MLB 9s: Philadelphia Phillies—Dick Allen, Chuck Klein Best Phillies Ever

December 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

If you were looking to pick your greatest ever Philadelphia Phillies lineup based on single-season offensive performances, where would you start?

Do Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Von Hayes, Juan Samuel, and Larry Bowa?

Is Chuck Klein the greatest outfielder ever? Is the past worth more the present? Is power more important than speed?

It all points to one all-encompassing question with hundreds of possibilities: Which Phillie had the greatest offensive season at his position?

Major League Baseball has been asking fans this same question in an effort to choose each team’s best-ever collection of stars.

They are calling it MLB 9s.

Here I have separated the contenders from the pretenders in an effort to pick my dream Philadelphia lineup.

My other MLB 9s you might want to check out are:

Diamondbacks , Braves , Orioles , Red Sox , Cubs , White Sox , Reds , Indians , Rockies , Tigers , Marlins , Royals , Angels , Dodgers , Twins ,Mets , and Yankees


Catcher: Stan Lopata (1956)

Lopata made the most of being the Phillies’ undisputed first-choice backstop in 1956 when he hit a career-high 32 home runs.

After playing second fiddle to Andy Seminick and Smoky Burgess for each of the previous eight seasons, Lopata finally got a chance to flash the signs for Philadelphia in ’56 despite Seminick starting the year behind the plate.

Lopata scored 96 runs and drove in 95, batting .267 over the course of 535 at-bats.

He was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star game and a scattering of MVP votes, and he ranked inside the NL top 10 in a host of offensive categories including doubles (33, second), extra-base hits (72, third), total bases (286, eighth), and walks (75, 10th).

His 32 home runs—which ranked eighth in the National League—are the most ever by a Phillies’ catcher. His 96 runs scored is also a franchise record at the position.

Highlight Game: May 13, 1956 at Pittsburgh. Lopata single-handedly beat the Pirates, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, two doubles, and four RBI.

Lopata went yard against Dick Hill in the second and fourth innings, powering the Phillies to a comfortable 7-2 victory in the nightcap of a double-header.

Lopata finished with three runs and a dozen total bases in one of four multi-home run games of the season.

Competition: Long-time Phillies’ catcher Mike Lieberthal batted .300 with 31 home runs and 96 RBI in 1999, and Darren Daulton drove in 105 runs in 1993.

Spud Davis batted .336 and hit 14 home runs in just 125 games back in 1932, and Bernito Santiago hit 30 homers and recorded 85 RBI in 1996.


First Base: Ryan Howard (2006)

MVP Howard led all of baseball with 58 home runs, 149 RBI, and 383 total bases in 2006.

No other first baseman in Phillies’ history has hit more homers or driven in more runs than Howard, who won his first Silver Slugger award and represented the National League at the All-Star game.

Just 12 months after winning the Rookie of the Year trophy, Howard batted .313 with 108 walks, 104 runs, and a 1.084 on-base plus slugging (OPS) percentage.

Highlight Game: September 3, 2006 vs. Atlanta. Howard hit three home runs in a dominant 4-for-4 outing to see the Phillies past the Braves 8-7.

Howard went deep in the second, third, and sixth inning, helping Charlie Manuel’s men run out to a 6-0 lead. Atlanta rallied to tie the game late, but Bob Wickman gave up the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth.

It is Howard’s only three-home run showing of his young career. Also of note from the 2006 season was the two-homer, seven RBI night he posted in a losing effort against the New York Yankees on June 20.

Competition: Jim Thome’s 2003 season was Howard’s closest rival. Thome hit 47 home runs and drove in 131 runs, although he only batted .266—almost 50 points lower than the current Phillies first baseman.

Von Hayes had a well-rounded 1986 season with 19 homers, 107 runs, 98 RBI, 24 steals, and a .305 average, but it is just too hard to overlook Howard’s power. It’s scary to think he was only 26 at the time.

Don Hurst receives an honorable mention for his 1932 season when he led the NL with 143 RBI and finished seventh in the MVP race. He hit 24 home runs and batted .339—the second most by any Phillies’ first baseman in history.


Second Base: Chase Utley (2008)

You can take your pick of any of Utley’s last five seasons and make the case that it was the best ever offensive season by a second baseman. selected 2006 for its shortlist, and a look at his OPS+ statistics would suggest 2007 was his best year. I am ignoring them both and picking 2008.

