Jimmy Rollins CANNOT Be the Phillies Lead-off Hitter in 2013

Jimmy Rollins has morphed into Pedro Feliz.

Remember me? Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Yes, that’s correct. Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP and the guy for whom it has long been said “as he goes, so go the Phillies,” is now only as good as Pedro Feliz was when he manned the hot corner for the Phillies in 2008 and 2009.

Think about it. Feliz was 33 and 34 when he played for the Phillies during his two seasons in Philadelphia. Rollins is 33 right now. And just check out their stats.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2008 33 PHI NL 133 463 425 43 106 19 2 14 58 0 0 33 54 .249 .302 .402 .705 82
2009 34 PHI NL 158 625 580 62 154 30 2 12 82 0 1 35 68 .266 .308 .386 .694 82
PHI (2 yrs) 291 1088 1005 105 260 49 4 26 140 0 1 68 122 .259 .306 .393 .699 82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2012.

Now, compare those numbers to those put up by Rollins in 2011 and this year…

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 32 PHI NL 142 631 567 87 152 22 2 16 63 30 8 58 59 .268 .338 .399 .736 101
2012 33 PHI NL 119 532 487 71 116 26 5 14 43 20 4 42 75 .238 .298 .398 .696 86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2012.

Kinda spooky, isn’t it?

This is just more proof that starting in 2013 (or heck, even starting tonight!), Jimmy Rollins can no longer be the Philadelphia Phillies’ leadoff hitter.

If the Phils are serious about improving their offense, they cannot live with a leadoff man who sports an on-base percentage under .300. It just cannot be allowed to continue.

Rollins has always bristled when moved out of the leadoff spot during his career. He’s prided himself on being the straw that stirs the drink and the guy who makes everything go.

But that Jimmy is dead. He’s long gone.

Jimmy, your lead-off days are nearing and end. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

In his place is a still-decent enough defensive shortstop and, compared to other players at his position, good enough at the plate to add some value to the team offensively. However, he should be hitting at the bottom of the order, either in the 7 or 8-hole.

Jimmy Rollins simply gets too many plate appearances during the course of a week. He does not work pitchers, does not take advantage of mistakes, is impatient at the plate, doesn’t move runners over, and doesn’t steal nearly as many bags as he used to.

In other words, Rollins does NONE of the things a leadoff hitter is supposed to do.

So, what’s the solution?

The obvious answer is Michael Bourn. However, his age and cost would be prohibitive and would probably not the best long-term move for the Phils. Although in the short term, he would seem to be the ideal candidate, even though he doesn’t draw a ton of walks and strikes out a lot as well.

An interesting internal thought is Domonic Brown in the leadoff spot. Even with his struggles at the plate this year, he still has been getting on base. Heading into Monday night’s game against Cincinnati, Brown had a .358 OBP, and has continued to have perhaps the best eye at the plate. He has good speed and can steal a bag. Granted, he’s still very young and a lot of his offensive game needs to be ironed out, but it would be an interesting, cheap option for the Phils to consider.

One possibility that hasn’t been talked about much is Giants CF Angel Pagan, who would likely cost a lot less than any other center fielder on the free agent market He has a decent career OBP (.332), usually steals around 30-35 bases a year, and provides a little pop and good defense as well. Another free agent possibility is Tampa CF B.J. Upton, who has a bigger upside and better career OBP than Pagan (.338). Upton also steals more bases (44, 42, 42, 36 and 23 the last five years). However, his OBP this year is only .304 and he strikes out a ton.

And of course, the super-cheap option would be to bring back Juan Pierre and install him as the leadoff hitter for 2013. Laugh if you want, but the guy is hitting .312 with a .350 OBP and 31 stolen bases. It’s not a long term solution, but could be a pretty cheap and reasonable 2013 fix.

Whatever the Phillies decide, Jimmy Rollins cannot be allowed to lead off any longer. He’s a decent #7 or 8 hitter in a National League lineup.

He is Pedro Feliz, just with a better pedigree.

Topics: Posted

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