Says MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:
1. Darren Daulton: 1983, 1985-1997 Key fact: led the NL with 109 RBIs in 1992
More than a decade ago, I wrote “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments in Philadelphia Phillies History.” (The title really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) I wrote a chapter about the best players at each position in Phillies history. I chose Bob Boone over Daulton because Boone was a brilliant defensive catcher and served longer as an everyday player. But it was close. I knew it, even then.
Re-examining the numbers and careers, however, Daulton edges Boone for the No. 1 spot. He not only had monster offensive seasons for the Phillies, he led the pitching staff and the clubhouse. Daulton is one of only four catchers in baseball history to lead his league in RBIs: Roy Campanella (1953), Gary Carter (’84) and Johnny Bench (’70, ’72 and ’74) are the others. In Phillies history, Daulton ranks first at catcher in walks (607) and on-base percentage (.357); second in home runs (134), RBIs (567) and slugging percentage (.427); fourth in doubles (189); and sixth in hits (858). He ranks first in bWAR (22.5) and fWAR (24.4) among Phillies catchers in the modern era (post-1900).
Strictly comparing Daulton’s numbers to Boone’s, it surprised me to learn that they essentially had the same amount of plate appearances over their Phillies careers. Daulton had 4,188 plate appearances to Boone’s 4,152. Boone had more hits (957), but fewer doubles (172), home runs (65), RBIs (456) and walks (365). Daulton slashed .245/.357/.427 with a .783 OPS, while Boone slashed .259/.325/.370 with a .695 OPS.
I asked the late Dallas Green and Jim Fregosi back then about who should be on the all-time team. Not surprisingly, each picked their guy.
“Talent-wise, Boonie played on much better teams, which allowed him to be able to just catch and play defense and not swing the bat,” Fregosi said in 2008, making his case for Daulton. “But Dutch didn’t just catch every day. He also hit fourth in the lineup and had to carry the offense. Longevity and career-wise, there’s no question Boone had a better career. But in a short period of time, Dutch was the guy. I’d take Dutch because of his leadership qualities and the offensive player he became.”