Jimmy Rollins, the Hit Record, and other Phillies Milestones

Ronald Martinez

Rollins will become the Phillies' all-time leader in hits in a couple of months, and will be a fixture atop many of the team's lists for many years to come.

[Milestones for other Phillies will be the subject of a separate article.]

Jimmy Rollins' statement that he wants to stay with the Phillies in order to achieve team records has gotten some flak, but what I hear in that is that the Phillies are the only team he's ever known, and one where he has experienced a lot of success, both personally and as a team, and now that he's so close to achieving something historic with that team, he's not interested in throwing all that away.

The milestone that gets the most attention is the Phillies' all-time hits record. He came into the season needing 59 hits to tie and 60 to surpass and take sole possession of the record currently held by Mike Schmidt, and barring injury he is certain to reach that by June. There has been some speculation that if the Phillies are out of it in July, they may look to trade Rollins, and that once Rollins has the hits record he may be more willing to waive his no trade clause. If Rollins winds up being traded at the deadline, it will be the third time since Ed Delahanty set the record in 1901 that a Phillie got just enough hits to beat the team record before retiring or being traded. The three who are currently ahead of Rollins:

#3) Ed Delahanty (1888-1901), 2,213 (Rollins needs 38 total this year to tie) -- The Hall of Fame outfielder surpassed teammate Sam Thompson for the most hits in the Phillies' short history in 1898, Thompson's last year with the the team. By the time Delahanty finished his Phillies career after the 1901 season (when he jumped to the year-old Washington Senators), he had 2,213 hits, well ahead of Thompson's 1,478. He would remain the Phillies' all-time hits leader for another 58 years.

#2) Richie Ashburn (1948-1959), 2,217 (Rollins needs 42 to tie) -- Whitey had the worst year of his career in 1959, including a career low 150 hits. Ashburn finally passed Delahanty on September 22nd, with only 4 games left in the season. That turned out to be the end of his Phillies career, and he was traded to the Cubs in January 1960. This time the record would stand for 30 years.

#1) Mike Schmidt (1972-1989), 2,234 (Rollins needs 59 to tie) -- Schmidt got off to a good start in 1989, and with two doubles on April 20th he not only raised his OPS to .912, but those hits also gave him 2,218 for his career to pass Ashburn and set a new team record. However from that point through May 28th, he slumped terribly, hitting only .163/.282/.239 (.521 OPS), to drop his season's OPS to .668. On May 29th, after the Phillies had just made the trip down the coast from San Francisco to start a series in San Diego, Schmidt announced his retirement at Jack Murphy Stadium (video). It looks as though Schmidt's hits record will have stood for 25 years before falling.

Assuming Rollins is healthy and only rests occasionally, he will likely pass both Delahanty and Ashburn in May to move into #2, and Schmidt's record will be surpassed in mid-June, possibly at Citizens Bank Park during the June 10-15 homestand.

While the hits record is the milestone that most focus on, Rollins has already achieved a couple of others in the early going:

Opening Day Starts

He made his 14th straight opening-day start for the Philadelphia Phillies, which matched Cal Ripken's major league record for the most consecutive seasons starting at shortstop for the same franchise. In doing so Rollins also broke the NL record that he shared with Dave Concepcion of the great 1970s Reds teams. Larry Bowa started 12 openers in a row at shortstop for the Phils.

Mike Schmidt holds the Phillies record for consecutive starts on opening day with 16 (1974-89).

200th Home Run

Rollins hit his 200th home run in dramatic fashion on Opening Day, with a grand slam that put the Phillies up 6-0 against the Rangers. For a team that faced so much doubt and so many question marks coming out of Spring Training, particularly about their offense, it was an exciting way to start the season.

Reaching the 200 plateau in home runs put Rollins in some very exclusive company:

  • He became only the 19th player in history with at least 400 doubles, 100 triples, and 200 home runs. The only other shortstop on the list is Robin Yount, who played half his career at the position.
  • Only the 9th player (and only shortstop) with 200 home runs, 400 stolen bases, and 2,000 hits
  • Only the 3rd player ever with 200 home runs, 100 triples, and 400 stolen bases

Implications for Hall of Fame chances

With all of these gaudy counting stats, at the shortstop position no less, does that mean he has a strong shot at making the Hall of Fame? I won't go into detail on that here, but as I wrote a year ago, I think chances are that he will fall short, particularly if advanced stats continue to gain acceptance among Hall voters as expected, and gain prominence at the expense of counting stats.

2014 milestones summary

In addition to those covered already, if he's healthy and playing close to 2013 levels, he will reach these rankings on Phillies' all-time lists:

- 1st in At Bats: probably shortly before he sets the team hits record, Rollins will also pass Schmidt for the most At Bats in team history
- 3rd most singles in team history, passing Larry Bowa
- 9th most HRs, passing Dick Allen
- 7th in RBIs
- 6th most walks
- 3rd most times on base, passing Delahanty
- 4th most strikeouts
- 1st in caught stealing, passing Bowa for that as well
[CS stats have only been kept since 1951; at 82.7%, Rollins has the 26th highest SB% since then. Of the 145 players with 300+ attempts since 1951, Rollins has the 8th highest SB% (Pete Rose has the 145th).]

In addition, he'll likely also become the

- 2nd Phillie, and 12th shortstop in MLB history, to reach 3,500 total bases, and
- 2nd Phillie, and 6th shortstop, to reach 800 extra base hits

Below are the milestones Rollins is expected to reach in 2014, with approximate timing.

How to read: # needed in 2014 to reach each milestone, e.g. Rollins' 38th hit of the year will tie him with Ed Delahanty for 3rd on the Phils' all-time list, at 2213.

(click for a clearer image)
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Looking ahead to 2015

If Rollins isn't traded before the end of 2015, and assuming his option vests for next year, he will move up on a couple of more lists, including likely becoming the Phils' all-time leader in plate appearances. He also has a good shot to pass Ed Delahanty for 2nd most runs scored, and also for 2nd most singles.

Jr15_medium

So, again, if he stays healthy and in Philadelphia through the end of 2015, he will likely finish either 1st or 2nd in Phillies history in Games, Plate Appearances, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Singles, Doubles, Extra Base Hits, Total Bases, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealing.

He'll be a fixture atop those lists for many years to come.

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