Philadelphia Phillies – Year 7: Dropping back down to fourth place.
The Phillies would begin their seventh year of existance trying to rebound from the previous season drop in the standings, as their manager, Harry Wright, would begin his sixth season as the Phillies’ skipper.
As the Phillies continue to play their home games in their home ballpark, the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds, change is in the air in the National League as the league would be in a constant state of flux that will last the next several years. Early in the 1888 off-season, the Detroit Wolverine franchise would fold, it place in the National League to be taken by the American Association Cleveland Blues, who would soon change their name to the Cleveland Spiders. The league would then adopt a five-tier salary structure which would help to determine how much each player is paid. This move by the owners would have repercussions within two years, as it would lead to the Players’ revolt of 1890. Early in 1889, the National League would take control of the debt-ridden Indianapolis Hoosiers before an ownership group would finally take contol of the franchise. The Phillies’ opponents for the new season, besides the new Spiders and the Hoosiers, under new management, would be the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Nationals, the Alleghenys, and the White Stockings.
The Phillies would begin the 1889 regular season on Wednesday, April 24, against the Nationals in Washington, which the Phillies would win, 8-4, putting them in a tie for first place with the Beaneaters, the Hoosiers and the Alleghenys. The Phillies would then go home for a twenty-eight games home stand against all of their rivals, where they would play four straight four-games series with the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Nationals, the White Stockings, a two-games series with the Hoosiers, two straight four-games series with the Spiders and the Alleghenys and finally a second two-games series with the Hoosiers, which would last through the entire month of May. The Phillies would end April by splitting the first two games of their four-games series with the Beaneaters, losing 8-3, and then winning 7-6, ending April with a 2-1 record, in third place, trailing both the Giants and the Alleghenys by half a game.
The Phillies would begin May the same way they had ended April, by splitting the last two games of their four-games series with Boston, ending the series with a 2-2 record, while staying in third place as they now trailed the first place Giants by a game and a half. In their four-game series with their rival, the Giants, the Phillies would take three of the four games, including 9-4 and 11-2 victories in the first two games of the series, before being clobbered 13-9 in the series’ third game, putting them in a first place tie with the Beaneaters, half a game ahead of both the now third place Giants and the fourth place Alleghenys. The Phils would then proceed to split their series with the Nationals, which would keep them tied with Boston for first and still half a game ahead of the Giants. The Phils would then win their four-games series with their main western rival, the White Stockings, 3-1, as they fall into second place in the standings, a full game behind the first place Beaneaters. They would then sweep their two games with the Hoosiers, which keep them a game behind Boston in the standings. They would then win the first game of their four-games with the Spiders, giving them a five-games winning streak, before they would lose the next three games, thus losing the series to Cleveland, 1-3, as they fall three and a half games behind Boston, while staying in second place. The Phillies would then rebound, winning the first three games in their four-games series with the Alleghenys, including a doubleheader split on May 30, winning the opener by the score of 13-6, before losing the ‘nightcap’ by the score of 10-6. They would then sweep their second straight doubleheader, this one against the Hoosiers on May 31, by the scores of 11-8 and 11-4, thus ending the home stand with a record of 18-10 and the month with a 17-9 record. Their overall record of 19-10 would keep them in second place, now two and a half games behind the first place Beaneaters.
The Phillies would start off June by playing a four-games series with first place Beaneaters in Boston. The series would be a disaster, as they would lose the first three games in the series by scores of 7-2, 10-6 and 4-2, before leaving Boston with a 5-4 win, which would put the still second place Phils behind Boston by four and a half games. The Phillies would next play two straight three-games series with the Nationals, with the first three to be played in Philadelphia, and then the latter three in Washington, as part of a six-cities, twenty-two-games road trip to New York (2), Chicago (4), Cleveland (4), Pittsburgh (5) and Indianapolis (4), that would take the balance of June and the start of July to complete. The Phillies would win both of their series against the Nationals, going 2-1 both at home and in Washington, which would include a split of their third doubleheader of the season, losing the first game 6-3, and then winning the ‘nightcap’ 7-5. The Phillies would drop down to third place as they head for New York, a game behind the third place Spiders and three and a half games behind league leading Boston. The Phils would end up being swept in New York, which would drop them five and a half games behind the Beaneaters. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where they would split their four-games series with the White Stockings, as they would now trail Boston by eight games, as the Beaneaters would appear to be running away from the rest of the league. The Phillies would next go to Cleveland, visiting the city for the first time since the collapse of the original Cleveland Blues franchise in 1884. The Phillies would end up losing the series to the Spiders, 1-3, which would dropped the Phils into fourth place, still trailing the Beaneaters by eight games, as the Giants would jump over them into third place. The Phils would then go to Pittsburgh, where their losing streak would increase to four games, including a doubleheader lost on June 29 by the score of 3-2 and 8-0. The Phillies would end June with an 8-15 losing record, and an overall record of 27-25, eight and a half games behind Boston in fourth place.
