Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon says the 2012 Phillies were the “best team he’s ever played for”
Jonathan Papelbon is arguably the greatest closer in Phillies history and is high in the rankings for the best closer of all time. He’s saved 368 total games throughout his 12-year career, with over 752 innings pitched.
The former Phillies closer sat down on the Live BP Show Podcast recently and spoke about his whole career in general. The most interesting thing he noted, was that the 2012 Phillies team was the best team he’s ever played for. Here’s part of what he had to say.
“The best team I played on was the first team I got in Philadelphia (in 2012). By far, as far as players go. Now, the best team, and the ability to come together and get a win despite everything was obviously the 2007 Red Sox team that won the World Series.”
“We didn’t all get along, but we didn’t care, we all had a common goal. But in Philadelphia, we didn’t all have that common goal. But I had Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, myself, I mean, there’s like, eight Hall of Famers right there! I was like ‘I’m about to go win me three or four more championships! And it’s gonna be cake!’”.
“And then Utley plays like 83 games. Ryan Howard is still coming back from his torn Achilles. It was like ‘oh, crap’. I mean, they were in the playoffs just like the Red Sox. But, what’re you gonna do?”
The Phillies had a loaded roster on paper in 2012. They finished that season 102-60, finishing first in the NL East. The team would crumble to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NL Divisional Series, and end the magical five-year run at the playoffs.
Ryan Howard had his demoralizing injury running to first base on the last play of the game, and the rest is history. The team has not made the playoffs since, and it seems like the Howard injury was a “sign” of what was to come in the future.
Jonathan Papelbon had one of the greatest, least talked about careers in Phillies history. In four seasons with the Phillies (2012-2015), he tallied a 2.31 ERA in 234 games. He threw a total of 237.2 innings, tallying up 123 saves, which is still the franchise record. He carried a SO/9 ratio of 9.5 throughout his career in Philly and was a guy that the team could rely on.
Jonathan Papelbon never had an ERA over three in Philly and was elected to his sixth all-star game in 2015, right before being traded to the Washington Nationals mid-season.
You might remember Jonathan Papelbon’s tenure in Washington from his epic dugout showdown with Bryce Harper in 2015. The two nearly killed each other after Harper came back into the dugout after recording an out at the plate.
Jonathan Papelbon didn’t like what happened, and Bryce Harper wasn’t having it with Papelbon.
2012 Phillies Opening Day Lineup
Shane Victorino- CF
Placido Polanco- 3B
Jimmy Rollins- SS
Hunter Pence- RF
Ty Wiggington- 1B
John Mayberry- LF
Carlos Ruiz- C
Freddy Galvis- 2B
Roy Halladay- P
That Phillies team dealt with a multitude of injuries that year. The team still had Ryan Howard on the bench recovering from his injury, and Chase Utley still recovering from ongoing knee pains.
The Phillies finished 81-81 that season, a whopping 17 games back of the Nationals, who would end up losing to the Cardinals in the divisional series. The team just couldn’t string it all together in 2012, as they dealt with inconsistent injuries, a struggling bench, and more.
In what was predicted to be another great year for the Phillies pitching staff, they didn’t live up to expectations. Roy Halladay finished with a 4.49 ERA, the team went back and forth with Joe Blanton and Vance Worley as their #5, and the bullpen struggled, outside of Jonathan Papelbon.
Antonio Bastardo, Michael Schwimer, Chad Qualls, and Jeremy Horst were the four big names out of the bullpen that year, along with Jake Diekman. They never found their footing, as Bastardo, Schwimer, and Qualls all finished with an ERA above 4. Jonathan Papelbon carried the bullpen in 2012 and earned an All-Star spot that year as well.
The 2012 Phillies didn’t get to their full potential, but Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t wrong about the talent inside the clubhouse. Even after his run with the historic 2007 Red Sox, Papelbon said that this Phillies team was truly the best team he’s ever played with.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports