Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Batting Third: Mike Schmidt- Third Base

Philadelphia Phillies All-Time Line Up (Part 3 of a 9 Part Series)

Like Utley, this is an easy choice. Phillies fans as well as baseball players and pundits view Michael Jack Schmidt as the greatest player in team history. He has also been largely recognized as the best player to have ever graced the position in the rich history of the sport.

After an ignominious start to his career when he failed to break the "Mendoza line" with a .196 batting average and striking out more than once per game in 1973, Schmidt pulled a reverse "sophomore jinx" by emerging as an All-Star the next year. That season launched a phenomenal career that garnered many awards and culminated in a first ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1995.

Schmidt played before the "Steroids Era" that propped up stats, yet currently sits in 14th place on Major League Baseball's home run list with 548. He may end up back in the unqualified top ten if baseball officials elect to apply asterisks to some of the "juice" inflated totals of players after him.

Throughout his 18 year career (all with the Phillies), Schmitty collected a large amount of hardware for his mantel, including six Silver Slugger, 10 Gold Glove, and three Most Valuable Player Awards. He was also named to 12 NL All-Star Teams.

His best seasons coincided with the MVP trophies. In the Phillies 1980 Championship year, the smooth third third baseman clubbed 48 home runs and collected 121 RBI while batting .286 with .624 OBP.

Schmidt followed that up with what was on track to be his greatest season in 1981, but a mid-season strike eliminated more than 1/3 of the scheduled games. In just 102 games, he banged out 31 home runs and drove in 91. Additionally, he registered career highs with a .316 batting average, .435 on base percentage and a .644 slugging percentage.

For all his accomplishments, Schmidt periodically drew criticism from the Philadelphia fans and media for what sometimes appeared to be indifference. His calm demeanor and effortless style were occasionally misinterpreted as lack of hustle or intensity. Of course, another sore spot related to his high strikeout totals, but this also enabled him to draw a high number of free passes.

Through the repetitive opportunity that he provided, Schmidt is somewhat intertwined with former broadcast legend Harry Kalas through a trademark call. Phillies fans will always remember the congenial baritone voice excitedly exclaimed, "Its ha long drive to deep left field....that ball is outta here- Michael Jack Schmidt!"


Phillies 1506 548 1595 .267 174 .380 .527

Career 1506 548 1595 .267 174 .380 .527

Honorable Mention:

Dick Allen- No matter whether you called him Rich, Richie, Dick or Crash, Allen is arguably the most talented player ever to wear a Phillies uniform. The prodigious slugger played the first half of his career in Philadelphia and then later returned for a couple seasons. Unfortunately, his career was often interrupted by injury and controversy, but he still managed to amass 351 home runs and a .292 batting average. Allen was a seven time All-Star, the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year, and the 1972 AL MVP.

Previous Posts in the Series

Philadelphia Phillies All-Time Line Up

Batting First: Richie Ashburn- Center Field

Batting Second: Chase Utley- Second Base

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