The Phillies would start July by losing the last two games of their series with Pittsburgh, losing the five-games series as their losing streak rises to six games, as they now trail Boston by nine and a half games. The Phillies would finally break their losing streak by winning the first game of their July 4th doubleheader with the Hoosiers, winning by the score of 5-4, before losing the ‘nightcap’ 6-0. They would then split the last two games in Indianapolis, splitting the series, as they would end the road trip with a losing record of 7-15, as they now trailed Boston by nine games, as they stayed a half game ahead of fifth place Chicago. The Phillies would then go back home to begin a seventeen-games home stand with the Hoosiers (3), White Stockings (2), the Spiders (3), the Alleghenys (3), the Giants (3) and the first place Beaneaters (3). The Phillies would start the home stand off with a seven-games winning streak as they would sweep first the Hoosiers, then the White Stockings, before the Spiders would finally end the winning streak by beating the Phils in the final game of their three-games series, 9-4. Their seven games winning streak would place the Phillies six games behind the Beaneaters, before their lost and Boston’s doubleheader sweep of the Hoosiers the next day would push them back to seven and a half games behind. The Phillies would then sweep their series with Pittsburgh and New York, which would put them four and a half game behind Boston as the Beaneaters came to town. The Phillies would proceed to lose the first two games with Boston, thus losing the series, 1-2, as they now trail the first place Beaneaters by five and a half games, as they moved into third place, a half game ahead of the Spiders and two games behind New York, as they end the home stand with a record of 14-3. The Phillies would then go back onto the road for a six-cities, thirteen-games road trip to Boston (2), New York (2), Pittsburgh (2), Cleveland (2), Chicago (3) and Indianapolis (2). The Phillies would start their road trip in Boston, where they would be swept by the Beaneaters, ending the month with a 16-9 record and with an overall record of 43-34, seven and a half games behind Boston, and tied for third place with Cleveland (who have played one game more than the Phils, which ended up as a tie.).
The Phillies would begin August still on the road as they visit rival New York, where they would be swept by the Giants as their losing streak rises to four games, as they fall to eight games behind, technically in third place as they lead the Spiders by .001. The Phillies would then sweep their series with the Alleghenys, before splitting their series with the Spiders, as they now trailed the Beaneaters by six and a half games, while in third place by themselves. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where they would win the series with their western rival, 2-1, before heading on to Indianapolis, where they would split the series with the Hoosiers, ending the road trip with a respectible 6-7 record, seven games behind the Beaneaters, who were now trying to fight off a challenge for first from the Giants. The Phillies then went home for a short three-games series with the Nationals, which the Phillies would win, 2-1, as they now trailed Boston by seven and a half games. The Phillies then went back onto the road for a five-games series in New York, which they would lose to the Giants, 1-4, as they played two straight doubleheaders with them, splitting the first one on August 23, losing the first game, 7-3, before winning the ‘nightcap’ 11-2. They would then be swept in the doubleheader played on the 24, by the scores of 10-8 and 8-3. The Phils would stay in third place, but now trailing Boston by nine and a half games. They would then go home to face the Beaneaters for three games, seeing their losing streak go up to four games, before finally winning the series’ final game, as they lose the series, 1-2, as the Phillies now trailed the Beaneaters by ten and a half games. The Phillies then go back onto the road for three games with the Nationals, where they would lose the series, 0-1-1, tying the series’ middle game by the score of 2-2, as they would end the month with a record of 10-14-1, while having an overall record of 53-48-1, eleven and a half game behind Boston, and a half-game ahead of fourth place Chicago.
In September, the Phils would play a ten-games home stand with the White Stockings (4), the Spiders (3), the Alleghenys (1) and the Hoosiers (2). The Phillies would lose the series with their western rival, the White Stockings, 1-3, which would include a doubleheader split on the 2, losing the first game, 2-1, before winning the ‘nightcap’ 3-2. The series would see the Phillies drop back into fourth place, now twelve and a half games behind both Boston and New York, who were in a mathematical tie for first place, and a game and a half behind now third place Chicago. The Phils would then go on a five-games winning streak, sweeping their series with the Spiders, and then winning their one-game series with the Alleghenys, before splitting their doubleheader with the Hoosiers on the 14, winning the opener, 11-3, then losing the second game, 10-7, thus ending their home stand with a 6-4 record, as they regained third place, now twelve games behind Boston and three and a half games ahead of the fourth place White Stockings. The Phillies would then go to Boston for a three games series, which they would lose to the Beaneaters, 1-2, leaving them still twelve games behind the Beaneaters and the Giants, with the Giants leading by .003. The Phillies then went back home for a five-games series with the Giants, which they would lose 0-4-1, which would include a doubleheader split on the 20, as they would lose the first game, 5-1, then would be tied in the ‘nightcap’, 4-4. The Phillies were now sixteen and a half games behind the Giants, who were now a game ahead of Boston in the pennant race. The Phillies would now go onto the road for the rest of the season, to play eleven games in four cities, with three games in Cleveland, three in Pittsburgh, two in Indianapolis and the final three games of the season in Chicago. The Phillies would win the series in Cleveland, going 2-1, as they now trailed the Giants by seventeen and a half games. The Phils would then go to Pittsburgh, where they would be swept by the Alleghenys, ending the month of September with an 8-14-1 record, while their overall record went to 61-62-2, placing them in a mathematical tie with the White Stockings for third place.
