Is it time for the Philadelphia Phillies to drop Jimmy Rollins from the leadoff spot? This has been a hot topic in Philadelphia because the shortstop has really struggled at the plate. Things are a little better since Rollins moved from third to first in the lineup. However, he is still a far cry from what he once was. As a result, many fans are screaming for the Phillies to drop him down in the lineup.
As a fan, I have a mixed feeling about this. I do think that the team will be better served by having Rollins bat sixth or seventh in the lineup. However, I also wonder how much of a difference such a move might make.
There is no sugarcoating just how bad Rollins has been for the Phillies. He is currently hitting just .242, a pretty sad average for a leadoff hitter. He has just two home runs and 13 RBIs, a sure sign that he isn't producing runs the way he once did. Rollins also has just 10 stolen bases, a number that isn't anything special.
Basically, the Phillies aren't getting the production they need from the top spot. There are signs that things might be getting better. Rollins has had hits in seven of his last eight games, including four multi-hit games. However, that is production the Phillies can use later in the lineup.
On the flip side, the Phillies have to think about what they would do if they did drop Rollins in the batting order. The logical choice to replace him is Juan Pierre. He gets on base more than Rollins and has great speed. However, Pierre does not have the same kind of pop that Rollins has. You only lead a game off once and the Phillies need to consider that. If Pierre bats first, he will follow Freddy Galvis and the pitcher as the lineup turns over during a game. That means that the Phillies will have three straight batters that have little chance of producing runs. That could prove to be a bad thing late in games.
At the end of the day, there is little chance that the team will drop Rollins out of the leadoff spot. The simple fact that he is an offensive threat makes him an attractive hitter in that position. That said, he needs to start pulling his weight. There is no excuse for him to be hitting this poorly at this point in the season. Maybe Rollins will be better when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return, but we can't count on that. He needs to start turning the corner now. Otherwise, he might force Charlie Manuel's hand.* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Phillies fan.