In 2008 Utley hit 33 home runs with 104 RBI, 113 runs, 14 steals, and a .292 batting average. It marked the fourth consecutive year that he finished with triple-digit RBI totals.

While Utley did not lead the league in any offensive category other than the amount of times hit by a pitch, he ranked inside the top 10 in total bases (325, sixth), doubles (41, 10th), runs scored (113, fifth), and extra-base hits (78, fifth).

He also won his third consecutive Silver Slugger award, started the All-Star game for the National League, and, most importantly for Phillies’ fans, helped his team win the 2008 World Championship.

Highlight Game: April 20, 2008 vs. New York Mets. Utley terrorized the Mets on their first trip to the City of Brotherly Love in 2008. After hitting home runs in each of the team’s first two games in the series, Utley hit a pair of jacks in the finale—a 5-4 victory.

He finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBI, two runs, and a walk.

It was Utley’s second multi-homer game of the month and marked his fourth and fifth home runs in four days.

Competition: Juan Samuel had arguably the best season of his career with the Phillies in 1987. He hit a career-high 28 home runs, broke the 100-RBI plateau for the first and only time, and led the NL with 15 triples.

He also swiped 35 bags and scored 113 runs, but he also led the league in strikeouts (162) for the fourth straight season.


Third Base: Dick Allen (1966)

Unlike second base, there was real competition at the hot corner between Allen and Mike Schmidt.

In 1966 a 24-year-old Allen hit 40 home runs and led the National League with a .632 slugging percentage.

He batted an admirable .317, scored 112 runs, and drove in 110 batters. He also hit 10 triples and stole 10 bases, represented the NL as a reserve at the All-Star game, and finished fourth in the regular season MVP vote behind Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, and Willie Mays.

His 40 home runs rank third all-time among Philadelphia third basemen, while his 112 runs rank third. As much as he did as a player with his 44-ounce bat, Allen will be remembered just as much for combating racism in the sport and for his controversial demeanor.

He is one of the best players never to make it to Cooperstown.

Highlight Game: August 1, 1966 vs. Houston. I have spent hours researching baseball players, games, and moments over the last few months, but I had never came across this before.

In the bottom of the 10th inning in a game at home to the Astros, Allen hit a walk-off inside-the-park home run to give the Phillies a 6-5 victory.

What makes this game even more memorable was that Jimmy Wynn, the lead-off hitter for Houston, was caught trying to steal home with two away in the top of the inning.

Competition: While Allen’s invitation to the Hall of Fame must have got lost in the mail, Mike Schmidt’s certainly did not.

Schmidt’s 1980 season was as good as you will see: 48 home runs, 121 RBI, a .624 slugging percentage, Gold Glove award, Silver Slugger trophy, All-Star selection, and the title of league’s Most Valuable Player.

Discounting his defense, this was still an outstanding season which also featured 104 runs, 12 swipes, and a .286 batting average.

Oh, and a World Series ring, in case you forgot. No? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Every other third baseman worth mentioning is really just an “also ran”. Google Scott Rolen and Don Demeter in you really want more information.


Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins (2007)

Power? Check. Speed? Check? Best offensive season by any Phillies shortstop? Check.

Rollins’ clockwork-like consistency earned him an MVP trophy in 2007, as he shone at the top of a potent Philadelphia lineup.

The shortstop never missed a beat—or a game—running rings around the National League both literally and figuratively.

Rollins batted leadoff for the Phillies in 139 games, filling in at the No. 3 hole in the other 23 games when Ryan Howard missed time, predominantly with a quadriceps injury.

As a result of his durability, Rollins racked up a league-leading 139 runs and 20 triples. He also hit 30 home runs, batted in 94 runs, and stole 41 bases.

His home run, RBI, and run totals are the most by any Phillies shortstop ever. His 41 steals ranks third behind the 47 bases he swiped one year later and the 46 he stole in 2001 as a rookie.

Highlight Game: June 6, 2007 at New York Mets. Rollins is another Phillie who knows how the torment the Mets. On June 6, he showed them just why Philadelphia is the team to beat.

