Jimmy Rollins Wins NL MVP Award

When Jimmy Rollins predicted that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East in 2007, he should have also made the prediction that he was the player to beat in the majors, or certainly in the National League. The National League MVP was decided on Tuesday, and Jimmy Rollins edged out Matt Holliday to win the award.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted Rollins number one for the award on half (16 out of 32) the ballots, while Matt Holliday received 11 first place votes. Coming in third overall was Prince Fielder, who received five first-place votes (probably because in just his second full season in the majors, the 23-year-old Fielder led the league with 50 homers — becoming the youngest player to reach that mark).

The final points were as follows: Jimmy Rollins with 353, Matt Holliday with 336, and Prince Fielder with 284. Rounding out the top five were David Wright with 182 total points and Rollins’ teammate Ryan Howard with 112 total points. Rollins’ other teammate, Chase Utley, finished eighth in the standings with 89 points.

The race between first and second place votes was very close. The 17-point differential between Rollins and Holliday made the 2007 election the ninth closest in the NL since the current format was adopted by the BBWAA in 1938.

Rollins was pretty giddy about winning the NL MVP. Said Rollins, “It’s exciting. I’ve always said that I never thought about being an MVP player. 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…”

This is the seventh MVP award for a Phillie, as Rollins joins Chuck Klein (1932), Jim Konstanty (1950), Mike Schmidt (1980, 1981, 1986), and Ryan Howard (2006). With Howard, the Phillies become the first club with back-to-back MVPs since San Francisco’s Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, who received the prestigious award in 2000 and 2001.

Charlie Manuel, manager of the Phillies, was happy for Jimmy Rollins. Said Manuel, “Holliday had a great season, but every part of J-Roll’s game stood out. I like it man, well deserved. He was the guy who made us go. I’m happy [for him]. Once he popped up, he put his intensity where his mouth was. He likes the stage. Jimmy has what I’d call a good cockiness.”

Rollins acknowledged that his boast prior to the 2007 season may have helped earn him the recognition.

“I don’t think people would have paid half as much attention as they did [without the statement],” he said. “I made the statement because I believed in my team, not to draw attention to myself. 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, a switch-hitter, had impressive 2007 stats: 0.296 batting average, 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 94 RBIs, 139 runs scored, 212 hits, and 41 stolen bases. With those credentials, Rollins became the first player in history to collect at least 200 hits, 30 homers, 15 triples, and 25 steals in a season.

By comparison, Holliday also had monster stats in 2007:  0.340 batting average, 50 doubles, 36 homers, 137 RBIs, 216 hits, and 120 runs scored. Holliday led the league in batting average, RBIs, hits, total bases, doubles, and  extra base hits.

Some impressive stats for Rollins included his 139 runs scored and 88 extra-base hits, which were league records for a shortstop. Rollins also set a Major League record with 716 at-bats, and became the third shortstop in history to have at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season, after Barry Larkin in 1996 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998.

Personally, I think I would have preferred that Holliday won this award. I guess you can’t win them all, however. Rollins is a great sport, though; Rollins called Matt Holliday and congratulated him on having a great season. Said Rollins, “You never know which way it’s going to go. He had a spectacular season. I had a strong season. I didn’t know which way the writers were going to vote.”

Other interesting tidbits from the voting:

  • Jake Peavy was the highest ranked pitcher, gathering a total of 97 points for a 7th place finish
  • Albert Pujols finished with 50 total points and a 9th place finish
  • Only one reliever, Jose Valverde, was in the final standings; he finished with 19 total points
  • Holliday’s teammates, Troy Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe, finished with 13 and 2 total points, respectively
  • Interestingly, Tulowitzki received one 3rd place vote, even though he finished 18th in the standings overall
  • Six players (Rollins, Holliday, Fielder, Wright, Howard, and Chipper Jones) received more than 100 total points
  • Carlos Marmol, of the Chicago Cubs, received one 10th place vote to finish last (26th) in the standings
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~ by mlb2007playoffs on November 21, 2007.

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