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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #55 Larry Bowa

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #55. 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 tomorrow morning for #54.

#55 – Larry Bowa

Years: 1970-1981

.264/.301/.324, 13 HR, 288 SB in 7358 PA

Larry Bowa is a staple in the Phillies organization. (Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire)

Previous Rank: 31 (-24)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 40th among position players, 57th among Phillies

Signature Season: Hit .305/.334/.377 with 2 HR and 24 SB in 1975

Bo has become one of the more polarizing figures in recent Phillies history but nobody can take away the 12 seasons he had manning shortstop for a series of winning ball clubs. Bowa ranks as one of the best defensive shortstops in history, leading the Majors in fielding percentage as a Phillie in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1978, and 1979, leading the Majors in total zone runs saved as a shortstop in 1978, ranking 57th in baseball history in defensive WAR, ninth in assists among shortstops, sixth in games played at shortstop, and eleventh in double plays turned as a shortstop. Bowa would win Gold Gloves in 1972 and 1978 with the Phillies, making the NL All-Star squad five times (1974-1976, 1978-1979).

Bowa’s defensive abilities helped overshadow bel0w-average offensive output. While Bowa ranked ninth in batting average among shorstops from 1970 through 1981, he ranked 35th in on-base percentage, 29th in slugging, and 34th in wOBA. Bowa did excel, however, on the base paths, ending his Phillies tenure after the 1981 campaign with 288 steals, good enough for sixth in Phillies history.

Despite Bowa’s offensive shortcomings, Bowa would come up huge for the Phillies in the 1980 postseason. Bowa would hit .349/.391/.372 in the 11 games of the 1980 postseason, including leading off the eighth inning of Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS with a single off of Nolan Ryan with the team down 5-2.

Bowa would be traded with Ryne Sandberg on January 27, 1982 for Ivan DeJesus. The trade would favor the Phillies immediately following the 1982 season, however, we all know the eventual ramifications of that trade.  Bowa would return to the Phillies organization as its manager for the 2001 season, winning NL Manager of the Year after taking the last place Phillies to within two games of first place in 2001. Bowa would manage the club to a 337-308 record but be fired with two games left in the 2004 season. Bowa was named a bench coach for Phillies manager Ryne Sanberg’s staff for 2014.

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