On this day in 1978 one of the top players in Philadelphia Phillies history, Jimmy Rollins, was born.
The three-year All-Star, four-time Gold Glover and one-time MVP is arguably the best shortstop in Phillies history and he without a doubt played a huge role in developing a winning attitude in Philadelphia, where it was long thought to be nearly impossible. Rollins will one day be added to the Phillies Wall of Fame in Citizens Bank Park, having put together a Philadelphia career that will deserve to be remembered alongside other past Phillies greats.
Rollins may in fact be on the downside of his career and sure, we will be quick to point out his flaws when things are not going well, but I just cannot picture Rollins in any other baseball uniform. I am glad he's a Phillie, and no matter what happens in the final years of his career I believe he will be a Phillie for life.
Happy birthday Jimmy Rollins.
Here are my top five Jimmy Rollins moments, in no particular order.
1. "The Team to Beat"
Perhaps the most remembered line of Jimmy Rollins's career is when he made the bold statement prior to the 2007 season, "I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally."
Speaking to the media leading up to the start of the spring training Rollins made the suggestion that the Phillies were ready to finally win a division after not winning one since 1993. The comment caught the attention of everyone, including the New York Mets. As it turned out, the Mets choked away the 2007 NL East Division and Rollins led the Phillies to grabbing it on the final day of the season.
Because of Rollins' statement in 2007 he has been asked every successive season by at least one member of the Philadelphia media to make a prediction. Yes, it has gotten a little stale by now and you cannot duplicate a comment on the whim, but the statement showed Rollins to be a leader of the team in a changing of the guard in Philadelphia.
2. 20-20-20-20 clinches MVP
Jimmy Rollins certainly talked the talk, but in 2007 he also walked the walk. In a season Rollins thrust himself under a microscope with his "team to beat" comment, Rollins proved worthy of backing up what he said. Rollins became the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases on the final day of the season with his 20th triple to help the Phillies grab the NL East crown against the Washington Nationals.
3. NLCS Walk-off vs. Jonathan Broxton
Rollins has had a handful of walk-off hits, but none are more memorable than his walk-off hit against Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton in game four of the 2009 National League Championship Series.
Down 4-3 and in danger of seeing the Dodgers even the NLCS at two games apiece, Rollins lined a ball in to the gap in left center field with pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz on first and second base with two outs. The ball was hit to the perfect spot of the field to be able to score Ruiz from first base, giving the Phillies a wild win and full control of the NLCS with a 3-1 edge with game five being played at home.
4. Rollins saves 2008 NL East with defensive effort
Jimmy Rollins has been a terrific outfielder throughout his career, and he has made a number of terrific plays, but his start of a double play in the NL East clincher against the Nationals in 2008 may be one for the ages.
Brad Lidge had been perfect closing games for the Phillies all season, but his final appearance in the 2008 regular season was a tight rope act, with the bases loaded, two outs and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Zimmerman smacked a ground ball up the middle but just within the reach of Rollins, who was able to flip the baseball to Chase Utley for one out, and Utley was able to make the relay to first base for the second, division clinching out to Ryan Howard.
It really was a fine defensive effort that could have easily gone the other way, but as with many moments witnessed in 2008 it all just seemed to work out.
5. 2,000 hits for Rollins
Only four Phillies have accumulated 2,000 hits in franchise history. Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn and Ed Delahanty were joined by Rollins last September when Rollins lined a double in Cincinnati for his 2,000th career hit.
As long as he stays healthy, Rollins should easily end his career in Philadelphia as the franchise's all-time hits leader, as he will start the 2013 season just 210 hits shy of Schmidt's franchise leading 2,234 career hits (with the Phillies).