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John Kruk: Jimmy Rollins is second best Phillie ever, Hall of Fame worthy

Jimmy Rollins has the most hits in Phillies history. (Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire)

Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Famer John Kruk has been part of a four-man booth for Peacock during the team’s weekend series against the San Francisco Giants. Also part of that booth? Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, who Kruk paid quite the compliment to in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“There was a bunch of us talking the other day – former players – and we all think that Schmitty [Mike Schmidt] is the best player that’s ever played for the Phillies. We voted Jimmy second, and not a distant second. You’re talking about [Steve] Carlton, Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Dick Allen – I mean you’re talking about some of the greats of the game. What Jimmy did for the city of Philadelphia for the Phillies and for himself, it’s Hall of Fame worthy in my opinion.”

The baseball historian in you is inclined to debate Rollins’ career against some of the names Kruk mentioned – along with Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ed Delahanty and Chase Utley – but it’s no doubt a gigantic compliment from one three-time All-Star to another.

“I appreciate it, Jon,” Rollins said. “It means a lot, definitely when it comes from the peers. We can’t control what the writers do and how they vote, but when you can leave the game in any sport or anything in life and be recognized that you made a mark, that means a lot.”

Rollins is the Phillies all-time leader in hits with 2,306. He was the catalyst for arguably the greatest era in team history – 2007-2011 – which saw the Phillies win five consecutive National League East titles, two National League pennants and the 2008 World Series. Rollins led the Phillies back to the postseason for the first time since Kruk’s 1993 squad in 2007, en route to winning the National League MVP.

Whether he’s the second best Phillie ever or not, there’s no debate he’s in the top 10, and perhaps closer to five than 10. He’ll probably be inducted onto the franchise’s Wall of Fame in the coming years, and there’s a strong case that his No. 11 – which hasn’t been worn since he last played for the team in 2014 – should be retired by the Phillies.

Of course, if Rollins gets elected to the Hall of Fame, that would clinch the Phillies retiring his number. Rollins – a four-time Gold Glove Award winner – will become eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2022, along with former teammates Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon. Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz and Tim Lincecum will also join a ballot that includes the holdovers of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling.

During spring training, Phillies Nation spoke to Rollins’ long-time manager, Charlie Manuel, about the franchise icon’s Hall of Fame case.

“I think actually as a player sometimes, Jimmy was an underrated player,” Manuel said. “I think that he definitely should be considered for the Hall of Fame with a good chance of getting in. If you followed his career and you look at his stats … you look at him as a leadoff hitter, things like that …compare of what kind of player he was and try to find somebody that’s in the Hall of Fame to compare him with, I think that he’ll actually score good. His RBIs and his run totals speaks for themselves. His RBIs came usually with the bottom of the order on base, and that means a whole lot. I think his defense got overlooked, because he was a good player that could run good and had a good bat.”

Whether Rollins is ever elected or not, he figures to remain on the ballot for quite some time, so we may be having this debate for the rest of Bryce Harper’s tenure in Philadelphia. Let the record show, though, if it was up to Kruk, Rollins would be headed to Cooperstown.


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