Jimmy Rollins was dropped to fifth in the Phillies' batting order on Tuesday night (and again on Wednesday night), and as John Gonzalez reported in his Wednesday column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rollins is none too happy about it. When asked by Todd Zolecki of mlb.com about where he would place himself in the order if he was Charlie Manuel, Rollins replied that the question was "unnecessary". He went on to say, "I don't see where else I would hit in the lineup. Today, I'm batting fifth. That's that. I'm a leadoff hitter. That's what I do. It doesn't matter what the numbers say. I'm going to produce. Pretty much--especially in this lineup with all these power guys--it wouldn't make sense to keep me down in the lineup where my game is speed."
Ummm, I think that with an OBP of .239, a batting average that was RAISED to .200 with a 1-for-4 night, 2 stolen bases, and 6 walks on the season, yeah, at this point it makes sense for him to NOT be leading off.
I'm sure we've all heard about how the Oakland native grew up idolizing Ricky Henderson, and has always wanted to be a leadoff hitter because of it, and he's not happy hittiing anywhere else in the lineup. But the fact is, right now, he's killing them in the top spot. I've heard some people say that it's because he's swinging with too much of an uppercut, trying to have another 30-home run season. I haven't actually sat down and watched videotape to analyze his swing (and I'm not exactly an expert on hitting anyway), so I don't know for sure what the problem is. If he is trying to swing for the fences, it kinda defeats his "my game is speed" argument. He just needs to make contact, get on base, and use his speed. In this lineup, he doesn't need to worry about hitting home runs, but playing half his games at the Bank, they're gonna come.
No one expects this to be a long-term situation. It's actually a pretty standard move in baseball to switch a batter's position in the lineup if he's in an extended slump to try to snap him out of it, and put him back in his original spot in the order once he gets going again. Considering Charlie Manuel's history as a hitting coach, if I was Rollins, I'd have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he's doing. Rollins is too good of a player to slump for too long. At some point, he's going to break out, get really hot, and wind up posting numbers closer to his career averages. Hopefully this switch will be the spark for that hot streak.