Saturday, August 2, 2014
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What is so wrong about the Rollins contract?

Among the litany of complaints that I have heard about this Phillies team, the one that confuses me most involves the four-year, $38 million deal that Jimmy Rollins signed this offseason. I expounded on that confusion in today's Daily News, which you can read here. Now is an interesting time to have this discussion, because the last time the Phillies played the Dodgers, Rollins was also a focal point. It was early June, and Rollins was coming off an awful two-month start to the season. The start of a four-game home series against the Dodgers brought plenty of questions from reporters about whether Rollins should continue to leadoff, or whether Juan Pierre should assume those duties. They were legitimate questions at the time. So were the questions about Rollins' contract when he signed it.

What is so wrong about the Rollins contract?

Since June 1, Jimmy  Rollins has hit .292 with a .354 on-base percentage and seven home runs. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Since June 1, Jimmy Rollins has hit .292 with a .354 on-base percentage and seven home runs. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Among the litany of complaints that I have heard about this Phillies team, the one that confuses me most involves the four-year, $38 million deal that Jimmy Rollins signed this offseason. I expounded on that confusion in today's Daily News, which you can read here. Now is an interesting time to have this discussion, because the last time the Phillies played the Dodgers, Rollins was also a focal point. It was early June, and Rollins was coming off an awful two-month start to the season. The start of a four-game home series against the Dodgers brought plenty of questions from reporters about whether Rollins should continue to leadoff, or whether Juan Pierre should assume those duties. They were legitimate questions at the time. So were the questions about Rollins' contract when he signed it.

What I don't understand is how anybody can look at anything that has happened since both of those occasions and use it to denigrate Rollins. 

On June 5, I wrote a column defending Rollins, pointing out that he usually hits well after June 1 and that Pierre lacked the power the Phillies needed in their lineup. Since that day, Rollins has hit .292 with a .354 on base percentage, a .569 slugging percentage, and seven home runs in 158 plate appearances. Pierre, meanwhile, has hit .277/.313/.383 with one home run in 102 plate appearances. Rollins has outperformed Pierre in every major category, yet some still think Pierre is more valuable to the Phillies' offense. Same goes for Freddy Galvis. Can somebody explain to me what, exactly they saw out of Galvis that makes them think that he would not be a huge offensive liability next season? In 200 plate appearances this season, Galvis hit .226 with a .254 on base percentage. Every time he stepped to the plate, he had a 75 percent chance of making an out. That matters. I understand the appeal of Galvis' defensive prowess and youthful exuberance. But you gotta hit. 

My bigger point, though, is that Rollins is not as overpaid as you think he is. 

Over the last two years, eight shortstops have signed multi-year deals worth at least $7 million per season. Here is how their current numbers compare:

Player Total $ Years AAV PA BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI RS
Derek Jeter 51 3 17.0 407 .306 .351 .407 .758 7 26 50
Jose Reyes 106 6 17.7 401 .264 .335 .374 .709 3 22 43
Jimmy Rollins 38 4 9.5 396 .262 .317 .421 .739 9 34 52
J.J. Hardy 22.5 3 7.5 393 .216 .255 .373 .628 13 34 42
Rafael Furcal 14.0 2 7.0 393 .275 .338 .360 .697 5 37 56
Alexei Ramirez 32.5 4 8.1 355 .263 .284 .337 .621 2 44 32
Erick Aybar 40.1 5 8.0 335 .267 .305 .383 .688 2 44 31

The question isn't even which one of those hitters you would rather have, because Furcal and Reyes were the only ones available this offseason. The question is who is going to take the place of Rollins if you trade him away. And we haven't even mentioned the elite level defense he continues to provide.

I'm not arguing that it is a great contract. But it certainly looks better than Reyes', Ramirez's or Aybar's. Long story short, you sometimes have to overpay at premium positions. After all, there is a reason they are considered "premium."  

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