Phillies History: Top Five Seasons by a Phillie According to WAR
By John Town
No. 5: Pete Alexander’s 1917 Season
There was a three-way tie for the fifth-best Phillies season between Pete Alexander‘s 1917, Lenny Dykstra‘s 1990, and Mike Schmidt‘s 1980 season. I used Baseball Reference’s WAR to break the tie, with Alexander coming out on top. If you don’t like it, sue me.
Pitchers from the early 20th century have a distinct advantage in this form of list because WAR is a volume stat rather than being averaged out. Alexander appeared in 45 or more games and pitched more than 300 innings each season he was a Phillie (excluding his return to Philadelphia in his age-43 season).
Alexander posted nine wins above replacement in 1917 to lead all pitchers that year. He didn’t lead all players as Ty Cobb had 11.5 fWAR and Rogers Hornsby had 9.5 that same year. It wasn’t called the Golden Era of baseball for nothing.
Alexander dominated the leaderboards in 1917. He led the league with 30 wins, a 1.83 ERA, eight shutouts, 200 strikeouts, and a 3.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He did this all while appearing in 45 games – starting 44 – and hurling a league-leading 388 innings.
Despite his dominant performance on the mound, Alexander could not and did not receive the Most Valuable Player award that year because there simply wasn’t one. The first MVP award, the Chalmers Award, only lasted from 1911 to 1914, and the next MVP award wasn’t handed out until 1922. Alexander would have likely been one of the contenders, but Cobb or Hornsby would likely have beaten him out.