Best Philadelphia Phillies Catchers in Team History, by WAR [All-Time List!]

The Philadelphia Phillies got their start way back in 1883. The team has had a fascinating history since that time, and some phenomenal catchers have worn Phillies jerseys over the years.

 This post surveys the best Philadelphia Phillies catchers in team history based on both career and single-season Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Keep scrolling to learn more!

A (Very) Brief Overview of Philadelphia Phillies History

The 19th Century Through World War II

The Phillies franchise got its start in 1883. They were first known as the Quakers and shortly after became known as the Phillies, which was short for Philadelphians. 

The team did not have much success on paper for the first few decades of their existence. 

Their primary star in the Phillies' early history was pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was a force to be reckoned with on the mound. In just his rookie season, in 1911, Alexander had 28 wins and 227 strikeouts. 

grover cleveland alexander pitching phillies

Grover Cleveland Alexander warming up while with the Phillies.

In 1915, the Phillies made their first appearance in the World Series, losing to the Boston Red Sox in five games.

Shortly thereafter, the Phillies began a 30 year period where they annually finished at or near the bottom of the National League (NL) about 80 percent of the time during that span.

The Whiz Kids Through the 1980 Championship

After World War II, the Phillies got a number of young, talented players. 

In 1950, the team known as the Whiz Kids made it to the World Series thanks to guys like Richie Ashburn, Curt Simmons and Robin Roberts. Unfortunately for the Phils, they faced Joe DiMaggio's Yankees dynasty in the Series and lost in four straight.

philadelphia phillies whiz kids 1950

Members of the Phillies' famous "Whiz Kids" team.

The Phillies didn't get close to the playoffs the rest of the decade, and in the 60s they only made one serious push at the NL pennant, in 1964. 

In the 70s, the Phillies had a number of really successful teams. They won the NL pennant three consecutive years between 1976 - 1978, and in 1980 they won their first World Series in franchise history.

The 80s Up To Today

The Phillies continued playing above .500 baseball throughout the early 80s, even making it back to the World Series in 1983 (losing to Cal Ripken Jr's Orioles). 

After '83, the Phillies didn't make it back to first place again until 1993. The Phillies had an excellent team that season under the guidance of manager Jim Fregosi. 

Although they made it back to the Series in '93, the Phils ran into the defending champs - the Toronto Blue Jays - and fell victim to one of the most famous World Series walk-off home runs in baseball history. 

While 1993 was the high-water mark for the Phillies of the 90s, the following decade was consistently successful for the club. 

In fact, the Phillies only had two sub .500 seasons that decade (2000 - 2009) and finished that ten-year span with a .525 winning percentage. 

In 2008, the Phillies made it back to the World Series and dominated the Tampa Bay Rays, for Philadelphia’s second championship of all-time. 

phillies 2008 world series victory celebration

The Phillies celebrate their 2008 World Series victory.

The next year, the Phillies made it back to the Series. This time, however, they lost to the New York Yankees

Two years after the 2009 World Series, the Phillies won a franchise-record 102 regular season games. That season (2011) was the last time the Phils finished first in the NL East. Between 2012 and 2020, they never finished higher than third place in the division. 

In 2021, the Phillies were in contention for much of the season, ultimately finishing second in the NL East behind the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves

As of the date of publication, the Phillies are loaded with talent. They have the reigning 2021 NL MVP in Bryce Harper, the NL’s 2021 strikeout leader in Zack Wheeler, and slugger Rhys Hoskins, among others.

rhys hoskins and bryce harper

Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper.

Some Quick Facts About the Phillies

World Series Championships

The Philadelphia Phillies have won two World Series championships in franchise history. The first was won in 1980 and the second came in 2008.

Below are a few facts about each of these Series victories. 

  • 1980 World Series
    • The Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals in six games.
    • The MVP of the Series was Mike Schmidt.
    • Dallas Green was the Phillies manager.
    • Larry Bowa had the most hits in the Series for the Phils, and Schmidt had the most home runs.
    • This World Series was the first to be played entirely on artificial turf.

 

phillies 1980 world series champs

Tug McGraw and Mike Schmidt celebrating the Phillies' first World Series championship in 1980.

