Oct 30, 2012

Jimmy Rollins Rolls Along: Gold Glove Edition

The Phillies, in their long, interminable, and mostly loss-accumulating history, have not been known as a team that touts a large number of players with career service greater than 10 years.  They have been, at times, a team of nobodies, a team of transients, a team where greatness fades, and a team where potential is not realized for many near-greats, all-stars, and all-time greats.  Here is a short list of Hall of Famers that you may or may not have known called the Phillies home for some years of their career: Jimmie Foxx, Hack Wilson, Lloyd Waner, Dave Bancroft, Roger Connor, Joe Morgan, Chief Bender, Ferguson Jenkins.....the list is longer than that.  A lot of these appearances in the (mostly) red and white occurred at the end of the player's career, with the notable exception of Jenkins, and show that when a franchise struggles, it's easy to reach for a dimming star to drive the attraction.

When one thinks of the Phillies, there are two names that immediately leap to mind and that is Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton.  Besides their exalted place in the pantheon of players, another reason is their longevity with the franchise.  Schmidt and Carlton played with the Phillies for 18 seasons and 15 seasons, respectively.

There are few other Phillies that approach that longevity. Some that I can remember....

Robin Roberts: 15 seasons
Richie Ashburn: 12 seasons
Larry Bowa: 12 seasons
Garry Maddox: 12 seasons
Del Ennis: 11 seasons
Johnny Callison: 10 seasons
Willie Jones: 13 seasons
Curt Simmons: 13 seasons
Chuck Klein: 15 seasons
Darren Daulton: 14 seasons

I'm sure there's more out there, but these are the names that come to my mind immediately.

Joining this list as a modern Phillie is Jimmy Rollins.  He just keeps rolling along as a top-tier shortstop in the league.  This was further validated by receiving his 4th Gold Glove award today. (yes, I know all the problems associated with Gold Glove voting and how it doesn't really represent the best defender in a given year, especially with the controversial snub of Mike Trout in the AL).  What it does represent is how much his play is held in high esteem by his peers and opposing coaches.

He has grown from the fresh-faced rookie with dreads who lit a fire under the 2001 Phillies to their first winning season in 8 years to the confident and sometimes brash leader of the 5 time division winning Phillies to the productive veteran in his declining years.
This is his best base rookie card. Can you believe there are only two to chase?
He has always been one of my maddeningly favorite players.  He seems to pop up in the infield more and more, he doesn't like to walk, he gets called out for jogging plays out....but he's exhilarating to watch, he can rope a liner into the alley for a triple (the first Phillie to reach 100 triples since Sherry Magee), he can pull a ball down the line for a home run, he will steal bases with flair, abandon, and intelligence (83% career success rate with over 400 career steals).

He now sits in exalted company in Phillies history: 4th in hits, 4th in triples, 3rd in runs, 2nd in doubles, 12th in RBIs, and 3rd in stolen bases.  He may not be a Hall of Famer, but he has secured his place in the annals of Phillies history.  Here's to at least two more years of burgeoning productivity and steady shortstop play.

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