2. Darren Daulton, Phillies 1983, 85-97
Darren Daulton was a Phillies lifer right up until the second half of his final MLB season in 1997, though his best years were clustered in the middle.
Drafted in the 25th round of the 1980 draft, Daulton was a more unexpected success than Bob Boone, who’d been a sixth-round pick in 1969. He was never a Gold Glove catcher like his predecessor, but he was also a better hitter than his Boone.
In 2008, Jim Fregosi noted:
"“Talent-wise, Boonie played on much better teams, which allowed him to be able to just catch and play defense and not swing the bat. But Dutch didn’t just catch every day. He also hit fourth in the lineup and had to carry the offense. Longevity and career-wise, there’s no question Boone had a better career. But in a short period of time, Dutch was the guy. I’d take Dutch because of his leadership qualities and the offensive player he became.”"
Daulton was a three-time All-Star between 1992-95, and led the NL with 109 RBI in 1992, winning his first and only Silver Slugger award. He’s one of only four catchers in MLB history to lead their league in RBI (Roy Campanella, Gary Cater, Johnny Bench), and none have done so since.
During the Phillies’ 1993 pennant season, Daulton again drove in 100+ RBI and hit 24 home runs. His 117 walks that year are tied for eighth-most by a Phillie in any season in franchise history. 1992-93 were his only seasons of 20+ HR, 100+ RBI baseball.
In 12 postseason games in 1993, Daulton never made an error. He had 85 putouts and seven assists in 92 chances. He also hit a pair of home runs, three doubles, scored six times and drove in seven runs.
Unfortunately, knee injuries seriously impacted the remaining years of Daulton’s career, and it got worse from there. His post-baseball life was marred by multiple DUIs and an arrest for battering his wife. He spent time in jail and rehab, battling his demons.
In 2013, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma – which claimed the life of Phillies catcher Tug McGraw – and required brain surgery. His cancer returned in 2017, and he passed away at 55.