Rollins Having a Legendary Season With the Glove

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, August 31, 2009 08:07 PM | Comments: 39

I’m not a fan of hyperbole, or outlandish headlines that lack substance. Maybe this is why I have a problem with the Skip Baylesses and Tony Kornheisers of the world, journalists who may have dedicated years of their lives to their craft, but care most about making a sensational splash. Unfortunately, since the internet gives almost anyone the chance to voice their opinions, many writers resort to these tactics in order to gain readership or attention. I vow never to do that because I personally dislike it so much.

With that said, Jimmy Rollins is on pace to have, arguably, the best defensive season ever by a shortstop. And if we can all get past the blockbuster move the Phillies made today by purchasing the contract of John Ennis, I’ll tell you why.

Rollins has played 123 games this season, and racked up 1089 innings at shortstop. In those 1089 innings, he has had 483 total chances in the field, and made three errors. THREE ERRORS! These three, measly errors are the fewest among all major league shortstops, and contribute to his ML-leading .994 fielding percentage.

Before we continue, let’s first discuss the relevancy of fielding percentage, a very imperfect stat. The reason fielding percentage cannot be used as the sole defensive statistic is because it is based on errors, a stat decided by the official scorer at a major league game, who happens to be an imperfect human being.

As Garret Anderson proved last night, the term “error” is broad and can sometimes be used in an unjust fashion. Had Anderson not caught up to the ball hit by Carlos Ruiz last night and gotten leather on it, there would not have been a question as to whether it was a double or error. It would have been a double, but since it fell in and out of the leftfielder’s glove, the official scorer originally ruled it an E-7.

This displays the problem with errors. A player who has great range, a player like Rollins or Pedro Feliz, gets to a great amount of balls and increases their total chances. The more total chances a player has, the more opportunities the player has to make an error. So, in this sense, some errors are GOOD, because it is always better to get to a ball and make an attempt than let it pass you.

The best example of this is Derek Jeter, a great offensive shortstop who is, quantifiably, one of the worst defenders at his position every year (despite us seeing a highlight on SportsCenter every time he makes a jump-throw.) Jeter’s fielding percentage never signifies his lack of defensive prowess, because he covers less ground than a guy like Jimmy Rollins. So a ball that passes between the hole at short and third for Jeter will always be a hit rather than an error, whereas if Jimmy were to get to it and muff it, it will be an error.

Do you see the problem?

This is where stats such as Zone Rating, Ultimate Zone Rating, and Error Runs Above Average come into play, and become extremely useful.

Zone Rating, as found on ESPN.com, measures the amount of balls fielded in a specific player’s zone. Rollins is second in the major leagues in ZR, behind only Edgar Renteria.

Ultimate Zone Rating, or UZR, is a stat found at Fangraphs.com, that takes Zone Rating into account, as well as amount of errors, the range a player has on double plays, and the strength of their arm. Rollins ranks fourth among NL shortstops this season, and was first among NL shortstops last season. Year in and year out, Rollins ranks among the top five in baseball in zone rating.

Error Runs Above Average is a stat that indicates how many runs a player has saved his team on defense, above an “average” defender. Rollins has saved 3.7 runs above average thus far in 2009, second in the NL only to Troy Tulowitzki, who has also had 52 more total chances than Rollins, which helps Tulo’s cause. Last season, Rollins was also second in the NL.

All of these stats signify the great range and consistency Jimmy Rollins has at the diamond’s toughest position. More weight is placed upon every defensive statistic at the shortstop position because of how much ground a shortstop has to cover, along with their great amount of chances, and role as captain of the infield, a position Rollins flourishes in.

The best defensive season for a shortstop, in terms of fielding percentage, belongs to Cal Ripken Jr., who committed only three erros in 680 chances in 1990. This may flabbergast you, or it may not, based on how meaningless the award has become, but Ripken DID NOT win a Gold Glove award that season. Ripken’s zone rating and range factor were almost identical to the numbers Rollins has posted this season.

Our beloved shortstop likely won’t match Ripken’s 680 chances – Rollins is 197 behind with only 34 games remaining. Even if he played nine innings in all 34 remaining games, Rollins would still fall nine innings short of Ripken’s 1406 in the field.

