Philadelphia Phillies All-Time Line Up (Part 9 of a 9 Part Series)
This is the other potential hot debate. Grover Cleveland Alexander is a true legend of the game, a Hall of Famer who posted some spectacular numbers in Philadelphia. Additionally, Robin Roberts recorded 234 wins in his brilliant career while in a Phillies uniform and is a fellow member of the exclusive club recognizing all-time baseball greats.
The two provide stiff competition for the final selection to the Phillies Dream team, but after careful deliberation, Steve Carlton gets this writer's vote. And, as deserving as the other two icons may be, I offer no apologies for selecting "Lefty."
Carlton, of course, was a first ballot Hall of Fame selection, too, who rung up 329 victories to place 11th all-time. Factoring out the four years that he hung on too long and his first two years when he saw limited action, an average Carlton campaign was 17-11 over 18 seasons. He also amassed the fourth highest strikeout total in MLB history with 4,136.
Lefty gave his best years to the Phillies, accumulating a 241-161 record with a 3.09 ERA- winning four Cy Young Awards in the process. Five times he eclipsed 20 wins in a Phils uniform, including one of the best seasons in the history of baseball.
After being acquired from the Cardinals prior to the 1972 season, Carlton pitched 346 innings on his way to posting a 27-10 record, 1.97 ERA, 8 shutouts, and 310 strikeouts. What made this particular season almost astonishing was that he did it on a last place club that only won 59 games. Putting that in perspective, he personally accounted for 46% of his team's total wins that year.
Although Alexander tallied a 190-91 record and 2.18 ERA in Philadelphia, and is third all-time in Major League Baseball with 373 wins, I still have a hard time getting over the era in which he played.
Alexander's career spanned 1911-1930 and a huge chunk of his wins were registered at a time when 8 -12 HR's would lead the league. It was also a time when leagues were still racially segregated.
Another factor that helped tip the scale relate to the success of the club while Carlton was the staff ace. The 10-time All-Star anchored a team that made six trips to the postseason, won two National League Championships and the 1980 World Championship.
Sporting a mid-90's fastball and arguably the best slider in the history of the game, Carlton was truly one of the most dominating pitchers of his period and all-time. Well, maybe with a small apology to Alexander (may he rest in peace), I'll stand by Lefty.
Statistics W L PCT ERA BB SO SHO SV
Phillies 241 161 .600 3.09 1252 3031 39 0
Career 329 244 .574 3.22 1833 4136 55 2
Grover Cleveland Alexander- See above.
Robin Roberts- Carlton and Alexander edge out Roberts in the rankings due to his higher ERA and lower winning percentage.