Best Phillies Players Of All Time: Top 5 Legendary Philadelphia Athletes, According To Fans

Philadelphia is one of the greatest American sports cities you’ll ever visit. From cheesesteaks to the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia offers something for everyone, especially passionate sports fans. Philadelphians love their Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies like they love their children. So, to honor their local baseball team and fans, we’re breaking down the five best Phillies players of all time.

Speaking of passionate sports fans, a recent study found that sports fans can experience a boost in self-esteem for days following a big win. Researchers from the Ohio State University surveyed 174 students from Ohio State and Michigan State University before and after a big football game between the two rival schools in which Michigan State won 17-14 on a last-second field goal. Researchers found that students from the winning side experienced a boost in self-esteem for up to two full days following the major victory. Although students from the Ohio State side didn’t experience a loss in self-esteem, their moods were dampened. 

Sports fans won’t always come out on the winning side of a big game, but according to another recent study, that’s not preventing them from traveling and spending to watch their favorite teams play live, in person. A survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fanatics examined the lengths fans are willing to go to in order to see their favorite teams play live. The survey ultimately found that the average sports fan is willing to travel an average of five hours and 48 minutes and spend over $750 for tickets to watch their team play in person. Sounds like a great way to see a Phillies game and explore the great American city of Philadelphia in the process.

So, which ballplayers are considered Phillies legends? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the consensus best Phillies players in history. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed athletes from across these sites. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below! 

Early morning in downtown Philadelphia
Early morning in downtown Philadelphia (Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash)

 

The List: Best Phillies Players of All Time, According to Sports Experts

1. Mike Schmidt (1972-1989)

Easily topping the list of the best Phillies players of all time is none other than Mike Schmidt. Mike Schmidt is a legendary infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies and he’s undoubtedly one of the best third basemen in MLB history. Schmidt played his entire career in a Phillies uniform, and he’s one of the most beloved athletes in Philadelphia sports history. 

“In the end, this isn’t really a contest, as Mike Schmidt is not just the best Phillies player of all time, but one of the best MLB players of all time, period. Schmidt broke out in the 1974 season, and the rest was history, as he became the leader of Philadelphia’s lineup for the next decade. Schmidt was one of the best pure power hitters in the game, as he led the league in home runs in eight different seasons, three of which resulted in him winning the NL MVP award,” writes Clutch Points

Schmidt’s list of accomplishments keeps going: “Schmidt is the greatest third baseman in MLB history, and the best player to ever suit up for the Phillies. A second-round pick in the 1972 MLB Draft, Schmidt spent his entire 18-year career with the Phillies, helping the organization to win their first World Series eight years after he was drafted. Schmidt is one of 11 players in MLB history to win the league MVP Award on three different occasions, and he also added 10 Gold Glove Awards and 12 All-Star Game appearances. His 548 career home runs are 16th in MLB history, and by far the most ever hit by a Phillie,” adds Audacy.

Mike Schmidt was just as good at fielding his third base position as he was at the plate, with a bat in his hands. Schmidt’s 10 Gold Gloves combined with his 548 career home runs prove just how effective Schmidt was as a Philadelphia Phillie. Mike Schmidt even draws comparisons to some of baseball’s all-time great players including Babe Ruth. Now that’s saying something. 

“Mike Schmidt is the greatest Philadelphia Phillie of all-time, no questions asked. Just take a look at his accolades. Does it get any better than that? Schmidt has a statue of himself outside the teams stadium and is a living legend. Mike Schmidt is the Philadelphia Phillies, like Babe Ruth is to the New York Yankees. Simply the best,” furthers BolaVIP

2. Steve Carlton (1972-1986)

Up next on the list of the best Phillies players of all time is legendary starting pitcher, Steve Carlton, who also happens to be Schmidt’s teammate, and together they helped the Phillies win their first World Series in 1980. From there, Carlton won four Cy Young Awards and is remembered as the best pitcher in Phillies history. Even though the Phillies did not originally draft Carlton, the team traded for Steve Carlton in the early ’70s, and he’s considered a Phillie through and through. 

