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Jimmy Rollins Likes to Score

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The Inquirer's Jim Salisbury has a long and worthwhile feature on Jimmy Rollins in Sunday's paper, touching upon the shortstop's early-season struggles and how he worked out of it and offering a range of viewpoints on Rollins' offensive game and career to this point. It includes one note I found particularly interesting: "Even with an on-base percentage under .300, he has reached 100 runs for the fifth time in six seasons." 

If you think about it, this has to be pretty unusual. Consider what's required to score 100 runs with a sub-.300 OBP: you have to hit leadoff or maybe second, you have to be in the lineup almost every day (which, since you're not in there for your on-base prowess, probably means superior defense and/or great secondary offensive skills), and bat in front of hitters who are pretty accomplished at knocking you in.

Rollins fills all these boxes, obviously: Gold Glove defender, excellent base stealer, unusual power for a leadoff man--it helps when you drive yourself in 20 times--and fortuitous positioning in front of five guys with RBI totals of 61, 93, 141, 93 and 99 in the Phillies' potent lineup. It all adds up to an unusually high "score rate": in about 46 percent of Rollins' times on base this season, he's crossed home plate. (100 runs, divided by 168 hits plus 44 walks plus two hit-by-pitch, plus--a guess--five times reaching base on fielders' choices.) By contrast, Albert Pujols, who leads the NL with 124 runs scored going into today's action, has scored in just under 40 percent of his times on base this season (despite driving himself in on 47 occasions).   

To go back to the original question, our pal Floppy, proprietor of the excellent Phuture Phillies site, found that Rollins is just the second player in MLB history to score 100 with an OBP below .300. The first was the immortal Hughie Critz, who scored 108 runs with a .292 on-base percentage back in 1930. (Batting in front of future Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Bill Terry didn't hurt: Critz's "score rate" was well over 50 percent despite not having much power or speed to speak of--4 homers, 8 steals.) Slugger Tony Armas came close in 1984, scoring 107 with an OBP of exactly .300; more recently, Jose Reyes almost did it with 99 runs and a .300 OBP in 2005. 

Congrats (?), Jimmy.