you that… but if ALL of that stuff is true above, who cares?

      • Ken Bland

        January 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

        That question of my definition is either rhetorical or sarcastic, but I’ll answer it. My definition is a combination of mental, physical and emotional.

        Stolen bases, which you alluded to are only a portion of forming an opinion on a baserunner.

        Regarding Rose and his batting average and power, two thoughts. One, I don’t particularly care how much it goes agaist conventional thiking, association of power by position is fool’s gold. I don’t expect a first baseman to hit for power just because it’s both a time honored notion, and more of a natural course for guys to play that position who fit the power hitter prototype. Besides that, power is typically measured by extra base hit measures, which isn’t wrong, but there’s something to be said for a guy who constantly hit the ball hard. The reason Howard is fairly in the discussion, but not clearly at the top is because he has a record of excellent power numbers. Even at the time Pete was a Phillie, the other aspects of the game, as I stated before, and continue to believe is because of his all around game.

      • The Original Chuck P

        January 24, 2013 at 11:05 am

        So let me get this straight. In your mind, Rose was a better choice to represent the Phillies AT team at first base because of his mental and emotional prowess. And because of stuff that can’t be measured in numbers – like how he received a relay throw and how he ran the bases (a point made while totally disregarded numbers… things like doubles and runs scored, which Howard had more of).

        It’s not just the power… he’s better in almost every facet of the game, by the numbers.

        I’m going to stop short of saying that Howard deserves to be treated like Mike Schmidt… Howard has certainly descended from his 140-165 OPS+ years BUT two years ago he posted a 126 OPS+ so the descent (excluding last season which was an aberration) has not been as exaggerated as people on here make it seem. He does need to get himself back into shape – he needs to beat this achilles thing and come into camp with a fire under his rear burning to bring us back to the postseason. I won’t make excuses for him if he comes back overweight and on a honeymoon hangover. I don’t like the distractions… the big house, the new wife… none of that bodes well for this key offseason (and we haven’t heard much on the Ry-Ho front) but I have always supported him because he has worked hard in the past. He’s not going to be a slap hittter… he’s probably never going to be able to hit lefties but if he can lay off those low and away pitches a little bit better and continue to drive in runs (if I’m his coach, I want him swinging the bat) he’s going to carry us like he always has and he has the potential to be a HOF’er.

      • Ken Bland

        January 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        Point about the relay positioning was an example of how I wouldn’t be so quick to just call Rose an average first baseman during his time here, which somebody with a long name posted here. Point stands as a simple one, it’s a bit of a leap to say that’s a reason he’s who I’d take as the Phillies all-time first baseman.

    • Emsp

      January 23, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Holy cow man….Is Bland your name or a description of your post? Ryan Howard is great but unappreciated. He reminds me of how people hated Mike Schmidt until after he retired. Eventually he will be appreciated for his performance.

      • Ken Bland

        January 24, 2013 at 8:11 am

        I thought the comment about my name easily fell into the category of ignorant. I take shots with the best of them when the context is appropriate, but your ignorance, hidden behind some disguised name seems quite deserving of the term I used.

        It’s a little hasty to project Howard being appreciated more like Schmidt after his career. It’s certainly possible, but…

        Schmidt’s all around game at least made him easier to appreciate while he played. The volume of frustration with his perceived cool, and strikeouts were accentuated, but I think it’s fair to say that many of his detractors, while he played were more hot and cold toward his game than Howard’s. Howard looks at a 1-2 slider from a lefty, and the collective agony barely subsides. Howard will leave behind a bunch of fond memories, and respect, but I can’t help but feel he needs to show some uptick over the last 3-4 years of his career before he draws the measure of appreciation Schmidt did post career.

  5. betasigmadeltashag

    January 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Rose did help bring a WS to Philly for the first time, and was a big reason but I feel mostly with his attitude and leadership in the club house. I am not sure about his stats, but my eye test says he was at the time he played in Philly was an average defensive first basemen, and I also have to take into account the position of first base, which was a power position. I can not speak to first basemen prior to 1971 season since that is when I become aware of the phillies at age 6. I will say my favorite all time first basemen was Willie Monteneze(sp) from my child hood. I know he does not deserve to be on this list, but he was a great guy to watch.

    • Ken Bland

      January 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Lemme ask you a question. Ball’s hit to the outfield for a base hit. Every player on the field has to react to set up reactively if there’s a runner on.

      30 first basemen in the game. Of the 30 during Rose’s stay here, where in the order of being properly aligned for the throw back, or relay would you think Rose would be?

      Defense is not all physical.

      Guillermo Montanez used to catch the ball at first base in a very colorful way. In the time between Willie and Pete, the position was handled pretty routinely. Then Pete came along and started spiking the ball on the 3rd out. Ever see Pete spike a ball when there was less than 2 outs? Nope.

      I forget the circumstance, but Dallas came blitzing out of the dugout 1 game to argue with the ump. The ump pleaded his case, and Dallas shouted bvack at him, “Pete Rose don’t make those kind of mistakes.”

      Feel free to find me any mistake Pete ever made on the baseball field.