“Carlton was already a two-time All-Star when the Phillies acquired him from the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of the 1972 season. He would spend parts of the next 15 seasons with the Phillies, winning four National League Cy Young Awards, making eight All-Star teams and helping the franchise to win their first World Series title in 1980. Carlton is the franchise leader in wins (241), strikeouts (3,031), games started (499) and fWAR (75.5). Carlton was inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Phillies cap in 1994. His No. 32 is retired by the Phillies,” writes Audacy

It was Steve Carlton’s longevity and consistency that proved to be more important than his stats. Despite being older players, both Carlton and Schmidt helped lead the Phillies to the postseason on several occasions, and as the experts explain, Carlton was a driving force behind the franchise’s first-ever World Series title. 

“Carlton was 35 years old in 1980 when he won 24 games and logged more than 300 innings to lead the Phillies to their first world championship. He was 37 in 1982 when he won his fourth (and final) Cy Young Award. That season he pitched 19 complete games. The following year at the age of 38 he led the league in strikeouts and won two games in the NLCS, allowing only one run as the Phils won the pennant. That team was so old they were known as the ‘Wheeze Kids’ and won the second pennant in the Carlton/Schmidt Era,” explains Baseball Egg

In today’s MLB with specialty relievers and high-paid franchise closing pitchers, starting pitchers rarely play a full game. Carlton played in an era when a starting pitcher was lauded for throwing all nine innings and earning a hard-fought victory for their club – something Steve Carlton accomplished regularly. When Carlton was pitching, MLB fans filled ballparks to watch him work. 

“He always seemed to be pitching with a chip on his shoulder and I think that’s what made him great. That’s how you have to pitch in the city of Philadelphia. If this city gets under your skin, you’re not going to succeed. And all Carlton did was succeed. He won 329 games in his career, captured four Cy Young awards (all as a member of the Phillies) and struck out 4,136 batters. But when Carlton was pitching, you knew it. He drew fans to the ball park,” furthers Bleacher Report

3. Robin Roberts (1948-1961)

Robin Roberts is the only pitcher in franchise history to challenge Carlton as the best pitcher in Phillies history. Of course, Roberts was a right-handed pitcher and Carlton was a left-handed pitcher, so that makes the debates all the more heated between Phillies fans. Still, Roberts was one of the best pitchers of his generation. 

“During the early part of the 1950s, there simply was not a more consistent starting pitcher in the National League than Philadelphia’s Robin Roberts. The righty led the league in wins in four straight seasons from ’52-’55, led the league in innings in five straight years from ’51-’55, and started more games than anybody else six straight times from ’50-’55. Roberts earned 234 of his 286 career victories in a Phillies’ uniform, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in innings, complete games and shutouts, and represented the club in seven All-Star Games. His number 36 was retired by the Phillies in 1962, and he was inducted into Cooperstown in 1976,” writes Yardbarker

Roberts was known for outthinking batters and not allowing them many opportunities to capitalize on his pitching mistakes. “He was a cerebral pitcher who used a ‘2-to-1’ philosophy in which he demanded that he toss two strikes for every ball outside the strike zone. As a result, he led the league in K-to-Walk ratio a record five times and one year he pitched 330 innings and tossed 30 complete games while only issuing 45 free passes. He liked to make batters earn their way on base… Roberts was almost always the smartest guy in the room. He helped found the players’ union, which he fostered to become the most powerful labor union in the country,” explains Baseball Egg

The MLB players union is still in effect today and Roberts was pivotal in its development. And although Roberts never had a chance to win a Cy Young Award, experts agree that he was more than capable. 

“The greatest right-handed pitcher in Phillies history, Roberts spent the first 14 seasons of his Hall of Fame career in Philadelphia. The Cy Young Award didn’t exist until 1955, but Roberts likely would have captured the honor multiple times considering he led the National League in wins, complete games and innings pitched four times before the introduction of it. Among all pitchers in Phillies history, Roberts is the leader in complete games (272) and innings pitched (3,739 1/3). Roberts — who made seven consecutive All-Star teams between 1950 and 1956 — had his No. 36 retired by the Phillies in 1962,” furthers Audacy

4. Chase Utley (2003-2015)

Chase Utley is easily the best second baseman in Phillies franchise history and he’s one of the most beloved players to ever play baseball in Philadelphia. “Perhaps the most popular Phillies player in recent memory is second baseman Chase Utley, Philadelphia’s first-round pick from the 2000 draft who developed into one of the franchise’s most productive hitters. Utley starred in the City of Brotherly Love for 13 seasons, bringing a hard-nosed attitude to both sides of the ball. During his Phillies career he slashed .282/.366/.481 with 233 homers, 916 RBI and 346 doubles. He was voted into six All-Star Games, won four Silver Slugger awards, and was a linchpin in Philadelphia’s 2008 World Series championship,” explains Yardbarker

Chase Utley during the Phillies vs. Dodgers game on Aug 30 2010 at Dodgers Stadium
Chase Utley during the Phillies vs. Dodgers game on Aug 30 2010 at Dodgers Stadium (Photo by Photo Works on Shutterstock)

Utley was an amazing second baseman and a tough, productive, all-around great player for over a decade. Chase Utley played hard in the field and was a really tough out at the plate. His productivity over the course of his career has him ranked among some of the best in baseball in that timeframe. 