But if he doesn’t commit an error the rest of the way, Rollins’ remarkable season with the glove will be right in line with Ripken’s unbelievable 1990 season. When you factor in the increased speed of players in 2009 to 1990, along with the fact Ripken had that season for a 76-96, fifth place Orioles team compared to Rollins, who has been unbelievable during a pressure-packed, first-place season following a World Series victory, it can be argued that Rollins feat is even more impressive.

And boy, does he make it look pretty.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 DawkinsINT

    Good read. Even when he wasn’t contributing much to the offense, he was still valuable to the team.

  • Posts: 0 Tom G

    so many factors are involved…including the Pitchers Fly ball to ground ball ratios…
    I know fielding wise, I would rather have Rollins in the field than Ripkin…

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Corey, great article. The first play of the game last night was a smash by Diaz up the middle that had single written all over it. The ball was a bullet but somehow, our Jimmy flew through the air and snagged it for an out. Amazing play to open the game. Jimmy was a little slow in getting up as he was fully extended and most assuredly knocked his wind out.
    Jimmy is not only the best, arguably one of the best defensive SS in the game today he is the catalyst for this team. Sure, the team needs and wins on the power behind him but as Jimmy goes, most likely the Phils follow. If his bat is hot, the Phils are a juggernaut.
    Regarding Ripken, I’m sure that the Iron Man’s Zone rating was no where close to Jimmy’s. Ripken was quite a big man and certainly not near as limber as Jroll. Ripken stood (albeit stiff in appearance) at 6’4″ and about 225 lbs. A good 8″ taller than our SS and quite a bit heavier. Ripken was a solid defensive SS (and 3rd baseman) but, his Zone rating could not have been close to Jimmy’s.
    Great article.
    (Former Baltimore resident and avid Oriole fan since 1961).

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Now, this is a very good article…

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    But see Manny, if this article was about Matt Stairs’ defensive inefficiency rather than applauding the great defense of Jimmy Rollins, would that make it a bad one?

    I love the discussion that goes on here and that’s why I like to get involved in some of it in the comments. And I never have a problem with criticism.

    But Phillies Nation is special because it’s where a lot of us go for up-to-the-minute news and analysis of the team we’re in love with. And if that analysis or news isn’t always cheery, it shouldn’t make a bunch of readers write “You suck Corey, go light yourself on fire and stop writing for this site.”

    Ups-and-downs are a part of baseball. Not saying you were guilty of that, I just wanted to get that off my chest once and for all.

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    After a while it gets difficult to sift through the children who quip and gripe – and frankly, I would not have taken the time to an article about Matt Stairs as a defensive liability (why did Chahlie start him the other night?)..

    So, do you have any of the Zone ratings to compare with historical players by position or references that we can look up?

    I recall watching a game in the old Memorial Stadium at 33rd and Maryland, where a ball was hit by Frank Howard, a smash that was lined toward third base. By the time that Brooks Robinson (sorry folks, the best fielding third baseman in all of history) turned himself around to field the ball, leaping in the air to snag this bullet, it was bouncing off the left field wall! An attempt for a catch that would have been a negative in the Zone rating. (By the way, Brooks was not too unhappy about not getting there on time, his hand may have been broken upon impact!)

  • Posts: 0 Doug D.

    The content of the article is good, Corey. But dude, learn how to punctuate. It’s not “the Skip Bayless’ and Tony Kornheiser’s of the world.” It’s “the Skip Baylesses and Tony Kornheisers of the world. The apostrophe-s is used in the posessive, as in “Skip Bayless’ and Tony Kornheiser’s opinions are BS.”
    And in the sentence in “As Garret Anderson proved last night, the term “error” is broad, and can sometimes be used in an unjust fashion,” you don’t add a comma after “broad.” Are you familiar with the concept of dependent and independent clauses? If your going to put your words out there for public consumption as a “journalist” online, write those words properly. The sad part of this is that I’m probably the only one reading this article who will notice these grammatical errors.

  • Posts: 0 Doug D.

    And lo and behold, I didn’t notice that I misspelled “possessive.” Where’s my editor?

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    If you go to Fangraphs.com, under the Leaders tab, they have in-depth stats for Batting, Pitching, and Fielding. I can’t recall the exact year, but these stats go back as far as the 70′s if not further.

    In the case of Cal Ripken in 1990, they don’t have certain sabermetric stats like UZR or Error Runs Above Average, but they do have Range Factor and Range Factor per 9 Innings, which are helpful. I’m sure you could check those out for Brooks Robinson too. It’s a great site.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Doug D. – Noted and fixed. Thanks.

