Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs to first base after hitting a single to right field in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the MLB game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before.
Wednesday, Jimmy Rollins didn't run hard to first base on a ground ball.
Jimmy Rollins plays for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were supposed to win another National League East pennant this season, but instead are mired in 13th place. So he was, at least for a day, a convenient scapegoat in some quarters.
Here are the details, via Philly.com's Matt Gelb:
Upon arriving at the ballpark, Rollins was summoned to Charlie Manuel's office for a meeting. At times, Rollins said, there was laughter. The manager made his point, though.
"We have two rules: Hustle and be on time," Manuel said. "We'll see. That's all I have to say."
Manuel was not enraged enough to yank Rollins from Wednesday's game after not running out a grounder to shortstop with the bases empty and one out in the sixth inning. They did not chat following a loss to Miami. After the pregame talk Thursday, Rollins appeared at the top of Manuel's lineup.
This is nothing new. Later in the piece (and in other pieces) there is the suggestion that if the Phillies were winning, nobody would really care much if Rollins forgot to run hard on a ground ball.
This is not true. When it's happened before, it was a big story every time. And it's happened a few times. For whatever reason, Jimmy Rollins just doesn't seem capable of running hard every time. Almost every time, yes. But not every time for six months in a row.
There's no reason to demonize him for that. Busting it down the line 99.4 percent of the time is still pretty good, really. And one can hardly argue that the other 0.6 percent of the time has really hurt the Phillies, who did, after all, average 95 wins per season from 2007 through 2011, winning division titles every year.
What's important to the team is that Charlie Manuel addresses lack of hustle, and he's always done that, either by benching Rollins or giving his shortstop a good talking-to. That's presumably been enough to keep the other 24 players in line, generally speaking.
Speaking of Rollins, in another piece I saw this:
Rollins, 33, is in the first-year of a three-year deal he signed last offseason. The 2007 National League MVP is struggling this season (as are most of the Phillies) with a .246 batting average, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs and 18 stolen bases entering Thursday's game.
It's all relative, baby. If the Phillies were winning, nobody would describe Rollins' season as disappointing. Instead they would be raving about his baserunning and his sterling defense (true or not). Here's a fact: In the three seasons before Rollins signed that new three-year contract, his OPS+ was just 91.
This season, Rollins' OPS+ is 91. Jimmy Rollins is a sub-average hitter who's still got a great deal of value because he plays shortstop and runs the bases well. Is he overpaid, at $11 million per season? Not at all. Compared to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, Rollins has been, and will probably continue to be, a bargain.
So instead of focusing on the things Rollins can't do -- hit for a high batting average, draw a bunch of walks, bust his ass to first base every single time -- it's probably best to focus on the things he can do, which is just about everything else.