How Best to Remember Jimmy Rollins MLB Career

By Steven Simineri

Coming off a stint last October as an in-studio analyst for TBS’s major league baseball post-season coverage following stints with the Dodgers and the White Sox in 2015 and2016, respectively, 38-year old Jimmy Rollins is in camp with the San Francisco Giants. Rollins is trying to make the Giants in a utility infield competition that includes Aaron Hill, Gordon Beckham and Kelby Tomlinson.

Rollins, who grew up in the Bay Area, is trying as best he can to fight off Father Time and is playing for the first time since last June, when Chicago released him after 41 games.



The 17-year veteran has acclimated himself nicely at second base, but he’s notched just three hits in 32 Grapefruit League at-bats. And even though one of those hits was a home run, he is batting an unsightly .094, with an anemic .216 on-base percentage. If Rollins doesn’t turn things around and doesn’t make the Giants’ roster, he must face the nagging question of what’s next?

If Bruce Bochy had to pick his 25 guys now, it’s almost a guarantee that the aging veteran wouldn’t be one of them.

At his peak, Rollins played on a Hall of Fame level. He won the National League MVP award in 2007 and collected four Gold Gloves. He made three All-Star game appearances, stole 40-plus bases four times and strung together the longest hitting streak (38 games) of the last quarter-century. As the all-time Phillies hit leader, he has a World Series ring and was a core member of a team that won five consecutive NL East titles, including two straight pennants.

The man they call J-Roll is one of four players ever with a 20-homer, 20-steal, 20-doubles, 20-triples season. He’s the only shortstop in the 400/200 club – 470 stolen bases and 231 homers. Not that there’s anything significant about the 400/200 club, but it shows us that Rollins brought a speed/power package to his position you very rarely see.


Jimmy Rollins brought a speed/power combination to the shortstop position very rarely seen. Credit:

He led his league in runs, steals and triples – no other shortstop who has played pro baseball has done all of that.

Although it’s pretty clear that Rollins falls short of Cooperstown, consider his career ranking among shortstops: 10th in runs (1,421), 14th in hits (2,455), 7th in doubles (511), 12th in triples (115), 9th in homers (231), 23rd in RBIs (936) and 11th in steals (470). Only 12 shortstops have ever been on-base more often than Rollins (3,413 times).

He’s fourth in total bases behind Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Robin Yount and Honus Wagner. Only Ripken, Yount and Jeter have more extra-base hits. Despite his speed and flashes of power, Rollins did not take alot of walks and never hit .300 in his career.

His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total (46.0) certainly doesn’t scream “Cooperstown,” even though four inducted shortstops (Travis Jackson, Hughie Jennings, Rabbit Maranville and Phil Rizzuto) had fewer. Rollins ranks far below the likes of Jeter (71.8) and Barry Larkin (70.2). He falls more in line with Vizquel (45.3) and Miguel Tejada (46.9). From 2004 to 2008, he averaged 5.1 WAR per season.

This wasn’t meant to sound like a eulogy for Rollins, but he doesn’t appear to have much left in the tank and it wouldn’t be fair to remember him solely for his final days as a Giant. Or his days with the Dodgers and White Sox, either.

If this is the end of the road for Rollins, he will go down as one of the best shortstops of his era and one of the greatest Phillies in franchise history.

Email Steven Simineri at and follow him on Twitter @SSimineri

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