There are certain moments in sports that come up once in a lifetime. Grandfathers reminisce of these moments like old war stories, children witness their first super heroes and Cooperstown locks them away for generations to awe over.
These are the moments where legends are born.
Fortunately we’ll witness one of these moments in our lifetime. In 2011 to be more specific.
We can’t guess the time, place or situation but at some point we’ll witness something magical. The Four Horsemen will deliver in 2011.
The Big Four. The Fantastic Four. Fab Four. R2C2. Four Aces. Four of a Kind. Mt. Fourmore. Roys R Us.
Whatever you want to call the Philadelphia Phillies four starters know this, 2011 will be un-phour-gettable.
With the reacquisition of Cliff Lee in the offseason to joining Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, then throw in Joe Blanton, the Phils have the potential to round out the greatest starting rotation baseball has ever seen.
At least on paper.
They’ve combined for six 20-win seasons, 13 All-Star game appearances and three Cy Young Awards.
This isn’t a Hall of Fame induction class (at least not yet) but the unbelievable reality for Philadelphia.
Compare them with the greats such as the ’54 Indians, ’71 Orioles and Braves rotations from ’96-’98 .
Unlike the above mentioned teams the Phillies have the chance to be the first to win a World Series, because they are built for the long haul.
Here’s the cold hard facts.
In 2010 the five combined for a 67-49 record with 1059 innings, a baseball rotation best 3.17 ERA and 24.1 WAR (wins against replacement player.)
Don’t let the record fool you. Oswalt was a mid-season pickup with a 6-12 record with Houston before going 7-1 with Philadelphia, Halladay had just switch leagues and teams while Lee switched leagues and teams, twice.
The 24.1 WAR ranks 6th all-time and that’s in a season where they never had the opportunity to all play with each other. They’re also just the fourth team in history with four starters with a WAR of at least 4.3.
All four aces all threw over 200 innings in 2010, led by last year’s National League Cy Young Award Winner Halladay’s Major League best 250.2 innings.
Halladay and Lee led their leagues in complete games and strikeout to ball ratio last season. Throw Oswalt in the mix and the three all rank in the active top 15 in both categories. The trio is also in the top eight of active career winning percentage and the first threesome to post a .620 or better win percentage in 54 years.
But when it comes down to it, winning a World Series is what matters and these five turn it up in the postseason with a combined 22-8 record, 3.30 ERA, seven Fall Classic appearances, two wins and a World Series MVP.
Enjoy the hype in only comes around every few generations.