He went 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI, two steals, and a walk in a 4-2 victory. With the Mets leading 2-0 in the seventh inning, J-Roll hit a deep fly ball down the right field line off Aaron Heilman to give the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish.

Competition: Opponents are few and far between in all honesty. Larry Bowa stole 27 bases and batted .294 in 1978 and Granny Hamner hit 17 home runs and drove in 87 runs in 1952.

Rollins is not just a long way ahead of his rivals, but you can make the case that he had as good a season as any Phillies’ infielder in history.


Outfield: Chuck Klein (1933)

Hall of Fame Charles Klein looked like the real deal from the very beginning when he joined the Phillies from the farm system as a 23-year-old in 1928.

By the time 1933 had ended and Klein had finished his fifth full season in the majors, he had developed into the franchise stud everyone had expected.

After finishing second in the MVP ballot to Frankie Frish in 1931, Klein went one better in ’32.

He led the National League in home runs (38), runs (152), hits (226), and stolen bases (20), while collecting 20 doubles, 15 triples, and a .348 batting average.

This set the table for his Triple Crown year of 1933 when he batted .368 with 28 home runs and 120 RBI. He also led the league in hits and doubles and swiped 15 bases.

Highlight Game: May 26, 1933 at St. Louis. Klein hit for the cycle in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals. After recording a single, double, and triple earlier in the game, Klein hit himself into the record books with a 13th-inning solo home run off Dizzy Dean.

Despite the rare feat, his efforts could not pick up the rest of the team, as the Phillies lost and remained in the bottom of the NL.


Ed Delahanty (1899)

Pick any one of his 11 full seasons in Philadelphia and you wont go wrong.

He led the National League in home runs in 1893 and 1896, stole a league-high 58 bases in 1898, and won a batting title with a .410 average in 1899.

MLB shortlisted his 1901 season for consideration, although I think there are at least three better years they could have selected. I went for 1899.

Delahanty’s .410 average is the 17th highest in the history of baseball, the sixth best clip ever recorded in the National League, and the second best batting average in Philadelphia franchise history behind switch-hitting Tuck Turner.

“Big Ed” also hit 55 doubles, a league high, and batted in 137 runs. His .582 slugging percentage was the best in baseball, as was his 338 total bases and gaudy 1.046 OPS.

Highlight Game: According to Wikipedia, Delahanty hit four doubles in the same game, becoming—and remaining—the only man with a four-homer game to his credit to also have a game in which he hit four doubles.

In 1899 Delahanty also collected hits in 10 consecutive at-bats.


Bobby Abreu (2004)

While Gavvy Cravath probably deserves this third outfield spot, I am sticking with my bias toward the modern era and going with Abreu.

I think anyone who hits .300 with 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and 40 steals automatically deserves, at the very least, extensive consideration.

Abreu actually posted a line of .301, 30 homers, 105 RBI, 118 runs, and 40 steals.

The right-fielder went to his first All-Star game and won his first Silver Slugger award, although he did not lead the NL in any offensive categories.

He finished 23rd in the MVP voting, although I believe you could make the case that he deserved to be much higher—at least on a par with Jeff Kent, who finished 10 places above him.

While he does not lead Phillie outfielders in franchise records, I think his all-round season is deserving of a place on this list. His 127 walks ranks third all-time among Philadelphia batters.

Highlight Game: July 8, 2004 vs. New York Mets. Abreu is another name whose highlight game as a Phillie came against the Mets

Abreu finished 4-for-5 with three RBI, two doubles, a steal, and a walk-off home run. His game-winning blast came against John Franco leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.

Competition: I will finally show some love for Cravath who had three of the best consecutive seasons with the bat of any player around the time of World War I.

Cravath led the league in home runs in 1913, 1914, and 1915, and he recorded more RBI over that three-year span than any other batter in the game.

Cy Williams and Greg Luzinski hit 41 and 39 home runs in 1923 and 1977 respectively, Pat Burrell launched 37 with 116 RBI in 2002, and Lefty O’Doul batted .398 with 32 home runs and 152 runs in 1929.


Pitcher: Rick Wise (1971)

There is not really a great deal between the best offensive seasons of the top Philadelphia pitchers.

Wise wins out because of his six home runs, the most by any Phillie hurler, and 14 runs scored, in spite of his .237 average.

