When Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, you knew he’d be coming back to Philly, sparking a nice standing-ovation for him Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park and opening the flood banks to past glory experienced by the franchise that calls it home.
Of course, with that, we were bound to get lists of greatest Phillies.
Can we please refrain from the “all time” moniker, though? Anyone who lists Robin Roberts or Richie Ashburn or Rollins in the top five have absolutely no clue what “all time” means. It means all time, from the beginning of the franchise’s inception. Not from the time of your birth, or your father’s birth.
This club dates back to 1883, people. Its history in terms of wins and losses is pretty pathetic. But when it comes to great players, it’s had a few.
If you want to argue Mike Schmidt as the Phillies’ best everyday player ever and Steve Carlton the best pitcher, OK, that’s fair. Their production and longevity have earned them those spots in franchise lore. But they’re not slam dunks. Grover Cleveland Alexander, clearly, is the best hurler to don a Phillies’ uniform, but he only did so for eight years, compiling – get this – a 190-91 record and 2.18 ERA. Ed Delahanty, Sam Thompson and Chuck Klein, all Hall of Famers, could challenge Schmidt for the top spot overall.
None of those mentioned, if we’re talking “all time,” should ever be listed behind Roberts, Ashburn or Rollins, even with that trio’s extensive time with the Phillies. Their numbers just don’t hold a candle to Alexander, Delahanty, Thompson or Klein, even with that trio’s abbreviated time in relation.
The more interesting debate with Rollins, aside from his HOF proponents, is where he ranks among the Big Three who supercharged the 2008 World Series victory.
For me, it’s simple. At the height of their powers, Chase Utley was the best, Ryan Howard second best and Rollins third. But any ranking of this ilk would have to be on a career level, what a player did for a period of time with the club, and, with that, Utley and Rollins flip.
The latter is the one who not only had the initial impact, he had staying power, too, that the former did not. With the glove, he had no superior. With the bat, in my eyes, he was overrated, often greatly so. But he was good, and he provided a spark … and he brought a little bit of swagger to a club that did nothing to hurt its elevation to the game’s elite, if only for a few years.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org