Oh, how things change. After seven straight seasons of not playing into October, the Phillies have put together a very special roster that could help them get to October- and then some. Having a competent roster makes all of the memories from the rebuild special; just like during the 76ers “Process”, there were plenty of bad players (and a couple good ones) who brought us memories that will last us forever. Before Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Aaron Nola, committed fans got to enjoy Peter Borjous, Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, and Jerome Williams, among so, so many others. The teams were not good from 2013-2018 (2012 is technically before the rebuild), but between all the losing, which there was plenty of, there were some positive moments, too. Some of these moments were on-field, and only gave fans short-lasting joy. Others, though, were glimpses to a great future of Phillies baseball, and we can see their effects now.
I’d like to mention that there are no 2018 moments in here. Those memories are still so fresh, so I decided to not include them. As for the off-field moments, those will come in another piece later.
Anyways, here are the greatest moments of the Phillies rebuild in no particular order:
2014 Opening Day
The rebuild was in the earliest stages, and morale surrounding the team was not great following a tough 2013. However, for one day, the Phillies were fun. In an afternoon opening day game in Arlington, the Phillies beat the Rangers in a slugfest, 14-10. Some things that happened that day:
-Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam
-Marlon Byrd and Cody Asche added solo shots
-Cliff Lee allowed 8 runs in five innings
After the game, Ryan Howard was quoted saying, “This team is a different team than it was last year. We didn’t give up. We didn’t quit.”
He was wrong, and the 2014 Phillies went 73-89.
Papelbon grabs crotch, gets traded for Nick Pivetta, fights with Bryce Harper
In retrospect, these are all pretty great memories. Papelbon’s infamous crotch grab in response to booing fans officially made him public enemy number one in Philly, and he was shortly afterward traded to the division rival Nationals in exchange for Nick Pivetta (I should say, future Cy Young Award winner Nick Pivetta). Those Nationals never made the playoffs, and in a September game against the Phillies, Papelbon choked future Phillies great Bryce Harper in the Washington dugout. Seeing Papelbon become a cancer to a division rival was really satisfying, and it makes me think the Phillies front office knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they traded him there
The Francouer game(s)
Jeff Francouer was pretty well liked during his short time in Philly, and there are two moments that stick out when remembering his time here. The first came against the Pirates, when Francouer threw Steve Lombardozzi out at home for a game-ending double play to make Jonathan Papelbon the franchise all-time leader in saves (he’s still the worst though).
Another Francoeur moment that may not actually be a good one came in Baltimore, when the outfielder made his pitching debut in a game that epitomized the 2015 season. It was a blowout loss, and it gave us this image of Bob McClure waving the white flag (he was actually signaling to the bullpen because the phones were out, but it’s still an iconic image and should be on a t-shirt).
Anyways, here is Jeff Francouer pitching. He hit 89 MPH on the gun, and clearly had fun out on the mound. The dugout enjoyed it, too
Aaron Altherr grand slam off of Clayton Kershaw
There’s a pretty good chance that Aaron Altherr never plays another out as a Phillie, but he had some really awesome moments in 2017. In a meaningless September game, with the Phillies down 2-0 in the 6th inning, Altherr stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Kershaw had never given up a grand slam in his career, but that changed with one swing of the bat.
Vince Velasquez strikes out 16 in complete game shutout
The blockbuster Ken Giles trade brought a few pitchers to the Phillies organization, and the most exciting of the bunch was Vince Velasquez. While Velasquez hasn’t panned out as many hoped he would, his second start as a Phillie was one of the best single-game pitching performances in franchise history. In a complete game shutout, Velasquez struck out 16 Padres and allowed only 3 hits. It. Was. Amazing.
Papelbon blown save.
Oh yes. More on Jonathan Papelb(l)o(w)n. Hah, get it? Anyways, Freddy Galvis smoked a walk-off hit over the left-fielder off of the former fan favorite (again, hah!), and the Phillies beat the Nationals in an April game at home. Galvis had this to say after the game about Papelbon (MLB.com): “I played behind him for three years, so I know the way he pitches and maybe a little about what the ball does. He’s got the split and the fastball. I know he likes to throw the fastball. I think he threw me four, five fastballs, so I was ready for it.”
Take that, Papelbon.
Jimmy Rollins breaks franchise hit record
In 2014, not much was going right for the Phillies. However, a member leftover from the core (also the greatest Phillie from the core, debate me on it, I dare you) gave perhaps the most memorable moment from the entire season. In an afternoon game against the Cubs, Rollins ripped a single into right off of Edwin Jackson to give him his 2,235th hit as a Phillie and pass Mike Schmidt as the all-time franchise leader. As Rollins stood on first, he was met first by Schmidt, and then all of his teammates, as the fans gave a well-deserved standing ovation. This was a really special moment not only during the season, but the entire franchise history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD4xuIT3li0
Maikel Franco’s week against the Yankees
It stinks that Maikel Franco never became the star that many expected him to. But his rookie season was one that inspired a lot of hope, and the three-game series against the Yankees was a great showcase for the 22-year old. In 12 at-bats, Franco had 6 hits, including 3 homers and a double, scored 5 runs, and drove in 10. During this series it came out that the Yankees were outbid by $5,000 by the Phillies to have Franco when they signed him in 2010, and Yankees fans were left wishing their front office had upped their offer to the 17-year old. While Franco clearly isn’t the player we thought he could be, this particular series was fun, and it gave fans a lot of hope.