Highlight Game: Aug. 28, 1971 vs. San Francisco. Wise went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the fifth inning and a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh.

The Phillies won the second game of the double-header 7-3 and Wise notched his second multi-home run game of the season.

Competition: Ken Brett hit four home runs and recorded 16 RBI in 1973, Wayland Dean batted .265 with 19 RBI in 1926, and Steve Carlton drove in 15 men with three home runs and a .268 average in 1977.

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Ryan Howard Is the Reason The Phillies Won’t Win

November 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

When you lose, there’s always a goat, always someone to blame.

Remember when the Cubs turned on fan Steve Bartman for stopping Moises Alou from catching that foul ball in Game Six of the NLCS against the Marlins in 2003?

Remember when Alex Rodriguez was slammed for being unable to perform in the playoffs when he batted just .159 over 13 divisional championship games against the Angels, Tigers and Indians in 2005, 2006 and 2007?

Remember Bill Buckner?

For the boo-boys of Philadelphia, it’s going to be Ryan Howard, the all-conquering, free-swinging All Star slugger.

I am not interested in what he has done over the last four seasons or what he has done in this year’s NLDS or NLCS.

Sports fans are fickle, concerned with the here-and-now, and this can’t be more true of a team than Philadelphia.

It’s that ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality.

Sure, you can live with Howard’s eight strikeouts in nine playoff games leading up to the 2009 World Series, but only because of the 14 runs he knocked in, eight runs he scored himself, and seven walks he drew.

Howard has always been a guy who will strike out a lot, so people expect a high number of whiffs to go hand-in-hand with awesome power and incredible production.

The problem is, each one of his problems in the World Series is not only exploited, but also magnified.

Fans can blame who they like if the Phillies lose Game Six in the Bronx tonight, but it has to fall on Howard.

Pedro Feliz has certainly been below-par throughout the Fall Classic with the exception of the bomb he launched off of Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning of Game Four, and Shane Victorino is certainly a goat-worthy candidate with just three hits in five games.

Brad Lidge will also probably come into the question because of the way he imploded at the end of Game Four, losing the game in the ninth inning and leaving his manager with no faith in him, and the finger could even be pointed towards Cole Hamels for failing to give his team a chance to win in Game Three against a decidedly average Andy Pettitte.

But look, Feliz is little more than a .250 hitter anyway, and you have him batting in the seven or eight hole in the lineup.

Victorino has admittedly been poor, but it’s not like he is a massive power threat.  He is there to hit behind Rollins, steal bases and set the table for Utley—and we all know what Utley has done without help from anyone.

Yes Lidge did collapse, but honestly, what did you expect?  He was 0-8 with 11 blown saves and an ERA over 7.00 in the regular season.  He is not the Lidge of 2008, and his appearances against the Rockies and Dodgers were exceptions to the 2009 norm.

And don’t even think about dishing out the lion’s share of the blame onto Hamels.  Has he stunk?  Yeah, he was pretty bad, but as poorly as he pitched, the Phillies were only down by two runs when he left in the fifth inning.

Look no further than Ryan Howard.

He’s 3-for-19 so far with 12 strikeouts.  He has left eight on base and is just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.  Andy Pettitte has as many RBI as Howard does, such have been his woes at the plate.

He has struck out swinging on sinkers down and in and sliders away, and he has been frozen helpless looking at curveballs.

With Pettitte taking the mound in Game Six on Wednesday, don’t expect him to see an inside pitch there either.  It’s going to be slider away all night.

With someone who pulls the ball as much as Howard does, it makes sense to pitch him away.  Make him take it the other way if he wants to find his power stroke and don’t let him get the meat of the bat on it.

More often than not, Howard will ground weakly into a shift.  That is when he does put the ball in play which has been at a premium this World Series.

He was pulling off against CC Sabathia in Games One and Four and fouling off the inside pitches he did see against the righties.  Simply put, although he has improved against southpaws, he is still a really bad hitter against left-handed pitching.

One big difference between 2009 and when the Phillies won it all in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays is that the Rays only had one left-handed starter, Scott kazmir.

Howard was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Kazmir and just 1-for-12 with eight Ks against the Rays’ left-handed pitchers.  He was 5-for-9 with two home runs against the right-handers.

