Pride of Philadelphia
NL MVP, Gold Glove
There's an old saying variously attributed to either Will Rogers or Dizzy Dean: "If you can do it, it ain't bragging."
Jimmy Rollins embodies the Spirit of Philadelphia because in his magical, Most Valuable Player 2007 season, he led the Phillies to the National League East division title with more than just numbers, as spectacular as those numbers were. Rollins led the Phillies with his attitude. And attitude will take you far in Philadelphia.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins announced in January that, "We're the team to beat" in the division. It took the Phils all 162 games, but they won the division on the last day of the regular season to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
"I made the statement because I believed in my team, not to draw attention to myself," he later explained. "I did want to put pressure on the team and have us go out there and perform because we've come up a game or two short every year and we needed to get an edge to us. That was the point of me saying that."
Rollins led the Phillies to the 2007 division title with a sustained performance of historic if not amazing excellence. Jimmy Rollins started every single game and batted leadoff for most of the season. His 716 at-bats set a Major League record. He became the first player in baseball's storied history to register at least 200 hits, 25 homers, 15 triples and 25 steals in the same season. His 139 runs scored and 88 extra-base hits were league records for a shortstop. He was only the third shortstop in league history to tally 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same season, and only the sixth National League shortstop to win MVP.
Oh, and Rollins played one of the most difficult defensive positions to field, well enough to win his first Gold Glove award. "He's the guy that sets our offense and he's the guy that sparks our defense," understated Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
"Jimmy Rollins is what you get when you cross a ballet dancer with a bulldog," wrote Bill Conlin in the Philadelphia Daily News.
No one can say that they couldn't see Rollins' 2007 masterpiece coming: In 2006, he set single season club records for home runs and runs scored by a shortstop while establishing career highs in home runs, runs scored, doubles, RBIs and sacrifice flies. With Rollins following teammate Ryan Howard's MVP Award in 2006, the Phillies became the first team with consecutive MVPs since the San Francisco Giants' Jeff Kent (2000) and Barry Bonds (2001). (In addition, Rollins' teammate, centerfielder Aaron Rowand won a 2007 Gold Glove.)
"It's exciting. I've always said that I never thought about being an MVP player," Rollins reflected upon receiving his MVP notification. "Winning the Gold Glove to me was winning the MVP for shortstop, and that's as far as I went. But to be blessed with the 2007 MVP…"