The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #85 through #81. 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.
Each weekday, we will reveal five Phillies from the PN Top 100, with longer or more expansive posts dedicated to individuals that are of particular note to Phillies fans or are closer to the top of the list. 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 for #80-76.
#85 – Woodie Fryman
Years: 1968 – 1972
42-56, 3.76 ERA, 1.312 WHIP in 838.2 IP
Previous Rank: New to Rankings
fWAR Phillies Rank: 28th among pitchers, 77th overall
Signature Season: All-Star in 1968 with a 2.78 ERA
At first glance at Fryman’s statistics, he does not appear to a Phillies Top 100 player of all time. The ERA? Above 3.75. The record? Sub-.500. Longevity? Only four and a half seasons. The pedigree of teams he was on? Yikes.
Yet, Fryman, according to advanced statistics, in hindsight, checks out to be one of the top 100 Phillies, ever. Fryman ranks 24th among Phillies’ starters in K/9 IP, 57th in WHIP, and 28th in FIP. Fryman faced a lot of bad luck in his career with the Phillies, having a 63-point difference between his ERA and FIP, pitching in front of the 23rd (out of 24) best fielding team in the Majors, fielders that gave up an estimated 195 runs.
Despite one of the worst defensive alignments in Phillies history, Fryman was an above-average pitcher in the Majors for the Phillies, ranking in the upper one-third of all advanced and traditional stats among the 144 qualified starting pitchers in that time frame. Fryman did not make this list because of dominance, he made it by persevering just enough on bad teams.
#84 – Don Hurst
Years: 1928- 1934
.303/.382/.488, 112 HR, 41 SB in 3762 PA
Previous Rank: New to Rankings
fWAR Phillies Rank: 51st among position players, 79th overall
Signature Achievement: Ranks 15th in Phillies history in OBP, 20th in OPS, and ninth in wOBA
Signature Season: Finished seventh in the 1932 MVP voting, led the National League in RBIs
Hurst was the primary first baseman in the historic 1929 Phillies squad that was full of offense but void of pitching. Hurst took advantage of the Baker Bowl’s short right field porch, slugging 112 homers over seven seasons, primarily over the 280 feet right field wall.
#83 – Dolph Camilli
Years: 1934 – 1937
.295/.395/.510, 92 HR, 23 SB in 2322 PA
Previous Rank: 42 (-41)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 52nd among position players, 80th overall
Signature Achievement: Ranks eighth in Phillies history in OBP, tenth in OPS, and ninth in wOBA
And directly following Hurst is his replacement, the man he was traded for.
Camilli was a 5’10” slugging lefty first baseman that was the shining star on four Phillies teams that were a combined 235-374. Despite the team’s lack of success, Camilli was among the franchise’s finest first baseman, firmly entrenched just behind Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg among the best first basemen in baseball.
During his time with the Phillies, Camilli trailed only Ripper Collins in FanGraphs’ version of WAR among National League first basemen and would receive MVP votes in 1935 and 1936 despite the teams’ putrid records. Camilli, for a long time, was the standard to which other Phillies’ first baseman were judged against and still ranks eighth in Phillies history in OBP, tenth in OPS, ninth in wOBA, and tenth in ISO.
Camilli usually ranked middle of the road in range at first base but posted the highest fielding percentage in 1937, his last year with the Phillies. Camilli would go on to be selected to two All-Star teams with the Brooklyn Dodgers, win the 1941 NL MVP, and retire with the most strikeouts in NL history.
#82 – Lave Cross
Years: 1890, 1892-1897
.295/.339/.398, 21 HR, 98 SB in 3026 PA
Previous Rank: New to Rankings
fWAR Phillies Rank: 50th among position players, 78th overall
Signature Game: Set NL record with 15 assists in a 1897 game
Signature Gear: Through the late 1890’s, used a catchers mitt while playing the infield
Cross is the second entry in the list that even the most ardent and dedicated Phillie fans had likely never heard of, even in passing. Born Lafayette Napoleon Cross in Milwaukee, WI in 1866, Cross would jump from the Philadelphia A’s of the American Association in 1889 to the Philadelphia Quakers of the Players League for 1890. Cross would jump back to the A’s for 1891 before spending 1892 through 1897 with the Phillies.
Cross was firmly a top-tier third baseman in this primitive baseball world, ranking seventh in batting average and slugging percentage while saving the most runs among any third baseman in that time period according to FanGraphs. In fact, to this day, Cross ranks as the 93rd best overall defender in baseball history according to Baseball-Reference.
Cross is a notable player in Phillies lure for playing a number of positions before settling on third base. One of the positions Cross played before third base was catcher – he was so fond of the mitt that he frequently played second and third bases, as well as shortstop with the catcher’s mitt on before rules prohibited him from doing so.
#81 – Jim Thome
Years: 2003-2005, 2012
.260/.384/.541, 101 HR in 1629 PA
Previous Rank: 79 (-2)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 74th among position players, 130th overall
Signature Stats: Ranks first in ISO in franchise history, 13th in OBP, fourth in slugging, fifth in OPS, and 12th in wRC+
Signature Season: Tied for MLB lead in homers in 2003, finishing fourth in NL MVP voting
If the original Yankee Stadium was “the House the Ruth Built”, Citizens Bank Park might as well be the “House That Jim Built”. Sure, the affable Thome had arrived only one year prior to the park’s opening, and the plans being unveiled by designer Stanley Cole at a ceremony on June 28, 2001, but Thome’s free agency signing marked the Phillies’ biggest free agent signing since perhaps the arrival of Pete Rose in 1979 and was just in time for the closing of the Vet.
Thome tied Alex Rodriguez for the Major League lead in homers in his first season, smashing 47 homers, falling one short of Mike Schmidt‘s club record. Thome would raise his triple-slash line across the board while striking out 38 times less, earning a 2004 All-Star birth in the Phillies first season in CBP. A mid-season elbow injury cost Thome over half of 2005 and Thome was traded after the season in favor of then-Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard starting at first base. Thome would return in 2012, memorably hitting a walk-off homer off of Jake McGee on June 23 to win the game. In 2012, Thome became the fourth Major Leaguer to hit 100 homers with three different teams.
Though Thome had one of the shorter stays among players to make this list and never reached the playoffs as a member of the Phillies, Thome was instrumental in jump-starting a fan base that was slowly reawakening from the dreck of the late 1990s. “Gentleman Jim”‘s power numbers are comparable to anyone in Phillies history, including Schmidt, Chuck Klein, and Ed Delahanty.