1981 Philadelphia Phillies
From BR Bullpen
|1981 Philadelphia Phillies|
|1980 Phillies||1981 Phillies||1982 Phillies|
Managed by Dallas Green
 Season Highlights
1981 was a lost season for most clubs in the majors, with the first extended players' strike wiping out the middle of the campaign and a goofy split-season format producing arbitrary results. The season was particularly bitter for the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, who played lackluster ball after the strike and fell just short of a comeback in their first-round playoff series.
Like many defending champions, the 1981 Phillies took no chances in the off-season. Their 1981 roster was almost identical to their 1980 club. Every starter in 1981, and all their key pitchers, were 30 or older. The only significant off-season trade sent young pitcher Bob Walk to Atlanta for veteran outfielder Gary Matthews.
Through early May, however, the Phillies were playing .667 ball. Steve Carlton went 9-1 before the strike, and Mike Schmidt had his best major-league season. When play was suspended on 10 June, the Phillies led the St. Louis Cardinals by two games -- and in the event, that clinched them a playoff spot, when the first-half leaders were given automatic entry to the postseason.
The Phillies, exempt from the second-half race, played indifferently in August and September. They were swept in a hard-fought four-game series in the Astrodome by Houston in late August. Laden with aging veterans, the club tried to work young pitchers Dickie Noles and Mark Davis into its rotation in the late going. But inertia was the order of the day.
In the expanded playoffs , the Phillies drew the second-half champion Montreal Expos. After dropping the first two games in Montreal, the Phillies came back to win Game Three and then took Game Four in extra innings. Steve Rogers shut out Carlton and the Phillies 3-0 in the deciding game in Philadelphia.(Main Article:1981_NLDS1)
Mike Schmidt was an overwhelming choice for MVP, leading the league in on-base percentage, slugging, runs, RBI, walks, and home runs. Gary Matthews chipped in a .398 OBP, third in the league. Carlton finished 13-4 but was edged in the Cy Young voting by Fernando Valenzuela and Tom Seaver. First baseman Pete Rose hit .325 and led the league with 140 hits -- at the age of 40. Carlton, Schmidt, Manny Trillo and Garry Maddox won Gold Gloves.