This Phillies legend’s Hall of Fame case is stronger than you realize

Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images) /
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Are any former Phillies going to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022?

There are several former Philadelphia Phillies on this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, but none of them are a sure thing.

Bobby Abreu, Scott Rolen, and Curt Schilling have each been on the ballot at least three times, and are joined by first-timers Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins.

Today, we’re talking about Rollins, who spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies, dating back to them drafting him in the second round of the 1996 June Amateur Draft. Rollins made his debut in September 2000 (14 games), so his real rookie season came the following year when he played in 158 games and led the NL in at-bats (656), triples (12), and stolen bases (46). He was an All-Star that first year, and finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting, as well as 17th in NL MVP voting.

Over 15 years and 2,090 regular-season games with the Phillies, Rollins compiled .267/.327/.424 and a .751 OPS. He led the NL in triples four times, stole 30+ bases 10 times, and remains the Phillies’ all-time hits leader, with 2,306.

In terms of longevity, Rollins is more like the baseball legends who played decades before him. He spent 17 years in the majors, playing a grand total of 2,275 games. 10 times in his career, he played 154+ games, and he played 137+ games in 14 of his 17 seasons.

In the context of today’s hitters, it’s astounding that Rollins never struck out more than 113 times in a season, and only struck out 100+ times in four of his 17 years in the big leagues.

In 2007, he led MLB in games played (162), plate appearances (778), at-bats (716), and led the NL in runs scored (139) and triples (20). He won his first Gold Glove, his only Silver Slugger, and NL MVP, despite not being an All-Star. Sound familiar, Bryce Harper fans?

Rollins played a key part in the Phillies’ Golden Era, leading them to championship in 2008, and a second consecutive pennant in 2009. Never a prolific home-run hitter, he homered in the clinching games of both the 2008 NLDS and NLCS, sending the Phillies back to the World Series for the first time since 1993.

Defensively, the shortstop won four Gold Gloves (all with the Phillies, including three consecutively between 2007-09.

Will Jimmy Rollins’ low career WAR hurt his Baseball Hall of Fame chances?

Rollins amassed 47.6 bWAR during his career, which is well below the Hall of Fame average of 67.7 (based on 23 HOF shortstops). However, that number is seriously skewed by the legendary Honus Wagner, who somehow managed to build 130.8 WAR during his 21-year career between 1897-1917.

Rollins’ bWAR ranks 26th all-time, but it’s better than several Hall of Fame shortstops: Travis Jackson, Rabbit Maranville, Hughie Jennings, Phil Rizzuto, and John Ward.

What might hurt his case in this category is that Alex Rodriguez is also a first-timer on the ballot this year, and he finished his career with 117.5 bWAR, the runner-up to Wagner on the all-time list.

However, as The Good Phight noted, Rollins matches up with several Hall of Famers in elite offensive metrics:

"All shortstops with 200 HR & 2000 hits: Cal Ripken Jr., Derek Jeter, Robin Yount, Miguel Tejada, RollinsAll shortstops with 700 XBH & 400 SB: Honus Wagner, and Rollins"

In 2014, Jayson Stark discussed Rollins’ HOF chances three years before he retired. At the time, Rollins was four hits away from overtaking Mike Schmidt for Phillies’ all-time hits leader.

Phillies legend Jimmy Rollins’ numbers put him in Hall of Fame company

Stark noted that only six shortstops in MLB history had 2,000 hits and four Gold Gloves, including Rollins. Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, Alan Trammell, and Derek Jeter are all in the Hall, while Omar Vizquel’s horrific off-field issues will likely (and rightfully) keep him out.

"“The offensive quality he has in common with Smith, Vizquel and Aparicio is that they could all flat out steal a base. But here’s what they don’t share: Those three hit fewer home runs combined (191) than Rollins has hit by himself.”"

How many players have ever hit 20 home runs, 20 doubles, 20 triples, and stolen 20 bases all in one season? Four.

How many shortstops in MLB history have 400 stolen bases and 200 home runs? Just Rollins.

Ultimately, Rollins has a lot of Hall of Fame qualities, and some that are less than. But as Stark noted, there is no “set of magic numbers” for the Hall. So while Rollins almost certainly isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but his career, both as a total package and in its intricacies, is deserving.

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