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At The Half: Step It Up A Little, James

We all know the Phillies have a wildly inconsistent lineup. Really, the Phils have exactly the lineup we figured they’d have … well, almost.

We knew Chase Utley would have a fine season. We knew Ryan Howard would still drive people home. We knew Pat Burrell would remain a very good producer and on-base man. Shane Victorino won’t be a great hitter, but will do his part. The Geoff Jenkins/Jayson Werth platoon will perform somewhat average. Chris Coste and Carlos Ruiz are nothing to expect much from. Pedro Feliz will go 20/85/.260. The bench is the bench, blah, blah, blah.

But we all thought Jimmy Rollins would turn in a season much like last year’s MVP campaign. We banked on it. At the very least, his numbers wouldn’t sour too much from the 2007 edition.

We were wrong.

My prediction for Rollins for 2008 was:

686 AB / .291 AVG / 27 HR / 86 RBI / 38 SB / .779 OPS

His projected 2008 is:

560 AB / .274 AVG / 12 HR / 59 RBI / 46 SB / .778 OPS

Obviously his power and average is down. Some is due to his ankle injury, obviously, but some is also plain inconsistency. Many times this season he’s reached base just once in a game, which won’t cut it from the leadoff spot. More times he’s rolled off multi-game streaks without scoring a run. For Rollins to be effective he needs to get on base and score.

To be fair, Rollins has heated up lately, and the Phils offense has been better in turn. It shows that where Jimmy goes, the offense usually follows.

Does Rollins need to perform at 2007 levels for this team to make the playoffs? Probably not — they are a better team than last year’s. But Rollins needs to step it up just a little bit.

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