    If those are the worst mistakes in this article, though, I’d like to think that I have a pretty good command of English punctuation and am quite familiar with the concept of dependent and independent clauses.

    Bad grammar/punctuation is also a pet peeve of mine and when it’s poor enough, I usually don’t continue to read the work of that particular writer. I hope that didn’t happen here!

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Uh, Brooks. No he wasn’t. He would have been eaten alive on turf.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 4daysrest.com

    Ah, grammar police. Sweet. We curse a lot, but usually it’s grammatically correct. So check it out.

  • Posts: 0 Dave W

    Interesting article but i’m a little skeptical about ZR values on ESPN.com. the players should be fielding 80-90% of the balls in their zone rather than 10% shown on ESPN.com.
    also, it shows Jayson Werth has the worst ZR in the NL among RFs. maybe check the RZR on Hardball times, Jayson does much better with a more believable number. Please explain what’s going on here.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Dave W – The reason that Werth has the worst ZR among NL right fielders is the flaw of Zone Rating, and the reason that I chose to use Ultimate Zone Rating on Fangraphs, as well as Error Runs Above Average.

    It’s not just Werth either. According to ESPN, Victorino’s ZR is nowhere near as high as it should be.

    The reason for that is this: Victorino covers so much ground, probably in the top two or three in baseball in that aspect of his fielding, that it hurts Werth’s ZR because it makes Werth’s zone smaller. If there’s a fly ball to right-center that Victorino runs down and snags, that hurts Werth’s ZR, and helps Victorino’s.

    Now, the reason Victorino has a lower ZR than he should is because WERTH covers so much ground in right field. It is literally vice versa.

    This is why fielding stats are so imperfect, and if you are going to use one, you need to use many others to make sure they are telling the true story.

    As I wrote a few weeks ago on here, Victorino’s ZR would be much, much, much higher if he were flanked by two poor fielders, or two plodding corner outfielders who don’t cover much ground.

    That is why Colby Rasmus of the Cardinals has a very high Zone Rating…because he shares the outfield with Ryan Ludwick (a Burrell clone), and Rick Ankiel (until Matt Holliday arrived.) While Ankiel and Holliday are solid defenders, and Ankiel has a knack for making spectacular plays, neither covers much ground.

    Fielding stats are the most imperfect of all stats, and that is why they need to be looked at in conjunction with many other factors.

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Dipsy, I saw him play from 1960 until the early 70′s when I moved to the Philly area. Then I had the privilege of watching Michael Jack play for nearly his entire career.

    In my humble opinion, the “Human Vacuum Cleaner” was a much better fielder. In the 1970 WS vs the Big Red Machine, legends such as Johnny Bench and Tony Perez said he played the game as if he were in a different league. By the way, the 1970 WS was played at Riverfront Stadium – the first fall classic played on artificial turf.

    “Prior to Game 1 a reporter asked Brooks “The Hoover” Robinson if he thought he would be able to play defense on the artifical grass. Robinson cooly replied, “I’m a Major League third baseman. If you want to go play in a parking lot, I’m supposed to stop the ball.” – Baseball Almanac

    16 straight Gold Glove awards, 15 out of 16 of those same years he was an AS for the American League (mostly due to his fielding of course).

    Who would I rather have as my third baseman? Mike Schmidt. He was a great defensive player and a threat at the plate. But Brooks was the man with the leather.

  • Posts: 0 rich corr

    Great article. Jimmy just continues to amaze me with his great defensive plays …

  • Posts: 0 Ryan S

    Based on Runs above replacement (RAR) (Fangraphs), Jimmy Rollins had his best defensive season last year (2008-12.8 RAR) and will come nowhere close to it this year(currently at 5.5 RAR). The Fielding Bible Awards 2008 also show Jimmy Rollins to have the best defensive season last year.

    Also, although Derek Jeter usually hurts his team defensively, he is actually having a very good season defensively (5.8 RAR) – even better than Rollins.

  • Posts: 0 Von

    You say Jeter is “one of the worst defenders at his position every year” and then use the Zone Rating to show how good Jimmy is, but fail to mention that Jeter is third in the Zone Rating right behind Jimmy. Just saying…

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Corey, I didn’t say that because this is a good/cheery article… I said it because it was really well researched and made a strong point…

    I was comparing it to the Ibanez article, which I felt was a bit misleading, as many of us got the impression that you were saying that the slumping Raul was the real Raul. But after reading your comments for that piece, your argument in that piece becomes much clearer… Unlike that one, there’s definitely no ambiguity in this Rollins piece.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    In any case, I like these posts because they’re well-researched and present interesting facts and numbers… the type of analysis some of us like to see here on this website every now and then.

