Revisiting the ’94 Phillies

August 7th, 2016 by Kyle Lutz | Filed under Baseball, Phillies.

With the MLB postseason lurking, and less than two months away (they’re scheduled to start on October 4th), I’ve decided to revisit a team that, despite a mix of aging players and inexperienced players, just made it to the World Series the year prior, but was less than average the next year.

Pitching

After closer Mitch Williams gave up the infamous game-winning home run to Toronto’s Joe Carter in the ’93 World Series, it was the end of the Mitch Williams’ experiment. They acquired him a few seasons prior, and yet during his tenure here, he had 22 blown saves in 124 opportunities. In addition to that, including the blown save in game six of the ’93 World Series, he also blew four saves during postseason games. Finally, after the meltdown vs. Carter, the following off-season, the Phillies made the right choice and cut him loose. In his next season, in 25 games with Houston, he had a 7.65 ERA, and allowed 10.8 walks per nine. Including the ’94 season, the last three seasons of his career, he had a whopping 7.96 ERA in 52 games. The trade, which led to acquiring future closer Doug Jones, clearly was the right move. That season, Jones had 27 saves and a 2.17 ERA.

As far as the starting pitching was concerned, after winning the National League NLCS MVP award the prior year, ace Curt Schilling had an injury-plagued season. Due to a nagging elbow injury a couple months into the season, Schilling was sidelined for a short while, and — probably due to said injury — had a horrible year. In 13 starts, he went 2-8, with a 4.48 ERA and 9.5 hits allowed per nine. Had he been completely healthy, he would’ve been a major contributor towards the rotation. In his second year with the team, starter Danny Jackson had a solid season, going 14-6, making the NL All-Star team, and he finished sixth in NL Cy Young voting.

The rest of the rotation was well below average, averaging a combined 4.10 ERA. A year prior, minus Schilling and Jackson, the rotation was more consistent and stable. Not only did they lose Schilling for a good amount of starts, but number three pitcher Tommy Greene suffered a shoulder injury a month and a half in. In 1993, Greene was vital to the team’s success, winning 16 games and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. That February, fairly successful starter Terry Mulholland was traded to the Yankees, in return for young shortstop Desi Relaford. The trade was a train wreck for both sides, as Mulholland had a 6.49 ERA, while Relaford’s career was well below average.

Despite the starting pitching’s injuries and struggles, the bullpen was one of the best in the league, with a combined ERA of 3.08 and 0.36 home runs per nine. Closer Doug Jones was selected to the NL All-Star Game.

Batting

In ’93, center fielder Lenny Dykstra was the NL MVP runner-up to San Francisco’s Barry Bonds. Dykstra led the league in walks (129), runs (143), hits (194), was a silver slugger, and also ranked second in runs created (142). In ’94, like Schilling and Greene, Dykstra battled through injuries, and had an average season. While he made the NL All-Star team, he had a .273 average and five home runs, despite an impressive .404 on-base percentage. Losing the three of them was a big part to the team’s lack of success that season.

First baseman John Kruk had another fine year, leading the team with a very impressive .302 batting average, as well as sporting a .395 on-base percentage. Starting catch Darren Daulton was very impressive, too, as he sported a .300 batting average, tallied up 15 home runs, and had a .380 on-base percentage.

Right fielder Jim Eisenreich had another respectable year, as he had a .300 batting average, and a .371 on-base percentage, while second baseman Mariano Rivera made the All-Star team, and fellow second baseman Mickey Morandini had a .292 average, and 5 triples. The Phillies’ hitters ranked second in the National League in walks that year, with 396, and had a respectable lineup.

Part of the ’94 teams’ lack of success was playing in a extremely-difficult division. The Expos had the best record in the entire league (74-40), while Atlanta was 22 games over .500. That year, Montreal ranked second in batting average (.278) and on-base percentage (.343), while their pitching staff ranked atop the league in ERA, at .356- and they had six total All-Stars on the NL All-Star team. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s ace Greg Maddux led the league in ERA, with an eye-popping 1.56 mark, wins (16), complete games (10), innings pitched (202), and went on to win the NL Cy Young Award.

They were also marred by significant injuries to starters, which was another huge factor in their lack of success.

Fielding

Among National League teams that year, the Phillies ranked third worst in fielding percentage (.980) and fourth in errors (94). Shortstop Kevin Stocker ranked fourth that season in errors, with 16, while the team was dead last in assists, with 1,144.

Managing

Despite the superior NL East, and the amount of injuries sustained to starting players, Phillies’ manager Jim Fregosi managed a decent team. Their Pythagorean record, which bases a team’s record/winning percentage based on their runs for vs. runs against, was 60-55, which means a significant amount of their losses were close ones. 10 times they scored 10 or more runs, including 13 on two occasions, meanwhile, out of their 61 losses, 41 of them were by three runs or fewer (67%).

It’s worth noting that, despite a rocky postseason the previous year, Fregosi still elected in the ’93 World Series to stick with closer Mitch Williams. This proves his decision making wasn’t exactly the best, but then again, he also had a solid lineup backing him up.

In MLB’s first year of the wild-card era, despite — due to a strike — the cancelling of the rest of the season + the World Series, the Phillies still finished 14.5 games back of the best second-place team (Atlanta). It would’ve been very interesting, assuming the season played out, to see how the team would’ve fared with a fully healthy team. Although a few starters remained with the team the following season(s), the team got worse and worse, due to age, dismantling of the team, plus being in a very solid division (Atlanta won the WS the following year, while Florida won it two years after that).

Overall, putting it lightly, the Phillies had a very disappointing year. Their 1993 postseason appearance, and series win, didn’t happen again unti 2007, and their first postseason series win since ’93 didn’t occur until their World Series championship in ’08. After the ’93 World Series appearance, many fans, rightfully so, expected continued success from ’94 onward

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.