Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

The 10 best individual Phillies seasons of the 2010s


Roy Halladay spent the final four seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Phillies. (John Hefti/Icon Sportswire)

The 2010s were a strange decade for the Philadelphia Phillies franchise.

In 2011, the Phillies set a franchise record with 102 regular season wins, but that proved to be an outlier in a decade where the Phillies posted just a .486 winning percentage in the regular season.

However, despite some lean years from a team perspective, the 2010s featured some of the best individual seasons in team history. Strangely, Chase Utley, who is one of the best players in the history of the franchise, led all Phillies position players in WAR this decade, but at least partially because of injuries, didn’t have an individual season that stuck out in the 2010s.

Without a single season from Utley, here are the 10 best individual seasons in the 2010s by Phillies:

No. 10: Jimmy Rollins – 2012

2012 is perhaps the most overlooked season in the career of Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins.

In his age-33 season, Rollins slashed .250/.316/.427 with 23 home runs, 68 RBIs, 102 runs scored and a 4.7 fWAR.

Additionally, Rollins won the Gold Glove Award for National League shortstops, the fourth and final time he would win the award in his career.

Despite Rollins’ best individual season since 2008, the Phillies went just 81-81 in 2012, ending a five-year stretch of National League East titles. His two long-time infield mates, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, were limited to a combined 154 games in 2012.

No. 9: Cole Hamels – 2014

Cole Hamels only has nine wins to show for 30 starts in 2014, but that’s largely because he received just 3.43 runs of support per start, the fourth-lowest mark of any qualified pitcher that season.

In his final full season in Philadelphia, Hamels topped the 200 innings mark for the sixth time in his career, while posting a career-low 2.46 ERA, a 3.07 FIP and a 4.5 fWAR.

The 2014 Phillies were the epitome of a team that hadn’t yet admitted to itself that it needed to rebuild. They went 73-89 for the second consecutive season, ultimately setting in place the admission that the organization needed to be overhauled and trading Hamels made the most sense for all parties involved.

No. 8: Bryce Harper – 2019

Bryce Harper electrified Philadelphia in the first year of a record-setting 13-year/$330 million contract.

Though he didn’t appear in the All-Star Game, Harper finished 2019, his age-26 season, with All-Star caliber numbers, slashing .260/.372/.510 with 35 home runs, a career-high 114 RBIs, 99 walks and a 4.6 fWAR.

The most memorable moment of his first season in Philadelphia came on Aug. 15, when he launched a titanic walk-off grand slam to help the Phillies complete a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs:

Harper’s walk-off grand slam, which came while the Phillies donned their retro power blue jerseys on a #ThrowbackThursday, will be remembered as one of the most iconic regular season moments at Citizens Bank Park this decade.

To the surprise of many, Harper had such a good defensive season in 2019 that he was a Gold Glove finalist in right field. Harper posted nine defensive runs saved and tied a career-high with 13 outfield assists in his first season with the Phillies.

No. 7. Cole Hamels – 2011

Cole Hamels was the third-best pitcher on the Phillies in 2011, but probably one of the 10 best pitchers in all of baseball.

Hamels joined his rotation mates, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, at the All-Star Game in 2011, his second career appearance at the midsummer classic. He finished the season with a 14-9 record, a 2.79 ERA, a career-low 3.05 FIP and a career-high 3.5 fWAR. For good measure, he threw three complete games.

As the third member of a starting rotation that began the season by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Hamels put together arguably the best season of his career, which culminated in him finishing fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

No. 6. Cliff Lee – 2013

2013 was the last great year of Cliff Lee’s career, which wasn’t long, but featured a pretty remarkable peak.

After a strange 2012 season where he didn’t record his first win until July, Lee went 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA, 2.82 FIP and 5.6 fWAR in 2013. He, along with Domonic Brown, represented the Phillies for the All-Star Game at Citi Field, the final time in the decade that the Phillies had two All-Stars:

2013 was the final of four career All-Star Game appearances for Lee, and it ended in him finishing sixth in National League Cy Young Award voting, one of five times in his 13-year career that he finished in the top 10 in voting for the award.

No. 5. J.T. Realmuto – 2019

2019 will be remembered as one of the most disappointing seasons in Phillies history, but that certainly isn’t because of J.T. Realmuto.

After being acquired in a February mega-deal from the division-rival Miami Marlins, Realmuto slashed .275/.328/.493 with 25 home runs, 83 RBIs and a 5.7 fWAR. For the second consecutive season, Realmuto won the National League Silver Slugger Award at catcher.