Phillies come back from 4-0 deficit in bottom 9th
Another 2015 game, another Maikel Franco rookie season memory. The Phillies were down 4-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th, but they would not lose the game. Ben Revere scored on a sac-fly to make it 4-1, and who else but Maikel Franco tied up the score at 4. The Phillies would go on to walk off in the 11th and win the game, 5-4.
Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis go back-to-back
Aroldis Chapman is one of the best closers of this decade, yet the Phillies have found a way to get the best of him time and time again. Down 2-1, Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis hit back-to-back homeruns off the Cuban Missiile, and the Phillies went home with a win. Again, just a really exciting moment in a lost 2013 season for the Phils.
This wasn’t even THAT impressive, but it was still a cool moment in an otherwise lost season. Hamels wasn’t great and allowed six baserunners in 6 innings, but he also allowed no hits. Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon were able to finish the job, and give the Phillies their first regular season no-no since Roy Halladay’s 2010 perfecto.
Ben Revere ties game up in ninth with homerun
In 2012, when the Phillies traded pitcher Vance Worley for Ben Revere, no one really understood why. After watching Ben Revere play for two-and-a-half seasons in Philly, this opinion didn’t really change (although Worley wasn’t necessarily great in Minnesota). Revere was the definition of a singles only player, and I’m sure teams would have loved to have him on his team in the dead ball era. But in the 21st century, having virtually no power (along with no arm in the outfield) doesn’t make you a great player no matter how many singles you get. Anyways, after a gazillion professional at-bats, Revere finally hit his first major league homerun in 2014 for the Phillies. A few months later, he hit another one in a much more dire situation. The Phillies were down to their final out and down by one facing the Nationals in Washington. In one of the more unlikely things to happen in major league history, Ben Revere took a 2-2 pitch from Rafael Soriano over the right-field wall. The Phillies later won this game in the 11th, and it was all thanks to Revere doing the unthinkable.
The Ben Revere catch
Don’t need to go into too much detail about this one. It was a pretty awesome catch
Tyler Goeddel assist to end game
2016 was a weird year, because the Phillies roster was really bad, definitely worse than 2017, yet it ended with 72 wins because of a lot of wins in close games like this one. In the top of the ninth with one out and the Phillies up by one, a fly ball was hit to left-fielder Tyler Goeddel. Euginio Suarez tagged from third, but Goedell threw a strike that beat him for a wicked collision between Suarez and Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp. It was awesome, especially considering how terrible most of 2016 was for Phillies fans.
Reid Brignac walk-offs
If you’re reading this and wondering, “who is Reid Brignac?”, I understand. Not the most memorable player, but in his short stint with the Phillies, Brignac provided two walk-off hits in the span of two weeks (which is really the closest comparison to Jimmy Butler hitting two game-winning three’s in the span of his first few games).
The first came after a terrible at-bat in the 12th inning of a 5-5 game against the Mets, when Brignac swung at three pitches way out of the strike zone. In the 14th, with the bases loaded, Brignac got a pitch to hit, and hit it he did to drive in the game winning run.
The second was an absolute bomb against the Padres in the bottom of the 9th.
Moments like these were my favorite, because even though everybody knew that Brignac was barely replacement level, and that he would never contribute to the team long-term, these hits give fans so much joy even when the team is clearly bad. It makes baseball fun.
Dom Brown owns May
Listen, it’s okay to hate Dom Brown. Of the several overvalued Phillies prospects from the past decade+, he may be the most disappointing. However, for one month in 2013, he played as if he was the greatest player on Earth. And it was fun! In the month of May, Brown hit .303 with 12 home runs and a .991 OPS. Now, we know that is was obviously fools gold, but back then it was all we had.
Rhys Hoskins owns August, September
In 2016, when Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens battled back and forth to win the HR title in the Eastern League, many questioned which player would be more productive in the majors. Less than a year later, Hoskins answered those questions- and then some- as he erupted onto the scene in his first month as a pro.
In his first 34 games, Hoskins hit 18 homeruns. This included six in a 6-game stretch and was one of the most prolific offensive runs of any rookie. It was really awesome, and Hoskins has a brilliant future ahead of him.
Cole Hamels No-Hitter
On an irrelevant Phillies team Hamels was going to be traded at the deadline, and in his final start, he did something he had never done in his career. It was a storybook ending to a great career as a Phillie, and naturally Odubel Herrera had to at least make things interesting on this final play:
Hamels was a great Phillie, and this being his last start in a Phillies uniform was a storybook ending. This, for me, is undoubtedly the greatest moment of the rebuild.
Other great moments of the Phillies rebuild:
-Ty Kelly walk-off against Braves (2017)
-Nick Pivetta outduels Chris Sale, Ty Kelly gets GW hit (2017)
-Aaron Nola’s first start (2015)
-Ryne Sandberg resigns (2015)
-Ken Giles rookie season (2015)
-Chase Utley walk-off homerun (2014)
-Triple play in San Diego (2016)
-Ryan Howard farewell (2016)
There are so many more, and I apologize for the most obvious ones that I left out. Feel free to leave your favorite rebuild memory in the comments!