Whiz Kids or the New and Improved Phitens, who is better ?by Joseph Birmingham
From 1976 to 1980 they won 4 NL East titles, 1 National League Pennant and 1 World Series.
From 2005 to present they have won 3 National League East titles, 2 National league Pennants and 1 World Series.
The first team included the group known as the Whiz Kids, with nearly every member of the team either in the hall of fame, or close to it, and known nationally as household names due to the exposure they recieved during their dominance. The second team is still playing so does not have the advantage of securing a historical place in our minds and memories as of yet, but may equal or exceed the ability and statistics of the first group of Phillies superstars.
This article will attempt to compare the two squad’s core group of players, then and now to determine which team is truly the best Phillies team of all time. It might be noted the first team played just prior to the advent of steroid allegations and performance enhancing drugs becoming the norm, whereas the second group has played and does play in “the steroid era” of baseball with equal or better statistical results, yet has received no substantiated press regarding the use of these illegal and banned substances. That by itself in this modern era of sports is remarkable, but what this group has acheived in a short period of time may be more so.
The first group-of Phillies included; Michael Jack Schmidt, Pete Rose, Bob Boone, Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Tim McCarver, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox and was led by pitchers Steve “Lefty” Carlton, Tug McGraw and Larry Christensen.
The current group of 21st century Phillies includes; Ryan Howard, Jaysen Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and has had Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, JA Happ and Brad Lidge leading the way from the mound.
For purposes of a direct comparison, I am not selecting players that only played 2 years or less with either team during the peak, hence the noticable lack of names such as Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Juan Samuel, Pedro Martinez and the like.
The 1976 to 80 team, over their five seasons averaged 747 runs, 113 Homeruns, 696 RBI’s, 136 stolen bases and a .270 batting average while the pitching staff posted an ERA of under 3.50 for the span. The two offensive leaders would have to be Rose and Schmidt, with Rose batting .291 with 390 runs and 255 RBI and Michael Jack posting over 200 homeruns, 600 RBI and 600 runs scored over the same 5 year span.
The leaguewide change of focus from defense to offense over the ensuing 30 years is evident when one realizes the Whiz Kids pitching staff ranked 7th league wide with an ERA around 3.00 while the 2008 staff was ranked 4th league wide while the ERA had risen to 3.88.
The offensive numbers of todays Phillies correlate to this change. The current team is averaging 837 runs scored, 207 home runs, including a team record 224 last year, 706 RBI’s and 120 stolen bases. Todays squad is led by Ryan Howard, with 220 homeruns, 630 RBI’s, and 460 runs scored over his first 5 full seasons.
The Phillies offensive output has increased by 30-40% while the team ERA has risen by 20% at the same time the league ERA has risen accordingly. Between the Phillies dominance in the late seventies and early eighties and the current Phillies rise to prominance, the National League East was owned by the Atlanta Braves. But those Braves dominated by virtue of their excllent pitching staff led by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. There has not been a National League team that has ever had the dominant lineup from 1st to 7th position that the current Phillies possess.
Last years Phillies saw 4 players hit 30+ homeruns and drive in 90+ runs, as well as six players score 90+ runs and 8 hit 25 or more doubles. They also had 4 players steal 20 or more bases. This is the most balanced team to play in the National League in 50 years. The Whiz Kids were famous simply because the perennial basement dwelling Phillies went to and won the World Series. The current club should be afforded more respect because they are a better rounded and higher achieving team, and I for one, can not wait for them to close out the National League for 2010 so they can return to the World Series and go 2 for 3 as they take the championship away from the hated NY Yankees and return it to it’s rightful place, in Philadelphia. This is a team that could easily win 3 or 4 of the next 5 World Series and establish itself in history as a baseball dynasty.
Based on these numbers, I would have to state, the current Phillies ballclub is the best statistical team ever to play baseball in Philadelphia, and I have a feeling the best is yet to come.