 

  • 2008 World Series
    • The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games.
    • The MVP of the Series was Cole Hamels.
    • Charlie Manuel was the Phillies manager.
    • Ryan Howard led the Phillies with three homers and Jayson Werth had the most hits with eight.
    • Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton hit a home run in game four. He was the first pitcher since 1974 to hit a World Series home run.

 

Phillies Top 5 Players

It's very difficult to narrow down just five all-time greats on a team that has such a long history as the Phillies.

Still, we tried.

It's a subjective list, no doubt. 

When we looked across the landscape of baseball history and thought of all-time greats that played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the following five players came to mind.

  • Ed Delahanty (won NL batting title in 1899 with a .408 average)
  • Grover Cleveland Alexander (claimed three pitching triple crowns)
  • Chuck Klein (1932 NL MVP)
  • Steve Carlton (4,136 career strikeouts)
  • Mike Schmidt (548 career home runs)

 

Major Awards Won by Phillies Players

The Phillies have had their fair share of legendary players over the years. We thought it would be interesting for readers to see a summary of Phillies ballplayers to win baseball’s three key awards - Cy Young, MVP and Rookie of the Year. 

See below for details on award winners:

steve carlton pitching

Legendary Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton.

 

  • Phillies to Win Cy Young
      • 1972 - Steve Carlton
      • 1977 - Steve Carlton
      • 1980 - Steve Carlton
      • 1982 - Steve Carlton
      • 1983 - John Denny
      • 1987 - Steve Bedrosian
      • 2010 - Roy Halladay

 

  • Phillies to Win NL MVP
      • 1932 - Chuck Klein
      • 1950 - Jim Konstanty
      • 1980 - Mike Schmidt
      • 1981 - Mike Schmidt
      • 1986 - Mike Schmidt
      • 2006 - Ryan Howard
      • 2007 - Jimmy Rollins
      • 2021 - Bryce Harper

 

  • Phillies to Win Rookie of the Year
    • 1957 - Jack Sanford
    • 1964 - Dick Allen
    • 1997 - Scott Rolen
    • 2005 - Ryan Howard

 

Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, is a baseball metric that was created to quantify an MLB player’s overall contribution to his team.

If you're interested in learning more about WAR, we'd suggest reading this

We think WAR is a great way to measure player value. For this article, we researched every catcher since 1883 that played for the Philadelphia Phillies and ranked them by their career and single-season WAR (using the Fangraphs calculation, or fWAR).  

The following is an overview of the top three Philadelphia Phillies catchers based on a player’s career WAR, and the second part highlights the top three seasons by Phillies catchers as measured by their single-season WAR.

Top 3 Phillies Catchers by Career WAR

Please note: The player must have no less than 100 games played with the Phillies to be eligible for this career WAR list.

#1. Lance Parrish, 43.4 career WAR

lance parrish batting for the phillies

Former Phillies catcher Lance Parrish at bat.

Lance Parrish spent a large portion of his baseball career with the Detroit Tigers. It was the team where he first came to fame and where he won a World Series championship, in 1984.

Parrish spent a total of 19 years in the big leagues, two of which were with the Philadelphia Phillies (1987 - 1988). The eight-time all star earned three gold gloves and six silver sluggers during his career, establishing himself as one of the premier catchers of the decade. 

Over the course of his career, Parrish hit 324 home runs and owned a .252/.313/440 slash line. He had a fielding percentage of .991 when playing behind the dish as a catcher and threw out 655 runners trying to steal, good for a 39% caught stealing percentage (CS%). Parrish led league catchers multiple times in categories like caught stealing, assists and double plays turned.

#2. Smoky Burgess, 34.2 career WAR

one of the best phillies catchers all time, smoky burgess

Smoky Burgess while with the Phils.

Forrest "Smoky" Burgess had a reputation as a ballplayer that could hit anyone, anywhere. The North Carolina native broke into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 1949. In the 1951 off-season, he was traded to Philadelphia. 

Burgess was a Phillies fixture for parts of four seasons (1952 - 1955), before moving on to the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and then the Chicago White Sox

The nine-time all-star had a lifetime .295 batting average with 126 home runs and 673 RBIs. Burgess appeared in 1,139 games as a catcher, averaging a fielding percentage of .988 and a 36% CS%.

