On August 30, Jimmy Rollins was yanked from a Thursday afternoon affair at Citizens Bank Park after manager Charlie Manuel believed that his shortstop didn't hustle out a pop-up on the infield that was dropped by a cavalcade of New York Mets players. Fast-forward three weeks later, with the Phillies taking on the Mets once more, and the story is a lot different for Rollins and the rest of his team.
While the Phillies certainly squandered a large opportunity by losing three of four to the Houston Astros last weekend, Rollins has stepped his game up since the incident, and he has to be given some credit for what he has done since his benching. With 14 games left in the 2012 season, the Phillies will need a miracle to make the post-season, but it's good to see that Rollins has bounced back.
Ever since that day, Rollins has hit .324, with a .388 on-base percentage and .620 slugging percentage. He has six stolen bases, nine extra-base hits (six homers), and the team has gone 12-5. In those 17 games, Rollins has only gone hitless in two of them. Prior to the series in Houston, there was a real belief that the Phillies were going to trounce the rest of the competition right on their way to that second wild-card spot, beat the Braves in that one-game playoff, and move on to a magical post-season run after 5 months of sub-par baseball. It was easy to have those optimistic pie-in-the-sky feelings after a seven-game winning streak. Well, the series against Houston was a reminder that things don't happen so easily in baseball, and things haven't happened so easily for the Phillies this season.
That said, the last few weeks, win or lose, have been a reminder that Rollins' career appears to have plenty left in the tank. He currently has a WAR of 4.7, which is a few ticks above his 3.9 number last season. His defense still appears to be strong, and despite the fact that he has made 13 errors this year (which is his highest number since 2003), his UZR/150 has risen from 3.9 last year to 7.1 this year. Indeed, watching the action seems to back that up, and his range and ability to make the hard play look easy is still there.
Just for good measure, his Wins Above Replacement number of 4.7 is actually highest amongst all MLB shortstops, of the 18 who qualify. That's a pretty impressive feat for a guy who is now 33 years of age. While his infield pop-ups and lackadaisical swings can sometimes be frustrating, I can't find another player I'd want patrolling the shortstop position for the Phillies. And when Rollins' days as a Major Leaguer are done, it's hard to imagine anyone filling his shoes at shortstop in Philadelphia.
Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference.com
Victor Filoromo is a featured contributor for Yahoo! and also contributes to PhuturePhillies.com, a Phillies' prospect blog. He grew up just outside of Philadelphia, and enjoys Philadelphia sports, media, and politics.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jimmy Rollins
- Houston Astros