  • Posts: 0 Thunder Lips

    To Doug D.: Please note that in your sentence to Corey before, you stated, “If your going to put your words out there for public consumption as a “journalist” online, write those words properly.” You (like too many people I know) used the wrong form of your/you’re. You should have stated, “If you’re going to…”. The word “you’re” is contraction for ‘you are.’ I know this site isn’t intended for everyone to write well or intelligibly display his or her comments, but double check your posts my friend before you start criticizing.

    P.S.: Feel free to criticize my writing style or posting now or in the future. There will be many games in the future where I will allow either alcohol, excitement, or sheer anger adversely affect the grammar and style in my posts.

  • Posts: 0 Sabermetrics suck


  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Von – Jeter is having a better defensive season than he usually does, no question. He is actually having a very good season with the glove.

    The reason I included him as an example is because in just about every year prior to 2009, he has been a below average defensive shortstop, despite the widespread public perception that he is a great defender. That perception is based on us being bombarded with Jeter highlights, Jeter stories, and Chuck Norris-like Jeter superhero remarks. Prior to 2009, Jeter was the perfect example of a high fielding pct. guy who can’t be accurately measured by errors because of a lack of range.

    With that said, I also will tell you that according to Fangraph’s UZR, which is superior to ESPN’s ZR in every way, Jeter is slightly ahead of Jimmy. Here comes the big BUT:

    The reason Jeter has a higher UZR than Jimmy is also the same reason why Jayson Werth has a terrible UZR…it depends on who you are surrounded by.

    In Jeter’s case, he shares that side of the diamond with Alex Rodriguez, a once great defensive player, who ranks 15th out of 21 qualifying 3B in UZR, with a -5.2 rating. Only the notoriously poor fielding Michael Young, the youthful Mark Teahen, the overrated (defensively) David Wright, and old-timers Chipper Jones and Mike Lowell have covered less ground than A-Rod.

    Jimmy, in contrast, is flanked by Pedro Feliz, a great defensive third baseman who covers a ton of ground, and ranks third in the NL in UZR (8th in MLB.) So that explains some of it.

    In other news, the Dodgers just acquired Jim Thome from the White Sox, likely ending the White Sox season and making the Dodgers even more dangerous than they already were….

    …But where does Thome play? Obviously, he is only a first baseman. But he hasn’t been playing the field at all since moving to the AL, is old, slow, and can’t field his position much anymore, and is a lefty-hitter along with James Loney. So you can’t even platoon the two. Weird, but interesting move.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Tom G. alluded to the significance of pitchers’ [fly/ground ] ball ratios when interpreting fielding stats. Maybe this consideration explains why Rollins ranks second in Error Runs Above Average to Troy Tulowitzki whose 52 chance advantage over Rollins comes, to a certain extent, courtesy of Aaron Cook’s ground ball inducing sinker. I haven’t crunched the numbers but given our rotation is heavy with fly ball pitchers I think it’s a decent hypothesis. I like the sabrmetric analysis.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    J Reed – You are absolutely correct. The Rockies have tried loading their staff with groundball pitchers to make up for playing in Coors Field. Aaron Cook is a perfect example of this, as is Jason Marquis.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Corey – maybe torre learned something from charlie about the merits of the long ball off the bench and plan to use Thome like we used Stairs in the post season.
    I guess we didn’t make any moves.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Corey – Okay, one theory regarding Thome concerns Lee. If we do see the Dodgers again then Thome could be the Lee killer. I’m just basing this one on what the White Sox have done to Lee through out the years…It ‘aint pretty. I’ll check Thome stats against Lee to see if how effective he is against the southpaw. Coincidentally, Lee’s first game as a Phillie the two batters on the Giants that combined for a run were Rowand and Uribe, ex-white sox who had played against him. Fits nicely into my conspiracy. Haven’t checked the numbers…Well at least the White Sox are a non issue now and that’s a relief cause they absolutely own Lee (as do the Rangers).

