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Should Jimmy Rollins Win the NL MVP?
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Should Jimmy Rollins Win the NL MVP?
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
September 26, 2007

Think Jimmy Rollins should be the National League Most Valuable Player? You’re not alone – most of the population of the nation’s fifth largest city agrees with you. And not without good reason – Rollins has had quite a season. While playing every game for the Phillies, Rollins has amassed 200 hits, 38 doubles, and 18 triples. He leads the league in runs with over 130, and he has gone 30-30 for the first time in his career. In a season in which the Phillies have been marred with injuries, Rollins has been the team’s rock, playing solid defense and batting leadoff ahead of an impressive group of hitters.

But Rollins is also on pace to do something that casts a bit of a cloud over all of his counting-stat accomplishments. Through Tuesday’s games, Rollins currently has 696 at-bats. With five games to go, Rollins needs just four more at-bats to become the fourth player ever to reach the 700 at-bat mark, and he needs only 10 at-bats to set the all time single season record for at-bats. (Can you guess who the three current members of the 700 at-bats club are? Answer below!) This probably explains why, despite his 204 hits, he is batting under .300.

But wait, there’s more!

We all know about the notorious/infamous/dubious 500 Outs Club. Well, with five games to go in the season, Rollins currently has 514 outs, which is good for a tie for 50th all time. He is currently on pace for 530 outs, which would be good for 15th all time.

And one last thing!

The reason reaching the 700 at-bat mark is generally considered a bad thing (you’d think being durable would be good, right?) is because it means the player isn’t taking very many walks. Every time a player walks, it doesn’t count as an at-bat, so the more a player walks, the less at-bats he has. So, generally speaking, even players who play 162 games, taking a reasonable number of walks, would never get to 700 at-bats. Indeed, the only three players ever to reach 700 at-bats were notorious non-walkers – Willie Wilson (28 walks in 161 games in 1980), Ichiro Suzuki (49 walks in 161 games in 2004), and Juan Samuel (28 walks in 160 games in 1984).

If you are like me, two things just popped into your head. First, “Hey wow, the only three guys ever to reach 700 at-bats in a season all did it without playing 162 games! Weird!” And second, “Hey wow, one of the other three guys who have reached 700 at-bats was also a Phillies lead-off man! Neat!”

Funny that you should mention that.

Jimmy Rollins currently has 48 walks in 157 games, which puts him on a better pace than Ichiro, Samuel, or Wilson. See where I am going with this?

With five games to go, Jimmy Rollins currently has 757 plate appearances, good for a tie for tenth all time. With one more, he will tie his career best from last season, which is tied for eighth all time. And with 16 more plate appearances, Jimmy Rollins will tie the all time record for plate appearances in a single season, set in 1993 by none other than the Philadelphia Phillies’ own Lenny Dykstra. With five games remaining, that means Rollins needs just over three plate appearances per game which, barring injury, is locked in.

Jimmy Rollins is, in fact, having a terrific season. He is having a career best year, and has been the rock upon whom the fragile and inconsistent Philadelphia Phillies have depended to keep them steady all season. But his numbers are largely counting stat driven – his .293/.342/.529/.871 is not elite – and his counting stats are going through the roof largely because he has come to bat more times than any player in the history of baseball.

Does that make him an National League Most Valuable Player candidate?

Absolutely.

Will it be enough to win him the award?

I don’t think so.


Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at asher@baseballevolution.com.

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