Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/14/13
Jimmy Rollins made his major league debut back in 2000. It’s now 2013 and Rollins is entering his 14th major league season as a 34-year-old who’s played every one of his 1,792 games with the same team. Amazingly, even at his advanced age, Rollins hit 23 home runs last year. That total was his most since 2007 (30) and just the third time he’d hit more than 16.Rollins has always had great base-stealing ability, and because he’s been able to hit with more than a little pop at the top of what was once a great offense, he’s remained an elite fantasy shortstop for the past decade.For whatever reason, Rollins has seen his fly ball rate increase noticeably over the last several seasons. After posting just one fly ball rate over 40% in his first six years, Rollins has topped that mark three times in the last four. His HR/FB rate has remained constant around the 7.5% mark for the vast majority of his career (plus or minus a percentage point or two) and occasionally it peaks around 10%.Last year was one of those occasionallies (apparently not a word) as Rollins rode his rising fly ball rate and 10.4% HR/FB rate all the way to his best homer season of the past half-decade.At a GlanceStrengths: R, SBNeutral: HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Ian Kinsler (TEX)Likely scenario: Ian Desmond (WAS), Jason Kipnis (CLE), Norichika Aoki (MIL)Worst-case scenario: Ichiro Suzuki (NYY)Jimmy Rollins 2013 Fantasy ProjectionIt’s likely that Rollins’ HR/FB rate declines from last year’s 10.4% mark, but his career rates have actually been pretty consistent. Even if it does fall it probably won’t fall very far, and with his recent tendency toward fly balls that should still mean a nice amount of homers. We project 17.Two straight 30-steal seasons, along with 31 in 2009, show Rollins still has the speed. He’s not going to erupt for 40+ like he did in his prime, but he could still approach or exceed 50 homers and steals combined. Barring injury, that’s what we should project from him in 2013.On a far more disturbing note, did anyone see Rollins’ infield fly rate last year? It was 19.0%! There’s no way that’s happening again, but for most of his career Rollins has struggled to keep the infield flies under control. Along with the fly ball tendency from a player without serious power, he’ll really struggle to post a good batting average. The best we can really hope for is mid-.270s, but he’ll probably end up around .260.It’s also a bit far-fetched to expect Rollins to score an elite amount of runs. As a lead-off hitter who doesn’t drive himself in a ton, his run total is heavily dependent on those batting behind him. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are not their former selves, and Ben Revere batting second won’t provide a lot of RBI power. Frankly, I’m not sure how Rollins scored 102 runs last year with a .316 OBP and an aging core of sluggers supporting him. That sounds fluky to me.He’ll still provide the HR/SB category juice, though, and I think that makes him an ideal player in H2H leagues where batting average gets devalued. Fortunately, Rollins is currently getting drafted 107.2 overall on MDC. If he can last to around pick 90 or later (or if you’re in a deep league where having a borderline elite shortstop is a major advantage), Rollins is someone I’d have high on my draft list.
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