Phillies: Jonathan Papelbon was in right place at wrong time

Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was in the right place at the wrong time

The start to former Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon‘s career was filled with much success.

In seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox, from 2005 to 2011, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native  earned four All-Star nods; in 2007, not only did Papelbon earn Delivery Man of the Year honors for his 1.85 ERA and 37 saves, he helped the Red Sox defeat the Colorado Rockies for their second World Series championship in four seasons.

Overall, in the right-hander’s Boston tenure, he recorded a 2.33 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, and 219 saves — the latter of which ranks as the most in franchise history.

Then following the 2011 season, Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. In just three-plus seasons, he would set their franchise record in saves as well (123).

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But, Papelbon’s reputation in Philadelphia never came close to what he was revered for in Boston. While Papelbon had much success on the mound, posting a combined 2.31 ERA and 1.022 WHIP in red pinstripes from 2012 to his July 2015 trade to the Washington Nationals — in exchange for Nick Pivetta — it was his vocal actions off the field that ultimately still overshadows how he is perceived among Phillies fans today.

But, had Papelbon pitched with the team during its 2007-11 playoff window, or even now under Joe Girardi in better times, perhaps his narrative as a Phillie would be much better. His dedication for the game never lacked. His mentality toward each game is what Phillies fans would want to see out of every player.

Papelbon was simply in the right place, at the wrong time.

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The 2020 Phillies bullpen could surely use a reliever like Papelbon was in his prime. Their 6.93 bullpen ERA currently ranks as the third-worst in baseball, trailing only the Chicago Cubs (7.30) and Cincinnati Reds (7.24). Also, the Phillies bullpen’s 8.39 K/9 ratio is the eighth-worst, and its 1.82 HR/9 ratio is the fourth-worst.

Papelbon recorded 808 strikeouts in 725 2/3 innings in his career. He allowed just 57 home runs.

Sure, Papelbon and Bryce Harper probably would not have gotten along in Philadelphia — as they infamously got into an altercation as Washington Nationals teammates — but perhaps it was Papelbon’s dreary years finishing at the bottom of the standings as a Phillie what led up to the incident. The Nationals weren’t all that great then, either.

It would have been interesting to see Papelbon on a contending Phillies team, for sure.