The Phillies took their champagne celebration from the clubhouse to the field at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 30.

Jimmy Rollins found himself right in the middle of the gala.

Then again, Rollins had been in the middle of just about everything in 2007. In January, he proclaimed the Phillies the team to beat in the National League East. He took the heat once the Phillies stumbled to an atrocious 4-11 start. Through it all, Rollins continued to hit and make plays, which helped the Phillies win the National League East title and make the postseason for the first time since 1993.

"He set the tone," centerfielder Aaron Rowand said that Sunday afternoon after the Phillies clinched the division title.

"This guy took us on his shoulders from day one," leftfielder Pat Burrell said. "He's done things in this game that have never been done before."

Rollins, who became the first player in history to record at least 200 hits, 15 triples, 25 home runs, and 25 stolen bases in a season, will learn at 2 p.m. today if he has won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.

His top competition is Colorado Rockies leftfielder Matt Holliday.

The vote could be close.

In an informal survey of members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America - there are two voters from each National League city - MVP preference seemed to be based on geography.

Voters from National League West cities appeared to prefer Holliday; voters from the National League East, Rollins. That means voters in National League Central cities - Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder could receive some first-place votes in that region - could decide matters.

But here is something that might work against Rollins. Members of the association had the option of voting after the one-game playoff between the Rockies and the San Diego Padres on Oct. 1. In that game, Holliday won the league's batting and RBI titles. He also led the Rockies into the postseason.

The writers' association said a majority of MVP votes came in after that game.

Rollins made a strong case for himself this season. He hit .296, with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 94 RBIs, 41 stolen bases, 212 hits, and 139 runs scored.

He became the third shortstop in history to have at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season. (Alex Rodriguez in 1998 and Barry Larkin in 1996 were the others.)

Rollins also became the fourth player in history to have at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers, and 20 stolen bases in a season. (Curtis Granderson in 2007, Willie Mays in 1957, and Frank "Wildfire" Schulte in 1911 also accomplished the feat.)

Rollins' 139 runs scored and 88 extra-base hits were league records for a shortstop.

He led the league in runs scored; triples; at-bats, with a major-league record of 716; and multi-hit games, with 63.

He started all 162 games, playing almost every inning of every game.

And he played a terribly demanding position and played it well.

"He's not only my MVP," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's the MVP of the National League. Rollins is a guy that played every day. I've never seen so many hard-hit balls in my life. . . . If you watched all those balls he caught that he turned into double plays, that right there creates a winning team."

But do the voters put much weight on defense?

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who played nearly flawlessly at shortstop, narrowly lost the league's Rookie of the Year Award to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who was a butcher at third base.

That could make Holliday's offensive numbers too difficult to ignore for some voters.

They are difficult to ignore, anyway.

Holliday hit .340, with 50 doubles, six triples, 36 homers, 137 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 216 hits and 120 runs scored. He led the league in average; hits; total bases, with 386; doubles; RBIs; and extra-base hits, with 92. And in the Rockies' remarkable 14-1 stretch that helped them win the league's wild card, Holliday hit .442, with five home runs and 17 RBIs.

In the playoff against the Padres, Holliday tripled to score the tying run in the bottom of the 13th inning off closer Trevor Hoffman. Holliday scored the winning run on a close play at the plate.

But he also played a much less demanding position than Rollins, and hit considerably less away from Coors Field than Rollins hit away from Citizens Bank Park.

A strong case can be made for either Holliday or Rollins. But much like the voter who gave a second-place vote to the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick for rookie of the year - the voter picked Braun third - there are the occasional off-the-wall votes.

Somebody might look at Ryan Howard's power numbers or Chase Utley's body of work and give the two Phillies a higher vote than Rollins. Voting Howard or Utley higher than Rollins could be disastrous for Rollins.

How well will Fielder do in the voting? He had 50 home runs and almost carried the Brewers into the playoffs. If Fielder gets first-place votes in Milwaukee or other Central cities, where those voters place Holliday and Rollins will be crucial.

Most people in Philadelphia feel Rollins is worthy.

Most in Denver feel the same about Holliday.

It could be very close.