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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #20 Gavvy Cravath

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #20. 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 #19.

Gavvy_Cravath.jpeg#20 – Gavvy Cravath

Years: 1912-1920

.291/.381/.489 with 117 HR, 80 SB in 4237 PA

Previous Rank: 18 (-2)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 13th among position players, 19th among Phillies

Signature Season: Hit .285/.393/.510 with 24 HR, 115 RBI and 11 SB in 1915

Six-time NL HR King (1913-1915, 1917-1919), Led NL in OPS (1913-1915)

If it wasn’t for an administrative error, Gavvy Cravath wouldn’t have made this list. The Minneapolis Millers of the American Association forgot the word “not” in a telegram and that allowed a then-30 year old to make a return to the Major Leagues after close to three seasons elsewhere.

The offensive standout of the 1915 pennant-winning club, Cravath was the finest power hitter of his generation. From 1912 through 1920, Cravath edged out Babe Ruth for most homers in that time period and ranked 15th in OBP, fifth in slugging, and sixth in OPS behind Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Joe Jackson, and George Sisler. Not bad company. Cravath was the prototypical power hitter before there was a prototypical power hitter: with great power came great strikeout totals, ranking 247 out of 264 qualified batters in K%. Cravath would hold the team’s all-time home run record from 1917 through 1924 until it was broken by Cy Williams, as well as the single-season home run record which Williams broke in 1922.

Cravath had an interesting career path: not making it to the Majors until age 27, Cravath spent 1908 and 1909 bouncing between the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and the Washington Senators. Cravath would reemerge in the Majors in 1912 after the Phillies purchased his contract from Minneapolis of the American Association after the clerical error. Cravath’s made the full leap from obscurity into superstardom in 1913 as a 32-year old right fielder for the Phillies when he led the NL in hits, HR, RBI, SLG, and OPS en route to a second-place MVP finish and a second-place finish in the NL for the Phillies.

The 1910s were the prime of the late-blooming Cravath’s career as he would lead the NL in homers six times during the decade, including during the 1915 season when he hit a career-high 24 to drive the Phillies to their first National League pennant. Like most of the Phillies hitters, Cravath’s bat disappeared during the 1915 World Series (.125/.222/.313) but Cravath would continue to hit, hit, and hit some more through the rest of the decade. Cravath gets credit on this list for being the primary offensive force of the 1915 pennant-winning squad, the nucleus of which also have three second-place finishes in the decade.

Cravath was an interesting man off the field, reportedly getting the nickname Gavvy due to hitting a ball that killed a seagull while playing with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. Gaviota is seagull in Spanish. Cravath was also nicknamed Cactus and was criticized by fans and reporters for his easy-going style during his time in Philadelphia. I guess some things just don’t change.

Cravath was inducted on to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2000.


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