Phillies Best Individual Seasons By Number (21 – 30)
Two Phillies Wall of Famers continue the list
24 – Mike Lieberthal (1999)
A first-round pick by the Phillies in 1990 out of Westlake High School in California, Lieberthal worked his way through the Minor League system until making his Major League debut in June 1994. After 24 games that season, Lieberthal played much of 1995 in the minors.
Benito Santiago was in the way of Lieberthal starting in 1996, limiting him to 50 games as a backup with seven home runs. Getting his shot in 1997, Lieberthal showed a glimpse of the power potential, going deep 20 times in 455 at-bats. He clearly slumped in 1998, hitting only eight home runs in a little over 300 at-bats.
The 1999 season was Lieberthal’s best and it really came out of nowhere. He recorded 33 doubles and belted a career-best 31 home runs with 96 RBI and a .300 average. Lieberthal also showed stellar work behind the plate, earning his first Gold Glove Award. His production earned him the first of his only two All-Star appearances.
A torn MCL and ACL while on the bases limited Lieberthal to 34 games in 2001, but he played four more seasons with the Phillies. Although never again approaching his 1999 numbers, Lieberthal was solid offensively and stout behind the plate.
Lieberthal finished his career with the Dodgers, playing a single season as a backup. He retired with 150 home runs, 1,155 RBI and a .270 average.
25 – Jim Thome (2003)
Thome began his Major League career playing in 27 games with the Indians as a 20-year old in 1991. He didn’t see a great deal of playing time with the Indians until 1993 when he belted 20 home runs in 321 at-bats over 98 games.
Just two seasons later Thome began a 10-year streak of at least 30 home runs per season, becoming one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball. During that stretch, he also walked at least 100 times eight years and knocked in at least 100 runs nine times. Thome made three consecutive All-Star teams in the late 1990s and began the best power stretch of his career starting in 2001, launching 49.
The 2002 season was arguably Thome’s best, blasting 52 home runs, with a league-leading 122 walks, .677 slugging percentage, and 1.122 OPS. He was granted free agency following the season and signed with the Phillies shortly afterward.
Thome immediately became a crowd favorite and had a tremendous 2003 season, leading the National League in home runs with 47, while knocking in 131 with 111 walks. His efforts earned him fourth place vote for NL MVP. Thome followed that with a 42 home run, 105 RBI All-Star season including his 400th home runs, which could have also made the list.
Injuries held Thome to only seven home runs in 59 games in 2005 and he was traded to the White Sox in November for Aaron Rowand. After a successful run with the White Sox, Thome made stops in Los Angeles, Minnesota, Cleveland, back with the Phillies and Baltimore before retiring with 612 home runs.