To say the least, Jimmy Rollins has been on the tip of everyone's tongue lately, and that's not necessarily a good thing. The veteran shortstop, whose three-run homer was the difference in the Phillies' 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, is one hit shy of 2,000 for his career, and was the subject of much controversy last week due to a pair of baserunning blunders. In light of that, I thought I'd take a look back at how he's performed this season, whether or not he's actually worth the contract that Ruben Amaro handed him in January, and if the Phillies should have moved him at the trade deadline.
Through 131 games heading into Monday, Rollins has a line of .247/.308/.415, with 16 homers, 31 doubles, 25 stolen bases and 52 RBIs, while spending most of his time this season at the top of the order. Taken without any sort of context, you can reasonably conclude that he is having a so-so season, as a .722 OPS isn't spectacular. But, you'd be wrong to do so.
Given the fact that shortstop isn't a deep position in the National League, and that there are very few elite players at that position right now – unlike, say, the late 90s – then you can really count Rollins among the best in the game, as his OPS ranks ninth among active Major League shortstops.
And if you look at just the National League, then he looks even better. He is fourth in OPS, and it's worth noting that the three players ahead of him – Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes and Starlin Castro – are all younger than him. That might not mean anything, but Rollins, who is one of the elder statesmen of the team and the league, is holding his own despite being past his prime. And if you take defense into consideration, and Rollins has proven to still be an elite defender, then it is not unreasonable to think that he is still one of the best shortstops in the National League, if not the game.
Although he continues to prove that he is not an ideal leadoff hitter (his .308 OBP is the third lowest of his career), he does still prove to be a very useful weapon on a team that spent a lot of time sending away veterans at the trade deadline earlier this summer. While the idea of moving Rollins (or any veteran) is sound if the intent is to free up cash or get prospects, the reality is far from it, given that his salary of $11MM annually is relatively cheap considering his production, and that the Phillies don't have anyone to take his place. Freddy Galvis held his own, but the offensive dropoff from Rollins to Galvis – or whoever would fill his shoes – would be a great one, for sure.
With any player, you're going to have ups and downs, but for whatever reason, those are far more pronounced with Jimmy Rollins than with, say, Ryan Howard. Even though we aren't likely to see the 2007 version of Jimmy again, I think we can all agree that the current version is doing a fine job. And given that the Phillies are likely going to be contenders in 2013, it would be foolish to move such a valuable piece of the team.
For now, Rollins isn't going anywhere, and I highly doubt he'll get moved next year, either. He's too good at what he does, even if he occasionally has a brain fart on the basepaths. The fact is that elite defenders with solid power and good speed come around only so often, so the Phillies (and more so, the fans) would be wise to appreciate what Jimmy does.