Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, July 20, 2012 09:40 AM Comments: 52
In sports, the term ‘anchoring’ refers to when fans develop an opinion based off of a specific series of events and hold steadfastly to that opinion regardless of what subsequently transpires. Most of the time anchoring occurs at the start of a season, when a hot or cold stretch can mislead fans into under- or overvaluing certain players. When preformed opinions join anchoring at the bar, lazy narratives are often born. Jimmy Rollins is another perfect example of why anchoring to early season struggles, especially when it supposedly helps confirm a preconceived notion, is folly in the world of analysis.
Yes, Rollins started off slowly. He posted a terrible .259 wOBA in April, with a poor .283 on-base percentage that was actually higher than his even worse .271 slugging percentage. His defense remained solid, but he looked mostly lost throughout his first 85 trips to the dish. Since he hasn’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut recently, and because he is past his prime, it became very easy to assume that Rollins was done; that he was washed up; that his new contract was a joke, because the Phillies were paying $11 million per season to the shortstop formerly known as Jimmy Rollins.
Though many would readily admit that, under most circumstances, 85 plate appearances is far too small a sample off of which to base definitive conclusions, the mixture of anchoring to his early struggles and the preexisting belief — or fear — that he is rapidly declining, led to unnecessary widespread panic.
But then something funny happened — Rollins started hitting again. He posted a .289 wOBA in May, which, while still very poor, was an improvement. And he followed that up with a .396 wOBA in June. It may have taken him a while to get going, but Rollins has been tearing the cover off of the ball recently, and his seasonal line is right where we would expect it, even after a very poor two months to start the season.
Even before he started proving that he still has offensive talent in the tank, it would have been foolish to consider trading Rollins. Now that he has once again proven himself capable of hitting at a relatively high level, while flashing all-sport defense at the most important infield position, the Phillies shouldn’t even think twice about trading him.