Phillies in 1983 and 2008: A Look Back into the Future

Richard DeLanceyCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2008

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers playing for the National League Pennant is nothing new.  The two teams have battled it out in 1977, 1978, 1983, and now 2008.

The 1983 NLCS ended an era of domination by the Phillies.  From 1976 to 1983 they were one of the winningest organizations in all of baseball. 

Many fans look back fondly on the "Wheeze Kids" season of dreams. How would the 2008 edition of the Fightins' stack up against the Hall of Fame laden squad of 1983?


First Base

This is a tough call. 

The 1983 Phillies started all-time hits leader Pete Rose at first base in game one of the NLCS.  Ryan Howard will get the nod for the 2008 team on Thursday night. 

If you look at the body of work, it is hard to take Howard over Rose.  But remember, 1983 was Rose's Phillies swan song.  While Rose did bat .375 and score three runs in the four games, I believe Howard's power is more important.  So, based on the 1983 and 2008 seasons only, not the total careers of each player, I would say the advantage goes to the 2008 Phillies and Ryan Howard.


Second Base

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan batted leadoff and played second base for the Wheeze Kids.  He batted a paltry .067 in the NLCS.  Like Rose, 1983 was his last real productive year.  Morgan played in 123 games for the Phillies and batted a career low .230 with just 16 home runs. 

Chase Utley on the other hand battled through some injury bugs in 2008 and still batted .292 with 33 home runs.  Therefore, I would choose Chase Utley over the 1983 version of Joe Morgan.


Short Stop

This is an easy one. Ivan DeJesus vs. Jimmy Rollins. Rollins blows away DeJesus in just about every conceivable way. Enough said.


Third Base

Another easy one. The greatest third baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt, crushes poor Pedro Feliz.  Not even Feliz's mother would take him over Schmidt.


Left Field

This is a good competition.  "The Sarge" vs. "Pat the Bat."

Injuries limited Gary Matthews to just 132 games in 1983, a year in which Matthews hit a career low 10 home runs.  Mathews' .258 batting average just slides by Burrell's .250.  Burell, however, drove in 86 runs and 33 homers against Matthew's 50 and 10. 

So, as much as I hate to say it, because the Sarge is one of my all-time favorites, I give Burrell the nod.


Center Field

Gary Maddox against Shane Victorino. 

Maddox played in less than 100 games with the Phillies in 1983.  When he was on the field he batted .275 with an on base percentage of .312.  Victorino batted .293 with an on base percentage of .352.  By 1983, Maddox was slowing down, in 2008 the "Flyin' Hawaiin"  is just hitting his stride.

This is another close call, but I give the edge to Victorino.


Right Field

The battle of the "will anyone remember me" takes place here. 

In case you have forgotten, (I did and had to look it up) Sixto Lezcano started in right field for the Phillies in the 1983 NLCS.  Jayson Werth will probably get the call in game one for this year's edition.  Lezcano was traded to the Phillies at the Aug. 31 postseason deadline from the San Diego Padres for players to be named later. In 18 games with the Phillies he batted .282 and drove in seven runs. 

Jayson Werth is coming off a career year in which he batted .275 with 24 home runs.  As much as I like the name Sixto, I gotta give the start to Werth.



Bo Diaz is going to eek out a victory here for the Wheeze Kids. 

Bo hit 15 homers and batted .236 in 1983.  Carlos Ruiz struggled to a .219 average with just four dingers.  In a battle of people with Zs in their names, Diaz reigns supreme.


Starting Pitching

1983's John Denny, Steve Carlton, and Charles Hudson is a much stronger threesome than 2008's Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Jamie Moyer. 

The 1983's top three combined for 42 wins, which is comparable to 2008's 40.  The real difference comes in the ERA.  Denny, Carlton, and Hudson gave up less than three runs a game (2.94), almost a run per game less than the 2008 squad (3.88).  The advantage is with 1983.


Relief Pitching

This is probably the best debate of them all.  Do you want Al Holland or Brad Lidge closing out the games? 

Holland saved 25 games and won another eight for the 1983 Phillies.  Lidge was a perfect 41 for 41 in save opportunities and picked up two wins for the 2008 team. 

Holland had a 2.56 ERA while Lidge sits at 1.95 in 2008.  Holland pitched 91 innings compared to Lidge's 69.  It's a close call but in the end I'm giving the ball to Holland as my closer.


Who knows what would happen if you could place the 1983 and the 2008 Phillies on the field for a seven-game series. Would Carlton and Denny stifle Howard and Rollins?  Would Schmidt drive Moyer's slow balls into Ashburn Alley?  Would the Hall of Famers smack around the future Hall of Famers.

We will never know for sure, but it is fun to think about.  You've seen my picks. Feel free to let me see yours.


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