Jimmy Rollins Has Quietly Had A Good Season

A look at his meager .242 batting average, unexciting .324 on-base percentage, and a sub-.400 slugging percentage and it’s easy to conclude that Jimmy Rollins has had a mediocre season. Even by adjusted OPS, of which Rollins has an even 100, he’s simply average.

If we go a little deeper, though, and use a better stat — weighted on-base average — we see that Rollins’ .320 mark stacks up well against his competition at shortstop in the National League, even if we set the plate appearance minimum so low (375) as to include Troy Tulowitzki. Rollins ranked sixth in the league, just a smidge behind Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and far ahead of number seven, Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants at .297.

Rollins had been slumping for much of August after cutting his wrist on a slide into second base in Washington on August 3. He went 0-for-7 in the Phillies’ 15-inning thriller against the Houston Astros in their next game and had posted a .522 OPS overall between August 5-22. In his last five games, Rollins has a 1.139 OPS with a pair of home runs and three stolen bases.

Rollins is the only NL shortstop with more than 18 stolen bases, and he’s needed only 33 attempts to accrue his 27 (an 82 percent success rate). Only Desmond and Jean Segura have provided more value on the bases overall. He is one of only five qualified shortstops with a double-digit walk rate. He ranks fifth in isolated power at .150. He’s third in Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, at 3.1 behind the injured Tulowitzki (5.0) and Jhonny Peralta (4.7). According to Baseball Reference’s WAR, which puts Rollins at 3.3 thus far, this is the shortstop’s best season since 2008.

2014 is the last guaranteed year in Rollins’ three-year, $33 million contract. However,¬†towards the end of July, he accrued his 1,100th plate appearance since the start of 2013. As long as he doesn’t end the season on the disabled list — and a mutually agreed-upon doctor doesn’t deem him unfit to start Opening Day next season — Rollins will be under contract for 2015 at $11 million. Ignoring the need for the Phillies to play younger guys (Freddy Galvis) to know what they have going forward, the Phillies can do a lot worse than a 36-year-old Rollins next season. He still ranks among the top-five shortstops across baseball.

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24 comments

  1. Major Malfunction

    August 29, 2014 07:22 AM

    I concur with your offensive assessment. But you make no mention of defense. I did not look up the numbers, so I was wondering how his defense compares to others.

    • Ryan X

      August 29, 2014 07:40 AM

      Looks like he’s tied for 8th in dWAR in the NL using the same 375 PA cutoff. Not exactly elite, but still pretty solid. When combined with his offensive numbers, he still seems to be an SS that a lot of teams would love to have on their rosters.

      • tbarr

        August 29, 2014 08:07 AM

        don’t think using a plate appearance cut off for dwar makes sense. i believe the more you play the more dwar stats you accrue. he’s 31st in mlb. kinda like bill dismissing these stats for a better stat(one that fits my argument)

  2. tbarr

    August 29, 2014 07:56 AM

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    -29

    no way he’s top 5, i don’t care what stats or analytic s you use.

    • Andrew Finkernagel

      August 29, 2014 08:33 AM

      Perhaps you haven’t seen how thin the SS position is around baseball.

    • Jonathan

      August 29, 2014 09:44 AM

      “I reject all evidence because it doesn’t fit my pre-determined conclusions.”

      • tbarr

        August 29, 2014 12:19 PM

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        -16

        or i look around to find the one stat that proves my point. i look at how many other shortstops would i trade rollins for. easily a dozen or more.

      • Greg

        August 29, 2014 01:33 PM

        “or i look around to find the one stat that proves my point. i look at how many other shortstops would i trade rollins for. easily a dozen or more.”

        You win! Great stat!

    • Migel

      August 29, 2014 01:47 PM

      So tell us tbarr…who are those 12 shortstops you would trade him for?

      • Chris S.

        August 29, 2014 02:32 PM

        Not saying that Rollins isn’t a top 5 SS right now, but he is aging which means I would trade him for some one like Bogaerts in a heart beat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that right now Bogaerts is better than Rollins. The potential is there for Bogaerts future. It is a balance between future and present that make it possible to come up with a list of 12 SS to trade Jimmy for. Most of them are young and cost controlled. Even a Tulo for Rollins swap would be hard for me to accept just because Tulo is never healthy. He has one full season in his last 5 years (that one full year he missed 20 games) and with that contract… Yeesh no thanks.

  3. adam

    August 29, 2014 08:27 AM

    funny the timing of this article…I just looked up his fantasy stats and saw he was in the top 6 for the whole season and thought,not bad for an old man. I bet the other GM’s are kicking themselves for not having him on their roster coming down the stretch and into october. He would definitely be a steadying presence on a contending team.

