A lot of Phillies had fortunate seasons last year, helping to guide them to the championship. But a handful of players didn’t perform to their level. We know Jimmy Rollins wasn’t quite himself, but that was mostly his ankle injury talking. Once he seemed healed (late-season), he was on fire, and helped the Phils get in and win. Carlos Ruiz had a poor offensive year, but he never indicated to be a consistently strong hitter; moreover, his defense helped his overall case.
Sure Rollins should improve on his 2008 season, and we don’t need to expect bashing and boasting from Ruiz. But of the few other players who struggled in 2008 (and there were few), Geoff Jenkins seems most probable to rebound strong.
Jenkins, a lifetime .275 hitter, has decreased his average steadily in the past few seasons, but his slugging percentage decreased tremendously from 2007 to ’08 (.471 to .392). This is probably attributed to his non-everyday role. His highest OPS (.782) came after a stretch of starts thanks to a 15-day DL stint for Jayson Werth. Clearly, Jenkins was most comfortable as an everyday player. He wasn’t ready to be benched in 2008.
Now he is.
Now Jenkins knows his place is fourth outfielder despite his large contract. And instead of being a player who despises the lessened role, Jenkins seemed to accept his role and in time, became one of the clubhouse leaders who rooted for his boys from the bench. It showed – late in 2008 his OPS got close to .700 after some time in the mid .600s. His pinch hit double in game five of the World Series was the hit he waited for his entire career; surely that could solidify his bench worth.
The transition from starter to bench is a grueling one. It takes some guts to accept it and even thrive. But if anyone seems ready to accept it, it’s Jenkins. I wouldn’t be surprised, then, if he has a strong comeback season in 2009.