Nobody has ever truly questioned the amount of talent that Jimmy Rollins possesses. Many times though, his use of that talent and his knack for seemingly insisting on being something that he's not has been called into question. Too many times, Rollins was swinging for the fences when he should have been worrying simply about getting on base. Too many times, he was looking to be more like Bobby Abreu - combining power, speed and a steady bat - instead of focusing on the speed and steady bat part of the equation.
Over the last 27 games, it's been all about steady. Over the last 14 games, we have seen exactly what Jimmy Rollins can do as a hitter. He has simply been an offensive force that opponents have had a tough time reckoning with. While his 27 game hitting streak is impressive, his last 14 games are remarkably so. The numbers are somewhat staggering; .476 AVG, .522 OBP, 18 runs scored, 30 hits and a full twenty-percent of his stolen bases have come over just the last 14 games.
Early in his streak, Rollins was hitting the ball well, but many of his games were one hit affairs. Of the first 13 games in the streak, 11 of them were one hit games and his average actually dipped from .262 to .261 after the first 13 games. Since then, his average has exploded to .282 on the season and his on-base percentage has jumped from .304 after the Phillies loss to San Francisco on August 22nd (Rollins went 0-for-4) to .327 after his 2-for-5 game in the Phillies' 4-0 shutout of Atlanta on Thursday. Of the last 14 games in the streak, Rollins has collected multiple hits in nine of them, including three hits per game in seven of the last 14 games.
Just how has Rollins' streak impacted the team as a whole? Again, the difference between the first 13 games of the streak and the last 14 games of the streak are remarkable.
During the streak, the Phillies are 15-12 (.555). Over the last 14 games, they are 9-5 (.643), meaning that during the first 13 games of the streak, the Phillies were actually below .500 at 6-7 (.462). Had the Phillies continued to play at the pace that they were at before Rollins went on his 14 game tear, they would be at 80-73 on the season, four games behind Houston with just nine games left in the regular season. Instead, they are just two games behind the Astros in the wild card race. Winning two of three in Atlanta left them four games behind Atlanta in the NL East standings.
Rollins streak has been simply phenomenal. It is the longest streak of the season in the National League and second only to Johnny Damon's 29 game hitting streak for the longest in the majors this year. It is also the longest by a Phillie since Ed Delahanty had a 31 game hitting streak in 1899. Remember that one?
As phenomenal as the numbers in the streak - and particularly, the last 14 games have been - Rollins overall season and career marks have been stellar as well. When you truly look at the numbers, he may be one of the more under-rated shortstops in baseball.
Consider the following on Rollins' season and career marks:
- Is the first Phillies' shortstop to score 100 or more runs in back-to-back seasons.
- Has been successful in 23 of his last 25 stolen base attempts and has at least 20 stolen bases in all five of his major league seasons.
- Has 30 or more stolen bases in four of his five major league seasons.
- Reached double-digit numbers in doubles, triples, homeruns and stolen bases for the fourth time in his career, which is the most among active players. (Boston's Johnny Damon has three.)
- Has struck out just 46 times in his last 485 at bats (112 games).
The strike out numbers are especially impressive, since Rollins had seen his strikeouts rise to a career high of 113 in 2003. Last season, he dramatically lowered his strikeouts to 73 even though he had 29 more at bats than the previous season when he set his career high. His current season pace would have him striking out 71 times this season.
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