During the organization’s 127-year existence as a member of the National League, seven starters who had wore the Phillies’ uniform has won the most games in seventeen seasons.
The first Phil to lead the league in wins would be Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, who would do so in his rookie season of 1911, winning 28 games. The next Phil to lead the NL in wins would be Tom Seaton, who, in 1913, would lead the league with 27 wins. Alexander would then become the leader in wins for the next four seasons with 27 wins in 1914, 31 wins in 1915, as he help lead the Phils to their first National League pennant, as he performed the first of his two straight triple crown (Wins/ERA/Ks) pitching season as a Phil, 33 wins in 1916, as he performed his second triple crown season, while setting the Phils record for most wins in a season, and 30 wins in 1917. The third Phil to lead the league in victories would be Jumbo Elliott, who did so in a tie for first with Bill Hallahan of the St. Louis Cardinals and Heinie Meine of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who all had 19 wins in 1931. The fourth Phil pitcher to lead the NL in wins would be Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who would lead the league with 28 victories in 1952, then would be tied for the lead in 1953 with fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves with 23 wins, then lead the league by himself in both 1954 and 1955 with 23 wins in both years. The fifth Phil starter to lead the NL would be Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, who first lead the NL in his pitching triple crown season of 1972, as he lead the NL with 27 wins, followed by 1977 with 23 victories, then 24 in 1980, as he helped lead the Phils to their first World Series Championship, and finally 1982, when he won 23 starts. The sixth Phil pitcher to lead the league would follow in 1983, as John Denny would lead the league with 19 wins, as he help lead the Phils to their fourth NL pennant. It would be twenty-seven years before the seventh, and presently last, Phil starter would lead the NL in wins, when Roy Halladay led the National League in wins with 21 in 2010.
Of the seven Phils to lead the National League in victories, three of them were Hall of Famers (Grover Cleveland Alexander, Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton), with all three of them doing it multiple times. Alexander did it the most, as he won the title five times, with two of them as he won the pitching equivalent of the triple crown, followed by Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton, who have both won the title four times, with Carlton also performing the pitching triple crown. The other four have won it only once. Two of the Phils were tied for the lead in wins when they won the title, Jumbo Elliott in a three-way tie in 1931, and Roberts, when he was tied with Warren Spahn in 1953. Alexander had the most wins, when he won the title with 33 wins in 1916, which is still a team record, while Elliott and John Denny won the title with the least wins as the two recorded only 19 wins in 1931 and 1983, respectively. Phils’ pitchers have led the NL sixteen times in the 20th Century and have, so far, only done it once in the 21st Century.
Who might be the next Phil starter to lead the NL in victories? It could be any of their four major starters, as three of them (Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee) have all already lead either league in wins.
When we have last seen Kid Gleason, he has just been traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the New York Giants after the 1895 season. Gleason is made team captain after the trade. During his first season with the Giants, 1896, he would go 162 for 541 in 133 games, tied for the team lead with Mike Tiernan and George Van Haltren, compling a batting average of .299, with a slugging percentage of .372 and an on-base percentage of .352. He would that year knock in 89 runs while scoring 79. He would have 17 doubles, 5 triples and 4 home runs, walk 42 times, strike out 13, steal 46 bases and be hit by the pitch two times. This is presently the last season for when his strike out totals are known. From 1888 to 1896, Gleason is known to have struck out 131 times. After that, his strike out totals are unknown. The following year, 1897, would be his best season as a regular. Playing in 131 games, the team leader in that category, mainly at second base, Gleason would go 172 for 540 for a .319 batting average, with a slugging percentage of .369 and an on-base percentage of .353. He would have 16 doubles, 4 triples and 1 home run, knocking in 106 runs while scoring 85. Gleason would walk 26 times, steal 43 bases and be hit by the pitch three times. In 1898, his batting average would drop to .221, along with a slugging percentage of .253 and an on-base percentage of .278, as he would go 126 for 570 in 150 games. Gleason would record only 8 triples and 5 doubles, getting just 62 RBIs while scoring 78 runs. He would walk 39 times, steal 21 bases and be hit six times. The following season, 1899, Gleason’s average would rise to .264, along with a slugging percentage of .302 and an on-base percentage of .293, as he would go 152 for 576 in 146 games. He would hit 14 doubles and 4 triples, collect 24 walks and steal 29 bases. In 1900, his last year as a Giant, Gleason’s average would drop again, as he would hit .248, with a slugging percentage of .295 and an on-base percentage of .280, as he would go 104 for 420 in only 111 games. He would get 11 doubles, 3 triples and 1 home run, along with 17 walks, as he would steal 23 bases while being hit twice.
