2011 Spring Training

2011 Offensive Preview, Part 4: Shortstop

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins, Opening Day Age: 32
2010: 394 PA, .243/.320/.374, 17 SB, 1 CS
2011 (Bill James-projected): 605 PA, .266/.329/.424, 15 HR, 25 SB

Why should you believe that a 32-year-old shortstop, coming off his two worst offensive seasons ever, in the decline phase of his career, is due for a monster season? Three things: luck, health, and plate discipline. First, J-Roll has a career BABIP of .290, and while BABIP is less based in luck for hitters than it is for pitchers, there’s still a luck element involved. In 2009, his BABIP was .251, and in 2010 it was .246. Granted, in 2010, his line drive rate was down, but so was his HR/FB rate, and, to touch on the second point, he was either out of the lineup hurt or in the lineup hurt for most of the season. Despite this, Rollins posted, for the first time in his career, a season where he walked more than he struck out, accompanied by his highest-ever walk rate and lowest-ever strikeout rate. On all three of these externalities, Rollins is due to regress to the mean, which, I think, makes the Bill James projections look conservative.

Or he’s just getting old and will be an offensive zero for the rest of his career, and I’m in denial because I’m a huge J-Roll fan. But let’s hope for option No. 1.

Click to comment


  1. Lefty

    March 26, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Yikes! Hope you don’t have to add a part 6. Polly says he’ll be okay, the problem is he’s not a doctor and surgeries don’t always work. Anyway he’s out of the lineup again today.

    “Polanco went 0-for-2 with a ground out to short and a fly out to right, but the bigger concern was a twinge he felt in his elbow after his second swing of the day.

    “I swung, and it felt weird; I felt something,” Polanco said. “We have to work on that joint; it’s a little bit thick in there.”

    The third baseman said he didn’t think the soreness was anything significant, but rather a bit of tightness and some scar tissue that he’ll need to work through with rehab.”

  2. The Dipsy

    March 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Mike – You’re doing a great job. Is “externality” an actual word? If it is, I would like to strat using it. If there is one thing that I would like to say about Jimmy, its that I hope Charlie advises him to keep the exact same hitting approach no matter where he is in the lineup. Me thinks he might see some time at 2,3,5, and maybe even 6. I would like to see Jimmy’s aggressiveness curbed with just a smidge more pitch selection. Jimmy’s job is to get on when there is no one on. That said, he should also try to capitalize on his RBI chances for he may be our second or third best power hitter to start the season.

    17/71/.265/28 with 106 R. I’ll take it. Go Jimmy Go!

    The Dipsy

    • Publius

      March 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

      Dipsy, let me ask you a question, with no malice or snarkiness intended.

      Here’s a hypothetical: let’s say you somehow fall into a coma and you don’t wake up until July 31, the trade deadline. Since you’ve regained consciousness, and are an avid Phillies fan, the doctors and nurses want to know what you have to say about the trade that Ruben just pulled, position player for position player. Assume that you can’t ask for the names involved, just stats. How would you rank which statistics you would ask about in trying to judge the trade? If you were only allowed to ask for three, which would you choose? What if you were only allowed 2, or even just one question? :


      The goal of this exercise is just to see which stats you think tell you “more”. Again, not trying to be a jerk, just would love to hear some feedback/justification

  3. tavian

    March 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Let’s enjoy Jimmy’s last season as a Phillie. He has been a fine performer and we will miss him in 2012. I believe he will hit .272 with 15 hrs and 78 RBI’s. He’ll visit the DL only once for 15 days.

  4. Keystone

    March 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Love jimmy, and for the idea that he is too old check out the current spring stats

    The braves new top 1B prospect freddy freeman in the same at bats they have the same HR’s same 2B’s but jimmy has one more hit and 2 SB’s, you never know what you get with youth.

    • Publius

      March 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Spring stats mean absolutely nothing. Jake Fox leads the majors in homers, followed by Mike Morse. Chris Carpenter has a 5.34 ERA. etc. etc. Don’t divine too much (or anything, really) from spring numbers.

