Jimmy Rollins Continues to be a Fantasy Option

Aug 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (11) is congratulated by second baseman Chase Utley (26) after hitting a home run during the first inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Rollins has been the shortstop of the Philadelphia Phillies since the turn of the century, and he was one of the top fantasy shortstops yet again in 2014.  It was a bit of a renaissance season for Rollins after his 2013 campaign saw his power evaporate almost completely.  His rebound 2014 led to the fourth best season among SS eligible players.

Rollins posted a stat line of 78 runs, 17 homers, 55 RBI’s, 28 steals, and a .243 average.  Only Dee Gordon (who had SS/2B eligibility in 2014, but he will lose his SS eligibility in 2015), Alcides Escobar, and Jose Reyes stole more bases among shortstops than Rollins did this season.  That is not too shabby for someone who turns 36 in a couple of days.

The best season in the impressive career of Jimmy Rollins was clearly back in 2007 when he won the MVP by hitting 30 homers, recording 41 stolen bases, and hitting for a .296 average.  After decent 2008 and 2009 seasons, it seemed like his decline began at age 31 in his 2010 season.  In 2010, Jimmy Rollins only managed to play in 88 games and stole a career low 17 bases that season.

The 2010 season was the first and only time that Rollins played under 137 games in his career.  In fact, Rollins played at least 154 games in every year from 2001 to 2007.  Outside of 2010, Rollins has been relatively healthy over his lengthy career.

The idea of Jimmy Rollins falling off the wayside vanished when he averaged 19.5 HR and 30 SB between 2011 and 2012.  He returned from the fantasy graveyard and proved to be quite a productive fantasy shortstop with his valuable output in runs, home runs, and stolen bases.

Rollins found himself struggling mightily in 2013 even though he played 160 games for the Phillies.  He only managed to send just six over the fences and swipe 22 bases.  He offered a .252 batting average, but his OBP and OPS were poor.  It seemed like the former MVP was merely a name and no longer a fantasy commodity.

As it was stated above, Jimmy Rollins not only returned to relevance in 2014, but he became a very good offensive shortstop once again.  (Rollins has always been an above average defender).  However, it seems as if he is getting ignored for his 2014 production on early 2015 draft boards.  I am assuming that people are afraid to buy a 36 year old SS, but let’s not forget that Derek Jeter led the AL in hits at the ripe age of 38. Furthermore, Rollins was the #4 SS in 2014 at age 35.

If I had to guess now, then I think that Jimmy Rollins will be drafted as a borderline starter in 12-man leagues with one shortstop and no middle infield position.  I would definitely prefer Jimmy Rollins over Asdrubal Cabrera, Erick Aybar, Jean Segura, or Elvis Andrus.  Why settle for speed or even minimal production in all categories when you can have a better player at a lower ADP?

Beyond the obvious value in drafting Rollins in 2015, Jimmy Rollins has seen his strikeout rate increase every year since 2011.  It was 9.4% in 2011, 13.7% in 2012, 14.0% in 2013, and 16.4% in 2014.  While this trend is alarming, Rollins posted a career high walk rate of 10.5% in 2014.  His BB/K over the past three seasons has fallen in line with his career average of 0.66 BB/K, which alleviates my concerns with respect to the rising strikeout rate.

I understand wanting to draft new and upcoming players because they offer potential and upside, but how many of them will offer the power-steal combination that Jimmy Rollins does?  There are not many shortstops with his skill set in the Majors.  Even if Jimmy Rollins replicates a season much closer to 2010 or 2013 rather than 2014, then that is fine because his low draft pick price makes him a low-risk, high-reward option.

Plus, if Jimmy Rollins flops, then just pick up a player from the waiver wire.  There is no reason to draft a shortstop with very limited upside because you are probably just hurting your team’s average to add slight production in the counting stats.  It is providing you with minimal overall value to your fantasy team.

Jimmy Rollins may not be a fantasy commodity for much longer, but he proved everyone wrong at the age of 35 in 2014, so why would you doubt him again in 2015 when his ADP is set at the price of a non-believer of his future production?