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Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

Who were the best hitting pitchers to play for the Phillies?


Cliff Lee was a good hitting pitcher. (Icon Sportswire)

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told the collective media Thursday that the league and Players Association have agreed to a universal DH, seemingly one of the few areas that the two sides have found common ground.

It should be noted that the owners locked the players out on Dec. 1, and no new collective bargaining agreement has been reached to end the work stoppage. There may be some things that MLBPA and the MLBPA have verbally agreed to, but until there is a new collective bargaining agreement, nothing is official.

But the sport has been trending in this direction for at least five years now, and while there are quite a few bridges to gap still, it would be shocking if there isn’t a universal DH moving forward.

Assuming that’s the case, the days of pitchers hitting are likely over. Technically, a team could still place a pitcher in their lineup or have one hit if their DH suffers an in-game injury, but in almost all cases, a team will opt to have a professional hitter in their lineup, rather than a “good” hitting pitcher.

While the Phillies will benefit from potentially getting Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto at-bats as DH — and Brad Miller, if he’s re-signed — they actually had some pitchers who were good hitters, at least relative to their peers.

In addition to finishing second in National League Cy Young Award voting, Zack Wheeler had 11 hits in 2021. In 2019, Wheeler actually took his future teammate Zach Eflin deep when he was still playing for the New York Mets:

Speaking of Eflin, he hit a home run at Citizens Bank Park against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018:

Perhaps the last home run that will ever be hit by a Phillies pitcher came from Kyle Gibson on Sept. 24, 2021:

From a historical standpoint, the most famous home run hit by a Phillies pitcher was Joe Blanton’s blast in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series, which checked in our countdown of the greatest home runs in Citizens Bank Park history:

Blanton’s home run was so shocking because honestly, he wasn’t a good hitter. The righty finished his career with a .106 batting average.

Baseball historian Matt Albertson reminds us that in terms of offensive WAR, Steve Carlton is not only the greatest pitcher in Phillies history, but the greatest hitting pitcher in Phillies history. “Lefty” had nine home runs and 112 RBIs as a Phillie. That doesn’t even count the home run that Carlton hit in Game 3 of the 1978 NLCS:

Rick Wise had 11 home runs in seven seasons as a Phillie. Two of them took place on June 23, 1971, when Wise also pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds:

Like Wise, Larry Christenson hit 11 home runs as a Phillie. LC posted a 1.4 offensive WAR as a Phillie, the sixth best mark among all pitchers in franchise history.

Randy Wolf only hit four home runs as a Phillie, but had a 2.3 offensive WAR in parts of eight seasons in red pinstripes, the fourth best mark in franchise history. On Aug. 11, 2004, Wolf went deep twice in a game against the Colorado Rockies:

Two seasons earlier, Wolf’s teammate Robert Person had one of the better games that any Phillie has ever had at the plate. The right-handed pitcher homered twice — including hitting a grand slam — in a seven-RBI performance as the Phillies defeated the Montreal Expos at Veterans Stadium:

Cliff Lee never hit two home runs in a given game, but he finished his time with the Phillies as a .191 hitter, with his 0.9 offensive WAR putting him ninth in franchise history. Lee homered twice during the 2011 season, including a home run narrated by then-Atlanta Braves ace Jair Jurrjens:

Here’s a few other Phillies pitchers we felt were worth mentioning as respectable No. 9 hitters:

  • Randy Lerch homered three times and drove in nine runs during the 1979 season.
  • Hall of Famer Robin Roberts — who I recently ranked as the No. 3 player in Phillies history — had five home runs and 83 RBIs during his 14 seasons as a Phillie.
  • Tommy Greene’s 1.8 offensive WAR was fifth in Phillies history. That didn’t stop me from winning a Home Run Derby at Xfinity Live! against him, though:
  • Cole Hamels might not have been as much of a power threat as the aforementioned Lee, but he did have 28 RBIs as a Phillie.
  • Ken Brett, George’s older brother, homered four times, drove in 16 runs and posted a .745 OPS in 1973, his lone season with the Phillies.
  • Grover Cleveland Alexander — one of the best pitchers in Phillies history — hit four home runs and drove in 63 runs during his time in Philadelphia.
  • Brett Myers hit just .121 in eight seasons with the Phillies, but had four hits and a rather famous walk during 2008 playoffs.

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