Nick Kappel's Fantasy Focus: What's Wrong with Jimmy Rollins?

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Nick Kappel's Fantasy Focus: What's Wrong with Jimmy Rollins?
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Several top sluggers have struggled through the first month and a half of the season.

Grady Sizemore is batting .220 but has seven bombs and six steals. Mark Teixeira is batting a paltry .238 in Yankee pinstripes but remains on pace for 39 HRs. Lance Berkman has battled just to stay above the Mendoza line despite blasting eight dingers thus far.

Jimmy Rollins, on the other hand, is batting just .216 with only two long balls and three steals, putting many fantasy managers in a tough position.

What do you do if you own Philadelphia’s second round pick in 1996?

There are two sides to this story.

The first side, which we’ll call the pessimistic side, would make the argument that Rollins’ 2006 and 2007 campaigns were a fluke, based on his previous career averages from 2001 to 2005.

  R HR RBI SB AVG
2006 127 25 83 36 .277
2007 139 30 94 41 .296
01-’05 AVG 100 12 61 34 .273

 

Teammate Ryan Howard’s first full season in the majors did not come until 2006, the year Rollins found his power stroke. Furthermore, J-Roll’s career .331 OBP suggests he is not a true power hitter.

Still not convinced?

Baseball statistician Bill James suggests a player’s best years come between the ages of 25 and 29. Rollins’ 2006 and 2007 seasons came at the ages of 27 and 28, respectively. He turned 30 last November.

So is it all downhill from here?

The optimistic side would argue against it.

Rollins’ breakout season actually came in 2004, when he hit .289 (opposed to his .261 batting clip in his previous three seasons). The Phillies’ shortstop also cut his strikeout per at-bat rate of 17 percent in his previous three seasons to just 11 percent in 2004, further proving his progression as a young hitter.

Rollins’ keen eye prevailed again in 2005, when he cut his strikeout rate to 10 percent.

Where am I going with this?

My point is that it’s more difficult to argue that four seasons are a fluke, compared to just two. Based on Rollins’ 2004 and 2005 numbers, 2006 and 2007 were no fluke.

Rollins’ slow start this season can be attributed to his current .236 BABIP. Based on his career mark of .299, it’s safe to say his average will go up.

Furthermore, Rollins’ career stats by month show that he gets progressively better over the course of the season:

  • April: .265
  • May: .267
  • June: .273
  • July: .276
  • August: .277
  • September: .293

September has been his best month historically. During the last month of the regular season, Rollins has set career monthly highs in runs, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, steals, average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

This is important, because it shows that Rollins peaks during the fantasy baseball playoffs, when you need your star players the most.

If you own Rollins, hold on to him. Another 30/30 season might be too much to expect, but keep this in mind: Over the last four seasons (including his injury-shortened 2008 campaign), Rollins has averaged 114 runs, 20 HRs, 41 steals, and a .285 batting average, a stat line that was topped by only one player in 2008: Hanley Ramirez.

PACE represents the player’s 162-game pace based on their current stats. PROJ represents what I project the player’s stat line will be at the end of the season. These numbers are based on games played before Sunday, May 17.

  R HR RBI SB AVG
PACE 100 10 57 14 .216
PROJ 115 18 75 40 .280

 

Original Article: Baseball Reflections

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