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    BTW people, Matt Stairs is done. In fact the entire Phillies bench is worthless this year – automatic out. The only time that Dobbs seemed to get any hits is when he started, Bruntlett was not even sniffing a hit until his HOF game, Cairo? Puh-leez! Ah, you say what about Ben? 2 for 7 (he has 2 walks too) coming off the bench – 2 doubles and 1 rbi. Sounds like a late inning threat to me.
    Now it is too late to pick up someone to come off the bench in the post season. Scary, very scary -

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Going into this post season the Phils, are the Phils in better or worse shape than last year?
    The article on MLB.com writes about the Lidge turn-around. On Sunday, he faced the bottom of the lineup for the Braves. The first 2 batters hit the ball hard, there was one ball hit to Shane at the warning track. The final batter, a PH named Morton – had a .141 BA and he struck him out. Yes, a save. Dominant performance? No
    No bench to feel good about, no certified closer.. .

  • Posts: 0 phil

    rollins is not the best defensive ss this year and wasnt in 07. with that being said he is still one of the best of his time.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    A tip of the hat to you, Corey… I’ll admit that I’m a homer and I prefer to read cheery over dreary. As long as this team is in first place, I’ll continue to challenge the nay sayers.

    I think that this article gets to the nuts of what many of us have been saying all year with J-Roll; I don’t care if he hits .225 because the guy is worth a ton of runs over any replacement player in the field. We take defense for granted but this team is really good defensively and that is a huge asset, especially in close games… I didn’t realize how spectacular this season has been for J-Roll. If you look at his progression as a defender, he has actually gotten better with age… he has improved his fielding percentage in each of the past five seasons. I love J-Roll… he’s one of my favorite players on this team. He makes it look easy… sometimes his laissez faire attitude can drive you nuts but he is supremely talented and has always backed up what he has said.

    The Phils are in much better shape, Brooks. We’ve got a 7.5 game cushion (meaning we will be able to rest guys and set up our rotation), our offense is much better (Big Piece doing his thing, a healthy Utley, a healthy Feliz, Ibanez as a replacement for Burrell, Chooch improving, Werth playing the best baseball that he has played), if Hamels keeps improving (which I think he will) our starting rotation is 10X better, Lidge IS getting better, Myers could be added to that mix… our bench/pen is not even close (to where it was last year) but our starters are much better.

  • Posts: 0 Yankee Fan

    You Philly fans make me laugh. Are you serious with some of the comments in this article? Sorry, but to compare Rollins to Jeter (even now that Jeter is 35) is laughable. It’s an old, outdated argument already proven to have no merit when stat gurus (who’ve probably never even thrown a baseball) “quantifiably” call Jeter a poor defensive shortstop. You need to sit down and watch a Yankee game. I won’t waste my time talking about what Jeter has already accomplished. (Sufficed to say that by the time Jeter was Rollins’ age, he already was captain and led his team to 6 World Series appearances.) But even this year, Jeter’s defensive numbers are every bit as good as Rollins’.

    There’s two problems with your reasoning. First, throw all the stats at me you want but there’s simply no way to quantify how many grounders are – or are not – attainable by a shortstop. Period. And, secondly, if a shortstop has more range and reaches a grounder that another shortstop may not reach (such as Jeter), then boots it, it’s NOT an error!!! It’s an infield hit and does not affect their fielding stats. This season, Rollins only has a handful of more ‘total chances’ than Jeter and they’re fielding percentages are just a few points apart. How do explain that? And, what about other defensive attributes that you don’t mention?……the errant throws that a first baseman saves, getting pop-ups in shallow outfield areas, getting runners stealing, etc. What about the plays that Rollins may not even attempt – calling it an infield hit – when Jeter could make one of his “jump throws” (that you so enjoy watching on Sportscenter) to get the out? What about other factors…..how hard the grounder was hit? Turf of grass? Etc.

    And, offensively, there’s simply no comparison to what Jeter still brings to the table everyday. Like I said, do yourself a favor and watch Jeter play a game or two. And, keep in mind that this is a 35 year old guy who is in the 9th year of an unprecedented 10 year contract and still putting up MVP worthy numbers both offensively and defensively. I’d be shocked if Rollins is even still playing shortstop 5 years from now.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Doug D. should killll himself.. if you want to proofread stuff.. google “Proofread Nation” maybe you will find some interesting stuff there, but to knock someone’s possesive, indirect clauses or whatever you are talking about..

    Yankee fan… Jeter is going to the Hall of Fame, Rollins probably is not..
    Jeter is having a great year offensively, Rollins is not..

