Phillies history: Top ten seasons by role players since 1980
All successful teams need a strong bench. We take a look back and the most successful seasons for a Phillies role player since the 1980 World Series season.
During a major-league season, the starting eight get the most headlines. The stars must shine to advance the team to their ultimate goal. However, without a strong bench who can give the starters a rest, enter during critical situations and fill-in when injury strikes, a team will struggle to contend. With the starting point at 1980 during the Phillies first World Series title, we take a look at the top seasons for Phillies role players.
Note that the criteria I used are not based on games played but at-bats. All players on this list had between 200 and 400 plate appearances. Less than 200 and the player likely didn’t have a significant enough impact on the team, and more than 400 generally is for starters or nearly full-time players.
1980 – Lonnie Smith
Smith appeared in 34 games combined in 1978 and 1979 and was officially a rookie in 1980. On the roster the entire season, Smith saw limited action over the first two months of the season. With veteran left fielder Greg Luzinski struggling through the worst season of his career, Smith began to see more playing time and contributed in a big way, appearing in 85 of the Phillies last 117 games.
Utilizing his speed, Smith stole 33 bases and legged out four triples. He hit .339 with 69 runs scored, 14 doubles and 26 walks. At the top of the order, he posted an impressive .397 on-base percentage and .840 slugging percentage. Smith was third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting despite having only 298 at-bats. He was also a key component off the bench in the post-season, going 8-for-24 in nine games.
1983 – Joe Lefebvre
Lefebvre was in his fourth major-league season as a 27-year-old in 1983. The Phillies acquired Lefebvre in late May, and he fit in nicely as the youngster on a team of veterans known as the “Wheeze Kids.” A very versatile left-handed batter who could fill in at any outfield position, third base or catcher in a pinch, Lefebvre proved his worth in a big way.
Never a full-time major-league player, Lefebvre had a career season off the bench in 1983, hitting .310 with 20 doubles, eight triples, and eight home runs in 258 at-bats. His .388 on-base percentage, .543 slugging percentage, and .930 OPS were all career highs.
Lefebvre never matched that success again, hitting .250 in 160 at-bats in 1984. He missed the 1985 season due to injury and had only 18 at-bats with the Phillies in 1986 before retiring.