Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt: Best Phillies Trio Ever?

hamels 0504 2010.jpgInterest in this week’s Braves series turned from 10 to 11 after the Phillies shuffled their rotation to have Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt face Atlanta.

They’re the Big Three.

They might be the Biggest Three in Phillies history.

Has there been a better trio of starting pitchers on any team since the Phillies joined the NL in 1883? I explored that in a story for MLB.com, which can be found here.

I could not find one, and I asked around. There were great duos. Robin Roberts had Curt Simmons. Jim Bunning had Chris Short. Grover Cleveland Alexander had Eppa Rixey. Steve Carlton had Jim Lonborg, Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and John Denny in different seasons. But none of them had what the 2010 Phillies have:

- Three pitchers with incredible resumes and reputations. Halladay is a former Cy Young winner, who dominated the American League East for years before he joined the Phillies. He is a good candidate for the Hall of Fame, according to Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame tests. Oswalt has been one of the top pitchers in the National League for years. He is a two-time, 20-game winner who earned 2005 NLCS MVP honors. Hamels is the youngest pitcher of the bunch, but he earned 2008 World Series and MVP honors.
- Three pitchers pitching at their peaks.
- Three pitchers who could be aces anywhere else.

For example: Alexander pitched with Rixey for a few seasons. Both are Hall of Famers, but it was early in Rixey’s career. He broke out in 1916, when he went 22-10 with a 1.85 ERA. But the third starter that season was Al Demaree, who was not considered anything special. He certainly couldn’t lead a pitching staff, like Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. I found similar situations with other Phillies aces like Roberts, Bunning, Carlton and Curt Schilling.

There have been seasons where the Phillies have had good years from three starters, but the third starter (and sometimes even the second starter) was a one-year wonder, before his prime or after his prime. Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels are not that.

Agree? Disagree? Be curious to see which trio you would take over the Big Three.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

13 Comments

Are they better than Jurrgens, Minor and Hanson?

Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Is CBP sold out this week?

Totally off-topic, but what happened during the seventh inning of Saturday’s game when the umpires stopped the game and consulted with somebody from the grounds crew?

Todd, you the man! Thanks for both of these articles. I’ve been throwing this out there the past few weeks and it’s awesome to read some actual research on the subject.

Just as a point of interest, the 1950 NL champions had Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons and … Jim Konstanty. Konstanty was, of course, a reliever (his 74 appearances set a record that year, with 74), but he started Game One of the World Series and allowed but four hits in eight innings.
So, in a very weak sense, he was a starter…. (but this is in no way whatsoever a correction to your post.)

I sure home Jurrgens starts tonight and not Brandon Beachy as rumored – we all know how the Phillies fare against first time starters or those they’ve never seen before.

Frank Wren on XM radio just confirmed that Beachy will start tonight instead of Jurrgens.

Has there been a better trio of starting pitchers on any team since the Phillies joined the NL in 1883? Yes. Maddux, Glavine & Smolz for the Braves in the 1990′s.
Now if you meant Has there been a better trio of starting pitchers on any Phillies team since the Phillies joined the NL in 1883?”, then no.

The Phillies best top three for any year was Grover Cleveland Alexander, Eppa Rixey, and Al Demaree in 1916. I know, I know, AL Demaree is not exactly a household name in Philadelphia baseball lore but he was 19-14 in 1916 which when combined with Alexander’s 33-12 and Rixey’s 22-10 makes this trio 71-36 for the year. What about ERA? What about ERA? the sabremetricans in the back of the room shout out. Well for Alexander, Rixey and Demaree in 1916, the ERAs were 2.77, 3.53, and 3.80, respectively. And, drum roll please, these guys pitched a combined 961 innings. At 9 innings a slice, this is the equivalent of 40 more complete games than are illustrious trio of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels. As my old walking buddy, Harry Truman use to say, “Son the only thing new is the history you haven’t heard about”.

Typical Frillies game. Some moron Frilly fan runs on the field. It took Matt Diaz to even catch him. Are your security guys all 5’8″ and 300 lbs or better?

Knew that was coming from the casual Braves fan. Nothing about pitching and DEE-fense.
Hey billreef, why won’t the Braves pitch to the fat slob?

The last staff to ever have four (4) twenty game winners – ’71 Orioles pitchers Palmer, McNally, Cuellar and Dobson were arguably the best staff in modern history. This is also a record that will probably never be matched again in baseball.

Games, Innings pitched, Wins, Losses, ERA, SO

Mike Cuellar 38 292.1 20 9 3.08 124
Pat Dobson 38 282.1 20 8 2.90 187
Jim Palmer 37 282.0 20 9 2.68 184
Dave McNally 30 224.1 21 5 2.89 91

The answer to this question is kinda easy The combined totals of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz in 1995 were an ERA of 2.61. Dead smack in the middle of Johnny Juice and the Bash Brothers era. Maddux’s ERA was ERA was 1.63 while the league average was 4.18. The Braves 3 had an ERA of 1.57 below the league average.

The 71 Orioles top 3 had an ERA of 2.72 while the league average was 3.46. These 3 Orioles were only .74 below the league average.

This year’s Phillies top 3. Current combined ERA is 2.78. League average is 4.06. The difference is 1.28. Ooops.

The Braves 1995 Top 3 win this in a walk, not to mention the fact that they won the WS, going 11-3 in the playoffs a feat neither the 1971 O’s or the Fills have accomplished. Not to mention the fact that ALL 3 will be 1st ballot HOFer’s.

Reef, finally a decent post from you. I will even grant you that the Braves top 3 of the ’80′s were, so far, more dominating then the Phillies top 3 this year. However, you have to be pretty proupd of the fact that you are now 4 games back and now have to face Halladay and Oswalt. Let me know what it feels like to be 6 back, I forget.

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