Rollins led Phillies during decade
Shortstop provided spark to Philadelphia throughout '00s
PHILADELPHIA -- There have been plenty of looks back at the last decade in recent weeks.
Greatest moments. Greatest teams. Greatest players.
And that got us thinking: Who was the Phillies' player of the '00s?
There probably are five legitimate candidates for that distinction: Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. But an examination of the statistics shows Rollins is the most deserving.
He led the organization 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).
Rollins earned the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2007.
He helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008 and then make it back-to-back National League pennants in '09.
Rollins won three Gold Glove Awards and one Silver Slugger Award, and he played in three All-Star Games.
Rollins, 31, proved to be the most impactful player the Phillies had from the beginning to the end of the decade. A second-round pick in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, Rollins was one of the first young stars to come through the Phillies' system and play a major role in the revival of a franchise that until 2001 -- Rollins' first full season in the Majors -- had not enjoyed a winning season since '93.
"I'll go back to Dallas [Green's] comments about shortstops," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "With all due respect to Bobby Wine and Ruben Amaro Sr. and Larry Bowa, there clearly isn't a better shortstop in the history of the franchise in my mind than Jimmy. Defensively, he is so steady and consistent. You almost don't even notice him. He's just taken for granted that every ball hit to the left side, somewhere between the hole and second base, that it's going to be picked up and thrown across the diamond.
"And couple that with what he's done offensively and how he's improved over the years. I know he had a couple years with some ups and downs, but the man has won an MVP. He's made himself an offensive player who has been our sparkplug."
And he has been around for a while. Rollins is entering his 10th full season in 2010, and 11th season overall.
"We were amazed that Mike Schmidt played here 18 years," Phillies president David Montgomery said. "Jimmy is gaining on that number. I think that the contribution that he has made, clearly what he has done defensively, has been spectacular. That coupled with all those offensive numbers. And that coupled with leadership."
Montgomery recalls when the Phillies traded Abreu and other veterans players in July 2006. He thought it allowed Rollins and Utley to assert themselves as leaders in the clubhouse. Rollins showed he wasn't afraid to step up when he proclaimed Philadelphia the team to beat in the NL East before the '07 season. The Phillies started the season 4-11, but Rollins took the heat and they ultimately overcame the Mets with 17 games to play.
Rollins played a big part in that.
"He's part of this clubhouse harmony," Montgomery said.
And with the Phillies picking up his 2011 club option, he will be part of it at least two more seasons.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.