Rollins has eyes on some 2009 drama
Phils shortstop, former MVP has flair for clutch showings
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins has always had a flair for the dramatic.
He relished every moment of his 38-game hitting streak in 2005-06. He needed a triple in the final game of the '07 season to become the first player in baseball history to have 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season, and he got it. He needed to get his team off to good starts in Game 4 of the '08 National League Division Series and Game 5 of the NL Championship Series, and hit leadoff home runs in those series-clinching victories.
Rollins hope there are more moments in store in 2009.
His chances have improved since he turned around his season. Rollins had hit .205 with six home runs, 27 RBIs, a .250 on-base percentage and a .319 slugging percentage through July 1. He had been benched four consecutive games in late June. Fans had screamed for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to drop him in the lineup.
But since Rollins snapped a career-worst 0-for-28 slump July 2 against the Braves at Turner Field, he has hit .287 with 22 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 39 RBIs, 45 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. He has a .330 on-base percentage and a .503 slugging percentage. The Phillies are 27-9 when he has scored a run in that span.
To put Rollins' numbers since July 2 into perspective, he hit .296 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .531 slugging percentage in 2007, when he earned National League Most Valuable Player honors. His current numbers are not at that 2007 level, but they are not far off.
So what has been the difference?
Rollins has said he is not sure. He said he does not feel much different at the plate.
Shane Victorino, who hits behind Rollins, said in Pittsburgh last month that he hasn't seen a difference.
"It was only a matter of time before he got out of it," Victorino said. "I just didn't expect it to last that long."
Manuel has said that Rollins' swing can get long at times, but he said that wasn't his major problem the first three months of the season.
Sometimes, he said, things just happen.
"That's a part of it," Rollins said of luck. "Sometimes you have to have some balls get by people. Have some people out of position."
It isn't just luck. Rollins has hit the ball harder, too. But there is no question the Phillies are hoping Rollins keeps up his current performance with just 18 games to play before the postseason.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.