  4. Beez Nutz

    August 29, 2014 08:28 AM

    Rollins and Utley can play for as long as they want with this team IMO. They’re still 2 of the very few guys who actually play baseball correctly on the roster.

    I dont need to see any more of Freddy Galvis, he’s not a major leaguer.

    • Ryan

      August 29, 2014 08:57 AM

      Play baseball correctly? You sound like RAJ and Sandberg. Ryan Howard plays baseball correctly–his skills have just eroded due to age/injury and defenses/pitchers have adjusted to him, destroying his effectiveness. It’s not all about effort…

      • Beez Nutz

        August 29, 2014 09:09 AM

        Situational hitting

        baserunning

        reading balls in the outfield correctly

        That all goes in to it (and many other things). There are a lot of guys on this team who fail in many of these types of areas of the game. Areas that you are just refusing to acknowledge it seems. Im not talking about hustle.

        Not everything is about sabermetrics or bashing rube / sandberg (or at its base level, traditional baseball thinking). Neither side is 100% correct or 100% wrong.

      • Greg

        August 29, 2014 01:35 PM

        I’m not sure you can say Ryan Howard- who i loved in his prime- has ever played baseball “correctly.” Just look at almost any throw he’s ever had to make to second base..

      • Ryan

        August 29, 2014 02:19 PM

        Lacking athleticism and being bad at something (such as throwing to second base) doesn’t mean that it’s being done incorrectly.

  5. SteveH

    August 29, 2014 09:01 AM

    I think we can all agree Rollins has been worth every penny he has been paid in his Phillies career. Sometimes the hustle has been lacking but everyone isn’t Chase Utley.

    Shifting gears for a moment. If there are any Phillies, for that matter baseball fans looking for something to do tonight, go to Trenton. Tons of seats available, Reading and Aaron Nola vs Trenton and Luis Severino. Should be a good one and a possible look at two future MLB starters.

  6. GB

    August 29, 2014 04:08 PM

    What I’ve been most impressed about Rollins this year is his BB numbers…he has been more patient at the plate, stopped trying to hit HR each AB and chasing slop…he still could do better, but when older vets actually work on their craft to get better, I think that deserves kudos. It is very easy with his status, gauranteed money, 10-5 rights etc. to rest on the laurels (and he has done that to some extent in the past at times), but its clear he has worked on it and it has helped him stay effective.

    Do we still need to be actively preparing and planning for life after Rollins? Yes, because we’d like to trade him if at all possible for value that will help our rebuild and give him another shot at a ring with a contender…I know the 10-5 rights and his popularity influence that, but if we are going to stink again in 2015 and likely still be bad in 2016, there is no need to hang onto Rollins and it, in fact, would be bad asset management to do so.

  7. Bob

    August 30, 2014 04:02 PM

    The older players need to get more days off to stay fresh to avoid diminishing results as the season progresses. The baseball season is long with little days off. It gets mentally and physically grinding playing so many days. The older a person gets, the harder it is for them to reach max recovery and performance without days – not a day, but days – off. This is particularly true in hot weather.

    Out of 134 games, Jimmy has played in 129. He’s had five days off or about one per month of the season. Utley has played in 128. They both play physically demanding positions. It’s another instance of backwards thinking and a failure to understand basic sports science that keeps these guys in the line up with little or no gas in the tank. The Phillies have six position players that have played in over 120 games. The A’s have two. The Cards have three.

    • db9

      August 31, 2014 01:28 AM

      Utley has indicated that he needs to play almost everyday to avoid his knees from locking up in him.

      I know it’s counterintuitive, but if you think about it, his issues with his knees have always flared up in the offseason which would support they notion that he needs to play everyday to stay healthy.

      • Bob

        August 31, 2014 10:07 AM

        I’ve heard that before, and I’m not advocating that Utley not do anything on his days off from the diamond. By all means, he can do his therapeutic knee exercises or some light cardio on a bike/elliptical/anti-grav treadmill. I just think it’s counter-productive to have him playing in six games a week for five to six months.

        I don’t have access to his medicals, nor am I a medical professional. But I think it’s the physical therapy modalities that probably aid his knees rather than standing on hard-packed dirt for over three hours in 90 degree weather six days a week. We want our athletes to produce at peak levels and, without proper rest and nutrition, I think there’s a point where there’re diminishing returns. I think any physical trainer worth her salt will tell you that days off for recovery purposes are necessary.

    • ASK

      August 31, 2014 07:08 AM

      One of RAJ’s biggest failings has been his inability to build an effective, cheap bench over the past 3 seasons. The parade of players like Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez, Laynce and Jayson Nix and Tony Gwynn has hurt the team in two ways, (1) that they have hurt the team with their below replacement level production and (2) that they have left the managers with no choice but to overuse the older players like Rollins and Utley.

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