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Rollins putting up MVP stats

Charlie Manuel wondered yesterday where the Phillies would be without the fourth-best defense in baseball. They certainly wouldn't be where they are, which is three games out of the lead in the National League wild-card race and five games out of first in the NL East (not that that's any consolation after sweeping the New York Mets last week). But it goes without saying that the Phils would be even worse off without the best offense in the National League.

ATLANTA - Charlie Manuel wondered yesterday where the Phillies would be without the fourth-best defense in baseball.

They certainly wouldn't be where they are, which is three games out of the lead in the National League wild-card race and five games out of first in the NL East (not that that's any consolation after sweeping the New York Mets last week). But it goes without saying that the Phils would be even worse off without the best offense in the National League.

A big reason for the Phillies' offensive prowess has been Jimmy Rollins. He is being touted as a NL MVP candidate, and deservedly so.

Rollins is hitting .297 with 34 doubles, 16 triples, 25 home runs and 79 RBIs this season. He has scored a league-leading 119 runs. He has 178 hits. He has stolen 28 bases. His .533 slugging percentage ranks 13th in the league.

His slugging percentage is better than hitters such as Carlos Lee (.532), Carlos Beltran (.531), Ken Griffey Jr. (.522) and Alfonso Soriano (.509).

Rollins' numbers are not just nice, solid numbers. They could make history.

All sorts of interesting historical possibilities have popped up about Rollins this season.

Here are a few:

Rollins entered yesterday on pace to have 210 hits, 141 runs, 40 doubles, 19 triples, 30 home runs, 93 RBIs and 33 stolen bases.

Just seven players in baseball history have hit .290 with 200 hits, 125 runs, 35 doubles, 15 triples, 25 home runs and 90 RBIs in a season: Earl Averill (1936), Joe DiMaggio (1936 and 1937), Lou Gehrig (1927 and 1930), Chuck Klein (1932), Stan Musial (1948), Babe Ruth (1921) and Al Simmons (1930).

Each of those seven resides in the Hall of Fame.

None of those players stole more than 20 bases in those seasons. (Klein stole 20.)

George Brett in 1979 became the only player in baseball history with 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 home runs in a season. Rollins could be the second.

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark found that just two players in baseball history have had a season with at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 steals: Frank Schulte in 1911 and Willie Mays in 1957.

Rollins and Detroit's Curtis Granderson could join them this season.

Rollins is on pace for 89 extra-base hits. Stark found that Alex Rodriguez and Robin Yount are the only other shortstops in baseball history to have more extra-base hits in a season. Rodriguez had 91 in 1996 and 87 in 2001. Yount had 87 in 1982.

Lenny Dykstra finished second in the league's MVP voting in 1993 after hitting .305 with 143 runs, 44 doubles, six triples, 19 home runs, 66 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. Rollins' projected numbers are comparable to or better than Dykstra's legendary 1993 season, which makes one wonder how Rollins will fare in MVP voting this season.

The best guess is simple: The better the Phillies play this month, the better his chances become.

J-Roll is slugging

If the season ended yesterday, Rollins would have the 10th-best slugging percentage among shortstops in modern National League history (1900 to 2007):

1. Arky Vaughn, Pittsburgh: .607 in 1935.

2. Rich Aurilia, San Fran cisco: .572 in 2001.

3. Honus Wagner, Pitts burgh: .572 in 1900.

4. Barry Larkin, Cincinnati: .567 in 1996.

5. Hanley Ramirez, Florida: .565 in 2007.

6. Jay Bell, Arizona: .557 in 1999.

7. Bill Hall, Milwaukee: .553 in 2006.

8. Glenn Wright, St. Louis Browns: .543 in 1930.

9. Honus Wagner, Pitts burgh: .542 in 1908.

10. Rollins: .533 in 2007.

Hitting the record books

The Phillies entered yesterday as the only team in the National League to have scored more than 690 runs.

They had scored 748.

They are on pace to score 891 runs this season, which would make this the best Phillies offense since the Phils scored a modern-day franchise record 944 runs in 1930.

It's easy to see why. The Phillies have the opportunity to lead the league in the following individual offensive categories: hitting (Chase Utley is second at .336), doubles (Utley is third with 42), triples (Rollins leads with 16), home runs (Ryan Howard is second with 36), RBIs (Howard leads with 111), runs (Rollins leads with 119) and hits (Rollins is third with 178).

How they match up

The Phillies have a tough road ahead. Of their final 26 games, including yesterday's 5-1 loss to the Braves, they play half at home. They also play 16 games against teams with winning records, including a three-game series against the Mets on Sept. 14-16 at Shea Stadium. Here's another potential roadblock: The Phillies play six of their final 10 games against the Washington Nationals, a team that gives them all kinds of fits.

The Mets play 16 of their final 26 games at home. They play just seven games against teams with winning records.

The San Diego Padres, who began a three-game series yesterday against Arizona in Phoenix, play 16 of their final 26 games on the road. They play 16 games against teams with winning records.

The Diamondbacks play half of their remaining 24 games at home. They play 15 games against teams with winning records.

By the numbers

Ups and downs

The final word

"We can't hold nobody, man," Charlie Manuel after Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Florida Marlins.

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