The Phillies Nation Top 100: #5 Ed Delahanty

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #5. 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 tomorrow morning for #4.

#5 – Ed Delahanty

Years: 1888-1889, 1891-1901

.348/.414/.508, 87 HR, 411 SB in 7141 PA

Previous Rank: 4 (-1)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 2nd among position players, 3rd among Phillies

Signature Achievments: Has highest single-season batting average in team history (.410 in 1899), hit over .400 three times, last Phillie to have OBP of .500 or greater (.500, 1895)

Signature Game: Hit four HR in a losing effort on July 13, 1896

Second Phillie ever inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 via Old Timers’ Committee 

Is also known for: Mysterious death involving Niagara Falls 

“Big Ed” was one of Major League Baseball’s earliest and most well-known sluggers. At age 20, the future right-handed slugging outfielder Delahanty joined the then-Quakers in 1888 when the team purchased his contract from Wheeling of the Tri-State league. Delahanty jumped to the Cleveland Infants of the Players’ League prior to the start of the 1890 season. Following the 1890 season, the Players’ League’s only season, Delahanty jumped back to the Quakers. By 1892, Delahanty would begin to show flashes of what made him a top power-hitter in baseball, leading the NL in triples and slugging percentage. By 1893, Delahanty had arrived: from 1893 through 1899, Delahanty put together a seven-year stretch matched by very few in baseball history: .384/.457/.568 with 65 HR and 255 SB.

During his time second run with the Phillies, Delahanty was among the leaders in all major offensive categories in baseball. Delahanty ranked third in games played, PA, and runs, first in HR and RBI, 16th in steals, fourth in BA, seventh in OBP, and second in hits, SLG and OPS. As a Phillie, Delahanty led the NL in BA in 1899 with a .410 average, the last time any Phillie hit above .400, in OBP with a .500 mark in 1895, the last time any Phillie got on base at a .500 clip, and led the NL in SLG and OPS four times. Delahanty has the fifth-best batting average in Major League history and ranks 31st in OBP, 88th in SLG, and 51st in OPS.

Delahanty’s numbers hold up well with others in Phillies’ history, even over 100 years later. Delahanty ranks fifth in PA, second in runs and RBI, third in steals, third in BA, sixth in OBP, eleventh in slugging, sixth in OPS, ahead of, among others, Mike Schmidt, and first in triples. Delahanty retired as the club leader in hits, a mark that stood until Richie Ashburn broke it in 1959, doubles, a mark that stood until Jimmy Rollins broke it in 2013, runs, a mark that stood until Schmidt broke it, and RBI, a mark also broken by Schmidt. Delahanty was arguably the greatest player in Phillies history until the Whiz Kids came around, having both the standout seasons and cumulative numbers to prove it.

Delahanty may be ranked even higher on the Top 100 had his teams had any success during his playing days in Philly. The highest any of his teams ever finished was second during his final season with the Phils in 1901, finishing 7.5 games behind the pennant-winning Pirates. Delahanty’s teams played exactly .500 baseball (955-955) during his tenure in Philadelphia, meaning one of the league’s most mediocre teams during the two stretches Delahanty was in Philly had one of the game’s best players. Delahanty was an Old Timers’ Committee selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 and was inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1985. Despite being one of the best players in Phillies’ history, and having a top-five all-time batting average, Delahanty is not among the ranks of those who have had their jersey, or in the case of more-appropriate-for-comparison Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein, their scripted P, retired.



  1. mudmin

    February 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I really think they should still call it the Old Timers Committee.

    From Wikipedia (so it must be true). “Delahanty died when he was swept over Niagara Falls in 1903. He was apparently kicked off a train by the train’s conductor for being drunk and disorderly. The conductor said Delahanty was brandishing a straight razor and threatening passengers… Whether “Big Ed” died from his plunge over the Falls, or drowned on the way to the Falls is uncertain.

    This is sad but truly a Philly thing to do. Gotta respect that.

    Can’t forget about the inside the doghouse homerun, either…

    [Cap] Anson hit a fly ball to center in the top of the eighth inning. The ball hit a pole and landed right in the “doghouse,” a feature unbeknownst to everyone then until that moment; it was used to store numbers for the manually run scoreboard. Delahanty tried to get the ball (it was still in play) by first reaching over the doghouse, then crawling down into it, but on the latter attempt, he got stuck, and by the time teammate Sam Thompson had freed Delahanty from the area, Anson crossed home plate on what the “Baseball Hall of Shame” book calls an “inside-the-doghouse home run.”

  2. photoFred

    February 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Is there a more perfect, more primal name for a slugger than “Big Ed?”

  3. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I’m perfectly happy with being number 5, but I should be ranked number one for have the most interesting Phillies career! Lol. Just glad I beat out Rollins in the rankings. (zing!)

    • wbramh

      March 3, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Ed: You certainly had the most interesting demise.
      But the next time you drink a barrel of whiskey and end up floating down a fast-moving river, you may want to remember to bring the barrel with you.

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