2009 marks only the 2nd time Philly reached the playoffs 3 consecutive seasons, matching a run from 1976 to 1978. In the 60 years prior to America's bicentennial, only 1 of their teams made the post-season at all: 1950's "Whiz Kids." In 1980, TCMA recalled this high-energy squad in a 31-card set; #5 pictures 17-game winner Curt Simmons. (And hey, The Phillies Room blogged this set just last month!)
The 1950 and 2009 teams both stand out for their average age, but at opposite ends of the spectrum. Future Hall-of-Famers Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts, both only 23, headed 1950's collection of "kids." Only 1 position regular had reached 30 and closer Jim Konstanty was the pitching staff's "old man" at 33. This year, guys like Jamie Moyer (46), Pedro Martinez (37), and Chan Ho Park (36) make new acquisition Cliff Lee (30) below Philly's average age.
1950's lineup hit for an OPS+ of 102 and pitched a lights-out ERA+ of 116. With a competent lineup and superior pitching, which outcome's most surprising?
- The Yankees swept their series in 4 games
- Philly sank back to last place by 1958
- The photographer took midday pictures without shadowed faces
Should Philly face the Yankees, it'll be their first post-season meeting since that 1950 series and you can expect a few callbacks to the Whiz Kids. Hat tip to Baseball-Reference.com for the gents from that roster who are still with us.