  5. The Dipsy

    March 26, 2011 at 10:58 am

    HR, RBI, AVG. Thats because I’m old. I should probably ask for WAR and Contract and that would be it. You know how its fashionable these days for some women to have bigger rear ends, I mean they actually try to get a big, bulbous ass because they think men like it. To have their crack hanging from low rider jeans. Some girl even died from being injected with collagen, or whatever, into her butt cheeks with the hopes of gaining this effect. Now, what does this have to do with your question? I am not really all that interested in the new ways to manufacture or measure female pulchritude. Boobs, rear end, legs. Just as these are the functional equivalent of how we can tell how hot a chick’s body is, so is HR/RBI/AVG for offensive players. Its worked for 100 years. It’ll work for a hundred more. That said, do I think that WAR adds a different shading and depth to how a player performs? Sure. But when someone asks me what kinda year Ryan Howard had last year, should my answer merely be 8.6 and leave it at that? Thats kinda boring and uninformative. What dollar amount should we attach to each Win Above Replacement? $1,000,000? Cuz that’s about right.

    I hear ya with the sabremetrics. I really do. And maybe I’m wrong and you’re right. But I am a child of the baseball card era. And HR/RBI/AVG/SB/R is mostly how I roll. Btw, I would rather wake up from my coma and find Kelly LeBrock as opposed to being told of a late breaking Phils trade 🙂

    The Dipsy

    • Publius

      March 26, 2011 at 11:20 am

      I said this wasn’t a trap, so I’m not just gonna out-and-out bash you now. Thanks for the feedback. I just ask because, let’s say that Rube traded a player with a .225/12 hr/45 rbi for a player batting .302/4 hr/25 rbi. Was it a good trade? How do you compare lines like that? Now, if you’re given a line of .402 OBP/.462 SLG/ 2 WAR vs. .332 OBP/ .393 SLG / 1.5 WAR, it’s a little more comparable. While these measures do have value, just how much is up for debate. Yes, they’ve worked for a hundred years and will work for a hundred more, but so has the horse and buggy. It’s a perfectly functional type of transport, but other methods have evolved and are more efficient. What does batting average tell you that OBP doesn’t, other than the batter’s luck on balls hit in play? What do homers tell you that SLG doesn’t, other than how many fly balls actually went over the fence? What do RBIs tell you etc. etc.

      Are they sexy? Absolutely not. Percentages and win shares are dull as hell, I’ll concede that. But they can tell us more than the traditional measures, which is just what I am trying to get across. BUT, to each their own, and odds are 40 years from now, when OBP and WAR are totally subsumed, I’ll probably still cling to those than some newfangled acronym that relies on quantum mechanics or something.

      • Ted Bell

        March 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm

        So you’re telling us that if the Phillies traded “Player A” (.327 OBP/.420 SLG/ 3.6 WAR) for “Player B” (.326 OBP/.507 SLG/ 2.8 WAR), that they’d be making a bad deal? There’s obviously plenty of other factors that enter the equation.

        I’m Ted Bell.

      • Publius

        March 26, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        Other things matter, sure. But those 3 numbers tell you a LOT more than any other 3 stats as to what type of player you are trading for and are giving up, which was my point. In that example, the difference in WAR indicates that player B probably plays TERRIBLE defense, so if it is a position that you are willing to sacrifice defense for for increased offensive production, then it’s a good deal.

  6. The Dipsy

    March 26, 2011 at 11:57 am

    But you”ll agree about Kelly LeBrock?

    The Dipsy

    • Chuck

      March 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      I don’t think Publius gets Kelly LeBrock because he’s too busy playing with his calculator.

      • Publius

        March 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        Actually I chose not to answer because I’m happily married and try to avoid judging women’s looks, but hey try to keep the stereotype salient if that’s all you’ve got.

  7. betasigmadeltashag

    March 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    First off there is a thing called the eye test and no trade is based on just stats, and I agree with Dipsy, that a lot of the samermetrics are stats to get guys more money in contract negotations. A guy who only hits .250 but his ball in play to hits is really low so he iunlucky. I also do not care that a guy hits .325 but his line drive rate is the lowest in the league. And I was wrong before publius you are the most negative anoying guy one here. Unless Jimmy has another year like 2010 he will be back, they are not going to let him walk. If he hits 270 plays the usual stellar defense and leads the teams in runs scored, he will get a deal from the phillies. I do like on base % because that gives you an idea of his approach at the plate. If Jimmy stays healthy, his offensive numbers will be far better then last year. That to me is the only question is he going to stay healthy.

    • Publius

      March 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      ?! Did I say anything negative about J-Roll at all?! I actually think he’s due for a bounceback and should put up a pretty danged good year. Love the way he’s striking the ball in ST.

      But hey if you want to keep putting words in my mouth go for it.