Later in his career, Burgess became a go-to pinch hitter and even set a (since broken) MLB record for most lifetime pinch hits.

#3. Bob Boone, 31.9 career WAR

phillies catchers bob boone

Bob Boone while at spring training for the Phillies.

Drafted by the Phillies out of Stanford University in 1969, Bob Boone made his big league debut three years later and went on to play in parts of ten straight seasons for the Phillies (before moving to the California Angels). 

Boone made four MLB all-star teams, won seven gold gloves, and was a member of the 1980 World Series winning Phillies team.

Boone's career batting average was .254. He collected 1,838 hits during his career, including approximately 105 home runs and 826 RBIs. 

Defensively, he caught 2,225 big league games. Over that time, Boone owned a career fielding percentage of .986 as a catcher, and he gunned down 40% of all runners attempting to steal. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jack Clements, 28.9 career WAR
  • Benito Santiago, 28.7 career WAR
  • Tim McCarver, 27.8 career WAR
  • Darren Daulton, 25.0 career WAR
  • Andy Seminick, 24.1 career WAR

 

Top 3 Seasons by Phillies Catchers, Ranked by Single-Season WAR

Please note: The player must have a minimum of 60 games played as a Phillies catcher in one season to be eligible for the single-season WAR list.

#1. 1992 - Darren Daulton (7.2 WAR)

darren daulton philadelphia catcher

Former Phillies star catcher, Darren "Dutch" Daulton.

Darren "Dutch" Daulton had his finest season in 1992. That year he hit .270/.385/.524 with a career high 27 home runs and a league leading 107 RBIs. In addition to home runs and RBIs, other career highs for Daulton in '92 included slugging percentage, triples (5), total bases (254), and stolen bases (11).

In 1,200 innings caught in 1992, Daulton maintained a .987 fielding percentage and threw out 36% of runners attempting to steal. The 49 runners caught stealing by Daulton that year led all league catchers.

In recognition of his great season in '92, Daulton was named to the all-star team, captured the silver slugger, and finished sixth in NL MVP voting.

#2. 2019 - J.T. Realmuto (5.7 WAR)

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto heading in the dugout

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Arguably the best season of J.T. Realmuto's career so far came in 2019, which was his first season in a Phillies uniform.

That year, Realmuto hit .275/.328/.493 with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs. He had career highs in 2019 in home runs, RBIs, doubles (36), slugging, total bases (265), and more.

Realmuto led all NL catchers in 2019 in caught stealing (43), CS% (46%), and double plays turned (14). He had a .992 fielding percentage behind the dish, and earned a gold glove award. Additionally, he claimed the silver slugger award, was named to the all-star team, and finished in the top 15 for NL MVP voting that season.

#3. 1993 - Darren Daulton (5.3 WAR)

curt schilling and darren daulton 1993 world series

Darren Daulton and Curt Schilling during the 1993 World Series.

Dutch was a leader on the 1993 Phillies team that won the NL pennant. His production that year was high, and it was nearly as impressive as his 1992 campaign.

Daulton matched his previous season's hit total with 131, had a career high 35 doubles, hit 24 homers and collected 105 RBIs. His slash line in 1993 was .257/.392/.482 and he had an OPS of .875.

Behind the dish that year, Daulton had a career high 1,057 chances and owned a .991 fielding percentage as a catcher. He had a 34% CS% that season and led all NL catchers in defensive games (146), putouts (981), and double plays turned (19).

Daulton was the NL's starting catcher in the 1993 all-star game and he finished the season seventh in league MVP voting. 

List of All Philadelphia Phillies Catchers With a 2.0+ WAR Season

Having a season with a WAR that is 2.0 or better typically indicates that a player had a productive year. 

A very large number of Philadelphia Phillies catchers have exceeded (or met) this mark since 1883, when the team first started playing in the big leagues. 

Check out the below table which details every Phillies catcher that has had a 2.0 fWAR or better season.

