Phillies Report | Stats say Rowand is an all-star

Posted: June 19, 2007

The Phillies have crept back into contention in the National League East, and that could help them July 1 when baseball announces its rosters for the All-Star Game in San Francisco.

Not that Aaron Rowand is worried.

"Honestly, I already have my plans for the break," he said Sunday. "It obviously would be a dream come true to be able to say I've made an all-star team, but I definitely don't get my expectations up. I just concentrate on going out, playing and winning. That comes first. That's the focus right now, because, really, the thing I want most is another ring."

Rowand, who won the World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, said he planned to head home to Las Vegas for the break. He has a home there he hasn't seen since his family moved in.

He also said he planned to play a couple of rounds of golf at home before the Phillies resume their season July 13 against St. Louis at Citizens Bank Park.

"But I'd probably break plans if I made it," Rowand joked.

Rowand had his work cut out. An all-star outfield gets crowded quickly, and players aren't separated by position. But Rowand has put up numbers that put him in the mix.

Entering yesterday's play, he was fifth in the league in hitting at .325, fourth in hitting with runners in scoring position at .371, eighth in runs with 45, and 12th in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) at .909.

Comparing him with other National League centerfielders, he's the class of the league. He ranked first in hitting, runs, on-base percentage at .401, slugging percentage at .508 and OPS, second in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 38, and third in doubles with 16.

Comparing him with all National League outfielders, he ranked first in runs, second in hitting, and sixth in OPS. He also is recognized as one of the league's better defensive centerfielders.


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Carlos Beltran, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alfonso Soriano lead the fan voting. Other outfield candidates include Barry Bonds, Matt Holliday, Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee and Jason Bay.

Is Rowand worthy? The numbers say yes.

Is it likely? It's a coin flip at best.

Rowand has his plans for the all-star break. But maybe he should get a refundable ticket just in case.

Here is a look at the four other Phillies all-star candidates:

Chase Utley. He's a lock.

Utley had 930,123 votes, more than any other second baseman in the league, which put him on pace to start his second consecutive All-Star Game.

Utley's competition can't hold his batting gloves. Entering last night's play, he led National League second basemen in hitting at .320, doubles with 30, home runs with 12, RBIs with 54, on-base percentage at .397, and slugging percentage at .572. He even had the best fielding percentage (.991) and fewest errors (three) of any of them.

Even more impressive, he ranked sixth in the majors in RBIs and ninth in OPS at .969.

Ryne Sandberg made the all-star team from 1984 to 1993. It's not difficult to picture Utley on a similar run.

Cole Hamels. He also looks like a lock.

Hamels entered last night's start against Cleveland at Jacobs Field leading the league in wins with nine and strikeouts with 104. He also had an impressive 3.47 ERA.

He could receive consideration to start the game, but San Diego's Jake Peavy (8-1, 1.82 ERA), the Los Angeles Dodgers' Brad Penny (8-1, 2.18 ERA), and Atlanta's John Smoltz (8-3, 2.84 ERA) had similar or better numbers.

But Hamels, who's on pace to become the Phillies' first 20-game winner since Steve Carlton went 23-11 in 1983, should be in San Francisco regardless.

Jimmy Rollins. Like Rowand, Rollins finds himself in a tough spot in a crowded field.

Rollins ranked first among National League shortstops in triples with nine and slugging percentage at .520, second in home runs with 12 and RBIs with 43, third in stolen bases with 13, and fourth in doubles with 16 and OPS at .844.

But Jose Reyes will win the fan vote, which means Rollins has to compete with a group that includes J.J. Hardy, Edgar Renteria and Hanley Ramirez. Hardy, Renteria and Ramirez can make strong cases for themselves.

It looks like another coin flip.

Ryan Howard. He's a long shot. A very, very, very long shot. Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez are having splendid seasons, and Howard missed time because of a strained left quadriceps that hurt his production early. About the only way we see Howard making the all-star team is if he goes on a tear the rest of the month and one of those three can't play because of injury.

But it's worth noting that despite his injury and slow start, Howard was tied for third in home runs among the league's first baseman with 14 and fourth in RBIs with 43. But he also ranked 10th in hitting at .232.

On the market?

Aaron Rowand will be a free agent after the season. He said he had enjoyed his time in Philadelphia, but so far there had been no talk about a contract extension. Rowand is making $4.35 million this season, but the Phillies must decide if he is part of their plans.

They could move Shane Victorino to center field next season if they decide that Rowand would be too costly. Or they could try Michael Bourn there. But it seems Rowand is making their decision much more difficult.

"I've got enough stuff to worry about right now," he said. "That's the only thing that matters."

Old friends

The Phillies will face former Phillies in outfielders David Dellucci and Jason Michaels, righthanders Paul Byrd and Roberto Hernandez, and lefthander Aaron Fultz this week in Cleveland.

The Phillies also get to face righthander Joe Borowski. They wanted to sign Borowski in the off-season, but team doctors didn't like what they saw and nixed the signing. Borowski had 20 saves in 22 opportunities entering last night's play, but also a 6.33 ERA.

Fultz was 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA. The Phillies let Fultz walk because they preferred lefthander Matt Smith. Smith opened the season with the Phillies but is at triple-A Ottawa after having serious control problems.

By the numbers

.969

Chase Utley's on-base plus slugging percentage, which ranked ninth in baseball.

.986

Jimmy Rollins' fielding percentage, which was second in the National League to the .987 of San Francisco's Omar Vizquel among shortstops who had played in at least 30 games.

4.75

The Phillies' ERA, which ranked 14th in the National League.

5.28

Their ERA in June.

19.33

The percent chance the Phillies will make the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus. They had a 12.54 percent chance last week and a 9.65 percent chance two weeks ago.

41

The number of Phillies errors, which ranked ninth in the league.

The final word

"Once they throw me out, I'm not going to just stand there," said third-base coach Steve Smith, who was hopping mad after first-base umpire Laz Diaz ejected him in Sunday's 7-4 loss to Detroit.
Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

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