  8. Manny

    March 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’m iffy about J-roll batting 3rd. I just don’t think he’s that type of player. The 3-hole hitter is generally the best hitter on the team (Utley is ideal), but if he’s downI think Raul is a better option. Against tough lefties I’d rather have Polanco batting 3rd, instead of J-roll… cause I think Polanco is an overall better hitter, but if HE’s also down, then I guess we’re out of options… Sigh.

  9. The Dipsy

    March 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I think JRo should bat third because he is much more proficient from the left side than Shane and I like the idea of keeping a some continuity in the lineup. You can make an argument that JRo is our best leadoff man but you can also make that same argument about him being the 3 hole guy. That said, I also think that JRo should be able to run out of the three hole even with Ryan up at the plate. This may sound counterintuitive, but I like the idea of Jimmy standing on second base after Ryan strikes out. If you are going to ask Jimmy to bat 3rd, don’t blunt one his strengths just to preserve the hole for Ryan. Ryan – just pretend like he’s not there.

    The Dipsy

    Publius – So what if you’re married? You threw out a hypo that I was in a coma. The least you could do was make yourself single for the purposes of the same hypo. Geez.

  10. Chuck

    March 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Publius, question…. Do you know how to take a joke, you know laugh at yourself?? I mean… really….you have to admit that it’s reasonable to assume that most everyone on here imagines you salivating all over your many spreadsheets. I think your ongoing analysis is enlightening and even useful at times…..but lighten up, dude.

  11. Chris

    March 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I can only hope that this will be Rollins last year in Philly. He’s a selfish player who be remembered for refusing to improve his game. He’s not a leadoff man and he’s not a student of the game.

  12. Chuck

    March 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    But he HAS won an MVP award….and helped lead the Phillies to 4 straight NL East tiles, 2 pennants and a WFC….and….only been the HEART AND SOUL of this team for the last 10 years…

    But, yeah, he just a “selfish player that’s only going to remembered for “refusing to improve his game” Nothing else.

  13. Chris

    March 29, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I didn’t say that’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for Chuck…you said that. But if you can’t see the problems with Rollins approach to hitting (or lack thereof) and his blatant refusal to change to help the team (bunt, walk, take pitches) then you haven’t been paying attention for the last 10 years. Jimmy Pop-ins baby!

    • Chuck

      March 29, 2011 at 6:19 am

      No. What I HAVE been paying attention to the last 10 years is what Rollins HAS done for this team. He, more than anyone else, is the guy that motivated this team to take that next step back in the early 2000s. He saw what this team was capable of and challenged everyone to step up. And they did. Of course, it helps that the team was able to make some of the personnel moves that it did.

      But J-Roll has lived through some tough years at the beginning of his tenure and had the ba!!s to speak up when he did.

      Should he maybe change his approach a little? Sure. But what makes you so sure he won’t? Just because he’s confident enough in his abilities ans a sparkplug for this offense? To just be glad that this might be the last year that he’s a Phillie is to totally not appreciate what the man has done for this team and this city.

      Of course, I would expect nothing less from a typical “What have you done for me lately” Phillies fan.

  14. Dave

    March 29, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Well said Chris. And what happens when Castillo bunts over the runner into scoring position? Jimmy comes up and pops up on the first pitch. His act has grown tiresome. If his head wasn’t so far up Charlie’s bum, he’d be batting seventh.

    • Manny

      March 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Hopefully Raul drives him in (batting 3rd).. If it is against lefties, I feel good with J-roll batting 3rd. Otherwise, hellll no.

  15. Dave

    March 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

    We are not knocking some of his skills, but what we are criticizing is his unwillingness to adapt to the leadoff hitters role.

    Typical example the other day with Castillo on second and he swings at the first pitch. He refuses to wait on pitches.

    All sports analyzers included Wheeler, McCarver, Joe Morgan and others all have said that he is not your prototypical leadoff hitter.

    Why do they say that? Because of his inability to take a walk or his failure to lay off of the first pitch.

    Taking a pitch is essential for a leadoff guy. One reason is because he’s the first guy to see the pitcher that day and he needs to go back to the dugout to tell his team mates what the guy has. Maybe a breaking pitch that isn’t breaking or a fastball that is sinkin or whatever. Maybe the pitcher is even tipping his pitches. You can’t get that information swinging at the 1st pitch. It’s one of the jobs of the leadoff guy to watch as many pitches to either get on base or to report to his team mates what the guy is throwing.

    If he is not willing to do what is necessary for that role on the team, then he should be batting somewhere else. Charlie is just as responsible for this problem. Think about your job. If you were hired or promoted to a position but were unwilling to do what is required for that job, how long do you think you would be there before your manager fired you or you got demoted?

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