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.
In the team’s 128 years history, the Phils would win 90 games or more only fourteen times.
The team has won 100 games or more only twice in its history, as they would win 101 games twice. The first time occurred in 1976, when the team would win 101 games, losing only 61, as they would win the first of three straight NL Eastern Division titles, before losing to the World Champions Cincinnati Reds 3-0 in the NL Championship Series. They would duplicate that record the following year, 1977, as they would win their second straight NL Eastern Division crown, before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, 3-1.
Their third highest victory total would be 97 games, which they would do twice. The first time would occur in 1993, when they would unexpectively win the Eastern Division that season with a record of 97-65, then win the NL title by defeating the National League Champions Braves in the NL Championship Series, 4-2, before finally falling to the World Champions Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series, 4-2. They would then duplicate the record this year as they would win their fourth straight NL Eastern Division crown, the first time that they would do that in the team’s history, before defeating the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Divisional Series, 3-0, and then losing to the San Francisco Giants in the NL Championship Series, 4-2.
The fifth best team was the 1899 Phillies, who finished that season in third place with a 94-58 record, the team’s best record for the 19th Century, ending up nine games behind the first place Brooklyn Superbas. The sixth best team was the 2009 team which finished with a record of 93-69, winning the team’s third straight Eastern Division title, doing so for the second time in the team’s history, before defeating the Colorado Rockies in the Divisional Series, 3-1, then beating the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, 4-1, winning the team’s second straight NL title, doing so for the first time in the team’s history, before losing their World Series crown to the American League Champions New York Yankees in the World Series, 4-2.
The next two teams ended up with identical records of 92-70, giving them both the seventh best winning total. The first one was the 1964 team, the one that had the most infamous late season collapse in baseball history, until the Mets team of 2007. That team would end up being tied for second place with the Reds, a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The other team to win 92 games was the 2008 Phils, who would win their second straight Eastern Division title, before defeating first the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Divisional Series, 3-1, then the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, 4-1, and then the American League Champions Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, 4-1, winning the team’s second World Championship.
The team with the ninth best record was the 1980 Phils, who ended the season with a record of 90-72, finishing first in the Eastern Division, before first defeating the Houston Astros in the NL Championship Series, 3-2, then defeating the American League Champions Kansas City Royal, 4-2, winning the team’s first World Championship. The tenth best team was the 1916 team which ended the season with a 91-62, finishing in second place, two and a half-games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The eleventh team to win at least 90 games was the 1950 ‘Whiz Kid’ who won the pennant in 1950 with record of 91-63, only to lose the World Series to the World Champions Yankees, 4-0. The twelfth team was the 1915 team, which won the Phils’ first National League pennant with a record of 90-62, only to lose the World Series to the Boston Red Sox, 4-1. The final two teams would end up with identical records of 90-72. The first one was the 1978 team, which won the National League Eastern Division title, the third straight for the team, doing so for the first time in the team’s history, before losing the NL Championship Series to the National League Champions Dodgers, 3-1. The fourteenth, and final team, with 90 or more wins, was the 1983 team, nicknamed the ‘Wheeze Kids’, who would win the NL East, then defeat the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, 3-1, before losing the World Series to the American League Champions Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.
Will the 2011 team become the fifteen team to win 90 games or more? Maybe, maybe not, but we won’t know for sure until next year comes and goes.