In Major League Baseball (or any professional sports league, really) there are stars, good players, and players who are merely average. There are also those who barely hang on and/or bounce around, the journeymen and "replacement level" players who can at least say they made The Show even if they weren't exactly memorable to the masses.
A select few, however, are able to achieve some degree of success in one season and one season only, never to repeat it again before fading away. In the dense history of the Philadelphia Phillies, there are many names to choose from that fall into this last category.
These are their stories.
Rather than ranking them all against one another based on how good the season in question was or how unlikely of an outlier it might have been, we'll take a chronological look at these seasons and work toward present day. We'll also be skipping over a large chunk of Phillies history that the vast majority of today's fans weren't alive to see and focusing in on the past 50 years or so, because it's usually more fun to be able to say "Hey, I remember that guy!"
Wayne Twitchell, 1973
Highly touted out of high school, the huge right-hander was taken third overall by the Astros in the 1966 draft, but he never signed with them, and his rights were purchased from Houston by the Brewers after the 1969 season. He saw all of 1 2/3 innings pitched for Milwaukee in 1970 before the Phillies traded for him on the day before the 1971 season started, just as the Phils were set to open Veterans Stadium.
Spending most of the campaign in the minors, Twitchell wouldn't make his Phillies debut until September of that year, getting into six games. His big break would come the following season, as he appeared in 49 games (15 starts) and looked like a reliable arm for that infamously bad 1972 team. Then, in 1973, it all came together for him.
Twitchell started the 1973 season in a middle relief role, but he worked his way into the rotation by the middle of May, and he never let up. In June, he threw four straight complete games (two shutouts) to run his record to 6-2 with a 1.92 ERA. His ERA remained under 2.00 past July 4, and his efforts earned him an All-Star selection. He pitched the sixth inning of that game. After allowing a leadoff double to John Mayberry (yes, John Mayberry, Jr's dad), he struck out Reggie Jackson and then retired Delaware native Dave May and Bobby Murcer to complete a scoreless inning.
Twitchell's fine work continued in the second half of the year, and he finished the 1973 season with a 13-9 record and a 2.50 ERA. He was just 25 years old, and it seemed like the Phillies had a rotation fixture, but it wasn't meant to be, as a collision at first base ended his season early and set off a string of injuries and ineffectiveness that he would battle over the next few years.
He put up a 5.21 ERA in 1974 and a 4.45 mark in 1975. He was used sparingly in a bullpen role in 1976 with good results, but the writing was on the wall, and Twitchell was shipped to the Expos in 1977. He'd have stops with the Mets and Mariners in subsequent years, and he was out of the big leagues by 1979. Wayne Twitchell, one of the unlikeliest and most forgotten Phillies all-stars ever, died in 2010.