Perhaps even more impressive than his offense was his defensive prowess. Realmuto threw out a league-leading 37 would-be basestealers in 2019, while posting 11 defensive runs saved. FanGraphs graded him as the top overall fielder in baseball in 2019, a season that, fittingly, concluded with him winning his first career Gold Glove Award.

No. 4. Aaron Nola – 2018

Four years after the Phillies selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the MLB Draft, Aaron Nola turned in one of the better seasons that a pitcher has had in franchise history.

Across 212.1 innings, Nola, in his age-25 season, went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 5.4 fWAR. He would finish third in National League Cy Young Award voting, behind New York Mets RHP Jacob deGrom and Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer, both of whom have won the award multiple times.

The highlight of Nola’s season came during a day game at Nationals Park on Aug. 23, when he outdueled the aforementioned Scherzer. Over eight shutout frames, Nola struck out nine Nationals and allowed just five hits in a 2-1 victory. Nola capped off his afternoon by striking out Bryce Harper, his future teammate, with two runners on base in the bottom of the eighth inning.

No. 3. Cliff Lee – 2011

2011 didn’t end in a magical way for Cliff Lee or the Phillies, but it’s arguably the most special regular season in franchise history. Lee is a big reason why.

After spurning the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees in free agency to return to Philadelphia, Lee, as part of a historically-dominant rotation, went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA, 2.60 FIP and 7.1 fWAR in 32 starts for a Phillies team that won a franchise-record 102 regular season games.

While Lee’s six complete games didn’t even lead his own team in 2011, he did lead baseball with six complete game shutouts in 2011. Half of those complete game shutouts came in June of 2011, which is probably the greatest month a Phillies pitcher has ever had. Lee went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in June of 2011.

In some senses, Lee picked the wrong year to have a Cy Young-caliber season. Despite his incredible 2011, Lee finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting, behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw – a future Hall of Famer – and his teammate, Roy Halladay – who was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

No. 2. Roy Halladay – 2010

Halladay’s first season in Philadelphia is one of the most memorable seasons that a Philadelphia athlete has ever had, and likely cemented his status as a Hall of Famer.

The man affectionally referred to as “Doc” tossed two complete games in his first four starts with the Phillies, which was a symbolic start of what turned out to be a legendary season.

In his age-33 season, Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 6.2 fWAR in 250.2 innings. Halladay, who led the sport with nine complete games, ultimately won the National League Cy Young Award in 2010. Given that he also won the 2003 American League Cy Young Award while pitching with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay is one of just six pitchers in MLB history to win the award in each league.

One of Halladay’s 21 regular season wins came on May 29 in Miami, when he struck out 11 Florida Marlins en route to a perfect game. It was the second perfect game in Phillies history, and the first since Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on Father’s Day 1964.

Halladay and the Phillies won 97 games in 2010, winning their fourth consecutive National League East title and allowing Halladay to reach the playoffs for the first time in his career.

All Halladay did in his first postseason start ever was toss a no-hitter against a Cincinnati Reds team that included Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. The final out of his no-hitter – which was just the second no-hitter in postseason history – is one of the most iconic moments in modern baseball history:

No. 1. Roy Halladay – 2011

2010 was the most memorable season of the four that Roy Halladay spent in red pinstripes. 2011 was the most dominant season of his time in Philadelphia, and maybe his illustrious career.

As the ace of one of the greatest rotations in baseball history, Halladay went 19-6 with a career-low 2.35 ERA, career-low 2.20 FIP and career-high 8.7 fWAR across 233.2 innings in 2011. For the second consecutive year, he led the league in complete games, this time tossing eight.

Ironically, Halladay actually didn’t win the National League Cy Young Award in 2010, despite what was probably the finest season of his career. Instead, Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw – who is certain to join him in Cooperstown some day – edged him out for his first career National League Cy Young Award.

There’s a legitimate case to be made that Halladay deserved to win the award that year. Halladay edged out Kershaw in fWAR, bWAR, FIP, ERA+, walks-per-nine and strikeout-to-walk-ratio.

In any event, while the dominance of his second season is often forgotten, it’s the most dominant individual season a Phillie has had this decade. There’s a strong case that it’s the most dominant individual season that a Philadelphia athlete had during the 2010s.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Barry Onyx

    December 12, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Carlos Ruiz 2012? .325/.394/.540 with 16 homeruns? I realize 2012 was a depressing early end to what we all thought would be at least one more year of dominance.

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