1999 Philadelphia Phillies
1999 Philadelphia Phillies / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page
Managed by Terry Francona
History, Comments, Contributions
That the 1999 Philadelphia Phillies finished the season with a 77-85 record may not have been very shocking. The way they went about doing it, however, was. It was a year that went from promising to disastrous in the blink of an eye. When all was said and done, the team was below .500 for the sixth consecutive year.
Going into the season, the Phillies were seen as the middle-of-the-pack team in a National League East division featuring two very good teams (the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets) and two very bad ones (the Montreal Expos and the Florida Marlins). That prediction held true as the Phillies hovered around .500 for the first two months of the season, but they'd soon heat up. Led by a blistering offense (which torched the Chicago Cubs for 21 runs on July 3 after having scored 14 against them the previous night) and the stellar pitching efforts of Curt Schilling and Paul Byrd, the team went on a 34-21 spurt between June 6 and August 6, boosting their overall record to 61-48. Entering play on August 7, the Phils were 5 ½ games behind the Mets in the NL East and 4 ½ games behind the Braves for the Wild Card lead. Schilling was set to return after a two-week stint on the disabled list, and the team was poised to make a playoff push. Then, disaster struck.
Shoulder woes would put Schilling right back on the disabled list after his August 7 start, and he would make just two more starts the rest of the way. Scott Rolen, who had caught fire in July after a subpar first half, attempted to play through a back injury before finally shutting down in late August. The Phillies missed both players dearly, as they ended the season in a 16-37 freefall. Between August 28 and September 14, the team played 19 games and lost all but one of them. Reduced to the role of spoiler, the Phils did have one shining moment during the dismal dying days, sweeping a three-game series from the Mets on the season's next-to-last weekend. It nearly cost the hated New Yorkers the Wild Card, but they would reach the postseason after defeating the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff.
The 1999 Phillies had their share of outstanding individual performances, particularly at the plate. Doug Glanville hit .325 and became the first Phillie to collect 200 hits in a season since Pete Rose in 1979. Bobby Abreu hit .335 while amassing a "quadruple-double" (double figures in doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases), the first Phillie to do so since Juan Samuel in 1987. Mike Lieberthal hit 31 homers - a franchise record for catchers - and also won a Gold Glove. Rico Brogna hit 24 home runs and knocked in 102. Rolen's injuries limited him to 112 games, but he still managed to hit 26 homers with 77 RBI. Alex Arias hit .303, including a league-leading .545 as a pinch-hitter.
On the mound, Schilling went 15-6, and may have won the Cy Young Award had he not been forced to miss most of the season's final two months. As it was, he ended up finishing second to Randy Johnson in the voting. Byrd went 15-11, but just 5-8 with a 5.89 ERA after June 17th. Robert Person, acquired in early May from the Toronto Blue Jays, went 10-5 and was the team's top starter after Schilling went down. Rookie Randy Wolf won his first five decisions, but lost eight of his final nine. Chad Ogea, who entered the season as the number two starter after arriving in an offseason trade with the Cleveland Indians, went 6-12 with a 5.63 ERA while allowing 36 home runs in what turned out to be his final major league action. Carlton Loewer went 2-6 and missed three months with a stress fracture in his arm. Injuries and overall ineffectiveness plagued the bullpen all season. Closer Jeff Brantley spent much of the season on the disabled list, and Wayne Gomes picked up 19 saves in his place. Steve Montgomery and Scott Aldred pitched adequately for a relief corps that didn't see many outstanding performances.
Over the course of the 1999 season, the Phillies had gone from mediocre to good to bad. As a result, they ended the campaign with even more questions than they had started with.
Awards and Honors
- Norm King: "Vlad Impales His 40th; October 2, 1999: Montreal Expos 13, Philadelphia Phillies 3 At Veterans Stadium", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 127-129. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6