The Phillies Nation Top 100: #1 Mike Schmidt – Phillies Nation
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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #1 Mike Schmidt

The Phillies Nation Top 100 concludes today with #1. 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. 

To view the previous 99 players listed thus far, please click here. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.

http://teamtobeat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/00schmidt.jpg#1 – Mike Schmidt

Years: 1972-1989

.267/.380/.527 with 548 HR, 174 SB in 10062 PA

Previous Rank: 1 (No Change)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 1st among position players, 1st among Phillies

First-Ballot Hall of Fame Selection, 1995

Eight-time NL HR King, Ten-time NL Gold Glove Winner, Six-time NL Silver Slugger Winner

12 NL All-Star Selections

Won three NL MVP Awards (1980, 1981, 1986)

Leads all third basemen in HR (15th all-time), SLG%, RBI (35th all-time)

All-time Phillies leader in games played, PA, hits, HR, runs, RBI, BB, IBB, and FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved

Signature Game: Hit four HR in April 17, 1976 game against the Cubs

Signature Series: Hit .381/.462/.714 against the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series en route to the Phillies winning their first World Series and Schmidt winning the World Series MVP award

Signature Moment: 500th HR at Three Rivers Stadium hit on April 18, 1987

Michael Jack Schmidt was drafted in the second round of the 1971 amateur draft, a senior-sign out of the University of Ohio. Before Schmidty could play one full season in the minor leagues, Schmidt was called up to be a piece of one of the worst teams in recent Phillies’ history, the 1972 squad. Winning just 59 games, the 1972 featured the newly-acquired Steve Carlton and not much else.

Schmidt, like the Phillies themselves, would struggle, often mightily, in his first two years in the Majors. Schmidt would hit just .197/.324/.367 in his first 483 PA across 1972 and 1973. The Phillies stuck with the Ohio native and were rewarded mightily in 1974: Schmidt would lead the league in strikeouts while also leading the Majors in homers and the NL in slugging. Schmidt earned his first of 12 NL All-Star selections in 1974, posting a triple-slash line of .282/.395/.546.

Often, even in retrospect, it is hard to recognize just how great Schmidt was due to a number of factors. When the Phillies reached the postseason for the first time since 1950 in 1976, Schmidt once again led the Majors in homers but fell behind teammate Greg Luzinski in MVP voting. When Schmidt won his first of an NL-record-for-third-baseman ten Gold Gloves in 1976, the memory of slick fielding teammate Larry Bowa was still fresh in the fans minds. When Schmidt blossomed, the team blossomed, but he was better than the rest.

Schmidt asserted this in 1980, hitting a then-club-record, and Major League-leading, 48 homers, while leading the NL in SLG% and OPS, en route to his first of three NL MVPs, carrying the Phillies back into the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. Schmidt would lead the Phillies to the first World Series’ title in club history after hitting .381/.462/.714 against the Kansas City Royals. Schmidt was named the World Series MVP.

Schmidt’s all-time marks are legendary: ranked 15th by FanGraphs and 19th by Baseball Reference in their respective WARs, Schmidt ranks 15th all-time in HR and 35th in RBI, while leading all third baseman in those categories as well as slugging. Schmidt ranks as the all-time Phillies leader in games played, PA, HR, hits, runs, RBI, BB, IBB, and FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved. Schmidt was among baseball’s greatest and that point is reflected in other spots in the Phillies’ leaderboards, including his, somewhat surprising, ranking of at 15th in steals. From 1972 through 1989, FanGraphs’ indicates he was the best player of his time by their version of WAR, leading baseball in HR, runs, and RBI, ranking fourth in SLG%, 12th in FanGraphs’ version of defensive runs saved, and 14th in hits.

Schmidt’s number 20 was retired in 1990 and Schmidt was inducted on to the Phillies’ Wall of Fame the same year. Schmidt was inducted as a first-ballot choice to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 alongside Richie Ashburn. Schmidt is considered the greatest third baseman of all-time in the Baseball Historical Abstract by Bill James and is the definitive number one choice for the Greatest Phillie of All-Time.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Philsfan21

    February 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Sorry, but # 500 was hit at Riverfront Stadium……

    • Philsfan21

      February 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Opps…Make that Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium

      • Ian Riccaboni

        February 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        After 99 of these, you’d have thought I’d have gotten one right. Fixed it up, thank you.

