Phillies Time Machine: 1953

<b>Manager:</b> Steve O'Neill<br> <b>Team Leaders (Hitting):</b><br> <b>HR:</b> D.Ennis (29), <b>RBI:</b> D.Ennis 125, <b>AVG</b> R.Ashburn (.330), <b>SB:</b> R.Ashburn (14).<br> <b>Team Leaders (Pitching):</b><br> <b>W:</b> R.Roberts (23), <b>CG:</b> R.Roberts (41), <b>IP:</b> R.Roberts (347), <b>K:</b> R.Roberts (198), <b>ERA:</b> R.Roberts (2.75)

There was a lot of reason for optimism coming into the 1953 season. The Phillies were one of the better teams late in the 1952 season and figured to be even better in '53.

The pitching staff was led by Robin Roberts, who was perhaps, the premier pitcher at the time. There was also Curt Simmons, who was one of the better left-handers in baseball, too. Young Steve Ridzik was a flame-thrower, who had started nine games in 1952 and was 4-2, 3.00 for the '52 Phils.

Robin Roberts strung together an amazing 28 consecutive complete games over the 1952 and 1953 seasons. He won his second Major League Pitcher of the Year Award as a member of the '53 Phillies. (Photo:AP)

Offensively, Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis and Granny Hamner were the big guys, but a supporting cast of Smoky burgess and Johnny Wyrostek wasn't too shabby. If that wasn't enough, the Phillies had picked up first baseman Earl Torgeson in a trade during the offseason.

As the season opened and the Phillies opened 9-2, it seemed like it would be a great summer in the City of Brotherly Love. By late May though, the optimism was much more subdued when the Phillies dropped five in a row. The Dodgers even took them for twelve runs in one inning and that was before the first out was even recorded.

Curt Simmons was off to a strong start, but had a run-in with his lawn mower and lost his big toe. Even with the mishap, Simmons went on to pitch 238 innings, going 16-13, 3.21, but was never quite as dominant as he was in the early going, after missing a month of the season. Against Milwaukee, Simmons threw a one-hitter, giving up a leadoff single before putting down 27 hitters in a row.

The Phillies might have been okay, if not for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers were a juggernaut and stashed the pennant in their back pockets and ran with it. Milwaukee's first season since moving from Boston, gave them momentum and they slowly overtook the Phillies and finished second, leaving the Phillies in their dust. By the end of the season, the Phillies had sunk to a third place tie with the Cardinals and were nine games out of second place and 22 games behind Brooklyn.

The middle infield changed its look shortly after the all-star game. Ted Kazanski came up from the minors to play shortstop, pushing Hamner to second base, where he replaced Connie Ryan. Ryan was solid, but came up short of expectations. He still finished the season hitting .296 for the Phillies.

Ridzik was disappointing, going 9-6, 3.77, which would have been worth a big contract today, but was less than what the Phillies had hoped for in '53. Reliever Jim Konstanty wound up starting 19 games for the Phillies and had a 14-10 record, but a high 4.42 ERA.

Richie Ashburn continued to lead the offense. He also led the league with 205 hits and led the Phillies with 14 stolen bases. The power came from Del Ennis, who clubbed 29 homeruns to lead the team. Ennis also drove in 125 runs and hit .285, playing in 152 games.

The big name for the '53 Phillies was Robin Roberts. For the fourth straight season, Roberts won 20 games and led the league in most pitching categories – wins (23), games started (41), complete games (33), innings pitched (347) and strikeouts (198) – not to mention leading the Phillies. 1953 saw the end of one of the most amazing streaks in baseball, when Roberts string of complete games hit 28-in-a-row before being snapped. The streak had begun during the '52 season and carried over to his amazing '53 campaign. The streak helped Roberts to his second straight Major League Pitcher of the Year Award from The Sporting News.

Record: 83-71 (third place)
Team AVG: .265
Team ERA: 3.80

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