More than any two players from the same club, Rollins and Bowa beckon the question: Who’s better?
They both turned the double with the artistry and symmetry of the Sistine Chapel painter, in a palace where Popes held court.
If Maddox was the Secretary of Defense, then Secretary of Interior would confer nicely on Bowa and Rollins.
Not much got through their interior — the piece of real estate between second and third. A patch of dirt or turf where Bowa and Rollins held court. Bowa 16 years, Rollins 13 and counting. But do the stats tell us the whole story, when trying to determine which one was better? One thing’s for sure, stats don’t lie.
Kids lie. Grown ups lie. Politicians lie. Stats? No way.
They played in different eras, with different teammates, in different parks, hit in different spots in the lineup, and played under different managers. That said, their defensive numbers are startling — giving Rollins a slight edge. Bowa’s fielding percentage average, .980 — Rollins, .983. Both fielding percentages better than the great Cardinal shortstop, the Wizzard of Oz. In career fielding percentages for all shortstops since Abner Doubleday, Rollins is 3rd, Bowa is 8th. Offensively, however, Rollins has much more than a slight edge.
Take a look. Stats don’t lie. (season ave in parenthesis)
Ave – R – .269; B – .260
HR – R – (17) 199 B – (1) 15
RBI – R – (69) 832 B – (38) 525
OBP -R – .327 B – .300
BB – R (57) 689 B – (34) 474
SO – R (87) 1,045 B – (41) 569
SB – R – (35) 425 B – (23) 318
H – R – (181) 2,175 B – (158) 2,091
R – R – (103) 1,247 B – (71) 987
The biggest difference, of course, is the power numbers: home runs and RBIs. Rollins ran more than Bowa and had a higher on base percentage because he walked more and had more hits. On the other hand, Rollins struck out more. A lot more.
Bowa appeared in one World Series, Rollins, two. Rollins has stats that could put him in the baseball Hall of Fame. Bowa doesn’t.
So let’s cut to the chase.
Bowa was an overachiever, no doubt. He worked hard to become a good shortstop — loved by the Philly faithful because Bowa wore his heart on his sleeve. Rollins has been questioned lately about his work ethic, leadership, and team loyalty.
“He’s not a leader,” the criticism goes. “He’s more concerned about his individual stats than the team,” the critics shriek. “He’s not trying,” fans holler.
The same criticism was directed at Mike Schmidt, too, and he ‘not tried’ his way into the Hall of Fame.
Bowa’s heart on his sleeve approach carried into his managerial style and some players — Scott Rolen and Pat Burrell, for example — didn’t care for it. He got in their faces.
Maybe players who played that way can’t manage that way, and Bowa is the perfect example. You can overachieve on the field, but when it comes to managing, overachiever doesn’t cut it.
Some millionaire players didn’t like to hear, “You stink.” And Bowa wasn’t afraid to dish it out.
As for Rollins, the grumbling spewing out about his ineffectiveness, his lack of leadership, his not caring, gives some writers something to write about in spring training. But it’s bull.
Rollins had an off year last season. Six home runs, 39 RBIs, and a .252 batting average. Far below his average numbers. He’s battled leg injuries — in 2010 he had a serious pulled muscle in his calf and missed considerable playing time. Those problems seem to be over.
Jimmy Rollins will be 36 in November and is a hell of a shortstop. Unfortunately, he may not be appreciated by the Philly faithful until he’s gone.
Why doesn’t that surprise you?
(Note: Since Rollins is still playing, his career stats will change)