Philadelphia Phillies not poised to repeat failure from 1994 season

Cordell Oberholtzer
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with J.T. Realmuto #10 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with J.T. Realmuto #10 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies should be able to avoid repeating their disappointing 1994 season.

When the ball from Joe Carter’s bat disappeared over the left field fence to end the 1993 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, a couple of other things also ended.

The historic home run’s victim — Mitch Williams — never pitched for the Phillies again, as he was traded in the offseason. The other ending was for something that barely began — sustained Phillies success.

While essentially the same roster as the previous year, the 1994 Phillies underperformed. By the time of the mid-August labor stoppage, they were in fourth place with a mediocre 54-61 record.

When we look at the 2022 Phillies, there is one thing we should hope to avoid — that in 30 years, we aren’t still commemorating a fun-loving team that came out of nowhere and had a magical run, only to lose in Game 6 of the World Series due to a late three-run home run by an opponent outfielder. Sound familiar?

When you look up “flash in the pan” in the dictionary, the 1993 Phillies are Exhibit A. Many of those players had career years — such as Lenny Dykstra, Pete Incaviglia, Tommy Greene, Terry Mulholland, and David West. Even guys like Darren Daulton and Dave Hollins paired 1993 with a great 1992 season — and those were their two best years by far.

The stars aligned, and when it was over, the franchise wouldn’t experience October baseball again until 2007.

This Phillies club, on the other hand, appears to have just as much staying power as that 2007 team that tracked down the New York Mets to capture their first division title since 1993. Homegrown talent on the current roster contributed more to the team’s success last year than in 1993. From Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, and Ranger Suárez, the Phillies got great production — each contributed at one point or another during their October run as well.

Like the 1993 season, offseason signings played a huge role — but unlike then, the additions of Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and now Trea Turner are considered long-term assets that will likely contribute for years to come.

Finally, while star power is not required to win a championship (unlike in the NBA), it is a strength that this Phillies version has over the one 30 years ago. When healthy, Bryce Harper is a top-five player, Zack Wheeler is an ace any team would desire, and, until proven otherwise, J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball.

Yes, their best players aren’t homegrown, but that’s not uncommon today. If you want to keep pace with the Mets and Atlanta Braves in the division, you cannot slack as it relates to the hot stove.

It’s easy to look back at the 1994 team and understand why they were not good and could not replicate the previous season’s success. Nobody thinks of the 1994 team as a “bust” and fell below expectations. The 2023 Phillies, however, will not have that luxury. With the lineup that Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld have constructed — as well as their solid rotation and bullpen that continues to be tweaked — the window to win did not end with the 2022 World Series. It has only begun.

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