February 27, 2013

#ESPN fluffs another non-HOFer, Jimmy Rollins of Phillies

ESPN seems to have reached another new low in touting a player as a potential Hall of Famer who's not even close. This time, it's Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and the touting isn't from Jayson Stark or Jim Caple, but David Schonfield at the SweetSpot blog.

Here's all you need to know about why, per physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Schoenfield is "not even wrong": Rollins' career OPS+ is below 100.

That's right, he's a below-MLB average hitter for his career.

My minimum, for batters, is generally 110. Rollins' 97 isn't close. Other negatives? Career WAA below 20, and there's no chance he'll get it above 30, let alone 35, by the time he retires.

That said, he plays a skill position, shortstop, right?

But, he's no Ozzie Smith. He's not even a Barry Larkin.

And, the last of his Gold Gloves? Won with a dWAR of exactly zero. And, he's not going to win any more.

Oh, by the time he ends his career, I'd put him in the Hall of Very Good. But not the HOF.

But, here's what all Schoenfield claims as "Yes" material:
  • Career length. He's already at 2,024 hits as he enters his age-34 season; 3,000 is probably out of reach (he'd have to average 154 hits through age 39), but he should end up well north of 2,500.
  • Speed. He has 403 career steals and just 83 caught stealing. His career total of 61 baserunning runs ranks 16th since 1901, according to Baseball-Reference.
  • Power at a premium defensive position: 421 doubles, 105 triples, 193 home runs. Since 1901, he's 13th in extra-base hits among players who played at least 75 percent of their games at shortstop or second base. (Eight of the 12 ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame, and the others are Jeff Kent, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada and Lou Whitaker. Five of the next seven are Hall of Famers as well.)
  • Defense. Four Gold Gloves and pretty good advanced defensive metrics (plus-51 runs via Baseball-Reference).
  • Durability. Nine seasons of 154-plus games. Durability is a skill.
  • That MVP Award in 2007. It was much-maligned in some circles at the time, due to his .296 average and .344 OBP (offensive numbers were still sky-high in 2007), but it wasn't that egregious as he ranked sixth (Baseball-Reference) and seventh (FanGraphs) among NL position players in WAR. I mean, this wasn't Andre Dawson 1987 or anything.
  • Championship teams. Played on five straight division winners and has a World Series title. So far.
  • Fame. I'd say yes.
Let's dissect those in reverse.

1. He won't break 2,500 in the next three years. The way he's tailed off, he probably ends at just over 2,600. That's not "well north" of 2,500.
2. Speed? Yes, he is good at that. But, not as good as Oz, who had nearly 600 steals.
3. Power at a primo defensive position? Yes, he's good, but in a bandbox ballpark for much of his career, and he's overrated as a fielder at his primo position.
4. Defense? He's below average for his career on range factor. I've noted his fourth GG was undeserved. He's not good at all on total zone runs. His career putouts, assists and DPs turned as shortstop aren't fantastic.
5. Durability? Three of his last five seasons have missed that mark.
6. MVP award? Schoenfield himself qualifies it.
7. Championships? Not the primary cause of them, himself.
8. Fame? Per Schoenfield, now we ARE back at the Jack Morris argument.


Finally, Schoenfield misses the "smell test," or rather, the "eyeballs test."

Do you, if not immediately, fairly quickly think "Hall of Fame" when you look at Rollins? I don't.

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