Before the start of the 1901 season, Gleason would jump to the upstart American League, becoming the Detroit Tigers’ first starting second baseman. During the season, he would play in 135 games, going 150 for 547 with a .274 batting average, a .364 slugging percentage and a .327 on-base percentage. He would hit 16 doubles, 12 triples and three home runs, as he knocked in 75 RBIs while scoring 82 runs. Gleason would also walk 41 times while stealing 32 bases and being hit twice. He would be tied for the team lead in most games played with Jimmy Barrett, while being the team leader in at-bats and triples. In his second season as a Tiger, Gleason’s batting average would drop to .247, with a .297 slugging percentage and a .292 on-base percentage as he would go 109 for 441 in 118 games. He would hit 11 doubles, four triples and one home run, knocking in 38 runners while crossing the plate 42 times, as he would also walk 25 times, steal 17 bases and be hit three times. After peace was made between the American and National Leagues, the Tigers would, on March 2, 1903, trade Gleason to the Giants for Heinie Smith. But, at some point between then and the start of the 1903 regular season, Gleason would be let go by the Giants, and then rejoined his old team, the Phillies, now as their starting second baseman.
During his first season back as a Phil, Gleason’s batting average rebounded as he would go 117 for 412 in 106 games for a .284 average, with a .367 slugging percentage and a .326 on-base percentage. Kid would collect 19 doubles, six triples and 1 home run, knocking in 49 RBIs while scoring 65 runs, as he also walked 23 times, stole 12 bases and was hit by the pitch three times. The next year, 1904, he would appear in 153 games, going 161 for 587 for a .274 batting average, a .334 slugging percentage and a .319 on-base percentage. Gleason would get 23 doubles and six triples, as he knocked in 42 RBIs while crossing the plate 61 times, as he also walked 37 times, stole 17 bases and was hit twice. In that season, he would lead the Phillies in games played, at-bats and hits. 1905 would see the start of a slow decline, as Gleason, although playing in 155 games, would only go 150 for 608 as his battling average slides to .247, with a .303 slugging percentage and a .302 on-base percentage. He would get 17 doubles, 7 triples and 1 home run, as he would knock in 50 RBIs while scoring 95 runs. He would walk 45 times, while stealing 16 bases, and be hit by the pitch three times. Gleason would lead the club in at-bats while being tied with Ernie Courtney and Sherry Magee for the most games played. The following season, 1906, as he played in 136 games, he would only go 112 for 494 for a .227 batting average, a .269 slugging percentage and a .281 on-base percentage. Gleason would hit 17 doubles and two triples, knocking in 34 RBIs while scoring 47 runs. He would walk only 36 times while stealing 17 bases and being hit two times. In 1907, he would appear in just 36 games, going 18 for 126 for a .143 average, a .167 slugging percentage and a .200 on-base percentage, as he would hit only three doubles and six RBIs while scoring just 11 times. He would also receive just seven walks and steal only three bases. In his last year as a Phil, 1908, he would appear in just two games, going 0 for 1 with a .000 batting average. Between 1908 and 1911, Gleason would be in the minors, acting mainly as a player-manager, before being signed by the Chicago White Sox as a coach.
His first year as a coach, 1912, would also be the last time he would make an appearance on the field, as he would play in one game at second base, going 1 for 2 for a .500 batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
During his twenty-two years as a pitcher and a player, Gleason would play in 1966 ballgames, going 1944 for 7452 for a career .261 batting average, a .317 slugging percentage and a .311 on-base percentage. He has a career total of 216 doubles, 80 triples, 15 home runs, 823 RBIs, 1020 runs scored, 500 walks, 328 stolen bases and been hit by the pitch 38 times, as he becomes one of the few players in major league history to play in four difference decades (1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s).
As the coach of the White Sox, starting in 1912, he watch the team land in fourth place in 1912, fifth in 1913, and sixth in 1914, before watching it rise to third place in 1915, second in 1916 and first place in 1917. In the 1917 World Series, the White Sox would face the National League Champion, the New York Giants, in a best of seven series. The White Sox would win the World Series over the Giants, 4-2, becoming the baseball champs for 1917, with him be given credit for much of the White Sox’s success that season. (Here is a graphic showing the 1917 pennant race: http://www.baseballrace.com/races/MLB-1917-AL-Normal.asp) The following season, Gleason would be dropped as the team’s coach. He would watch the White Sox drop down to sixth place during the war shortened season of 1918. Gleason would be called back by White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey, who would make him the team’s manager for the 1919 season.
I will continue Gleason’s story with the third and final part, which will look at the 1919 season, Gleason managerial career at the Black Sox Scandal and his years as a coach for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet.org, The Delaware Valley Rhythm & Blues Society, Inc. (DVRBS.com), BaseballRace.com