In October, the Phillies would start the month off with a sweep of the Hoosiers, placing them a half game ahead of Chicago as the two teams now fought over third place, while the Phils now trailed both New York and Boston by eighteen games, as those two teams fought for the league’s crown. The Phillies would go to Chicago, and would end the first game in their three-games series in a 5-5 tie. They would then lose the final two games of the season to the White Stockings, ending the month with a record of 2-2-1, while their road trip would end with a record of 4-6-1, as they end the season in fourth place with a record of 63-64-3, a winning percentage of .496, a game and a half behind third place Chicago and twenty and a half games behind the league’s winner, the New York Giants, who would win the pennant on the last day of the regualr season.
The Phillies would play 130 games, with a home-road record of 43-24-1 at home and 20-40-2 on the road. They would play in front of 281,869 fans at home. They would have winning records with only three teams, with their best record being 13-4 against the Hoosiers, while also having losing records against three teams, with their worst being against the Beaneaters at 6-13. They would also have a 9-9 record with the Alleghenys. The Phillies would be 4-10 in shut outs, 17-13 in one-run games, and 21-24 in blowouts.
Offensively, they would end up being around the middle of the pack, ending up second in 2Bs (215), third in stolen bases (269), fourth in at-bats (4695), home runs (44) and batting average (.266), fifth in runs scored (742), hits (1248), on-base percentage (.323) and slugging percentage (.362), seventh in triples (52) and walks (393) and eighth in strike outs (353), as well as knocking in 605 RBIs, while 35 batters were hit by the pitch. Among pitching staffs, the Phils would also be near the middle of the league, as they would lead the league in home runs given up with 33, be third in saves (2) and strikeouts (443), fourth in runs allowed (748), fifth in ERA (4.00), innings pitched (1153), hits allowed (1288) and walks (428), sixth in shut outs (4), and eighth in complete games (106), while finishing twenty-four other games, giving up 512 earned runs, forty-seven wild pitches, and hitting twenty-seven batters.
Among the batters, Sam Thompson would lead the team in batting average (.296), slugging percentage (.492), total plate appearances (575), hits (158), total bases (262), doubles (36), home runs (20), where he was the league leader and RBIs (111), while Jim Fogarty would lead in on-base percentage (.352), runs scored (107), triples (17), walks (65), strikeouts (60), stolen bases (99), also leading the league in that category and hit by the pitch (7), Sid Farrar in games played (130), and Joe Mulvey in at-bats (544) and singles (121). Among the pitchers, Charlie Buffington would lead the pitching staff in ERA (3.24), wins (28), winning percentage (.636), games pitched (47), games started (43), complete games (37), shutouts (2), innings pitched (280), home runs allowed (10), walks (121), wild pitches (15) and batters faced (1661), while Kid Gleason and Ben Sanders would be tied for first with one save each, Sanders would also lead in hits allowed (406), losses (18) and earned runs allowed (138), and Gleason would lead in hit batters (9) and games finished (7). The Phillies would have only one twenty-game winner in 1889, Charlie Buffington, who would go 28-16, as Ben Sanders would just miss it, as he would go 19-18.
With the 1889 season over, the Phillies would have their first losing season since 1884, although staying in the first division for the fifth straight season under Harry Wright’s tenure. As the Phillies once again try to figure out what they would need to do to finally win a pennant, the Giants would face the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association in a post-season playoff, which the Giants would win 6-3, beginning what would become a long standing rivalry between the two clubs, as Brooklyn would join the National League for the following season, along with the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, respectively), as they would replace the just folded Nationals and Hoosiers franchises. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the players’ union, still upset over the restructuring of the players’ salary structure, would formally revolt against the owners with the formation of the Players’ League on December 16. The players’ revolt would within two years have an outcome not expected by any of the players who would join any of the teams in the new league or those who would remain in either the NL or AA, or among the teams’ owners.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Retrosheet.org, Baseball-reference.com