1995 Philadelphia Phillies
1995 Philadelphia Phillies / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page
Managed by Jim Fregosi¸
History, Comments, Contributions
Throughout their long history, the Philadelphia Phillies have suffered more than their share of in-season collapses. Of all those teams, the 1995 Phillies squad holds a special place, as they may be the only one among that group to suffer two such meltdowns in the same season. The Phillies got off to a roaring start, holding the National League's best record for much of the first half. A shocking freefall would follow, but despite countless personnel changes and a rash of injuries that at times bordered on absurd, the team managed to fight back into playoff contention. One final tumble ended any hopes of a return to the postseason.
For a long time, the 1995 season itself was seriously in doubt. The strike that killed the 1994 season raged on, and teams went to camp with replacement players. An agreement was finally reached on April 2, and it was decided that teams would go through a truncated Spring Training before playing a 144-game season. Many rosters would undergo massive changes as scores of free agents remained unsigned. Over the winter, the Phillies had signed Gregg Jefferies to a four-year deal, and penciled him in as the starting left fielder, a position he'd never played. During the abbreviated camp, third baseman Charlie Hayes, who had been a Phillie from 1989 to 1991, returned to fill out the lineup. The arrival of Hayes allowed Dave Hollins to shift over to first base. Mariano Duncan was brought back for a fourth season with the club, while Dave Gallagher, Gary Varsho, and Lenny Webster were added to the bench.
The pitching picture was a cloudy one, as projected starters Tommy Greene and Bobby Munoz would start the season on the disabled list. Their spots were filled by Paul Quantrill and 1994 Rule V Draft pick Mike Mimbs. Norm Charlton, who missed the entire 1994 season after undergoing elbow surgery, would be the closer. Heathcliff Slocumb, Ricky Bottalico, and Toby Borland were prepared to step in for Charlton if needed.
When the season finally got underway, the Phillies charged from the gate, winning 24 of their first 33 games. A balanced attack was led by Mickey Morandini and Jim Eisenreich, but it was pitching that took the club to its lofty position. Curt Schilling was once again on top of his game after an injury-plagued 1994 season, while Quantrill, Mimbs, and rookie Tyler Green were revelations. Charlton was relieved of his closing duties after blowing a save against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Night, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Slocumb took over the role and dominated in the first half. Bottalico and Borland did masterful jobs setting up. By June 25, the team's record swelled to 37-18, tops in the National League. A seven-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves, owners of the next-best records in the league, loomed.
The first Phillies collapse began during the aforementioned homestand. The Reds and Braves ran roughshod, as the Phils lost six of seven while being outscored, 42-18. Atlanta left town on July 3rd a half-game behind in the division. They'd surpass the Phillies a day later and never looked back. The embarrassing homestand sent the Phils spiraling to 34 losses in 46 games. Along the way, injuries ended the seasons for Schilling, Lenny Dykstra, David West and Tony Longmire. Hollins, Duncan, and Gallagher were all traded, while Charlton was released.
Just when the season looked lost, the Phillies scored 82 runs during an 8-2 homestand in late August, vaulting the team back into the Wild Card lead. Sid Fernandez, signed as a free agent during the All-Star break after being released by the Baltimore Orioles, reeled off six consecutive victories and was the NL Pitcher of the Month for August. Mark Whiten, who came over from the Boston Red Sox for Hollins, added some power to a somewhat light-hitting lineup. Jefferies, Hayes, and Darren Daulton rebounded after slow starts, with Jefferies hitting for the cycle in a memorable 17-4 win over Hideo Nomo and the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 25. It appeared as though the Phillies were primed for an improbable playoff push. Once again, disaster would strike.
In the August 25 win, Daulton tore his ACL rounding second base, and was lost for the season. It turned out to be one injury too many. The Phils would go just 11-21 from that point on. Though they remained mathematically alive in the Wild Card hunt until the season's penultimate weekend, it was apparent that the Phillies did not have the firepower to claim a playoff spot that had looked to be ripe for the taking.
The 1995 Phillies got a variety of contributions from a variety of players. Eisenreich hit .316 while amassing a 1.000 fielding percentage. Morandini made the All-Star team, hitting .283 while playing a fine second base. Injuries limited Jefferies to 114 games, but he overcame a slow start to hit .306, and his 11 home runs were tied with Hayes and Whiten for the team lead. Daulton made the All-Star team despite having a .221 batting average at the break, but he did heat up in the second half before his knee injury. Hayes knocked in a team-high 85, while Whiten needed just 60 games to tie for the team lead in long balls. Longmire hit .356 with three pinch-hit home runs before a broken wrist ended his season in July, while Tom Marsh fashioned a .294 average. Before they were traded, Duncan and Gallagher performed well in part-time roles. On the reverse side, Dykstra hit a mediocre .264 and was the first to admit he was voted to the All-Star team solely on reputation. Long time nemesis Andy Van Slyke was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in June, but his best days were long behind him by the time he donned Phillies pinstripes. Kevin Stocker suffered through a horrendous season, hitting just .218 while making a career-high 17 errors at shortstop. By the time of his trade on July 24, Hollins was hitting .229 and had seen his playing time drastically reduced.
Quantrill was the pitching staff's only double-digit winner with 11, but he was also the only double-digit loser with 12. Schilling went 7-5 with a 3.57 ERA before being shut down. Mimbs struggled after a strong first half, but still went 9-7. Green made the All-Star team after an 8-4 start, but lost his last five decisions. Fernandez went 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA after his arrival, but elbow problems caused him to miss most of the season's final month. Mike Williams did a respectable job in spot duty. In the bullpen, Heathcliff Slocumb was an All-Star, earning 32 saves while compiling a 2.89 ERA. Bottalico and Borland were outstanding as well. Greene was limited to six starts, going 0-5 with an 8.29 ERA. Munoz made just three starts, going 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA. Jeff Juden went 2-4 and was best remembered for pitching a complete game while hitting a grand slam in the August 25 win over Los Angeles. Charlton was 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA at the time of his release.
In all, 50 players wore Phillies uniforms in 1995, many of them making little or no significant contribution. The team limped home at 69-75, 21 games behind the eventual World Champion Braves. A season that had started out so auspiciously had ended disastrously, and the forecast for the forseeable future looked bleak.
Awards and Honors
The 1995 Phillies set a National League record for going the longest amount of time at the start of a season without losing two games in a row. They did not lose consecutive contests until June 2-3, the 34th and 35th games of the season.