The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #18. 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 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.
Please check back this afternoon for #17.
#18 Roy Thomas
Years: 1899-1908, 1910-1911
.290/.413/.333 with 7 HR, 244 SB in 6575 PA
Previous Rank: 52 (+34)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 8th among position players, 11th among Phillies
Signature Season: Hit .327/.453/.365 with 107 BB in 1903
Led National League in Walks in Seven of Eight Seasons (1900-1904, 1906-1907)
So often we forget two of the most basic tenants of baseball: get on base and score runs. There was one Phillie that did that better than just about everyone and that was turn of the century center fielder Roy Thomas. Thomas ranks third in Phillies history with a .413 OBP, second in BB%, and seventh in runs scored. Thomas’ single-season marks are almost as impressive: Thomas led the National League in walks in seven out of eight seasons from 1900 through 1907 and led all of baseball in OBP in 1903.
Thomas was one of the first modern lead-off men in baseball. At 5’10”, 150 lbs, Thomas was small but fast, dynamic on the base paths. A native of Norristown and a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas is believed by Bill James to be the only regular player in Major League history to score three-times as many runs as he drove in. Thomas was among the top lead off hitters during his career; Thomas had the fourth-best OBP, sixth in runs, and 26th in steals between 1899 through 1911. Among National League center fielders, Thomas ranked first in fWAR, second in runs, fourth in steals, and first in OBP. Thomas’ all-time stats hold up well, too: Thomas ranks 20th in BB%, 29th in OBP, and 84th all-time in total walks.
Thomas was purchased in 1908 by the Pittsburgh Pirates and returned to the Phillies as a free agent in 1910. He would spent the remainder of his career with the Phillies and begin coaching at Penn in 1909. If the dates seem a little funky, it is because Thomas was the head coach of the Quakers while he was an active Major Leaguer for the Boston Doves. Thomas is one of Philadelphia’s great baseball men – as a native son of Norristown, he was a fantastic Phillie and he would go on to post a winning percentage of .632 (106-46-3) as Penn’s manager.