#13 Most Underrated Philly Athlete of All Time: Von Hayes

(6 points) You know who Von Hayes reminds me a lot of? Andre Iguodala. He does a lot of things well but nothing great, the team overvalued his talents, and he’s never compared against other players but against his own expectations. That said, one day I think we’ll look back and say that Iguodala is better than we give him credit for. Now is the time to look back and say that Von Hayes was better than we give him credit for.

From 1984 to 1990, only 17 players played in 100 games each season with an OPS+ (On-base plus slugging) of at least 100 each year.

Rk  Player
1 Robin Yount
2 Lou Whitaker
3 Darryl Strawberry
4 Cal Ripken
5 Tim Raines
6 Eddie Murray
7 Kent Hrbek
8 VON HAYES
9 Tony Gwynn
10 Dwight Evans
11 Andre Dawson
12 Chili Davis
13 Alvin Davis
14 George Brett
15 Wade Boggs
16 Jesse Barfield
17 Harold Baines
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/10/2012 courtesy of Highheatstats.com
Pretty decent company, eh? Furthermore, the trade really wasn’t that bad. The only person of consequence the Phillies gave up was Julio Franco. Yeah, he turned out to be about as good as Von Hayes, though for a hell of a lot longer. But over the 6 years after the trade was made (as long as Franco was in Cleveland), Hayes was the slightly better player. So this was hardly Moses Malone for Jeff Ruland. But the 5-for-1 tag haunted Hayes’s entire career. It was an unfair way to assess what was an absolutely stellar career in Philadelphia. Hayes is 20th in team history in career doubles, 24th in career hits, 10th in career steals, and 17th in career home runs (despite playing during a dead ball era).
But pretty much every old article you find online starts with the words 5-for-1. Von got ripped in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He somehow made it into Jayson Stark’s excellent Overrated/Underrated book as overrated. That’s like saying that Rodney Dangerfield gets too much respect. Von Hayes deserves to be seen as a very good player on some very bad Phillies teams, not as the “one” part of a 5-for-1 deal that never lived up to expectations.
Hayes currently coaches the Camden Riversharks.
PREVIOUSLY: #14 John LeClair
PREVIOUSLY: #15 Byron Evans

Most Underrated Philly Athletes of All-Time: #14 John LeClair

(6 points)

American-born NHL star John LeClair sits at No. 14 on our list of the most underrated athletes in Philadelphia sports history.  His career spanned 16 seasons, 10 of which were spent wearing the Orange and Black (’94-95 to ’03-’04).  There’s no denying the fact that John LeClair was one of the best scorers in the history of the franchise.  A quick run-down of his resume makes this abundantly clear:

  • As a Flyer, he averaged 43 goals and 83 points per year.*
  • He scored 50+ goals in three consecutive seasons from 1995-1998, becoming the first American-born player to accomplish that feat.
  • He amassed 70+ points in five consecutive seasons from 1995-2000.
  • He won the NHL Plus-Minus Award for the ’96-’97 season and the ’98-’99 season.
  • He was an NHL All-Star in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
  • He ranks 5th in Flyers history in goals and 7th in Flyers history in scoring.

So how is a guy with those stats underrated?  Two words: Eric Lindros.  Most Philadelphia sports fans credit Lindros for most, if not all of LeClair’s production.  Obviously, playing on the same line as one of the most talented players in the history of the league has its benefits, but the Vermont-native’s size (6’3″- 236lbs.), strength, and finishing ability can’t be questioned.  Whether he was parked in front of the net- taking a beating, deflecting shots, or pouncing on rebounds; or letting one of his heavy slap shots go, LeClair was a force for the Legion of Doom.  Lindros’ raw talent and play-making ability overshadowed LeClair’s consistency and production, which were vital to the success of that line.  And don’t forget Mr. Lindros wasn’t healthy all that often.  In the ’96-’97 season during which Lindros was absent for 30 games, LeClair still scored 50 goals.

No Flyer has dared to wear #88 since the Flyers traded Lindros to the Rangers in 2001, but there’s a 20-year-old kid wearing #10 for the Flyers now.

*In seasons he registered at least 76 games played.