The best Phillies up-the-middle combos of all-time

Shane Victorino (L) and Jimmy Rollins (R) were the center fielder and shortstop for the 2008 World Series champs and 2009 NL pennant winners. (Brian Michael/Phillies Nation)

There’s an old axiom that World Series champion baseball teams need to be strong up the middle. Translated: catcher, second base, shortstop and center field are key.

Here’s a look how the different Phillies champions lined up — up the middle. Which quartet is the best?

1915 National League champions 
The Phillies’ first pennant winners featured catcher Bill Killefer, second baseman Bert Niehoff, shortstop Dave Bancroft and center fielders Dode Paskert and Possum Whitted.

Killefer, 27, was considered the best defensive catcher of his era. Niehoff, 30, moved to second after playing third for Reds in 1914. Bancroft, 24 and nicknamed “Beauty”, was a rookie switch-hitter who led the club with 153 games and eventually became a Hall of Famer. Paskert, 33, played the most games (73) in center field. Whitted, 25, played 67 games there.

1950 NL champions 
The “Whiz Kids” lined up with catcher Andy Seminick, second baseman Mike Goliat, shortstop Granny Hamner and center fielder Richie Ashburn.

Seminick, 29, was an All-Star in 1949, a power-hitter and a rock behind home plate. He also played on a broken ankle late in the ’50 season. Goliat, 28, was a regular only in ’50. Hamner, 23, was known as a clutch hitter, a club leader and a solid defensive player. He was a three-time All-Star, too. Ashburn, 23, was a premier leadoff hitter, a basestealer, a .300 hitter and a five-time All-Star who led center fielders in putouts nine times, sharing an MLB record. And he was a Hall of Famer.

1980 World Series champions
The team’s first Fall Classic winners had a solid, experienced foursome: catcher Bob Boone, second baseman Manny Trillo, shortstop Larry Bowa and center fielder Garry Maddox. They had a combined 14 NL Gold Glove Awards and 10 All-Star appearances in a Phillies uniform between them.

Boone, 32, was a strong defender and, like Seminick, a rock behind home plate. Trillo, 29, had 2 Silver Slugger Awards to go along with his outstanding defense and his rocket arm. Bowa, 34, was steady and exceptional on defense, with only 211 errors in 19,058 1/3 Major League innings. Maddox, 30, was nicknamed “Secretary of Defense,” and that says it all — he was a solid hitter and basestealer.

1983 NL champions
The “Wheeze Kids” featured catcher Bo Diaz, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Ivan de Jesus and center fielder Maddox.

Diaz, 30, was a fixture behind the plate from 1982-83 with the Phillies, earning a pair of All-Star nods in his career. Morgan, 39, played his lone season with Phils that year, his 21st of 22 big league seasons. He became a Hall of Famer with the Reds. DeJesus, 30, was a steady shortstop who spent three of his 15 years in the Majors with Philadelphia. Maddox, 33, won Game 1 of the World Series with a homer in Baltimore.

1993 NL champions
This bunch of misfits included catcher Darren Daulton, second baseman Mickey Morandini, shortstop Kevin Stocker and center fielder Lenny Dykstra.

Daulton, 31, was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse and a three-time All-Star. Morandini, 27, was a steady defender and an All-Star in 1995. Stocker, 23, debuted on July 7 and hit .324 in 70 games. Dykstra, 30, was a premier leadoff hitter, a three-time All-Star and the runner-up for the NL Most Valuable Player Award in ’93.

2008 World Series champions
This group was as solid as you could be up the middle. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and center fielder Shane Victorino had a combined 11 All-Star nods between them.

Ruiz, 29, was another rock behind the plate who caught four no-hitters in career. Utley, 29, was the greatest second baseman in club history. He made the top 10 in NL MVP Award voting three times, and he was a four-time Silver Slugger. Rollins, 29, was a lineup catalyst and the greatest shortstop in club history with four Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award. He was also the NL MVP Award winner in 2006. Victorino, 27, won four Gold Glove Awards in his career.

2009 NL champions
This foursome is a repeat of the 2008 group. They lost the World Series to the Yankees, 4-2.


Larry Shenk is author/editor of the Phillies.com Alumni section. Articles re-printed at Phillies Nation by permission of MLB and the Philadephia Phillies. 





  1. Jay W.

    January 31, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    I was disappointed to see that my immediate Ctrl+F for “jeltz” yielded no results.

  2. Jeff Orbach

    February 1, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Actually other than the 2008 crew, I would cast a ballot for 1975-76 crew with Dave Cash at 2b-Bowa ast short, Maddox in CF and Boone behind the plate.

  3. art kyriazis

    March 10, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Great list. You might be missing the 1976 Phillies up the middle of Bob Boone at catcher, Dave Cash at 2b, Larry Bowa at SS and Garry Maddox in CF, which was not only very good defensively, but Cash played all 162 games, Bowa and Cash hit well, Maddox hit well, Boone was very effective and hit well, and in general, they anchored a team which was pretty great defensively with Schmidt at 3d, their only weaknesses being Luzinski in LF and Allen at 1b.

  4. Ken Bland

    March 10, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    In my estimation, the ’08 combo of Jimmy-Chase, Chooch and Vic didn’t take a back seat to anyone. Were they better than Bo-Cash-Boone and Maddox? Not necessarily, but pretty comparable. Maddox’s reputation is deserved, but the over the top description of the 2/3 of eart being covered by water, rest of the planet by Maddox overstates his truly excellent abilities. Chase was better than Cash, God strike me dead for saying this, but Jimmy slightly edged Bo, and Boone was a little better than Chooch, mostly based on ability to hold up the catchers portion of responsibility in gunning down runners. Neither catcher’s on par with Realmuto, but that’s a digression.

  5. Ken Bland

    March 10, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    For Larry Shenk,

    This isn’t necessarily a good idea, but if it meets your eyes, at least I communicated it to you.

    This Bryce Harper love affair is fascinating, especially since I didn’t expect it. Since his signing, unlike many who have gown more excited by the day, I’ve at least combined that with a touch of reason knowing he’ll have some less than stimulating moments in time. Everyone realizes that, but some have really pushed it back. No bigger new Phil existed in my time than Rose, and I was too pro Pete and subjective to even remember his ever doing much his 1st couple years to spark negativity.

    But the one I was just too young to remember was the legendary Crash Allen. I just don’t have the memories of what his early months were like before things went so south, maybe even before the Frank Thomas incident. A different time pre internet and 1000 other ways as well, but was there any degree of comparison between Allen EARLY and Harper in terms of fan enthusiasm. I don’t know how thrilled Allen would be to look back on all that, but I’m curious if there might be any comparison from your recalling that captivating time.

  6. Art Kyriazis

    March 11, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    I left a comment the other day on the 1976 Phils infield.

    It would be remiss of us all to neglect to mention one of the greatest Philadelphia infields of all–the 1949, 1950 and 1951 Philadelphia As infield of Pete Suder at 2b and Eddie Joost at SS which turned a major league record for team double plays, going over 200 each year and doing it in 154 games. They had Buddy Rosar at C and Wally Moses and Elmer Valo/Sam Chapman in CF and later Joe Tipton and Joe Astroth; Rosar was underrated and had a gun for an arm and a lot of power. Flanking them were Hank Majeski at 3b and Ferris Fain at 1b, both plus defenders.

    That was a great infield and a great up the middle defense.

    And you could see them right here in Philadelphia.

    A lot of folks still remember them!

    Art Kyriazis,

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