Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino: Who Leads Off for the 2011 Phillies?

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Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino: Who Leads Off for the 2011 Phillies?
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The 2010 season was certainly a down season for Jimmy Rollins.  This was almost predominately due to the fact Rollins suffered an injury plagued season that kept him on the bench for nearly half the season.  Even when he was not on the disabled list, he was not playing at his peak performance, which caused him to have his career low batting average of .243.

Rollins has career numbers showing a batting average of .272, with a .328 on base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage.  However, his 2010 numbers were .243, .320, and .374, respectively.

Rollins has been the leadoff hitter for the Phillies for basically the past decade but seemed to fade away from that role last year.  When he was injured, he obviously was not leading off, but even when he came back to playing full time, he was not a lock to leadoff the lineup.

The Phillies were still able to have the best regular season in 2010, having a record of 97-65.  It had often be said the Phillies win games when Rollins is hitting, and I do not want to take anything away from that or Rollins, but they had to and were able to win many games without the help of Rollins on the field or in the lineup.

Shane Victorino was able to fill the role as the leadoff hitter for a large portion of the 2010 season and was the best one at doing so last year.  Victorino for the 2010 season as a whole batted for an average of .259 with an on-base percentage of .327 and a slugging percentage of .429, but at leadoff, those numbers were .276, .345, and .466, respectively.

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Now, Victorino’s numbers at leadoff were not much more impressive than his overall numbers, but his numbers at leadoff were easily the best of the rest of the team at leadoff. 

Of course, the real contest for leadoff is only between Rollins and Victorino, although for the 2010 season, Rollins was third best in the spot, trailing Placido Polanco as well as Victorino.

Rollins in 2010 batted for an average of .241 with an on-base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .378 at leadoff.  Overall for the 2010 season, Rollins batted best at the fifth spot in the lineup, where he hit for an average of .400 with an on-base percentage of .417 and a slugging percentage of .700.

Now that happened to be with only 10 at-bats, but if that trend were to continue, Rollins batting fifth would be a good strategy.  He did bat at the sixth spot 14 times in 2010 for an average of .357 with an on-base percentage of .400 and a slugging percentage of .429, so perhaps it is best that Rollins no longer bats leadoff and finds himself in the middle of the lineup.

during an interview this week, Rollins spoke of this issue claiming he would bat fifth if he wanted to but wants to be the leadoff hitter and that’s where he feels he belongs.

He said, “I’m a leadoff hitter.  In the five-hole, I can’t be all that I am.  I can’t get out there and steal bases and run wild like I want to… I’m not going to have the impact on the team that I want to in the five-hole.”

His numbers at leadoff have steadily declined since his 2007 MVP season, but he could very well return to that form this coming season.  Rollins has put himself through new training to help himself avoid injury for this season and has the desire to be the leadoff hitter. 

If he can return to his former leadoff ability, he will likely be the man to fill that hole in the lineup, especially since Charlie Manuel is backing him for that position.

Perhaps Victorino will be the best man for the five-hole, as he batted for an average of .313 with an on-base percentage of .353 and a slugging percentage of .438 in the 2010. The fifth spot was the best spot that Victorino batted in 2010, so he may be the best option to bat there, as it is likely that Rollins will win the leadoff race.

It should be safe to assume Rollins will be leading off for this season, but if he shows signs of slipping, Victorino will be there to pick up the slack.  Victorino can easily be a great leadoff hitter, but for 2010, the Phillies will have the rejuvenated Rollins leading off their lineup.

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