  6. Righteous Robert

    January 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Funny that Kruk beat out Pete Rose for the Phillies All VET team but say you could
    have Rose for 15 seasons wouldn’t he beat out Ryan Howard and John Kruk ?
    Rose’s Phillies career 4 All Star appearances in 5 seasons. Come On.
    We all know who you would want especially if Ryan falls flat on his face.

    ROSE is on the 100 Greatest Players Team
    and should be showed Respect for only 5 seasons 1/3 of a career in PHILLY.
    I sat next to him in Clearwater on my 50th Birthday March 7th 2000.
    Schilling walked over and asked Pete who he was betting on that day.

    ROSE is just someone would haver been in the HALL if he just told the
    Truth from the beginning and that is Why I’m all about the TRUTH.
    I live and breathe it but its been awhile since I was Laid.
    Truth doesn’t help in many matters. My ex-wife was Fat.

    One Day ROSE will be in the Hall of Fame
    Not Kruk but will Ryan make it ???

    ROSE id the King of Hits in MLB History. Don’t forget that.
    And he is ASSUME and the One Reason we won the 1980 World Series.
    Especially him catching that fly ball when Boone dropped it.

    Ask yourself that question
    What Phillie could Not be replaced in that 1980 season ?

    Reparations for Vietnam Vets
    Baltimore Bob

    • schmenkman

      January 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Rose should be in the hall of fame, and I believe will be in the next decade. Howard and Kruk won’t ever be in the hall. But the object here is not to compare their careers.

      It’s to compare their time with the Phillies, and both Howard and Kruk were much better as Phillies than Rose was.

      Rose had two pretty good seasons with the Phillies, and, magical as it was, 1980 was not one of them.

      • The Original Chuck P

        January 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        There’s no doubting that Pete Rose was a better player over the course of his career… the question is, “Who is the best person to represent the Phillies on an All-Time team?” You don’t associate the Phillies with Pete Rose – you don’t associate Pete Rose with the Phillies. There is no point in comparing their numbers in terms of contributions to this franchise because Howard wins hands down. The only way you can come to the conclusion that Pete Rose deserves a vote is if you say, “He was the best person to ever play 1B in a Phillies uniform.” To which I would agree BUT you could also say that Joe Morgan is the best second baseman in Phillies history (he did play here at age 39). In my opinion, you have to isolate the player’s performance as a Phillie and overall contributions the franchise when selecting these teams and when you do that, Rose falls short.

      • Righteous Robert

        January 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        And Kruk will get to the Hall of Fame – when he buys a ticket
        or basically they probably let him in for FREE.

        Kruk did NOT bring the Phillies a World Series Championship
        enough said.

        Reparations for Vietnam Vets
        Baltimore Bob

    • Ken Bland

      January 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Absolutely loved the passion conveyed in your post. Helluva job!

  7. Righteous Robert

    January 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    ROSE batted .393 against the Phillies.

    Reparations for Vietnam Vets
    Baltimore Bob

  8. Bob in Bucks

    January 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Kruk.

    Perhaps you need to look closer at the numbers. 6 seasons – 17.3 WAR
    Howard 7+ seasons – 16.8 WAR
    That’s right, fewer seasons but higher WAR.

    Put it this way, who would you rather have coming to bat – Kruk or Howard (after the shift was deployed)? You cringe at Howard coming to bat, you cheer for Kruk.

  9. John

    January 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Don Hurst?

  10. Don M

    January 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    The better question might be Who is hotter? Ryan Howard’s wife, or Pete Rose’s girlfriend?

  11. George

    January 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Kruk also spent a lot of time in the outfield, so some of his numbers aren’t what they appear.

    The real problem here is that the Phils have never had really great candidates at 1st base. Even at catcher, the minimum was Ruiz with 6+ seasons. At 1st, that’s closer to the maximum.

    Howard has put up some monster seasons, and still has time left, so he’ll most likely end up as the best. The rest are history. I just don’t think that 5-6 seasons fits with “all-time,” good or bad.

  12. davehist

    January 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Hey, Don Hurst should have been included among the candidates. Sure, he played back in the Dark Ages, but in six and a half years with the Phillies (1928-1934) he batted .303 and he led the NL in RBIs with 143 in 1932.

  13. Ken Bland

    January 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    On the subject of first basemen who’ve filled gaps for the Phillies between players of greatness, and dating back to times when even mediocore players were larger than life, former Phil Ed Bouchee passed away. I ever so maybe not even barely remember Bouchee playing for the Phils, but I so vividly remember the legendary story that circulated that he threw a ball from home plate out of the ballpark. Whether it was Connie Mack or not, I don’t know. Anyway, I figure 1 or 2 people around here remember him, so here’s the obit.

    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/jan/25/bouchee-dies-at-79/

  14. wbramh

    February 12, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Nobody mentioned Eddie Waitkus.
    Got shot in the chest midseason 1949 by a deranged stalker and almost died but returned to first with the Whiz Kids and hit .284 (despite suffering from PTSD)ranking MVP-24 in the league.
    Excellent hitter for average with little power but an obviously tough bird. Aside from recovering from a devastating shooting, Eddie also won 4 bronze stars during WWII.
    I’d give him honorable mention at 1st if only for his pluck.

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