  2. Bart Shart

    February 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    What about Charley Hayes
    ?

  3. Michael Rump

    February 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Why is he #1 among pitchers?

  4. Vinnie

    February 28, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Ian,

    Great Job creating this list. I have a quest for knowledge, and I appreciate reading about some of the old time Phillies.

    These guys didn’t make the top 100, but I would like to give special mention status to them. You can tell from my selections about how old I am:

    Jay “drug test” Johnstone
    Del “3 consecutive HR” Unser
    Manny “the triple” Trillo
    Glen “Glenbo” Wilson
    Aaron “the Fence” Rowan
    Thomas “The closer” Perez
    Jim “the platoon” Eisenreich
    Pete “Inky” Incaviglia
    Matt “in case of emergency use” Stairs
    Larry “Spray on Hair” Anderson (was also on both the 83 and 93 ws teams)

    All of these guys had moments in Phillies history (at least in my memory) that are worth noting.

    • Jay Edwards

      February 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      “The Triple” Trillo! Love it! He tied the record for errorless games by a 2B, and I was at the next game. He booted a grounder on a backhand, and a cascade of boos came down when the “E-4” flashed on the scoreboard. Then came a four-minute standing ovation — maybe the first standing-O for an error in history.

  5. Laura Hoogerwerff

    February 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    And this is man the fans Booed whenever he didn’t come through which was not often. Thank goodness Michael Jack had a thick skin and let roll off his back or he would have gone into the Hall as a member of another team.

  6. photoFred

    February 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    The first line on his HOF plaque says it all:

    “Unprecedented combination of power and defense with unusual mixture of strength, coordination and speed…”

    The best.

  7. Lefty

    February 28, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Sincere thanks for this entire undertaking Ian. You really did a fantastic job keeping us entertained throughout this (miserable) winter.

    • wbramh

      February 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I couldn’t have said it better, Lefty.
      So ditto, Ian… and Pat.
      Terrific job – and a hand to all you contributing commenters with opinions and memories.

      Play ball!

      • Lefty

        March 1, 2014 at 8:25 am

        Oops, thanks wb, I gave credit only to Ian.
        Thanks to Ian, Pat and everyone on the PN staff that contributed. Clearly this was a tremendous amount of work, Thanks to everyone involved!

  8. bacardipr

    March 1, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Great countdown thanks Ian. Meh Vinnie Aaron was good player for us but he was only here two years. First year he had just a OK year for us. Unless i missed him if anything Pedro Feliz should be a honorable mention. Though he as well was only a short time he had a few hits for us in the playoffs and in the WS whilst playing admirable defense.

    • Vinnie

      March 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Aaron running into the fence was classic. I agree Pedro Feliz should be an honorable mention.

  9. mudmin

    March 1, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I think it could be 50 years or more till we find someone better for such a long time in Philly. so few players spending their entire careers in one location no matter how good they are, I think it’s a lock that he will be a number one position for a very long time. Even with our crop of players that will most likely spend the bulk of their (If not their entire)careers here now, they’re not even really on the same level.

  10. Keith

    March 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

    There were many really good 3rd baseman in the sixties, seventies and nineties, but none that come close to what he did on the diamond offensively and defensively. Greatest 3rd baseman ever! It will be hard seeing Jimmy break the hits record, but at least he is and wants to be a Phillie for life. Great list!

  11. photoFred

    March 1, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I had a really enjoyable time reading this list; looked forward to each new revelation. It was clearly a ton of work (although there’s work and then there’s WORK ;-).

    While any list such as this can provoke discussion about rankings I don’t have any major disagreements…except one. I really think you might have found a spot somewhere for Manny Trillo, the MVP of the 1980 NLCS and possessed of one of the all-time great arms. Who’s spot is the question, of course. But I nominate either Brett Meyers (partly for reasons outside the white lines, I admit) or Billy Wagner because of too short a service time.

    Other than Manny, great job! Thanks.

  12. paMikeyDC

    March 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Never felt out of the ‘season’ this offseason. Thanks so much, again and again, PN!

    Every day I read this site. And it’s awesome. W awesome writers and the fans are great.

