Rollins or Holliday: Who Wins and Why?

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Last season, it was Ryan Howard picking up the National League MVP Award. This season, Jimmy Rollins is awaiting word on whether he can make it two Phillies in a row to pick up the hardware. Meanwhile, Colorado's Matt Holliday is hoping that he gets the nod in the voting. We've got the breakdown on who wins and why.

The first thing to remember, is that the voting for the MVP Award is based on the regular season. The second thing to remember, is that Matt Holliday gets an extra game to consider, since the Rockies tie-breaking game at the end of the season counts as a regular season game. It's also worthy of noting that Holliday put himself on display with a big game that continued his push to get the Rockies to the post-season and eventually, to the World Series.

In fact, the Rockies improbable run down the stretch was the perfect stage for Holliday to preach from in his effort to win the National League MVP Award. Holliday hit .442 (23-for-52) from September 16 to the end of the season when the Rockies went 14-1 to force a playoff game with the San Diego Padres to determine who would win the Wild Card in the NL. Holliday also contributed five home runs and 17 RBI over the 15 game stretch as he put the Rockies on his back and carried them to the post-season. That's not to say that Holliday was a bust the rest of the season, since he was hitting .330 with 31 home runs and 120 RBI coming into that stretch.

For Jimmy Rollins, 2007 was the kind of season that players can usually only dream of putting together. Both at the plate and in the field, Rollins exemplified what the Phillies were all about and he started it early, deeming the Phillies the team to beat in Spring Training. That cry for confidence was turned into a rallying cry all season long and Rollins never let his teammates take their eye off the prize. He was as constant as a player can be, playing in all 162 games and collecting a Major League record 716 at bats for the Phillies. He also accomplished a baseball rarity, picking up more than 20 doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases and drove in an amazing 81 runs as a leadoff hitter and another 13 hitting out of the number three spot in the order when Chase Utley went down with an injury.

If Holliday used the stretch run to make his argument, Rollins used Utley's injury to make his. While he hit a "scant" .292 (35-for-120) during Utley's month on the DL, Rollins did it by adapting to hitting third in the lineup and also adapted well to teaming up with Tadahito Iguchi at second rather than Utley, his usual partner. Rollins only went back-to-back games without a hit seven times during the season while coming close to his career high in stolen bases and on-base percentage and setting a career high in slugging percentage. The Phillies weathered the storm of an early season slump and injury to Ryan Howard, the loss of Chase Utley and numerous injuries to the pitching staff, but it's doubtful whether they could have withstood the loss of Jimmy Rollins.

The most telling numbers of the battle for the MVP come when you dig deeper. Both hitters play in parks to be considered hitter friendly, to say the least, but Holliday used his home field advantage to boost - dare we say pad - his numbers. For Rollins, again it's about consistency and hitting well wherever he played.

Rollins hit only seven points higher at home (.300 to .293) and had just six more home runs (18 to 12) at Citizens Bank Park than he did on the road. And in fact, his on-base percentage was higher away from Citizens Bank Park than it was playing in the friendly confines (.352 on the road, .336 at home). For Holliday, the story is much different. The impressive right-handed hitter hit .376 at home and .301 on the road with 14 more home runs (25 to 11) and 27 more RBI (82 to 55) at Coors Field than he put up in road games.

While some voters won't dig deep enough to consider those stats, some will and it could make a difference. The other thing that voters sometimes overlook is defense, although they shouldn't. The MVP Award is for the Most Valuable Player, not the best offensive player. Simply put, Rollins put on a clinic at one of the toughest positions on the diamond. While both Rollins and Holliday posted fielding percentages above the league average for their position, the fact that Rollins played a tougher position and posted a fielding percentage of 10 points higher than the average NL shortstop and Holliday was six points higher than the average left fielder, could be a deciding factor to some voters.

It's not an easy call and you can make arguments in both directions, but again, when you dig deep and look at the total player and what they did for their team, the edge goes to Rollins.

Here's a breakdown of the season stats for both Holliday and Rollins:

PLAYER, SITUATION HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB BB KO OBP
Rollins: Home 18 47 .300 81 347 69 104 13 11 20 21 35 .336
Holliday: Home 25 82 .376 82 327 67 123 28 5 4 28 58 .435
Rollins: Road 12 47 .293 81 369 70 108 25 9 21 28 50 .352
Holliday: Road 11 55 .301 76 309 53 93 22 1 7 35 68 .374
Rollins: Totals 30 94 .296 162 716 139 212 38 20 41 49 85 .344
Holliday: Totals 36 137 .340 158 636 120 216 50 6 11 63 126 .405


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