Jimmy Rollins' Season Is Not So Disappointing After All

Ryan WilliamsCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2008

Many Philadelphia Phillies fans have viewed this season as a disappointment for last season’s MVP, Jimmy Rollins. However, could it be possible that the Phillies’ shortstop is having a more productive year this year than he had last year, and he has just run into some bad luck?

A look at Rollins’ peripherals shows that the shortstop should be having a more productive season than he did last year.

Last season, with a line drive percentage of 19.9 percent, Rollins’ batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .303, slightly lower than his expected BABIP (eBABIP), which stood at .319; this means that, in terms of hitting for average, he suffered a bit of bad luck.

However, this season, the difference between Rollins’ BABIP and eBABIP is startling.  His line-drive percentage of 24.4 percent puts his eBABIP at .364, but Rollins’ BABIP is a measly .286 this season, a full 78 points below what it is expected to be.

With this stat, hopefully, you can see that Rollins’ non-success this year is not because of a lack of competitive spirit or a lack of fire—it’s just simply bad luck. Once this number equalizes, Rollins should be back at an even better pace than he was at last season.

In addition, Rollins has also taken steps to improve his offensive game even more, with better plate discipline this year. An improved BB percentage (up from 6.4 percent to a career-high 8.1 percent) and decreased K percentage (down from 11.9 percent to 10.6 percent) have put his BB/K at .83, nearly one walk per strikeout.  

The only apparent weakness for Rollins this year is his power numbers, as he has just 7 home runs and a .435 slugging percentage.  His home runs per fly ball are also down, from 10.7% to 7.4%.

Thanks to hit tracker, however, you can see that Rollins’ home runs this year are more definite home runs than last year. The average "true" distance of his home runs this year is 386.4 feet, compared to an average of 375.5 feet last season. Also, last season, 12 of Rollins’ 30 homers were considered “just enough”, clearing the fence by 10 or less feet—this year, all of his home runs have exceeded that standard. 

With his talent level, and more luck, Rollins’ home-run totals should equalize for the rest of the season and flyballs to the warning track will turn into home runs.

On the basepaths, Rollins has also been a more efficient force this season. While Rollins was great last year (41 steals in 47 tries), Rollins has been the most efficient base stealer in the league this season. He has stolen 26 bases while getting thrown out just once. His SB percentage (96.3 percent) is the highest amongst any player with double-digit steals.

Finally, despite unrightfully winning the Gold Glove award last season, Rollins’ defense has also improved this year when compared to last. His RZR (revised zone rating) has improved from .808 last season to .840 this year.

While his counting statistics are certainly down, a deeper look into the peripherals shows that the only thing Rollins is missing in terms of this year compared to last is simply luck.