SeasonNameWAR
1992Darren Daulton7.2
2019J.T. Realmuto5.7
1993Darren Daulton5.3
2012Carlos Ruiz4.7
1950Andy Seminick4.7
1990Darren Daulton4.4
2021J.T. Realmuto4.4
1895Jack Clements4.3
1933Spud Davis4.3
1999Mike Lieberthal4.2
1956Stan Lopata4.2
1932Spud Davis4.1
1954Smoky Burgess4.1
1955Stan Lopata3.9
1982Bo Diaz3.9
1890Jack Clements3.8
1979Bob Boone3.8
2010Carlos Ruiz3.8
1962Clay Dalrymple3.8
1978Bob Boone3.7
1952Smoky Burgess3.7
1891Jack Clements3.6
1892Jack Clements3.5
1949Andy Seminick3.3
1892Lave Cross3.3
1899Ed McFarland3.3
1963Clay Dalrymple3.2
2018Jorge Alfaro3.2
1984Ozzie Virgil3.2
2003Mike Lieberthal3.1
2002Mike Lieberthal3.1
2000Mike Lieberthal2.9
1922Butch Henline2.9
1977Bob Boone2.8
1966Clay Dalrymple2.7
1954Stan Lopata2.6
1994Darren Daulton2.6
1996Benito Santiago2.6
1946Andy Seminick2.6
2009Carlos Ruiz2.5
1893Jack Clements2.5
1931Spud Davis2.4
2008Chris Coste2.4
1898Ed McFarland2.4
1923Butch Henline2.4
2014Carlos Ruiz2.3
1893Lave Cross2.3
1947Andy Seminick2.3
1985Ozzie Virgil2.2
1951Andy Seminick2.2
1900Ed McFarland2.1
1896Jack Clements2.1
2012Erik Kratz2.1
1952Stan Lopata2.1
1953Smoky Burgess2.1
1973Bob Boone2.1
1995Darren Daulton2.0
1977Tim McCarver2.0

Phillies Catchers over the Last 10 Years

Please note: the following catchers are listed based on the order of games caught per season for the Phillies. Catchers with the most games caught per season start at the top. 

2012 Phillies

  • Carlos Ruiz (primary)
  • Erik Kratz
  • Brian Schneider

 

2013 Phillies

  • Carlos Ruiz (primary)
  • Erik Kratz
  • Humberto Quintero
  • Steven Lerud
  • Cameron Rupp

 

2014 Phillies

  • Carlos Ruiz (primary)
  • Wil Nieves
  • Cameron Rupp
  • Koyie Hill

 

2015 Phillies

  • Carlos Ruiz (primary)
  • Cameron Rupp
  • Erik Kratz

 

2016 Phillies

  • Cameron Rupp (primary)
  • Carlos Ruiz
  • A.J. Ellis
  • Jorge Alfaro

 

2017 Phillies

  • Cameron Rupp (primary)
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Jorge Alfaro

 

2018 Phillies

  • Jorge Alfaro (primary)
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Wilson Ramos

 

2019 Phillies

  • J.T. Realmuto (primary)
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Deivy Grullon

 

2020 Phillies

  • J.T. Realmuto (primary)
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Rafael Marchan

 

2021 Phillies

  • J.T. Realmuto (primary)
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Rafael Marchan

 

Complete List of All Phillies Catchers Over the Last 10 Years

The below list shows every Philadelphia Phillies catcher who played in at least one defensive game as a catcher for the team since 2012. 

Catchers are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

  • A.J. Ellis
  • Andrew Knapp
  • Brian Schneider
  • Cameron Rupp
  • Carlos Ruiz
  • Deivy Grullon
  • Erik Kratz
  • Humberto Quintero
  • J.T. Realmuto
  • Jorge Alfaro
  • Koyie Hill
  • Rafael Marchan
  • Steven Lerud
  • Wil Nieves
  • Wilson Ramos

 

Thank You for Reading

Hopefully you found this article to be helpful. Personally, I learned a lot just from the time I spent researching and writing it.

If you would like to get in touch, please go to the Contact Us page or simply send me an email to scott (at) catchersome (dot) com. I’m always happy to hear from readers. 

Thanks for stopping at Catchers Home.

 

Sources for this Article:

  • Baseball Fandom
  • Baseball Reference
  • Fangraphs
  • Nationall Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Retrosheet