Jimmy Rollins is on the ballot for the third time. His power-speed skills were very good, especially for a shortstop who was listed at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds. Rollins was durable and an excellent fielder as well. He has an MVP award and a World Series ring. So, let’s take a deeper look into his chances at Cooperstown.
James Calvin Rollins was a second-round pick out of High School in 1996. The Philadelphia Phillies let him develop in the minors for a bit and Rollins got his first taste of the big leagues in 2000 when he played in 14 games. In 2001, he became the starting shortstop for Philadelphia and wouldn’t relinquish that spot for 14 years. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 (behind Albert Pujols and Roy Oswalt), as well as leading the National League in triples (12) and stolen bases (46).
His production at the plate took a bit of a dip the following two years although his defense was well above average. In 2004, Rollins started a five-year stretch that was the crux of his overall production. In that time he slashed .286/.342/.468 with 92 HRs and 195 SBs. The switch-hitting shortstop won the 2007 MVP award and the following year won a World Series Championship collecting 14 hits in 14 games during the Phillies postseason run.
Rollins remained a constant for the next six years. Although his production slipped a little, he was still a terror on the bases, had some pop, and played a solid defensive shortstop. At 36 years old in December 2014, the Phillies traded Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Tom Windle and Zach Eflin, ending his time in Philly. J-Roll played one season with the Dodgers and then another 41 games in 2016 with the Chicago White Sox.
The Case for Rollins
Rollins had an excellent five-year peak from 2004-2008. He had 25.7 rWAR along with a .348 wOBA and 106 wRC+. While the offensive numbers aren’t earth-shattering, they are above average. Combine that with J-Roll’s 62 DRS during that time, and you have an elite shortstop. His 2007 season is one for the record books as he stands alone as the only player in baseball history with 30 doubles, 20 triples, 30 homers, and 30 stolen bases in a season.
Rollins has some hardware along with that MVP award. He had four Gold Gloves, three All-Star appearances, and a World Series ring. The 17-year shortstop also has some impressive overall numbers. He had 2,455 hits including 857 extra-base hits to go along with 470 SBs and 1,421 runs. His durability was also never in question as Rollins played the sixth-most games ever at shortstop (2,227).
The Case Against Rollins
While he had an excellent peak and a historic 2007 season, his overall rWAR/600 PA is only 2.8, and aside from his peak, that number drops to 2.0/600 PA. His career .323 wOBA and 95 wRC+ tell us he was a slightly below-average hitter despite the accumulation. For a leadoff hitter, his .264 batting average and .324 OBP weren’t very good.
Rollins was a better player than Omar Vizquel. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Although Vizquel is certainly trending down in the votes this year, he started out well and had a ton of support. Rollins will likely get another look at least as, at the time of this writing, he is at 14.3 percent according to Ryan Thibodaux’s HOF Tracker. The long-time Phillie certainly had an excellent career and will need to gain some support to make it before his 10 years are up. While he isn’t making it this year, Rollins is an interesting case as far as the metrics go. His overall numbers look good, but his other metrics aren’t truly HOF-worthy. Time will tell, but he may have enough to get in via the BBWAA eventually.
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