Maybe if the Rays had another lefty in their rotation, things would have been different. But probably not.

People will argue that Philadelphia will win as a team and lose as a team.  That sentiment is fine and not without merit.

But while the Phillies have by no means been embarrassed by the Yankees, the only person you can blame is Howard.

Statistically it may only represent a few games, but those games are in the World Series, and they are some of the most important of his life.

Howard is better than this, and I’m sure he won’t let it phase him, but the fact is this time around he isn’t good enough.

Or more accurately, the Yankees were just too good.

45 home runs and 141 ribbies count for precious little right now.

Boo all you want.  Howard is having a stinker and he’s the reason the Phillies aren’t repeating.

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Phillies-Yankees: Cliff Lee Dazzles, Philly Beats New York In Game One

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Chase Utley hit two solo home runs and Cliff Lee pitched a complete game gem as the Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1 in Game One of the World Series. 
In what was billed as a pitchers’ duel on a cold wet night in the Bronx, it was a lights-out Lee who came out on top over CC Sabathia to dampen the spirits of Murderers’ Row. 
A dazzling Lee pitched nine innings of six-hit ball, striking out ten and walking none on 122 pitches. Lee pitched with confidence and swagger, seemingly unphased by the magnitude of the occasion. 
His fastball was electric, his breaking stuff sharp. 
He caught a pop-up on the mound with all the nonchalance of a spring training pitching session, and snared a comebacker with the agility and skill of a veteran. 
It wasn’t the way the Yankees had imagined the start of their first trip back to the Fall Classic in six years. 
Sabathia wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but he picked up his first loss of the postseason after allowing a pair of dingers as part of a four-hit night. In fact, after loading the bases on two walks and a double on 24 first-inning pitches, Sabathia allowed just four more baserunners all night. 
The Yankees’ bullpen, however surrendered two runs in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth as Lee and the Phillies showed no sign of rust from their NLCS layoff.
The Yankees’ prize hurler, who arrived in New York on a $161M deal this summer, walked three and fanned six over 113 pitches—70 for strikes. Unfortunately for CC, he missed his spot twice to the Phillies’ second baseman. 
Utley launched a third-inning 3-2 fastball into the right field seats to give Philly a 1-0 lead, then sent a similar 0-2 pitch 400 feet into the mist to double Philadelphia’s lead to two in the top of the sixth. 
The home runs were the first allowed by Yankees’ pitching at home in the playoffs this season, snapping Sabathia’s perfect 3-0 postseason start in pinstripes. 
Raul Ibanez gave the Phillies a cushion with a bases-loaded, two-out single in the eighth inning, and Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino combined for three consecutive hits in the ninth off Brian Bruney to make it 5-0. 
Ryan Howard then drove home Rollins to pad the lead at 6-0, which was more than enough support for Lee. 
Such was Lee’s dominance, the Yankees—who led the major leagues in 2009 with 244 home runs—could only muster one extra base hit. 
The two-three-four hitters in Joe Girardi’s lineup went 1-12, and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez struck out three times each. Only Derek Jeter reached base for the Yankees more than once, and only in the ninth did they have men aboard at the same time. 
Jeter was the sole Yankee to make it past second base, and his run in the bottom of the ninth was little more than a footnote on a page documenting Lee’s brilliance.
The Phillies looked every part like defending champions. 
The Yankees are going to need to draw on every inch of their historic past if they are to regain their crown.

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Playoff Debate No. 1—Why Cole Hamels Is Key for Phillies

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Hello and welcome to the first of what I hope will turn into a series of postseason debates.

With the Phillies running away from the Rockies in Game One of their divisional series, there will be a lot of talk around baseball about just how good Jimmy Rollins and the Fightin’ Phils are.

I’ve asked four of Bleacher Report’s best baseball writers to share their thoughts on the game, in the hope of getting a debate started into the hottest questions of the day.

I’ve also added my two cents to the argument, but be warned…I’m 70 percent wrong 80 percent of the time.

Today’s scribes are Rockies fan and Colorado native David Martin, Washington Nationals writer Thomas Cogliano, passionate third generation Cubbies fan Tab Bamford, and featured Phillies columnist Shay Roddy.

Be sure to check out their pages and show them some love by clicking on their names above. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.

