Having just won his fourth Gold Glove award, this player review could not come at a better time for Jimmy Rollins, a man who could use a few positives in his corner. That’s because 2012 was one of the more contentious between Rollins and the fans. Rollins once again drew criticism when he became the focal point for a city-wide debate on if and when it’s ever appropriate for a player to not give 100% on a seemingly routine out.
The sour taste of Rollins’s perceived laziness, coupled with a brutally slow start to the season and a proclivity for popping the ball up on the infield (seriously, I must have heard the statistic that he leads all of baseball in infield pop-ups 1000 times this season), left many fans chomping at the bit to be extra critical of the long-time Phillies shortstop, jumping at the opportunity to call Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s decision to extend Rollins before the season a big mistake.
But should we allow those minor things–some bad outs and a few lackadaisical lapses in judgment–define Rollins’s season in general?
On the surface, it was a pretty pedestrian year for the man we’ve grown fond of calling J-Roll. His .250/.316./.427 triple slash line isn’t setting the world on fire, by any stretch of the imagination. But if you dig deeper and compare Rollins’s statistics to his major league counterparts, it was a really good, borderline stellar year for the 33-year old.
Take, for example, his .743 OPS. Standing alone, that’s nothing to write home about. But that number ranked him sixth among qualifying major league shortstops. He also ranked first in runs scored (102), was tied for third in doubles (33), was second in home runs (23, which also led the team), and was fifth in steals (30). He did all of this while playing in 156 games, which also led the team. That’s important to note because that now makes two straight seasons where J-Roll was able to avoid a long-term stint on the DL after having many questions asked about his health following the 2010 season.
Going further, Rollins posted a .322 wOBA, his highest mark since 2008. He did all of this despite the unfortunate BABIP of .262.
And I haven’t even touched upon the aforementioned gold glove award yet. No matter your opinion of that award and its merits, there’s no denying that Rollins is still a plus defender and arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game. He provides above average offensive production, and outstanding defense.
But perhaps most telling of the type of overall season Rollins had is his WAR: 4.9. That number was second among big league shortstops this season, behind only Ian Desmond, and was the highest he’s posted since his 5.6 mark in 2008, when he was still in his twenties. That made his play worth $22.2 on Fangraphs, more than double what the Phils actually paid him.
Final Grade: A I know there are people who will disagree with this grade. But when you consider the position he plays and how he stacks up to those positional counterparts, I’d be remiss to give Rollins anything short of an A. You can talk about the laziness and the infield pop-ups all you want. The fact is this guy can still play at a very high level, and he proved it this season.