A life-long member of the Phillies, is Larry Christenson able to sneak onto the Wall of Fame?
Phillies fans know better than anyone that dominant pitching can make or break a whether or not you play in October. A key player on the Phillies 1980 World Series squad was the right-hander Larry Christenson.
Spending all 11 seasons of his major league career in Philadelphia Christenson worked primarily out of the starting rotation, while occasionally appearing in the bullpen.
Through his 11 years in red pinstripes, Christenson won 83 games and struck out nearly 800 batters. Making his major league debut at the ripe age of 19 Christenson quickly became a consistent commodity for the Phils, pitching a complete game against the Mets in his major league debut. In fact, more than 12% of Christenson’s 220 starts were complete games.
Christenson had four straight seasons with double-digit wins for the Phillies, including 19 in 1977, second on the team only to the NL Cy Young winner Steve Carlton.
Not only could the righty pitch, but he provided a decent bat for the Phillies as well. Christenson hit 13 doubles with 11 home runs while walking 24 times and driving in 46 runs, all despite having less than 500 career at-bats.
Let’s compare Christenson’s stats to other members of the Phillies Wall of Fame.
First off you can not compare Christenson’s numbers to those of his teammate Steve Carlton, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Curt Schilling, a future Hall of Famer in his own right, is the last pitcher to be inducted onto the Wall of Fame. Pitching in just one less game than Christenson over his career in Philadelphia Schilling won 18 more games and made three All-Star teams.
Both Christenson and Schilling had their history pitching in the post-season. Schilling was the MVP of the 1993 National League Championship but blew the World Series opener against Toronto. He made up for it with a complete game shutout in game five, but that first game could have been the difference between a ring and no ring.
Christenson is infamous for possibly the worst post-season start in baseball history for his performance in game four of the 1980 World Series. Dallas Green pulled Christenson after just six batters after the righty allowed four runs on five hits and managed only one out.
While the numbers in the regular season are closer than expected, Schilling wins the comparison battle.
Shockingly the Phillies Wall of Fame features a very few amount of pitchers. Schilling was the first pitcher inducted since Tug McGraw in 1999, and the first starter since Wiz Kid Curt Simmons in 1993.
However, based on the general numbers alone it’s clear that Christenson will not make the Phillies Wall of Fame anytime soon, if ever. Had he won more games as a starter the possibility could have presented itself.
Instead, let’s remember Christenson as an underrated member of the 1980 World Series team that brought a championship to Philadelphia.