    And while Jeter is having a very, very good year DEFENSIVELY.. Rollins is having a better year with the glove. .. I think when I looked last week, Jeter had only 7 errors .. but if Rollins really only has 3 errors (and definitely has more range than Jeter right now).. give props where they are due

    Better overall player, better overall season.. Derek Jeter
    Better “with the glove” … Jimmy Rollins

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    HAHAHAHA…“Proofread Nation”.

  • Posts: 0 Mets Fan

    I think “Yankee Fan” has too much time on his hands and should get back to work.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Yankee Fan – You bring up some good points and some completely irrelevant ones.

    1) Jeter being the Yankees captain and winning several championships – IRRELEVANT. Baseball is a team game. Jeter didn’t play 1-on-1 baseball vs. other shortstops to win that World Series, he was aided by the highest payroll in the league. I’ll put it this way, if you put Jeter on those Phillies teams during that time, the Phillies wouldn’t have been World Series champions. Jeter was a key component of great teams, not the reason for championships.

    2) His offense has nothing to do with this article. But now that you mention it, besides batting average, Jeter and Rollins are similar in most stats.

    Jimmy: 17 HR, 60 RBI, 34 2B, 3 3B, 80 R, 25-33 SB, .415 SLG,
    Jeter: 17 HR, 60 RBI, 25 2B, 1 3B, 94 R, 23-28 SB, .482 SLG

    Yes, the batting average is 90 points higher, but considering the Yankees play in a lineup with 9 hitters, not 8, and have scored more runs than the Phillies, shouldn’t Jeter’s much higher batting average have resulted in more than a 14-run difference to Jimmy? Just saying…

    3) You are correct that a ball booted in the hole may be ruled an infield hit…or it may not. It depends on the runner and the official scorer. Say Adam LaRoche, a plodding first baseman hits a ball in the hole that Jimmy gets to and boots, or makes a poor throw on, that would be an error, because even though he made a nice play getting to it, he still should have had the out. That said, it is QUANTIFIABLY PROVEN that Rollins covers far more ground than Jeter. This year, the difference is small. The past 5-7 years, the difference is VAST.

    4) You’re own point dooms your argument when you mention “What about a first baseman saving an errant throw”… last time I checked, the Yankees first baseman this season is Mark Teixeira, one of the best fielders in the business, and FAR superior with the glove to Ryan Howard. So thank you for bringing that up, as that may be a reason for Jeter’s better fielding this season.

    Lastly, to say Rollins may not be playing short in five years while Jeter will is ridiculous. If anything, that statement should be vice versa. Jimmy will have his speed and defense long after his bat speed goes, and he will never be anything but a major league shortstop.

    Yankee fans love Derek Jeter the way Phillies fans love Jimmy Rollins. They’re both exceptional players.

    Jeter has had a better offensive career, without question. Jimmy has had a better defensive career, without question.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Corey – also I can’t recall Jeter ever putting his team on his back like Rollins did in his MVP year…we also forgot the WBC….

  • Posts: 0 kwalker

    Yes JR is having a very good defensive season. Not as good as some, but very good.
    He’s a great guy, but he should have declined the 2007 Gold Glove. Tulowitzki was a better defender then– and is a better defender this year.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    kwalker – if you read back in the post you’ll see a reasonable hypothesis about why Tulo’s Error Runs Above Average is higher than Rollins. It boils down to opportunities which other than how much a fielder covers in his zone, he has no control of. For the Rox ground ball pitchers can counteract the effects of Denver altitude on the fly balls…on average they travel 20 ft longer there than any other ball park. Unfortunately the league, if they used a modicum of scientific reasoning. should have foreseen this and required the stadium be domed. Be that as it may, the Rox top pitchers, Marquis and Cook both induce alot of groundballs. The Phillies for some unfathomable reason are chock full of fly ball pitchers contrary to the dictates of the CBP dimensions . At any rate, this could account for why Tulo has more chances than Rollins and therefoe a better Error Runs Above Average. If things like arm strength/speed, perception/reaction speed, agility and other athletic abilities necessary for fielding were measured, perhaps a better picture of the fielder’s abilities could provide a picture of the fielder freed from a context where there are factors beyond his sphere of influence . As such these qualities can be weighed against the aforementioned discrepanciy to more precisely ascertain a fielder’s value. Too bad the All Star game doesn’t feature fielding skills contests similar to the NBA and NHL all star games.

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