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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #25 Sam Thompson

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #25. 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 #24.

#25 – Sam Thompson

Years: 1889-1898

.334/.388/.509, 95 HR, 192 SB in 4835 PA

Previous Rank: 9 (-16)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 15th among position players, 23rd among Phillies

Signature Season: Hit .415/.465/.696 with 147 RBIs in 1894

On October 16, 1888, the Philadelphia Quakers purchased the 28-year old Big Sam Thompson from the Detroit Wolverines. Thompson would waste no time becoming a big-time star in Philadelphia: in his first season with the Phillies, Thompson would win the NL homer crown with 20 HR, a feat Thompson would repeat in 1895. Thompson had a perfect combination of power and speed, averaging 12 homers and 24 steals a season from 1889 through 1896, leading the league in both SLG and RBI in 1894 and 1895.

It took until 1974 for the Veterans’ Committee to honor Thompson in the Hall of Fame and it is difficult to imagine what took so long. Thompson retired as second all-time in Major League history in homers, 29th in runs scored, eighth in RBIs, and fourth in slugging. From 1889 through 1898, the outfielder led all of baseball in homers, ranked in 17th in runs, fourth in RBIs, 53rd in steals, and tenth in OPS. During Thompson’s best season, Thompson was one-fourth of the best-hitting outfield of all-time of Ed Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, Thompson, and Tuck Turner who, in 1894, comprised the only outfield in Major League history to hit above .400 for the season. And Thompson did that after having part of a fingertip amputated.

Thompson, in large part, is overlooked because he played with such talented players, including Delahanty, Hamilton, and Nap Lajoie. However, Thompson had some of the best individual seasons in Phillies history, including the second and fifth-best SLG in a season in 1894 and 1895. Thompson was one third of the best outfield in Phillies history and usually is passed over in favor of Delahanty and Hamilton but was a Top 25 Phillie in his own right.


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