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100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 29 – Juan Samuel

Juan Samuel
Second Baseman

Career w/Phillies: .262 AVG / 100 HR / 413 RBI / 249 SB

Sammy. From 1983 to 1989, Juan Samuel was the resident thief at Veterans Stadium, swiping bags like it was his job. Well, it was his job. Seventh in franchise history in stolen bases, he holds the single-season mark with his 72 swipes in 1984. He fell back to Earth with 53 in 1985, then 42, 35 and 33 in ’86, ’87 and ’88, respectively. Otherwise he was a consummate free swinger (“You don’t walk off the island, you hit.”), striking out at least 140 times in five consecutive seasons while only drawing an average of about 40 walks per season (he led the National League in strikeouts his first four full seasons in the league). The free swinging paid off a bit, as he clubbed a career-high 28 home runs in 1987, driving in 100 in the process. The two-time All Star and runner-up for 1984 Rookie of the Year was the first player in major league history to reach double figures in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in each of his first four major league seasons. He was traded in midseason 1989 to the Mets. The Phillies received Lenny Dykstra — a good move, in retrospect. Samuel was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008.

Comment: Sammy was a fine player to watch, and my first favorite player (along with Schmidty). Kid could run. Kid could hit. Of course both tapered off quickly, but for a few great years, Sammy was clearly one of the leaders of the pack in Major League Baseball. He kicks off the top 30.

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