Jimmy Rollins has a reputation as a star who shines brightest in the big games. It might be time for a makeover.
Rollins, a three-time All Star and the 2007 NL MVP, has been the least productive Phillies regular in the last four postseason series. Since the start of the 2008 NLCS, Rollins is hitting just .208, with a leadoff-hitter's nightmare .253 on-base percentage. He has just 1 home run and 1 RBI during the 15-game stretch.
He also leads the team in errors for the past two postseasons combined with three, which doesn't count his delayed toss to Chase Utley that threw off the play's timing in last night's game.
By comparison, Pedro Feliz, the next-worst productive regular, is hitting .229 over the last four postseason series, with 3 RBIs and a .312 OBP. He also has no errors the last two postseasons.
Rollins' inability to draw walks--amazingly, he has just 1 in the last 10 playoff games--is a major weakness for a leadoff hitter batting in front of 30-home-run sluggers like Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez. It's also why Rollins is able to claim a 5-game playoff hitting streak; since he never walks, he typically records 5 at-bats a game, as he has for 11 of the last 15 postseason games.
It's possible either hitting coach Milt Thompson or manager Charlie Manuel has encouraged Rollins to be more patient at the plate recently, since he has seen significantly more pitches over the last three playoff games. He has averaged 5.2 pitches per at-bat in the last three games, compared to 3.76 per at-bat in the 12 previous games dating to the 2008 NLCS.
If that doesn't work, might Manuel consider dropping Rollins in the lineup? Even if Manuel did nothing more than flip Rollins and Feliz, the team would see an improvement in the on-base percentage of its leadoff hitter.