Phillies Need Jimmy Rollins to Be Better at the Plate

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, February 19, 2011
Over the past two or three seasons, Jimmy Rollins has not been the guy at the plate the Philadelphia Phillies need him to be.

Instead of playing small-ball and just trying to get on base, Rollins has been acting like he's a power-hitter and swinging for the fences every time he picks up the bat.

This has become evident not only in his batting average, but in the way the Phillies have approached who they put behind him in the No. 2 slot.

Shane Victorino caught a lot of flack when he was hitting behind Rollins, but a lot of Victorino's problems seem to come from pressing at the plate because he felt he needed to make up for Rollins who had just gotten finished popping out to shallow center.

Since Rollins' MVP season in 2007 in which he hit .296, his batting average has dropped to a good-but-not-great .277 in 2008, then completely plummeted to .250 in 2009 and most recently .243 last season.

Those are the numbers of a backup infielder who plays in 40-50 games a la Wilson Valdez, not a former MVP like Rollins.

Valdez, by the way, hit .258 in Rollins' absence last season.

But it seems like instead of trying to get Rollins to realize he's hurting the team more than helping with his swing-for-the-fences mentality, skipper Charlie Manuel would rather replace the guy hitting behind him. That had to be a big reason for bringing Placido Polanco back other than the obvious need for a third baseman.

Rollins continues to be great in the field, but the Phillies cannot bring him back if he's going to keep up the power-hitter act and hit below .275 or so. His numbers, over the past two seasons especially, certainly do not warrant a new contract -- especially at the kind of numbers he'll want.

It's going to be up to Manuel to fix this. If he doesn't step in and try to get this through Rollins' head, it's going to be another very disappointing season for Rollins individually and could wind up costing the Phillies down the stretch.

His poor play at the plate now has the Phils scrambling for an answer at the lead-off spot and the loss of Jayson Werth has them toying with the idea of enabling and empowering his power-hitter persona by hitting him No. 5 behind Ryan Howard.

If Rollins doesn't change up his style and get back to getting on base more and helping the team that way, he's going to find himself with a new team in 2012.

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