Everyone has an opinion. We’re just not afraid to shout them out loud.


What was the key play of the game?

Tab: The key to the game was Cliff Lee dominating the Rockies. He threw a complete game and could/should have thrown a shutout. Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t bad, but the Phillies’ bullpen just got an extra day of rest.

Thomas: The key to Game One (and the rest of the NLDS) was, and is, very simple: Throw strikes!

The excellence of Cliff Lee was on display in Game One. Pitching a complete game where he surrendered no walks and allowed only six hits, Lee was masterful.

Ash: The key play was Carlos Ruiz taking Jimenez’s 3-2 slider into center field to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. Had he made the second out, Raul Ibanez would probably have been stranded on base with Cliff Lee up next.

A 1-0 lead against a team with almost 200 homers is definitely not safe.

David: The key play of the game was Raul Ibanez’s double in the fifth inning. It scored the first run and got the Phillies rolling off of Ubaldo Jimenez.

If Jimenez is able to get Ibanez in that situation, the game is completely different.

Shay: I wouldn’t necessarily label one play the key play, but I think when Carlos Gonzalez dropped the ball against the Budweiser sign in left, that was a momentum shifter. The Phillies’ bats had been cold coming in, and that was big for them confidence-wise.

I also think the Jayson Werth triple was key offensively. That broke the game open.


What do the Phillies need to do to be successful in Game Two of the NLDS?

Tab: The Phillies need to hit with men on base (like they did in Game One), and that’s really about it.

Thanks to Lee going all nine on Wednesday, the bullpen could realistically give Cole Hamels three or four innings of relief if needed (though I doubt he’ll need it).

Thomas: The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the best team defenses in the entire National League. They were second in fewest errors in the entire NL.

So, the key for Philadelphia pitchers is very simple: Throw strikes!

Ash: Cole Hamels needs to continue the progression he has made since the summer and continue to pitch well to left-handed hitters.

The Rockies are carrying six lefties on their October roster (Todd Helton, Ian Stewart, Brad Hawpe, Seth Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jason Giambi), and it is likely that Hamels will have to face at least three of them tomorrow.

The key matchup could be against Helton, who will be batting in the heart of the Rox order ahead of Troy Tulowitzki, who has regained his power stroke and returned to 2007 form. Helton is hitting 60 points lower (.243) against southpaws than he is righties.

David: For the Phillies to continue with their success and head to Coors Field with a 2-0 lead, they are going to need Cole Hamels to pitch the way that he is capable of.

If he pitches the way that he did in the ‘08 postseason, the Phillies should be in good shape. If the Rockies get to him early, though, it could be a different story.

Shay: Hamels needs to come out early and set the tone. If Hamels gets an early lead and the crowd behind him, the Rockies could be quick to hang their heads after being dominated Tuesday.


Which 2B will have the bigger series: Chase Utley or Clint Barmes?

Tab: Utley’s bigger in the series. Look at his production over the season. Yes, there are more run producers around him, but he’s one of the keys to that offense moving.

Ash: With no disrespect to Clint, this is all about Chase.

Chase Utley is a perennial All-Star as well as one of the most consistent second basemen in the National League.

Utley hits with power to all fields, and 2009 has seen him record career-high numbers in stolen bases (23) and walks (88). He’s only a .213 postseason hitter in 17 games, so look for him to break out against the Rockies, against whom he has batted .331 lifetime (50-for-151) in 38 games.

By contrast, Barmes has been in a .205 slump since the All-Star break.

David: I think the second baseman that will have the bigger impact is Chase Utley. Clint Barmes is a phenomenal defensive second baseman and hits for power, but he is not a game-changer.

Utley takes a better approach at the plate, and despite not having the year that he expected, he still has a pretty good idea of what to expect at the plate.

Shay: That’s a no-brainer—Utley. Though Utley’s bat has been cold lately, he’s one of baseball’s greats, and October is the time when great players shine.

The one thing that concerns me about Utley, though, is that he went hard into second base today and looked like he came up and limped a little.

He stayed in the game and seemed fine, but as former Phillie Geoff Jenkins said after the game, you can never tell when Utley’s hurting, he hides it so well. It seemed pretty clear he did something to his ankle, so watch him closely the next few days.

As far as Clint Barmes goes, he’s a mediocre hitter. He fills the eight hole well but will never live up to Utley’s caliber.



