This is one area where I can say without a doubt the Phillies probably have the best player in his own position in baseball, of course Jimmy Rollins. Jimmy is my favorite player on the team and has been for a couple of years. His play sets the tone for the team. He hustles 99% of the time, and when he doesn’t it is easily seen as was last year with a few miscues which weren’t that bad in my opinion. Rollins I feel is also one of the most underrated players in the game, he won the MVP for a reason two years ago in 2007 and he is probably the best Phillies shortstop to play the game in the modern age. No disrespect to Larry Bowa, but I think even Bowa would admit that Jimmy is the full package and deserves the recognition as the best shortstop to play for the Phillies.
Looking around the NL East at the other shortstops we have talented players but no one can hold a candle to what Jimmy Rollins has done in the past for his team and what he’ll continue to do in the seasons to come.
Phillies - (my 1st overall pick in the NL East) – Jimmy Rollins.. aka J-Roll. He has had a couple of rare missteps with Manuel last year, but this year I don’t think you’ll see any of that from Jimmy. One of the best players on the team, gets the team motivated, and puts up huge offense and stellar defense.
Mets - (my 2nd overall pick in the NL East) Jose was born when I graduated high school, god that makes me feel old! He was signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1999. This year will be his 7th season as a NY Mets player, he broke into the league in 2003. He’s a play maker, but I feel he is too full of himself, he needs to get back down to earth in relation to thinking he’s so great, when he really isn’t what I would call a superstar. He’s a two time All Star, and he’s my pick for the 2nd best in the NL East for shortstop.
Braves - (my 4th overall pick in the NL East) Yunel Escobar is a young player born in Cuba, who should excel this season. Lackluster numbers though last year puts him down toward the bottom of my overall picks for NL East shortstops.
Nationals – ( my 3rd overall pick in the NL East) Cristian Guzman – a so-so player that has hit the most number of triples in the American League by a player for three seasons when he played with Minnesota in ‘00 - ‘01 & ‘03 – has hit for a good average in his batting average last year, but not too many HR’s or RBI’s. He’s a two time all star pick though, so he’s got some moxie that carries along with that credential.
Marlins – (my tie for 1st overall pick in NL East) Hanley Ramirez – what more can you say about the talent of Hanley Ramirez. He’s only going to be playing his fifth season in the bigs, already he is appearing to be headed into rare air known as the “H” word, as in the Hall of Fame. Not yet, mind you but if Ramirez can stay healthy, I think you may see him as one of the best shortstops for years to come. I always would give the nod to Jimmy Rollins as the overall best, but Ramirez is just under the top spot in this position in my opinion.
So there you have it, the best players ranked according to what I think in the NL East, next up by this weekend an overall look at the entire outfield of each National League team and how I rank them against one another in the NL East.
My thanks to Jeff Wittwer who is a writer on my blog that suggested we post our best picks for the NL East by position, read Jeff's post here on his blog on the Phillies.
Rich Baxter - fightin phillies blog