New Day Dawning

Those Philly boo birds: Oh where, oh where have they gone? — Ron Costello

Stats Say Rollins & Bowa Are Aggressive — They Both Hustle

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When he came up, I thought he looked like a Little Leaguer.

Took my late nephew Danny to see the home opener in 1970 and thought Bowa looked like a little leaguer.

More than any two players from the same club, Rollins and Bowa beckon the question: Who’s better?

In Rollins' first full season in the majors, 2000, Bowa was his manager.

In Rollins’ first full season in the majors, 2000, Bowa was his manager.

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.

Rollins has a .983 fielding percentage, three points higher than Bowa's.

Rollins has a .983 fielding percentage, three points higher than Bowa’s.

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 was an overachiever as manager, too, and some players didn't like his style.

Bowa was an overachiever as manager, too, and that did him in.

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.

Rollins can drive the ball into the right field seats at Citizens Bank Park.

Rollins can drive the ball into the right field seats at Citizens Bank Park.

“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.

Will there be friction between bench coach Bowa and Rollins this season?

Will there be friction between bench coach Bowa and Rollins this season?

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)

 

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