J-Roll's Woes: What's Going On?
The swing is quicker.
The timing feels right.
Of course, 2009 has been nothing like ’07. Rollins is hitting just .217 with 13 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 25 RBIs, a .254 on-base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage. He is on pace for the worst first half of his career.
I took a look at a couple different reasons yesterday. Baseball Prospectus has a statistic called BABIP, which is batting average on balls in play. It includes plate appearances that don’t result in a walk, strikeout or home run. Rollins’ BABIP this season is .225. His career mark is .295. The NL average this season is .296.
Fielders are catching a ton of balls that Rollins puts in play, which suggests he has run into some bad luck. But I also mention how FanGraphs Baseball measures how players make outs. Rollins has hit line drives for 17.1 percent of his outs this season, which is the lowest percentage of line drive outs in his career. Rollins also has hit infield fly balls for outs 14.4 percent of the time, which is the highest percentage of his career.
Fewer line drives and more infield pop ups mean Rollins hasn’t been hitting the ball as hard as he has in the past.
“I’m not swinging the bat as well,” Rollins said.
He hasn’t walked since May 27. That is 16 consecutive games without a walk. He also has seen 3.69 pitches per plate appearance, which is his lowest total since 2005. In other words, while Rollins may have run into some bad luck, there are other more important factors at play (not hitting the ball as hard, not being as patient at the plate, etc.).
But history suggests things will improve. First, Rollins entered the season a .277 career hitter. He is much better than he has shown. Second, Rollins always has been a better hitter in the second half. He hits 22 points higher in the second half. His on-base percentage is 32 points higher. His slugging percentage is 51 points higher.
As Rollins struggles through the worst first half of his career, he could be headed to the All-Star Game. He leads NL shortstops with 1,216,007 votes. That is 87,460 more votes than Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is hitting .330 with 20 doubles, eight home runs, 34 RBIs, a .395 on-base percentage and a .519 slugging percentage.
But does he deserve to go?
“It depends what numbers you’re talking about,” Rollins said. “If you want to talk All-Star Game, you pick the best at their position. I still fit in that category. What makes the criteria?”