Jimmy’s Got His Head in the Clouds

In previous years, when Jimmy Rollins has spoken in Clearwater, he has proven to be prescient.

Prior to the 2007 season, Rollins declared that the Phillies — not the New York Mets — were “the team to beat”. That year, Rollins became one of four players in baseball history to have a 20 double, 20 triple, 20 home run, and 20 stolen base season en route to winning the National League MVP award, and the Phillies won the NL East on the last day of the regular season.

Going into the 2008 season, Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran opened fire on Rollins, declaring that the Mets were the team to beat. Rollins responded by calling Beltran a plagiarist and declaring that the Phillies would win 100 games. The Phillies won 92 regular season games and another 11 in the playoffs, resulting in the franchise’s second World Series championship.

Last season, the Phillies once again made it to the Fall Classic. Rollins had kept his predictions to himself all season long. It was a good decision as Rollins had a disappointing year both offensively and defensively and thus unable to back up his talk as he had in previous years. However, as the Phillies were getting ready to face the New York Yankees in the World Series, Rollins took out his crystal ball on “The Jay Leno Show” and predicted the Phillies would win it all in five games, six “if we’re nice”. He was wrong as the Phillies lost in six.

Perhaps clairvoyance rises and falls with age just like physical skills like swinging a bat. Rollins will be 31 and a half years old when the regular season starts and presumably his best years are behind him. J-Roll disagrees.

Scott Lauber:

On the one-month anniversary of his wedding, Jimmy Rollins spoke to the media for nearly 20 minutes after today’s workout. Among the highlights were Rollins’ individual goals for 2010: Steal 50 bases, score 150 runs, bat .300 and make fewer than three errors.

I wanted to see in which echelon of baseball players Rollins saw himself, so I went to Baseball Reference and used their Play Index to find how many players have stolen 50 bases, scored 150 runs, and hit .300. My findings (click to enlarge):

No one has performed that well in 110 years.

I lowered the criteria to 45 stolen bases, 140 runs, and a .300 batting average. Only six players have done it:

  • Ty Cobb, 1911 Detroit Tigers: 83 SB, 147 R, .420 AVG
  • Ty Cobb, 1915 Detroit Tigers: 96 SB, 144 R, .369 AVG
  • Max Carey, 1922 Pittsburgh Pirates: 51 SB, 140 R, .329 AVG
  • Rickey Henderson, 1985 New York Yankees: 80 SB, 146 R, .314 AVG
  • Chuck Knoblauch, 1996 Minnesota Twins: 45 SB, 140 R, .341 AVG
  • Craig Biggio, 1997 Houston Astros: 47 SB, 146 R, .309 AVG

Cobb, Carey, and Henderson are Hall of Famers and Biggio will be soon enough. Just three players since 1985 have accomplished this feat out of the tens of thousands of players who have put on a Major League uniform.

The projections see Rollins stealing between 29-35 bases, scoring 87-104 runs, and hitting .265-.272. PECOTA, not included on FanGraphs for obvious reasons, has Rollins at 31 SB, 91 R, and a .281 AVG. Just as the computer models don’t see Rollins recapturing his age 28-29 baseball skills, it doesn’t look like he’ll recapture his age 28-29 acumen either.

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  1. Undocorkscrew

    February 23, 2010 04:53 PM

    Baseball America released their top 100 prospects today. 3 Phillies were on it. Aumont, Brown, and……can’t remember.

  2. Bill Baer

    February 23, 2010 04:55 PM

    They were the only two Phillies on the list. Brown was 15 and Aumont was 93.

    Other BA top prospects of interest to Phils: Kyle Drabek (25), Michael Taylor (29), Jason Knapp (64), Travis D’Arnaud (81) — David Murphy

  3. Undocorkscrew

    February 23, 2010 05:01 PM

    Predictions for Heyward’s 2010 season with the Braves(assuming he starts opening day)?

  4. BS

    February 23, 2010 05:07 PM

    Well, you gotta set high goals. =)

    If he can hit .300, I could see 50 SBs happening. 150 runs… I can’t imagine happening. Maybe he should shoot for a .400 OBP if he really wants to score 150. =P

  5. go phillies go

    February 23, 2010 10:12 PM

    go j-roll! you showed c-belts whats up! i’m confused though, doesnt plagiarism imply that something was written down? also, did beltran claim the quote to be his original thought or did he say it with full acknowledgment that rollins said it first?

    but otherwise you have to really admire rollins. he is great at baseball and making predictions that come true, even if he is slightly unsure of what plagiarism is! hey, how about, Jimmy Nostrarollins! haha lol 🙂

  6. Aaron

    February 23, 2010 10:18 PM

    Eh, he’s certainly talking big, but I have no problem with that. I think he more meant they were all goals he had for his career and so he keeps them in mind going into every year. And if there’s any time in Phillies history (even if not J-Roll history) to be talking big, it’s now.

  7. Dan

    February 24, 2010 09:05 AM

    Stealing 50 would probably be the easiest part of his prediction. Otherwise, what he’s saying is he’ll replicate his 2007 season, but a little better.

    Jimmy has never hit .300 for a full season and has a lifetime average of .274. In 2007, he hit .296, so maybe he can. In that year, he also stole 41 bases, so I can see adding another 9 along the year since he’s got his mind set on it. He scored 139 runs that year, within shouting distance of 150. The errors are tougher, as the best year he had was 2008, where he had 6 errors.

    Basically, if he can replicate his MVP year, having “called” it, then he’ll likely get in the top 3 of the MVP this year, as well, espicially since the Phils are likely going to be in the postseason. A savvy move by Jimmy, for there’s little cost if he’s wrong, and a great payoff if he happens to be right.

    FWIW, Bill James calls for him to hit .271, with 33 steals and 104 runs scored, but what does he know?

    Go Jimmy!

  8. ShooterB

    February 24, 2010 12:05 PM

    How is scoring 150 runs a individual goal? Isn’t that more of a goal for the people batting behind you? I wonder if he consulted Chase & Howard on those numbers.

    And maybe when he said hit .300, he was talking about his on-base percentage. A little birdy told me had a .296 OBP last year.

    I heard he bought 50 batting gloves before this season, one for every base he’s gonna steal. Jimmy Mays Hayes is back!

  9. Larry

    February 24, 2010 02:03 PM

    isn’t there a difference between a goal and a prediction? my goal is to get a hole in one on every par 3, but i don’t put myself down for -8 going into the round.

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