Rollins leads the Phillies in RBI through 15 games. Credit: Getty Images
When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said that Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.
Eyebrows were raised since not only has it been seven seasons since Rollins hoisted the NL MVP hardware, J-Roll went off an offensive cliff last season.
“I really think 2013 could have been one of those seasons in which things didn’t go right for him,” Kruk said. “I really think Jimmy has something left in him. He played well defensively last season, like always. I’m curious if he can turn it around with the bat. The Phillies need him to pick it up offensively if they’re going to contend for a playoff spot.”
Rollins has 10 RBIs, good for the team lead. He’s more than a quarter of the way to last season’s paltry total of 39 RBIs. “I know I can do better than last season,” Rollins said. “I can still be very productive at the plate.”
It didn’t look good during spring training when Rollins and most of his teammates put up miserable numbers. ‘Who cares,” was Rollins response to a question asked about the team’s poor Grapefruit numbers.
“Jimmy’s right,” a NL scout said. “There’s a big difference between the numbers you put up during the season and in March. Jimmy looks good, better than he did last season. He’s hitting the ball hard and he’s been clutch. It’s early but it’s definitely a good sign for the Phillies. He looks like he’s playing harder this season.”
Perhaps Ryne Sandberg is the reason Rollins is rolling. “I’m playing the same way I’ve always played,” Rollins said. “No difference. I want to have the best season possible. I want to get back to the post-season. I’m hungry. We’re hungry.”
The Phillies were famished back in 2007 when they roared back from a 7 game deficit with 17 games to play to win the division during the last game of the season. It was the start of the most glorious run in franchise history. Rollins led the way with 30 homers, 94 RBIs, 38 doubles, 20 triples with a .296 average and a .875 OPS.
Can Rollins, who was robbed of extra bases in the first today when Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman skied to snare his liner, come close to approximating those numbers? “I’m not worried about numbers,” Rollins said. “I hope my numbers are good but the only ones that matter are the wins and losses. I want to do what I can to help us get as many wins as possible.”