I had to come home today to get my mail. Tuesday we got snow and some got into my mailbox and caused my mail to freeze to the bottom of my box. Since then, there have been two pieces of mail frozen to the bottom of my mailbox. It thaws each afternoon, but refreezes every night. I leave too early and get home too late to get the mail, so I had to come home, at lunch, to retrieve it, before it refreezes again tonight. I have a hard life, but I labor on to bring you my thoughts on what fantasy owners might expect for Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins. I am a Phillies fan, which means I am not rational about any of the players or management. But I will step outside my normal, unreasonable, comfort zone, and bring you an unbiased view into what fantasy owners might expect from Jimmy Rollins, fantasy-SS-extraordinaire.
2012 saw Mr. Rollins hit 23 homeruns, steal 30 bases, score 102 runs, and drive in 68, giving his fantasy owners, and Phillies fans, his best season since 2009. But at 34 (His birthday was on Tuesday, the same day as the snow, mentioned above, but I stopped blaming him for my mail box problem, long enough to write this.), I am not confident that he will be able to ever achieve that stat line again. That said, even with the slight decline I expect, his production should still keep Jimmy in the top five (maybe six) shortstops in 2013, primarily because he will continue to be a power/speed threat. Let's start with the power. The last two seasons have seen the percentage of Jimmy's fair balls that are hit for groundballs dip below 40% and the percentage of fair balls he hits as fly balls creep above 40%. Nothing drastic in either case, but, together they may indicate a more concerted effort on his part to hit more fair balls into the bleachers. Given his nice power history, I am confident Jimmy can hit 18 home runs in 2013. And while his underlying speed metric declined to below league average in 2012, he is still coming off of two straight 30 SB seasons, and I think 24 steals, to go with those homeruns is reasonable to expect.
The news on the batting average front is not quite as bright. I think the .250 Jimmy batted in 2012 is about what owners can expect in 2013. His underlying stats are tremendous. He only struck out 15% of the time in 2012, which is certainly respectable, and his 9% walk rate shows continued plate patience. Not too shabby. However, while those numbers normally combine to give a higher batting average, Jimmy has not been able to hit above .250 in three of his last four seasons. What gives? I'll let others figure out why; I'll just say that you should not expect more than .250 in 2013.
If you are in a redraft league, you should not hesitate to draft Jimmy Rollins as the fifth (give or take) SS, off the board. If you are in a dynasty or keeper format, barring injury, I think you can count on two to three more years of top fifteen SS production from Mr. Rollins. However, in a non-redraft format, you should be open to selling high because of the inevitable decline that age will bring. Personally, I will target Mr. Rollins in both formats, and enjoy the production, not because he is a Phillie, but because I believe he will remain fantasy-relevant for the foreseeable future. Now I have to go lay down. This unbiased thing is exhausting.