Phillies Time Machine: 1992

Coming into Jim Fregosi's first full season as manager of the Phillies, 1992 showed some promise. The '91 version of the Phillies had approached the .500 mark and were showing signs of life under Fregosi. While a basic look at the stats might have suggested otherwise, the Phillies fell backward and finished sixth in the National League East, an embarrassing 26 games out of first place.

For the '92 Phillies, there were a number of strong individual performances. Curt Schilling held opposing hitters to the lowest batting average of any pitcher in the National League. Terry Mulholland led the league in complete games and when he couldn't finish them, Mitch Williams was there, recroding 29 saves.

Offensively, Darren Daulton led the league in RBI, John Kruk finished third in the batting race after leading the league for most of the season and Dave Hollins truly came into his own after taking over the everyday third base job. All of the individual accomplishments led to the Phillies finishing fourth in the league in runs scored and third in homeruns, but it also led them to an early winter vacation.

Coming into the season, the Phillies figured to be a team to contend with. There was plenty of offense and the pitching, while not spectacular, seemed that it might be good enough to keep the team in contention for a playoff spot.

Yup, everything seemed fine until spring training came around. Ken Howell and Jose DeJesus suffered season ending injuries before the team even broke camp, putting a huge dent in the pitching staff.

Still, things seemed bright for the Phillies, until the season started. The second pitch of the season hit Lenny Dykstra on the wrist, breaking a bone and sending him to the disabled list. Before long, Dale Murphy went down with an injury and the pitching staff suffered another setback when Tommy Greene landed on the DL. Before all was said and done, the Phillies would have 17 different players on the disabled list and were scrambling for warm bodies to fill holes. In all, 48 different players made appearances for the Phillies and 19 of them were rookies. The starting rotation alone saw 15 different pitchers start games for the Phillies. Some of the names would test even the greatest of baseball scholars; Jay Baller, Darren Chapin, Mike Hartley, Don Robinson, Keith Shepherd, Mickey Weston, Braulio Castillo, Jeff Grotewold, Tom Marsh, Joe Millette and of course, who could forget Julio Peguero.

The bright shining light that was the Philadelphia Phillies began to fade quickly. The Phillies were soon at the bottom of the division looking up and stayed there for basically the entire season with only a day or two out of the cellar after their initial arrival there.

After a thoroughly disappointing 1991 season, Darren Daulton showed the promise that the Phillies always saw in him. He was just the fourth catcher to win an RBI title, driving in 109 runs, setting a club record for catchers. He hit 27 homeruns and finished with a .270 batting average. Daulton had arrived as a major league catcher and would become a major force on the Phillies both on and off the field in their 1993 season that finished with the Phillies as National League Champions.

John Kruk didn't look the part of a batting champion, but he didn't care. Through much of the season, Krukker led the league in hitting and finished at .323 to finish third in the league. Kruk also chipped in with 70 RBI and was third on the team with 30 doubles.

In April, the Phillies sent pitcher Jason Grimsley to the Houston Astros for reliever Curt Schilling. That's right, reliever. Up to that point, Schilling had started just five of the 100 major league games that he had pitched in and they were all as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The Phillies put Schilling into the starting rotation and he responded. Schilling wound up with 14 wins and a 2.35 ERA in his first season in Philadelphia. He was second on the team in innings pitched with 226, just three behind Terry Mulholland.

Mulholland finished at 13-11, 3.81 with a league high 12 complete games. Of course, late in the season, Mulholland also landed on the DL.

Mitch Williams run as "Wild Thing" was gathering momentum in the Phillies bullpen. He notched 29 saves and sent Fregosi scrambling for his pack of cigarettes with almost every outing. In 81 innings – covering 66 games – Williams walked 64 and struck out 74. Still, he basically got the job done even though it was never easy or pretty.

The '92 season was the final one for classy veteran Dale Murphy. Murphy had come to the Phillies in 1990 in a deal with the Atlanta Braves. Murphy didn't exactly fit in with the players that the Phillies were assembling and his stay in Philadelphia was pretty short and unremarkable. Murphy played in just 18 games for the '92 Phillies, hitting .161 at the end of his career.

The season was not without its highlights. Mickey Morandini turned an unassisted triple play, the only one ever turned by a Phillies player. Jeff Grotewold came off the bench to hit pinch-hit homeruns three days in a row to become the first major leaguer to ever accomplish the feat.

It's impossible to figure where the Phillies might have been if the injuries hadn't plagued them the way that they did. Perhaps, the '93 Phillies would have been repeating what the '92 version had started. Still, the '92 team was the one that saw the emergence of Daulton, the arrival of Schilling and the start of Macho Row.


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