Who was the unsung hero from Game One?

Tab: Jimmy Rollins made a few nice plays, one in the late innings on a wind-blown pop-up from Todd Helton. He was my unsung hero.

Thomas: Offensively, the key to the game was Jayson Werth’s RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth inning. That blast pushed across a fourth run for the Phillies and rendered any chance of a comeback by the Rockies nearly obsolete!

Also critical to the Philadelphia victory was the clutch hitting by Raul Ibanez, who drove in two runs in two separate at-bats.

Ash: Cliff Lee will rightly receive a whole host of plaudits, but Jayson Werth was fantastic for the Phillies.

Right fielder Werth went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI triple, and a pair of runs to lead the Phillies’ offense to a 1-0 series lead. He worked the count and got Jimenez’s pitch count up there.

David: The unsung hero for game one is Jayson Werth. His walk in the fifth inning was the first given up by Jimenez and ended up being the first run scored.

If he is not on first base, Jimenez does not have to give in to Ibanez, and the game isn’t the same. His triple in the sixth inning also pretty much put the game away.

Shay: Though Yorvit Torrealba and Carlos Gonzalez both looked bad at times in the field, they both had nice days at the plate.

Pretty much all the Phillies hit, but I’d call Carlos Ruiz the unsung hero. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI and really helped Cliff Lee out behind the plate.

Beside one Panamanian (Chooch’s homeland) reporter’s question in the news conference, I haven’t heard much said about him.


What is the key stat from the game?

Tab: The key statistic of the game was 9.0 IP from Cliff Lee. He was dominant.

Ash: Ubaldo Jimenez threw just 14 pitches out of the zone in the first four innings, but 17 balls alone in the fifth.

When Jimenez got wild, the Phillies tagged him for two runs. Jimenez then threw five of his next 11 pitches for balls in giving up three more runs in the sixth inning before getting yanked with one man out.

While he only walked one batter, he got into trouble when he had to throw his fastball and slider to batters in hitters’ counts.

David: Key statistic for the game: Cliff Lee—nine innings pitched, one earned run on six hits. Six strikeouts and no walks.

Shay: Cliff Lee: 9 IP 1 ER. ‘Nough said.


What was more impressive: Cliff Lee singling on a 98-MPH fastball, stealing his first ever career base without a throw, and dropping down his first sacrifice bunt in a Phillies’ uniform, or Cliff Lee pitching one-run ball in his postseason debut?

Tab: The one-run ball and a complete game in his first postseason start was most impressive. Greg Maddux used to sneak a steal every one in a while just because he was smart and knew how to read a pitcher not holding him on.

Dominating a hot Colorado offense was most impressive.

Thomas: The most impressive feat of Game One was beyond any and all doubt the masterful pitching performance of Cliff Lee.

Lee dominated the action and recorded the first complete game in a postseason debut since Bobby Jones of the 2000 New York Mets. This performance outdoes the masterful outing of Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels from last season’s NLDS versus the Milwaukee Brewers.

In that game last year, Hamels lasted eight innings, not nine!

Ash: As funny as it was to see Lee have a running lead before Jimenez even went in to his wind-up, he never came around to score or even reached third base.

The big story was obviously Lee retiring 15 in a row and keeping the Rox off the basepaths. He has been superb at home since coming from the Indians (2.52 ERA compared to 4.09 ERA on the road), and he lived up to his “ace” tag in every sense of the word.

Nobody will care that he didn’t get the shutout. He saved the bullpen and did everything he needed to help his team win at a canter.

David: Cliff Lee’s pitching was by far the most impressive stat of the day. In his postseason debut the lefty dominated the Rockies, not showing an ounce of intimidation as he pitched.

Shay: They’re all impressive, but I was shocked when it was announced that that was his first Phillies sacrifice. That would be the only one that doesn’t impress me.

I guess you have to go with stealing the base though. Only four pitchers have done that in MLB postseason history. He credits that all to first base coach Davey Lopes. Lopes said he saw something and advised Lee of it.

Lee picked it up and decided to run. The rest is history.


Remember, be sure to check out the writers’ pages. There’s a lot of good stuff happening in there.

For a full recap of this opening game in the series, visit David’s match report here.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies