Known as the worst franchise in American sports history, the Philadelphia Phillies have had their share of terrible teams in history. In over 100 years they have only two championships which shows you how poorly many of their players have performed.
On many of these teams have been absolutely unwatchable players. Some stuck around for far longer than necessary while there were those management continually put on the 25-man roster only to see them fail. Parts of decades have turned the fans away as a losing season was guaranteed even before opening day.
The Phillies have not been a franchise with a good draft history either. Many of their first round picks have been busts, either struggling during their time in the big leagues or not even reaching the highest level of professional baseball at all. Players like this, ones with lots of hype from the day they were drafted, are of course included here. In fact, you could probably make a full list of first round draft picks from this team who never amounted to much at all.
Also among the 15 worst players in Phillies’ history are free agent signings. As bad as the Phillies have been at developing prospects, they have had their share of woes when it comes to signing All-Star caliber players. Other ways of acquiring new names, like through trades or the Rule 5 Draft, have hurt the Phillies too.
So many terrible players to pick through with over a century of baseball played, these are the 15 worst Phillies players who failed to live up to the hype and made the city of Philadelphia wish the Athletics never left town.
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15 Desi Relaford
A core member of the Phillies in the late 1990s, Desi Relaford was so bad he makes Jimmy Rollins on his absolute worst day look MVP-worthy. For those loyal Phillies fans who suffered through the dark ages of the Terry Francona era, it might be a shock to realize Relaford only played one full season with the Phillies as a starter. Making appearances with the team from 1996-2000, he hit just .234 for the Phillies with nine home runs in 320 games. Relaford was also a defensive liability with his worst performance coming in the 81 games he played at shortstop in the first half of the 2000 season before he was finally traded. Relaford committed 24 errors in only 342 chances that season before parting ways.
14 Lance Parrish
Lance Parrish was actually a pretty solid slugger in the 1980s before joining the Phillies. He was an All-Star from 1982-1986 with Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger Awards, and MVP consideration in several of those seasons as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Then he signed with the Phillies and became a major bust. Parrish slashed .245/.313/.399 in his first season with the Phillies in 1987 with 17 home runs, coming at a rate much less than they were hoping for. The following year he was an All-Star yet his season totals were even worse,as Parrish slashed .215/.293/.370 in 1988. This led to the Phillies trading him in October of 1988 immediately after the season ended. If only the memories of Parrish playing for the Phillies could have gone to the California Angels too.
13 Adam Eaton
A first round pick by Philadelphia in 1996, Adam Eaton would eventually make his big league debut with the San Diego Padres in 2000. He’d rejoin the Phillies in 2007 for a pair of seasons where he went 14-18 with a 6.10 ERA. Eaton was never a particularly strong pitcher and his presence on the Phillies a decade after they drafted him was pure coincidence. Luckily for Eaton, he was a part of the 2008 championship team in the regular season thus eligible for a World Series ring even though he was absent in the postseason. When he returned to collect his ring, the fans treated him with a barrage of boos that only Philadelphia knows how to deliver.
12 Steve Jeltz
Infielder Steve Jeltz is one of the most classic bums who's played for the Phillies. He was a predecessor to Kevin Sefcik and Tomas Perez, two players who could have just as easily made this list. Jeltz was worse as he actually made it into the starting lineup regularly for a few years. In 653 games with the Phillies, Jeltz hit .213/.314/.272 with only five home runs. In perhaps one of the strangest statistics you will ever find, the switch-hitting Jeltz hit two of those home runs in one game from opposite sides of the plate.
11 Joe Savery
As a first round pick, we can set the expectations for Joe Savery much higher than for others. Savery made his debut in 2011 with the Phillies and got through 2.2 innings unscathed. It was the following year where we first saw Savery’s struggles as he worked 25 innings and finished the year at 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. In that year, we got a taste for his wildness as Savery walked 2.9 batters per 9 innings. The next season he posted a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings, but also walked 11 batters in the limited time. Control issues ended his career early, last pitching four innings for the Oakland Athletics in 2014.
10 Wendell Magee
Wendell Magee was supposed to turn into a star outfielder for the Phillies in the late 1990s. Like everything else from this era of baseball, it didn’t work out too well. Magee struggled to even get a spot on the big league club which had a lot to do with his poor numbers when given an opportunity in 1996 and 1997. Magee combined to slash .202/.253/.280 in those first 76 games played while hitting only three home runs and getting caught four times in five stolen base attempts. He’d hit better in a much more limited role the following two seasons, but only saw 97 more plate appearances before Philadelphia moved on.
