Who is the best athlete in Philly? We at Brotherly Love Nation have compiled what we believe is the top 20 best athlete’s in Philadelphia. Over the next several weeks we will announce our selections with an article on each member of the top 20. The list will start with # 20 today and end with #1 in a few weeks. We are basing our rankings on how good a player is at this time. Past accomplishments or potential are considered but they don’t have a major factor in the decision. The list is who we think is the best athlete RIGHT NOW in Philadelphia.
#20 Brad Lidge Phillies Closer
The bullpen door opens; a player walks down the steps and slowly onto the field. 45,000 phans rise to their feet in anticipation of the game ending. A closer has the most pressure filled job in all of baseball, the game is on the line and it all falls squarely on their shoulder. Brad Lidge had the “Perfect Season” in 2008 in more ways than just going 48 for 48 in save oppurtunites. His performance in the 2008 season earned him his nickname, Lights Out Lidge. Everything seemed to go his way that season. He was on the mound as the Phillies clinched the cities first championship in 25 years.
But the list is not about what Lidge has done in the past and a lot of people would argue that Lidge doesn’t deserve a spot. He had a very forgettable 2009 season where everything seemed to go wrong for the Closer. In 2009 Lidge blew 11 saves on his way to a horrendous 7.21 era. Many thought that the lighting in a bottle that Lidge seemed to capture the previous year was gone. Lidge’s velocity had significantly dropped and he always seemed to have a nagging injury. He was consistently bad the entire season, his “best” month statistically was when he went 6 for 6 in save opportunities but had a 5.91 era.
For Lidge, the 2010 season was an opportunity to put the horrible performance in 2009 in the rear view mirror and try to prove he is still an elite closer. But the season didn’t start great for Lidge, due to a lingering elbow injury he started the season on the disabled list. His first appearance in 2010 didn’t go great either, in 1/3 of an inning he allowed 2 hits and 1 run to the hated New York Mets in a 9-1 loss on April 30th. The begining of season wasn’t bad but nothing like the one he had in 2008. He converted his first 4 saves of the season and didn’t blow a save till late June. But he then started to show signs of the pitcher from the season before, in June he had 7.04 ERA and he slightly improved it in July with a 6.00 ERA. The turning point in the season for Lidge was on July 31th while facing the Nationals. With 1 out in the 9th and the Phils up by a run, Lidge allowed a walk off 3 run home run to Nats 3b Ryan Zimmerman.
It was this moment that Lidge realized that he couldn’t’ throw his fastball by people anymore. Lidge is on the list for that reason. He starting using his slider to setup his fastball and he began to get people out. The fastball was just used to keep hitters honest and not able to look for the slider. After the blown save in Washington, Lidge finished the regular season going 17 for 18 with a miniscule 0.73 ERA! He also struck out a batter every inning. He wasn’t blowing anyone away with his fastball but his slider seemed to have the devastating bite it did in 2008. Lidge was also great in the postseason in limited action. In 4 games he went 2 for 2 and didn’t allow an earned run. I fully expect Lidge to carry this momentum in the 2011 season and reestablish himself as one of the National Leagues best closers. Towards the end of the last season, he showed his veteran savvy as he began to pitch, instead of just throwing the ball by people. He showed the type of dominate closer he can be towards the end of last season. Another great season by Lidge will instantly make a “weakness” for the team a major strength.
Trent Cole Eagles Defensive End
It was a very tough decision to keep Cole off the list; I believe he is one of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL. If it was the top 21, he would be on the list. Maybe we were influenced by the disappearing act Cole had during the 2nd half of last season and in the postseason game against the Packers. I feel like we keep waiting for Cole to emerge as as a more dominate player. A player of Cole’s caliber would have made the list last season and might have been on the list at any other point in Philadelphia Sports history but there are a lot of elite athletes in the City. His admission off the list has more to do with the talent level in Philly, than Cole’s lack of talent. Cole has posted double digit sack totals in 3 of the last 4 seasons and is one of the best all around defensive ends in the game. With a strong 2011 campaign, he could easily find himself on next year’s list.
Andre Iguodala 76ers G/F
Iguodala was supposed to be the future of the team after the other AI was traded away. But he has never lived up to the expectations we have all set for him. In the end, Andre is a very good player but has already reached his ceiling. He would be a great compliment player on a great team but he will never be “the guy” on a championship contender. Andre is capable of playing shutdown defense but has never developed a consistent jumper. He was a guy who was hard to leave off the list, but when we compared him to the guys we ultimately selected ahead of him. It wasn’t that difficult of a decision.
Carlos Ruiz Phillies Catcher
Ruiz is a guy who wasn’t in the conversation when we compiled our list, but I felt Chooch deserved at least a shout out. He will never get any national attention and be nationally regarded as an elite player. But this is mainly because what he means to the team can’t be measured in the stat sheet. He is the kind of catcher that you want, he is very good defensively and knows how each pitcher wants to attack each hitter better than the pitcher himself. Chooch was also one of the team’s most consistent hitters last season and has slowly turned himself into a very good hitting catcher. CHOOOOOOCCCH!!!