“One of the greatest second basemen in MLB history, Utley spent parts of 13 seasons with the Phillies, making six All-Star teams. Between 2005 and 2014, Utley finished third in fWAR among all position players, trailing only future Hall of Famers Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. And though he never won a Gold Glove Award, Utley posted 129 defensive runs saved over the same period, second only to Yadier Molina… ‘The Man’ will become eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in 2024,” explains Audacy

Chase Utley should have won a Gold Glove Award, and many Phillies fans feel it’s a travesty the all-time infielder didn’t win at least one of those. Still, Utley won where it counted. Utley played a big role in the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship and he was nearly unstoppable the following season in a losing effort against the New York Yankees. Philadelphia fans want championships, and if a player delivers one of those, they’ll be beloved in the city. 

“Chase Utley was another member of the dominant Phillies squads in the 2000s, and his high-level of production throughout his entire tenure with the team gives him a well-earned spot on this list. Utley broke out in 2005, and ended up going on an absolute tear from 2006-2009 that might have earned him a spot on this list if he opted to retire right after that season. Utley’s best season came in 2006 (.309 BA, 32 HR, 102 RBI, 15 SB, .906 OPS) and he was a crucial part of Philadelphia 2008 title team. Utley’s high-level of production didn’t last forever, but he remained productive even towards the end of his career with Philly,” furthers Clutch Points

5. Jimmy Rollins (2000-2014)

Rounding out the list of the best Phillies players of all time is yet another infielder from the 2008 championship team – Jimmy Rollins. The legendary Phillies shortstop worked hard to become a feared hitter at the plate.

Jimmy Rollins up to bat during the Diamondbacks and Phillie's game at Citizens Bank Park on August 20, 2009
Jimmy Rollins up to bat during the Diamondbacks and Phillie’s game at Citizens Bank Park on August 20, 2009 (Photo by Donald B. Kravitz, DBKphoto on Shutterstock)

“Jimmy Rollins was a part of some of the great Phillies teams in the 2000s, and at his peak, he was the best shortstop in the league. The diminutive shortstop broke in with Philadelphia as a speedster who could hit for contact and play solid defense, but he ended up becoming one of the best all-around players in the game. Rollins developed a power stroke over time, and he ended up putting together a stellar 2007 campaign that saw him win the NL MVP award (.296 BA, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 41 SB, .875 OPS). Rollins also had five seasons where he hit at least ten triples (including 20 in 2007) and he remained a solid contributor for the Phillies until his final game. Rollins was a big contributor in Philadelphia’s 2008 World Series squad, and he will have a place in Phillies lore forever as a result,” explains Clutch Points

Rollins worked to combine his otherworldly speed with some power: “The greatest shortstop in franchise history, Rollins was a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, three-time All-Star and won the 2007 National League MVP Award. Rollins is the franchise’s all-time leader with 2,306 hits, and also has the most doubles in Phillies history with 479. He was the catalyst for the team winning five consecutive NL East titles, two NL pennants and a World Series title during 2007-2011, which is considered by many to be the greatest era in franchise history” writes Audacy

If you’re putting together the Phillies’ all-time roster, you would have to pencil in Rollins as the shortstop. Combine him with Schmidt and Utley, and you have one of the best all-time infields in the game. Fantasy lineups aside, Rollins is a beloved athlete in Philadelphia sports. 

“Jimmy Rollins is a modern-day Philadelphia hero, not only did he just light up the scoreboard when playing for the Phillies, he also was a strong community activist. The 2007 NL MVP was clutch for the team in their 2008 title run. One of the best players in the Phillies modern era,” adds BolaVIP

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Comments

  1. You missed Bobby Abreu who offensively put up numbers for the Phillies only matched, and not completely, by Schmidt. Need to remain objective.

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