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February 08, 2024

Ranking the best Phillies third basemen ever

Mike Schmidt and then what?

Phillies MLB
Scott-Rolen-Phillies-third_020724_USAT SIPA/USA Today Sports

Where does Scott Rolen rank among Phillies all-time third basemen?

Over the last few winters, we've passed the time by ranking things. We ranked every Eagles player, and Sixers player by position while also throwing in some other lists that weren't quite as fun.

For the next two weeks, leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater for the 2024 Phillies, we decided to take a look at each position in the Phillies storied 100+ year history and come up with a list of the all-time greats at each position.

We're going to limit our lists to 10 (with a few extra mentions) in part because there have been more than 2,000 different players to appear in at least one game for the Phillies. But we did look at everybody.

Ranking Phillies

C 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF | RF | SP | RP | Manager

Continuing with third base, we had a few requirements. The player had to have started at the position for at least three seasons in Philadelphia and their statistical and cultural impact were both weighed when making these rankings.

Before we dive into our top 10, here's a look at a handful of third basemen that either didn't qualify, or make the cut talent-wise:

Alec Bohm456.276/.325/.406
Maikel Franco656102 HR in 6 yrs
Pedro Feliz291'08 WS starter
Milt Stock474.271/.324/.340
Hans Lobert497.293/.357/.400

Many of the infielders above are names not household names, and for consistent contributions as a third baseman, the players we ranked below are the gold standard. 

1. Mike Schmidt (1972-89)

.267/.380/.527 | 548 HR, 1,595 RBI | 3 MVP, 12 All-Star, 10 Gold Glove, 6 Silver Slugger, 1980 World Series Champion, Hall of Famer

Shamus Clancy: Not just the best Phillies third baseman ever, the best third baseman to ever play the game straight up. Easy. 

2. Scott Rolen (1996-02)

.282/.373/.504 | 150 HR, 559 RBI | Rookie of the Year, All-Star, 4 Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Hall of Famer

Shamus: A polarizing figure in Philly still more than two decades later given his acrimonious departure from the team, Rolen was damn good. An elite fielder and a very good hitter, he was the shining light for the dark days of the organization post 1993 and before the Golden Age Era. Rolen's age-23 season in 1998 where he had a .923 OPS with 31 homers while picking up his first Gold Glove likely had Philadelphians thinking he was the next Schmidty. Alas. Rolen made his way to Cooperstown deservedly, but his place in this city will always be an odd one despite his accomplishments. 

3. Dick Allen (1963-69, 75-76)

.290/.371/.530 | 204 HR, 655 RBI | Rookie of the Year, 3 All-Star

Evan Macy: No idea how this guy isn't a Hall of Famer. When you combine his performance in Philly with his MVP and four All-Star appearances with other teams, he's got a really good case both on the field and at the plate. He played all over the place but had over 600 games plated at third, which is where he played the majority of his time in Philly.

4. Plácido Polanco (2002-05, 10-12)

.289./.341/.398 | 51 HR, 281 RBI | All-Star, Gold Glove

Shamus: Polanco spent his first stop in Philly, acquired in the Scott Rolen trade with St. Louis, playing second base and blocking the development of Chase Utley. He was good! Polanco returned to the Fightins during their dominant playoff runs at the turn of the 2010s, manning the hot corner. He made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove on the 2011 Phillies that won a franchise-best 102 games. 

5. Willie Jones (1947-59)

.289./.341/.398 | 51 HR, 281 RBI | 2 All-Star

Evan: The best thing, at least to me, about Jones is his nickname was "Puddin Head" which came from a popular song in the 1930s. He started the 1950 season with hits in 16 straight games, a franchise record broken by Bryson Stott this past year. 

6. Dave Hollins (1990-95, 02)

.257/.361/.434 | 67 HR, 273 RBI | All-Star

Shamus: Some playoff numbers for Hollins... during the Phillies' 1993 NLCS win over Atlanta, Hollins had an OPS of .910 while hitting two home runs and totaling 11 bases. Clutch. Hollins was one of four Phillies to make the All-Star team during that pennant-winning '93 campaign.

7. Pinky Whitney (1928-33, 36-39)

.307/.357/.432 | 69 HR, 734 RBI | All-Star

Evan: Whitney was arguably the best player on some of the worst Phillies teams in history. His squad lost 100+ games multiple times during his stint in the city.

8. Merril May (1939-43)

.275/.354/.337 | 4 HR, 215 RBI | All-Star

Evan: May, ironically, was also nicknamed Pinky (carrying the mantle after Whitney left town). He was a good third baseman and went on to be a player manager in the Eastern League in the 1940s before a 30 year career as a minor league manager.

9. David Bell (2003-06)

.258/.331/.385 | 38 HR, 209 RBI 

Shamus: Bell is here more so because of his competition than because of his own play. Phillies fans everywhere were thrilled when J.T. Realmuto hit for the cycle last season, taking away Bell's distinction of being the most recent Phillie to hit for the cycle. Bell improbably hit .195 in 85 games during his first season in Philly. Great stuff. 

10. Joe Mulvy (1884-89, 92)

.259/.281/.343 | 18 HR, 350 RBI

Evan: Mulvy was born in 1858 — before the Civil War — and he played for the same Philadelphia Phillies that Bryce Harper plays for. That in and of itself is pretty amazing. He still holds the record for errors by a third baseman in a single game with six.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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