Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins singled and stole two bases in Wednesday’s win over the San Diego Padres, and it quietly moved the fellow about to become the franchise’s all-time hit leader into the No. 15 spot among middle infielders on the ESPN Player Rater. That’s significant because prior to the season, there wasn’t a whole lot of faith in Rollins, now 35 years old and coming off of a disappointing six-homer, .252-hitting season, albeit with a helpful 22 stolen bases. The former NL MVP (2007) was a 21st-round selection in ESPN average live drafts and now he’s better on the Player Rater than Matt Carpenter, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Dustin Pedroia and his double-play partner, Chase Utley.
Rollins still isn’t helping anyone in batting average, but he’s nearing a double-double for home runs and stolen bases -- he's on pace for 21 of the former and 26 of the speedy latter -- a valuable combination he’s attained four times in a pretty decent big league career. Sure, Carlos Gonzalez goes 20/20 every season, but Rollins is a shortstop, and shortstops Rollins’ age aren’t supposed to hit and run like they used to. The only one of the nine players to attain 20/20 status in 2013 who didn’t play an outfield position was Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.
While it does seem like Rollins has been internally motivated by the goal of achieving the most hits ever by a Phillie, that’s fine, we’re statistically motivated ourselves, right? Rollins needs three hits to pass Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who notched 2,234 hits, all with this organization. I laugh at those actually comparing the two (Schmidt's WAR was 106.5, Rollins is at 43.3) or predicting Cooperstown induction for Rollins, but it’s all in good fun, I suppose.
In terms of assessing Rollins’ 2014 value, it would be quite cruel to suggest it’s all downhill from here statistically once the record is secure.