Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins’ struggles have been well documented this year. The former MVP shortstop is hitting just .217 with a measly .257 OBP (going into last night’s game).
After an 0-5 night Thursday, to start this weekend’s series in Los Angeles, and another 0-5 on Friday, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel decided to sit Rollins Saturday. When J-Roll returned to the lineup last night he was in an unfamiliar role– batting sixth. But Rollins filled the role well, going 2-4 with a run scored.
Rollins’ improved performance brings up this question– do you keep him batting sixth or put him back in his usual and preferred leadoff spot? Rollins has commonly expressed publicly his disinterest in batting anywhere but leadoff. However his current production from the leadoff spot is unacceptable and his attitude at the plate seems puzzling.
The worst thing that ever happened to J-Roll was his 2007 season, in which he won his only MVP. J-Roll hit a career high thirty homeruns that season. Since then his approach at the plate has never been quite right for a speedy leadoff man. The goal of the leadoff hitter is to get on base any way possible, but J-Roll seems often more interested in his numbers.
Instead of beating balls into the ground and using his speed to beat them out Rollins often pops-up. Instead of taking walks to start rallies, J-Roll often chases fastballs out of the zone.
Charlie Manuel will have an interesting decision to ponder during tomorrows off-day– keep Rollins where he’s comfortable, in the leadoff spot, or put him where he produces best, in the six hole.