Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #15 Jimmy Rollins

For me, it is hard to believe Jimmy Rollins has been the Phillies shortstop for over a decade now. In that time he has developed into one of the faces of the franchise and established himself the best player at his position in club history. No one else is even close.

In January of 2007 Jimmy Rollins rolled out:
The Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally. But, that's only on paper.
This quote was widely reported, often without the second part ("only on paper") and it simply enraged New York Mets fans. Supremely confident in himself and the team, Jimmy refused to back down. Things didn't go exactly as planned when the Mets built up a comfortable lead. They were seven games up with 17 left to play. In most circumstances, this would have been more than enough. Expect these magical 2008 Mets went 5-11 and while the Fightin Phils went 12-4 down the stretch. They were tied.

On the last day of the season, Rollins became the fourth player in history to achieve a 20/20/20/20 (doubles, triples, home runs, steals) in one season. His triple on that day capped the 6–1 win over the Washington Nationals that clinched the National League East division championship because the Mets lost again to the Marlins.

For his awesome year, JRoll was awarded the 2007 NL MVP beating out both Matt Holliday and Prince Fielder. He posted career-highs with his .296 batting average, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 41 stolen bases, 94 RBIs and 139 runs scored. In the field, he committed only 11 errors in over 700 chances.

To me, the most endearing moment for Jimmy Rollins wasn't a walk off hit or great play... it happened on June 5th, 2008 against the Reds. In the third inning, JRoll lofted an apparent inning-ending popup to the shortstop. Disappointed he had failed to drive in Carlos Ruiz from second, Rollins slowly jogged down the line only reaching first as Paul Janish dropped the ball for an error. Ruiz scored, but Manager Charlie Manuel took Rollins out of the game for not hustling.

Rollins reaction was not one what we have grown to expect from a millionaire star ballplayer, certainly not what you would expect from the league's reigning MVP. But Jimmy Rollins isn't just anyone. Instead of getting angry, causing a problem with the manager and the team, he accepted it.
He has two rules -- be on time and hustle; and I broke one of them today, I know better. Sometimes the manager gets you. I just have to go out there and make sure I don't do it again. It's something you learn from.
He may be more injury prone and may have lost a step... but there isn't many other ballplayers I would rather have playing short for my team than Jimmy Rollins.


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