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If Only: Rollins, OBP, and Runs

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Jimmy Rollins says his job is to score runs, not get on base. This year, he certainly is abiding by his self-imposed job description, as he is tied for third in the majors for runs scored as a leadoff hitter, but is 22nd in on-base percentage out of the 25 hitters with more than 150 plate appearances at leadoff.

How is Jimmy's reluctance to see getting on base as central to his job hurting the Phillies? Let's take a look.

So far this season, Jimmy has been on base to be driven in 76 times. As a leadoff hitter, he has 54 non-home-run hits, 20 walks, and 2 hit by pitches. Of those 76 times on base, Jimmy has scored 40 runs (the other 5 he's scored this year have been from his home runs). That comes to a 52.6% run scoring rate for Rollins. Let's call this figure the on-base success rate, or OBS for short.

Jimmy's 52.6% OBS is second for all leadoff hitters, trailing only Hanley Ramirez, who has a 53.1% OBS. Rollins' high rate of coming around to score once on base makes sense, as he hits in front of the best RBI foursome in baseball: Utley, Abreu, Burrell, and Howard. (Ramirez's high OBS, on the other hand, makes a lot less sense, given that the only real powerhouse hitting behind him is Miguel Cabrera.)

With such a high OBS, it is true that Jimmy is scoring a lot of runs. But, he could be doing so much better. If he had a league average on-base percentage for a leadoff hitter (at .357 for all leadoff hitters with more than 150 plate appearances this year), he would have scored 5 more runs to date, and about 15 more runs for the year. That's roughly 1.5 more wins for the team if Rollins performed like an average leadoff hitter. If he somehow elevated his game to an excellent .375-ish OBP, along the lines of Rickie Weeks or David Eckstein, Rollins would have scored another 8 runs, or about 24 on the season.

Most baseball analysts and fans know that the Phils' run scoring is not their biggest problem; their starting pitching is. However, as we've preached here from the beginning, with the pitching as inconsistent as it is, the team needs to score as many runs as it can. The best way to do that is to get on base for Utley, Abreu, Burrell, and Howard to knock in. That Jimmy Rollins doesn't understand that is baffling.

Regardless of how many runs he actually has scored with his .309 OBP this year, he could be doing so much better.