9 Danny Tartabull
One of the most interesting departures from Major League Baseball belongs to Danny Tartabull. The Phillies signed the veteran outfielder after a monster 1996 season when he hit 27 home runs and drove in 101 runs for the Chicago White Sox. He was supposed to be a huge power boost to a team in desperate need of it. Tartabull’s time with the Phillies was not nearly as memorable as he only had 11 plate appearances without a single hit. Rather than rehab from an early season injury, Tartabull chose to retire. Considering the direction the Phillies were headed in, it was probably a wise decision
8 Eric Valent
One of the Phillies' biggest busts in recent history, who actually cracked the big league roster, was outfielder Eric Valent. Drafted in the first round of the 1998 draft, Valent went 6 for 56 at the plate in parts of two seasons with the Phillies. It was a very underwhelming showing as the Phillies were hoping he could be paired up with Pat Burrell as part of a solid young core. Valent was just a .118 hitter with the Phillies yet amazingly had a solid 2004 season with the New York Mets, when he hit 13 home runs with a .267 batting average in 300 plate appearances. The following season he hit just .186 and his MLB career was over.
7 Eric Bruntlett
Phillies’ fans will remember Eric Bruntlett best as the utility man on the 2008 team who would come in as a defensive replacement or pinch runner late in games, usually for Pat Burrell. Bruntlett also scored the winning run in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series to secure the second championship in team history. However, he’s still worthy of being named as one of the franchise’s worst players. In 317 at-bats, Bruntlett slashed .202/.273/.278. Almost entirely absent of offensive ability, Bruntlett had a role that he did well, though he couldn't do much else.
6 Omar Daal
Omar Daal only spent two years with the Phillies and made 44 starts. Ask anyone in Philadelphia and they will tell you this was entirely too long. Daal was 15-16 with the Phillies adding a 4.52 ERA to his resume. It’s not that bad, except he was one of the main parts of the Curt Schilling trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Daal had already been 2-10 with a 7.22 ERA with the Diamondbacks in 2000 before joining the Phillies and his nine additional losses with them gave him a league leading 19. Daal was an incredibly frustrating pitcher to watch and a guy everyone in Philadelphia would have preferred Arizona kept.
5 Dave Coggin
Dave Coggin’s first round pick status helps land him on a high spot of the worst Phillies of all-time. A pitcher expected to become a big part of the rotation in the new millennium, Coggin was only 10-12 with a 4.52 ERA as a member of the Phillies. In his final year back in 2002, he was moved to the bullpen. That same year, he averaged six walks per nine innings. He also had 11 wild pitches in 77 innings. Clearly, the issue with Coggin was not so much batters smashing his pitches. Many never had a chance as Coggin often delivered the ball “just a bit outside.”
4 Mike Ryan
A backup catcher for the Phillies during a weak time in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mike Ryan put up such poor numbers that his own pitchers surely hated to see him in the starting lineup attempting to help out the offense. Ryan was with the team from 1968-1973 and received a total of 1,287 plate appearances. From this he had only a .190/.246/.288 slash line. When he was the starting catcher in 1969, he did manage to hit 12 home runs, but his .204 batting average and .256 OBP prevented him from ever playing in more than 46 games for the rest of his career.
3 Pete Childs
At least one old-timer had to be added to this list as the Phillies have a rich history of bums. Pete Childs represented the earliest stages of the Phillies employing bad baseball players as Childs spent one season with the team in 1902 and retired then after. As the team’s starting second baseman, Childs slashed .194/.256/.206. Obviously, if a player has a slugging percentage lower than their OBP, his bat is pretty light. Childs only had five extra base hits that season, all going for doubles. Childs’ time with Philadelphia was brief and mostly forgotten.
2 Carlton Loewer
You would think a pitcher named Carlton on the Phillies would have to succeed, right? Think again. The Phillies took Carlton Loewer in 1994 with their first pick and in doing so added one of the biggest busts in team history. Loewer was only 9-14 with a 5.68 ERA with the Phillies in parts of two seasons with the team. Oddly, he did toss three complete games including one shutout in only 34 starts, one of those complete games coming in his debut. This was the 1990s though, when the Phillies had a scary bullpen that manager Terry Francona never felt confident going to. Loewer’s 1.50 WHIP and 2.8 walks per 9 compared to only 4.5 strikeouts per 9 are just a few more statistics that show what a waste of a pick this one was.
1 Michael Martinez
Oh the horrors of Michael Martinez. In the post-World Series winning era as the Phillies declined, Martinez was the last guy anyone wanted to see. Originally a Rule 5 Draft pick who made the roster in 2011, Martinez continued to get worse in each of the three seasons he spent with Philadelphia. Overall he had a slash line of .187/.234/.261. Typically used as a defensive replacement or pinch hitter when options were limited, Martinez had very little speed and a negative offensive WAR rating. You have to think the Phillies could have found a better utility man than someone who couldn’t run or field the ball. Maybe because the memory of him is so new, Martinez earns the dishonor of being the worst player in Phillies history.
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