Expectations for Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins inked a 3-year deal with the Phillies this weekend. Since he is staying with the Phillies, not much changed with his surroundings. The 33-year-old’s main issue is that he is fairly old for a SS and age is beginning to bring down his stats.

Rollins spent much of the 2010 season either batting 1st or 3rd (when Utley was hurt) in the Phillies lineup. I really don’t expect this to change in 2012, so he will get plenty of Run and RBI opportunities. The key to remember is that if he moves down in the lineup, he will have less Run and more RBI opportunities. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

In fantasy baseball, Rollins adds value across the board, but his AVG has been down a bit over the last few years. It averaged 0.284 from 2006 to 2008. From 2009 to 2011 it dropped to 0.255. The drop was not because he struck out more. His K% was between 8% and 10% over all 6 years. Instead, his BABIP dropped significantly. It went from near 0.290 to a value near 0.255. His BABIP declined against both RHP (0.293 from 2006 to 2008 from 0.265 from 2009 to 2011) and LHP (0.294 to 0.248). While no one trait stands out as the cause, a decline in two other fantasy traits, speed and power, have added to the decline in AVG.

Jimmy is just not hitting the ball with as much power to get it out the ball park as he did in the past. Here are his HR/FB% from 2006 to 2011:

2006: 11%
2007: 11%
2008: 7%
2009: 8%
2010: 7%
2011: 8%

He is just hitting fewer balls for HRs and therefore more outs.

Also, his speed has been on the decline. Here are his Speed Score and BsR values for the last 5 years:

2007: 8.7, 6.2
2008: 7.8, 2.8
2009: 6.7, 2.4
2010: 6.5, 1.7
2011: 5.8, 0.1

Less speed means fewer ground balls he runs out and less success he has on the base paths. Last season, he had his lowest SB success rate since 2004 (79%)

Even with the decline in AVG, HRs and SBs, he is still a good fantasy option. Currently the SS position is very thin. Rollins should be able to put up double digit HRs and 20+ SBs in 2012. The key for his overall value will be his AVG. If he can get it near or past the 0.285 level, he will be a great value in the up coming season.

Another issue with him in the last couple years is that he has been on the DL once in each season (73 games in 2010 and 17 games in 2011). At one time in his career, he was in the line up almost every day. From 2001 to 2007, he never played in less than 154 games. Besides causing a decline in his stats, age is also causing him to miss more time because of injuries.

Jimmy Rollins is a aging SS and his stats and health are starting to decline because of it. The decline is not enough to take away too much of his fantasy value, yet.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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