After losing four categories of production in 2013, Jimmy Rollins disappeared from draft boards around the country. Nobody wanted a piece of his age 35 season when it seemed like his career might be winding down. However, I boldly predicted 40 home runs plus steals (HR+SB) in a rebound season, and Rollins provided the goods. For a player I acquired in most of my leagues for $3 or less, Rollins turned around with $16 of value. According to FantasyPros, he averaged just $4 to acquire.
It was a true rebound for Rollins. He had a shot at a 20/30 season before a hamstring injury sidelined him for most of September. A 78/17/55/28/.243 line offered solid three category value without crippling in RBI or average. He was the fifth most valuable shortstop after being the 16th off the board.
He didn’t really improve in any noteworthy way. His ISO was slightly above career norms at .151, which fueled his power renaissance. Showing some semblance of power is crucial to Rollins’ value proposition for fantasy owners, and it’s there where the greatest concern exists. He managed just a .097 ISO in 2013. Most players his age see their ISO decline – sometimes precipitously.
Throughout his prime, Rollins drew criticism for an aggressive approach at the plate. Rather than a plate discipline issue – he’s always featured above average discipline – the complaint came from his willingness to swing (and make outs) in hitter’s counts. Rollins does appear more willing to take a walk than his past self. It’s a trend that has existed since 2010. He has a high contact hitter with a 5.9 percent swinging strike rate (league average 9.4 percent), but it seems as though working deeper counts did correlate to more walks AND strikeouts.
Despite the successful campaign, Rollins comes with plenty of baggage. His acquisition cost should increase more than a couple dollars over last season. It probably will, but it shouldn’t. He’s a low BABIP hitter due to consistent infield fly rates above 10 percent. He should be considered injury prone entering his age 36 season with a demanding position and history of minor leg issues (hamstring, ankle). Moreover, his perch atop the Phillies lineup is in peril. Only a lack of alternatives has kept his career .327 OBP batting in the top three spots.
We could probably stop our analysis there, but it’s customary to dig a little deeper for any tidbit of overlooked information. Here’s what I found via BrooksBaseball.
Notice that Rollins was actually better against breaking balls and offspeed pitches last season. Nor is this purely a one year finding. He’s always hit better against offspeed stuff than fastballs while showing competence against breaking balls. What does this mean in 2015? Possibly nothing. Or we may see teams relying on more and more heaters to attack Rollins. Perhaps he’ll become the anti-Josh Hamilton.
Rollins has a reputation as a spray hitter, but this doesn’t look like what you’d expect. This is his spray chart against right-handed pitchers.
Fortunately for Rollins, his familiarity with the bunt should keep defenses honest. Even if teams begin to shift him more, it should only be a minor adjustment for him to stay on the ball and poke it to the opposite field.
One burning question remains: will Rollins stick around for a few more seasons or did we just experience the final Indian summer of his career? Steamer predicts a 71/13/52/20/.237 line next season, and I see no reason to disagree. That’s what I’ll buy if I target Rollins.
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