  13. whizkidfanatic

    March 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Overall a fine list. Congrats to Ian and all who contributed. We can and do quibble over placing of certain players but that’s what makes it so interesting doesn’t it? As a Phillie fan for over 65 years (gad, that makes me old!) it has been quite a ride with (hopefully) more to come.
    I would be remiss if I didn’t make another of my forlorn and feeble attempts to put in a word for two of IMO, the most underrated Phillies of alltime. Del Ennis and Granny Hamner. Both are acknowledged on the list and being in the top 100 is certainly an honor in itself.

    That said, though Ennis is closer to getting the respect he deserves, it is Hamner who is most underappreciated. From 1948 through 1954 he was as good a middle infielder as anyone in the game. In an era when middle infielders were primarily glove men, Hamner drove in 75-90 runs consistently hitting in 99 in his best season. His arm was so good that for several seasons the Phillies had him take all the outfield relays. A severe shoulder injury followed a year and a half later by an equally severe knee injury cut his career short when he was only 28 years old. Tough, temperamental and outspoken, Hamner was a players player.

    Thanks again for the outstanding work PN! Let’s do it again in a few years.

  14. Bart Shart

    March 1, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Great columns. I looked forward to reading about who is on the list every day. Excellent writing, research and delivery. Congrats for a fine job.

  15. Ken Bland

    March 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Defining Schmidt’s 4 homer game V the Chicubs in ’76 kinda caught my attention with the label of it being his signature game.

    Signature don’t necessarily mean best, but I looked at that and paused to think. Nobody writing this is stupid enough to scoff in the slightest at a 4 homer game. And in no way, shape or form am I even thinking of cheapening it, but-bu-bu-but, it WAS played in the friendly confines of Windy Field, and while Rick Rueschel was overall a pretty good pitcher (not sure where he was at specifically in ’76, or that point of the season), rare is the Cub club that had good pitching. Not that many others hit 4 homers that day.

    But Schmidt, misnamed Jack in the middle when he shoulda been christened Michael Analytical Schmidt was one pensive guy. Forgetting signature, if you asked HIM what was his BEST game ever, I wonder if this would be it. Thinker that he is, and many great games from which to choose, he might have a few others that considering his long list of excellent skills might have him selecting one that provided clarity to him because it was a great all around game.

    Nor would it surprise me if he chose a game from his breakout year of 1974. From early into near the end, that might have been one of the most massive turnarounds in game history. He had to be around .320 past July (.282 wrap). Somewhere in that calendar year, there had to be a game where his confidence soared from the south pole to above north, and maybe that meets the signature qualifier.

    Personally, I think I could live with a 4 homer game being my signature game, but if you asked Schmidt what he’d define it as, particularly leading him away from the obvious answer as too easy an out, you might get Schmidt at his pensive best.

    Whatever the answer is, ain’t no doubt, twas a tremendous game.

  16. Mazinman

    March 3, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Ah, Michael Jack Schmidt. One of the main reasons I am a Phillies fan today. When I was a young kid I moved to New Jersey and immediately fell in love with baseball. I knew I had to pick a team and it had to be between the Phillies, Yankees, and Mets. In the end, the Phillies had two things that the other two could not compete with. The Phanatic and the greatest third baseman that ever played the game.

    Great job with the list!

  17. Ryne Duren

    March 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Great article and a great series Ian! It’s well appreciated by all I’m sure. Mike’s first ML home run was on Sept 16. My sons birthday. I caught a HR ball in left field on Easter Sunday 1972 which was my mom’s birthday. He hit it off Bob Gibson who at the time was pitching a gem. If I remember correctly Boone walked ahead of Schmidt who then hit a game winning HR right into my lap. My buddy and I were so excited we actually ran from the stadium and promptly went to the hospital his dad was in. We knew he was a big fan so we gave the ball to him. Three years later my brother in law happened to meet Schmidt and explained to him what happened to the ball. ( I actually thought at the time of the HR it was his first ever) Anyway I had got married that year 1975 and received many gifts and money from friends and relatives. (big Italian wedding. Well the best gift of all was from my brother in law! It was a personalized signed baseball. From Mike and his wife to me and my wife wishing all the best on our wedding. I still have the ball in a glass case on my fireplace mantel, and it has only felt fresh air on it twice in all these years. He’ll always be # 1 to me and my family. And I or anyone in my family have never booed him either! lol.

    • Ryne Duren

      March 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

      I think the year was 1973 on Easter! Sorry guys I’m getting old. I’m still married to my sweety by the way. I can’t leave her. It would render my gift useless.lol can’t have that happen.

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