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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #24 Cy Williams

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #24. 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 this afternoon for #23.

#24 – Cy Williams

Years: 1918-1930

.306/.380/.500, 217 HR, 77 SB in 5786 PA

Previous Rank: 15 (-9)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 17th among position players, 25th among Phillies

Signature Season: Hit 41 HR with 11 SB with a .293/.371/.576 SLG

Led NL in Homers in 1920, 1923, 1927

Part power hitter, part product of his environment, Fred “Cy” Williams was a 6’2″ power-hitting, lefty center fielder that pounded the short 280 ft., right field fence in the Baker Bowl. Williams was acquired on December 26, 1917 from the Chicago Cubs for #51 on the list, Dode Paskert. The trade ultimately ended up being one of the few bright spots of the 1920s: Williams led all Phillies in the 1920s in plate appearances, homers, runs, RBIs, steals, and OPS. During Williams’ tenure in Philadelphia, the Phillies were a miserable 720-1222, good enough for 37.08% winning percentage. But Williams was among the best center fielders of the time.

From 1918 through 1930, Williams was a model of durability and was in the upper echelon of center fielders, leading all NL center fielders in games, RBIs and homers, second in runs, and third in OBP, SLG, and OPS. Williams retired as the second-leading home run hitter in National League history, retiring with 251 HR, due in no small part to the short porch at the Baker Bowl but still impressive. Williams’ 251 HR ranks tenth all-time among center fielders and is tied for seventh in Phillies history in homers. Williams ranks 13th in team history in runs and RBIs, 15th in SLG, and 16th in OPS.

Williams’ stunning numbers and historic power among center fielders earns him high praise on this list but his inclusion suffers from the lack of team success during his tenure and the ballpark that Williams played in. Williams’ suffered from never being on a winner. And that’s a literal statement: no Phillies team that Williams played on were ever above .500. Interestingly, most of Williams’ top seasons came after the age of 30. Williams held the record for most homers by a 39-year old, an NL-leading 30 in 1927, until Hank Aaron broke the mark in 1973.

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