Philadelphia Phillies Franchise Four

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Chase Utley/Jimmy Rollins

Jul 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (11) celebrates scoring with second baseman Chase Utley (26) during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The battle for the fourth and final spot on the franchise four list comes down to two players who were on the 2008 championship team, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Good luck winning this argument. There is a case for both, and they are both legitimate.

Phillies second baseman, Chase Utley, is second in club history among position players at 61.5-WAR. Utley won’t catch Mike Schmidt and there are no active Phillies close to his WAR totals, so Utley is locked into the second spot for the foreseeable future.

Among all Phillies to record 3,000 plate appearances, Utley is the all-time leader in hit by pitch with 169. That number is twice as high as Mike Lieberthal, who is second with 88. While that isn’t a historically relevant number, it helps Utley’s on-base percentage which is 14th in franchise history (.369). The other numbers in Utley’s slash line consist of a .285 batting average, which is 17th in club history and a .487 slugging percentage, which ranks 11th. In terms of overall OPS, Utley is also 11th.

The triple slash numbers for Utley are impressive given than second base isn’t historically a high power position. But in his individual number breakdown, Utley is fifth in runs (927) and RBI (889), sixth in doubles (334) and home runs (228) and eighth in hits (1,571) in Phillies history. Oh, and since they started keeping stolen base statistics, Utley is fifth in Phillies history in successful stole base percentage at 88.5 percent.

On defense, Chase Utley has been extremely underrated. In his career, he has never won a Gold Glove despite his 17.6-dWAR, which is tied with Schmidt for the best in club history. Using defensive runs saved we can see that Utley is even more underrated than his dWAR would say. In his 1,396 games at second base, Utley has 136 defensive runs saved.

For his career, Utley has some impressive accolades and is among some elite second baseman in major league history.

• Six All-Star selections
• Four Silver Slugger Awards
• Three top-10 Most Valuable Player finishes
• Top-3 in N.L WAR five times (2005-2009)
• Fifth in MLB in active WAR (61.5)
• 12th all-time among ML 2B in WAR
• 3rd all-time among ML 2B in OPS, 4th in Slugging Percentage, 15th in on-base percentage, 26th in batting average
• 10th in home runs all-time among ML 2B
• T-8th in defensive wins above replacement (dWAR)

The case for Jimmy Rollins is just as strong as the case for Utley. The vocal leader during the N.L East dominance and the catalyst of their 2008 World Championship offense, Rollins is among the greatest Phillies of all-time.

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In wins above replacement, Rollins is sixth in club history with 45.7-WAR. While the WAR total isn’t the best in club history, he is the hits leader with 2,306. Rollins is also the Phillies all-time leader in doubles (479) and stolen bases (453). He is second in games (2,090), runs (1,325) and triples (111). The impressive numbers don’t stop there for Rollins as he is fifth in walks and dWAR, sixth in RBI and ninth in home runs.

As a catalyst, Rollins on and off the field contributions cannot be overlooked. When the Phillies needed a leader to step-up, Rollins was the guy. He officially took the role when he proclaimed the Phillies were the team to beat in the National League East. Rollins then led the Phillies to five straight National League East titles, two National League pennants and one World Championship.

The intangibles that Rollins provided cannot be overlooked, but he also has a trophy case full of awards that speak loudly about his fifteen years in Philadelphia.

• Three All-Star selections
• Four Gold Glove Awards
• 2007 National League Most Valuable Player
• 2007 Silver Slugger Award
• 2008 World Champion
• One of four players in M.L history with 20 doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in a season
• 21st in M.L history in WAR among shortstops with at least 5,000 plate appearances
• Top-10 in M.L history among shortstops with 5,000 plate appearances in doubles (6th), stolen bases (7th), home runs and triples (8th) and runs (9th)

Either way, if you go with Utley or Rollins, you aren’t wrong. Both of them have a strong case.

Personally, I would pick Chase Utley over Jimmy Rollins if I had to pick one of the two in their prime to play for my team. As a face of the franchise, many will go with Rollins.

There are some notable absentees from the list I have selected such as Richie Ashburn, Harry Kalas, Pete Alexander, Dick Allen and Chuck Klein. I believe that if I include the off the field aspect to this, Kalas and Ashburn would have had a much better case, but I used on the field performance. I took Roberts over Alexander due to time with the Phillies, but I suggest checking out Pete Alexander on Baseball-Reference because his resume is really impressive.

(The official ballot, which you can vote on here, features Schmidt, Carlton, Ashburn,Rollins, Utley, Klein, Roberts and Jim Bunning.)

My final selections: Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts and Chase Utley (Rollins’ case understandable)

I know this isn’t perfect, and won’t be universally adopted, but I go with these four as the Phillies franchise four.