So JRoll extended his hitting streak to 33 games last night…big freakin’ deal. It’s really hard to get excited about it anymore as the Phils playoff hope are hanging by the thinnest of threads. Nonetheless, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has chimed in on the story. It’s odd how the theme, supported by Ed Wade, is how Jimmy has stepped up his game when the Phils need him the most – during the stretch run. But is that point even valid if the Phillies don’t make the playoffs? I think what’s more telling, and what has been reiterated by people all season, is his uncomfortableness as a leadoff hitter. Here’s a little nugget in the article which should be a story in and of itself:
But Rollins has always had a reputation as stubborn and hesitant to embrace the little things typically expected of a top-of-the-order man. He has never been able to incorporate the bunt into his repertoire, and he’s averaging a paltry 3.37 pitches per plate appearance. Even Houston’s Willy Taveras and the Mets’ Reyes, classic free swingers in the No. 1 hole, take more pitches than that.
A pure leadoff hitter would have helped the team all year. Taking pitches, especially during the first at bat of the game, helps to not only wear down a pitcher, but it gives the rest of the hitters in the lineup a sense of what they’re dealing with. Check out the Phillies DVD “High Hopes” about the ’93 team and David Hollins’ comments on the Dude’s leadoff ability. That’s the kind of effort that helps the team throughout all 162 games, not just the final 33.