The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #38. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff.
From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.
Please check back this afternoon for #37.
#38 – Elmer Flick
.338/.419/.487, 29 HR, 119 SB in 2346 PA
Previous Rank: New to Rankings
fWAR Phillies Rank: 27th among position players, 37th among Phillies
Signature Stat: Fourth in Phillies history in OBP (.419)
Ah, the age-old story of the early Phillies: develop superstar player, get into contract squabble, let player go for nothing, player goes on to be Hall of Famer. As if the Phillies didn’t learn in 1901 with Nap Lajoie, the Phillies would play hardball with Flick and Ed Delahanty after the 1901 season and lose both future Hall of Famers as well. My my, what could have been?
So why was losing Elmer Flick so devastating? Well, from 1898 through 1901 Flick was second in baseball with 29 HR, sixth in runs scored, third in RBIs, eleventh in steals, sixth in isolated power, seventh in batting average, sixth in OBP, fifth in slugging, fourth in wOBA, and third in OPS. In short, Flick was essentially a turn-of-the-century Ken Griffey Jr.-in-his-prime, lefty-hitting right fielder: he could hit for average, power, steal bases, and would even lead the league in outfield assists in 1901.
Flick is an easily forgotten name from the offensively-gifted turn-of-the-century Phillies squads – just about everything he did, Delahanty did as well. And unlike Delahanty, who reportedly died by falling over Niagra Falls in 1903 just a few years after leaving the Phillies, Flick would be a Hall of Fame-caliber outfielder with the Philadelphia A’s in 1902 and the Cleveland Naps from 1902-1910, joining fellow Phillies’ hold-out Lajoie on a team that appreciated Lajoie so much, they eventually, briefly, named themselves after him.
Flick would lead a long, healthy life, becoming the oldest living inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963 at age 87 and passing away at age 94. For four years, Flick was among the best of the best in baseball for the Phillies, and one of a handful of painful reminders of why it is important to keep young talent.