Phillies Player of the '00s: Rollins
I had been thinking for a couple weeks about the Phillies’ Player of the Decade.
Five candidates immediately came to mind: Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. It turned out those five players ranked first through fifth in games played in the ’00s. But it only took a few minutes to see that Rollins stood above the rest based on longevity and performance.
He made his big-league debut with the Phillies in Sept. 2000 and has been a fixture at shortstop since. He led the organization in the ’00s in games (1,406), at-bats (5,941), runs (945), hits (1,629), doubles (350), triples (95) and stolen bases (326). He ranked fourth in RBIs (621), behind Burrell (827), Abreu (647) and Howard (640). He ranked fifth in home runs, behind Burrell (251), Howard (222), Utley (161) and Abreu (158). He earned the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2007. He helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008 and back-to-back National League pennants in ’09. He won three Gold Glove Awards and one Silver Slugger Award, and he played in three All-Star Games.
Could I have made a case for Utley or Howard? Absolutely. Of the 19 players who had 1,000 or more at-bats for the Phillies in the ’00s, Rollins ranked 10th in average (.274), 15th in on-base percentage (.329) and 10th in slugging percentage (.439). But since Jim Thome‘s arrival before the 2003 season, the Phillies led the National League with 5,814 runs. This team has been loaded with offensive talent, so it’s not like Rollins’ rankings in those categories are against a bunch of stiffs. And he plays shortstop, so he’s not going to compete for slugging percentage titles with the likes of Howard, Thome, Burrell, Abreu and Jayson Werth. Rollins was one of the best offensive shortstops of the decade. He ranked first amongst shortstops in triples; third in runs and doubles; fourth in hits and home runs; and fifth in RBIs.
He also was one of the best defensive shortstops of the decade. You can’t undersell Rollins’ defense. It’s huge.
Rollins has been an impact player. He is one of the first young talents to help turnaround what had been a sorry franchise. Howard, Utley, Abreu and Burrell made their marks, but Rollins was a major contributor from beginning to end.
We should be running the Phillies’ Pitcher of the Decade on Friday. I found that decision much more difficult.