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1986 Philadelphia Phillies

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[edit] 1986 Philadelphia Phillies / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page

Record: 86-75, Finished 2nd in NL Eastern Division (1986 NL)

Managed by John Felske

Ballpark: Veterans Stadium

In retrospect, 1986 was for Phillies fans akin to Vladimir Nabokov's description of life itself: "a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness."

1985 had been a slide toward the abyss, and 1986 promised no better. Offseason moves amounted to a game of musical chairs, as third baseman Rick Schu headed to the bench, veteran Mike Schmidt moved back to third, outfielder Von Hayes took Schmidt's first-base job, and journeymen Gary Redus and Milt Thompson arrived to fill in an outfield that was further bolstered by the acquisition of Ron Roenicke in May. Stars these guys weren't, but Thompson came packaged with closer Steve Bedrosian, who would excel in Philadelphia. Two youngsters gave the Phillies hope: left-handed starter Bruce Ruffin and catcher Darren Daulton. In fact, as well as the Phillies did in '86, the loss of Daulton with a severe knee injury in June probably kept them from a 90-win season. John Russell took over Daulton's duties and worked creditably enough with a weak rotation.

90 wins would not have meant anything in 1986, though. The Phillies beat New York two of three in an early April series, but were swept in a return set at Shea later than month and never caught sight of the Mets thereafter. They were the only team to win a season series against the World Champion Mets, but when you finish 21 1/2 games out, that's only a faint consolation.

The Phillies got to 86-75 largely on the strength of a powerful hitting attack led by the ageless Schmidt. Turning 37 late in the season, Schmidt finished with the home run and RBI titles (37, 119) and with his third league MVP award. Hayes led the league in doubles and runs scored. Juan Samuel, as usual, led the league in striking out, but added 90 runs. Bedrosian saved 29 games, but on the debit side, the Phillies' top starter Kevin Gross led the league in allowing home runs and hitting batsmen. Schmidt won his tenth and last Gold Glove.

1986 was the last enjoyable season in Philadelphia for seven years, till the 1993 club came out of nowhere to win a pennant. Without much of a race going on, the relatively young and improvised Phillie lineup was a pleasure to watch, and sharp veteran play by Schmidt, Redus, and Roenicke added to the exuberance of the younger players.


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