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2001 Philadelphia Phillies

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[edit] 2001 Philadelphia Phillies / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page

Record: 86-76, Finished 2nd in NL Eastern Division (2001 NL)

Managed by Larry Bowa

Coaches: Greg Gross, Richie Hebner, Ramon Henderson, Vern Ruhle, Tony Scott and John Vukovich

Ballpark: Veterans Stadium

[edit] History, Comments, Contributions

The 2001 season was a memorable one for the Philadelphia Phillies in many ways. Larry Bowa took over as manager and breathed new life into a seemingly comatose team. For the first time in eight years, the Phils found themselves in a pennant race, though the race at times seemed more like a crawl. It was a year in which a young squad seemed to finally come of age. It was also a year in which baseball and sports in general took a backseat to a horrific tragedy. In the end, the postseason proved elusive, but the Phillies did manage their first winning season since 1993.

After a disastrous 2000 season, expectations for 2001 were anything but great. The hiring of Bowa was applauded by some, but many felt it was just a gesture by the front office to appease a disillusioned fan base. Despite the team's poor standing, there were not many major personnel changes made. Aside from Mike Lieberthal, who was back after missing the second half of 2000 with an ankle injury, the starting position players were the same ones who ended the previous season. The starting rotation also remained unchanged. Offseason additons of note were relief pitchers Ricky Bottalico, Rheal Cormier, and Jose Mesa, along with reserve outfielder Brian Hunter.

To the surprise of many, the Phillies began the season on fire. They swept the Florida Marlins in the opening series en route to 14 wins in their first 20 games. A four-game losing streak left the Phils at 14-10 at the end of April, but by June 1, a 21-8 spurt boosted the club's record to an NL-best 35-18, good enough for an eight-game lead over the Atlanta Braves. Just when it seemed like the Phils were in cruise control, a June swoon ensued, as the team lost 16 of 23. The final three games of that stretch were losses to the Braves, who took over first place.

It appeared as though the Atlanta sweep would break the team's spirit, but the Phillies rebounded by sweeping a five-game series from the Marlins, and they regained first place at the All-Star break. Though the Braves would soon again take over, the Phils never trailed by more than 3.5 games at any point. A five-game winning streak combined with Atlanta's six-game losing streak gave the Phils a two-game lead on August 15, but the Phillies would lose 16 of their next 22 to fall 3.5 games behind the Braves. While Philadelphia and Atlanta stumbled at the top of the division (more or less eliminating the possibility of the Wild Card as a consolation prize), the defending NL Champion New York Mets came alive after struggling through the season's first four months. They'd win 28 of their final 40 games, but had gotten themselves a little too far behind the Phils and Braves to seriously threaten for the division crown.

The Phillies were in Atlanta on the morning of September 11 ready for a three-game showdown. The horrific events of that day, however, pushed the season back a week. Play would resume on September 17 with the Braves in Philadelphia for four games. A revitalized Phillies team took three of the four games, and they would eventually pull even with Atlanta on September 24. This time, however, they wouldn't be able to regain sole possession first place. Six losses in the next nine games doomed the Phils, who were officially eliminated on the third-from-last day of the season.

In a surprising season, there were many positive performances. Bobby Abreu became the first 30-30 player in franchise history, belting 31 home runs while stealing 36 bases. Abreu also knocked in a team-leading 110 runs. Jimmy Rollins was one of the league's top rookies and the team's lone All-Star, hitting .274, with 12 triples and 46 stolen bases, both league highs. Rollins also had 29 doubles and 14 homers to complete the quadruple-double. Marlon Anderson, who spent most of 2000 back in the minors, hit a team-high .293. Scott Rolen overcame a slow start to hit .289 with 25 home runs and 107 RBI while winning his third Gold Glove. Pat Burrell slugged 27 homers and knocked in 89 in his first full season, while Travis Lee hit 20 homers and knocked in 90. Doug Glanville slumped to .262, but did swat a career-high 14 home runs while stealing 28 bases. Off the bench, utilityman Tomas Perez hit .304 while making all the plays regardless of his position. Hunter hit .276 and stole 14 bases. On a down note, a knee injury ended Lieberthal's season in May, and his absence was felt as the season progressed. Johnny Estrada took over behind the plate and performed admirably, though a late slump with the bat dropped his average to .228. Backup catcher Gary Bennett hit just .213 before being traded to the Mets for veteran Todd Pratt, who could manage only a .204 average after the deal.

The pitching staff seemed to endure bouts of inconsistency throughout the season, particularly in the starting rotation. Robert Person, who went 15-7, was a very notable exception. Omar Daal was 13-7, but faded after a hot start and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after the season ended. Randy Wolf lost his spot in the rotation after a 4-9 start, but he heated up in the second half, winning six of his final eight decisions. Brandon Duckworth was 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA after being called up in August. In the bullpen, Mesa was outstanding, converting 42 of 46 save opportunities while fashioning a 2.34 ERA. Bottalico, Cormier, Cliff Politte, and Jose Santiago (acquired from the Kansas City Royals for Paul Byrd in June) all performed passably in relief. Bruce Chen was a disappointment, going 4-5 with a 5.00 ERA. Chen was eventually traded to the Mets for relievers Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell, both of whom were major disappointments themselves.

The 2001 Philadelphia Phillies won 21 more games than the 2000 version of the team. This was enough for Bowa to bring home National League Manager of the Year honors. The team finally seemed to have a bright future ahead of itself. It was now a matter of the Phils building on their success and proving that their surprising 2001 season was not a fluke.

[edit] Awards and Honors



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