Monday, April 12, 2010

Jimmy Rollins: Walk Machine?

ML Leaders in Walks
9 Adam Dunn
9 Nick Markakis
8 David Wright
8 Daric Barton
7 Colby Rasmus
7 Nick Johnson
7 Jimmy Rollins
7 Chase Utley
7 Hanley Ramirez
7 Brian McCann

Jimmy Rollins?  He walked 44 times last year...in 725 plate appearances.  To put that in perspective, there have been 197 instances of a player having at least 725 plate appearances in a season, of which there were only 34 times where a player failed to walk at least 45 times.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this in Saturday (when Rollins was at 5 walks):
No, Jimmy Rollins isn't looking to walk more. The Phillies shortstop isn't trying to take more pitches like a conventional leadoff hitter. And he isn't changing the approach that has led him to scoring at least 100 runs in five of the last six seasons.
So he says.
"They're not throwing a lot of strikes," Rollins said. "It's easy to walk."
But . . .

"But it's also knowing you're feeling good," Rollins said. "You're seeing the ball good. You know what you want to swing at."
There have been players who have dramatically improved their ability to draw walks later in their career, though they generally seem to be power hitters who are pitched around more as they develop more power (Jack Clark is one example).

Although he's only 31, this is his 10th full season in the league, and he's never drawn more than 58 walks in a season, hit .300 or had an OBP of .350.  That didn't stop him from winning the MVP award or having a great career, but it's a good sign that he might be capable now of drawing more walks without sacrificing his aggressiveness at the plate.

It's unlikely that he'll walk 100 times, and maybe it's just an early-season anomaly, but his increased patience at the plate could be a early indication of a big season for Rollins.

Update: Rollins injured his right calf during warm-ups before Monday's game and is scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday.

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