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-Ted Williams at War (7/06)

-Mickey Mantle : Stories and Memorabilia from a Lifetime with The Mick (10/06)

-Babe Ruth : A Biography (Baseball's All-Time Greatest Hitters) (7/06)

-The Echoing Green : The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World (9/06)

-Baseball : A History of America's Favorite Game (8/06)


-Game of Shadows

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July 10 2006

Quick:  Which of these three Phillies has the most extra-base hits this year:  Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell?  If you've taken a standardized test before, and I know you have, you probably guessed it right.  In a testament to the power of never, ever drawing a walk, Rollins has banged out 38 extra-base hits in 400 plate appearances, Abreu 32 (in 386 plate appearances) and Burrell 30 (319).

Jimmy Rollins isn't a great offensive player.  I think it's a little soon to say he never will be, though.  He's been a Philly for so long, I often forget that he's just 27.  The good news is in 2004 he on-based .348.  The bad news is he's been going in the opposite direction since.

Of the trio he's still clearly been the worst offensive player (cause of those walks, you see, and the .323 on-base percentage), but he has out-homered Abreu nine to eight as we head into the All-Star break.  The point is this, however, despite a bad offensive year Rollins is queerly on a pace to hit 48 doubles and 16 home runs, both of which would be career highs.  Last year Derrek Lee led the NL with 50 doubles and Chase Utley led the Phillies with 39.  On a team that includes Burrell, Howard, Utley and Abreu, Rollins goes into the All-Star break leading the squad in doubles. 

With all these doubles there must be a great offensive player in there somewhere, musent there be?  Here's a look at some of the shortstops of the NL East and their runs created per 27 outs:


Player Team RC/27
Renteria ATL 6.70
Reyes NYM 6.70
Ramirez FLA 5.27
Rollins PHI 4.72
Clayton WAS 3.71

I'm pretty sure that Jimmy Rollins thinks he can drive the ball.  Hit doubles and home runs.  The thing is, he's not wrong, he's right.  If it comes at the cost of walks and on-base percentage, tough, you have to question whether it's making him a better offensive player or not.  We assume there's a tradeoff there between doubles and home runs and walks, but we don't really know.  One of the ways you can tell that drawing walks is a skill rather than a choice -- how many walks would you or I draw in 500 at-bats?  Zero is a good guess.

The bad news, though, is whether it's a choice or not, he's not among the better offensive players at his position in the division.

Quick:  Who has more extra-base hits this year:  David Dellucci or David Bell?  Bell is actually the answer here, hitting 19 in 308 plate appearances compared to 16 in 116 for Dellucci.  The bell hasn't really tolled much for Bell in 2006 for the second straight year.  Here's a look at some NL East third basemen and their runs created per 27 outs (it's not pretty):


Player Team RC/27
Cabrera FLA 8.28
Wright NYM 7.78
Chipper ATL 7.32
Zimmerman WAS 5.46
Bell PHI 4.19

Finally, in case you were wondering if the left side of the Phillies infield is tearing it up offensively, here's how it looks it you combine the runs created per 27 outs for the two positions and compare it with the other teams in the division:


Team SS 3B Total
NYM 6.70 7.78 14.48
ATL 6.70 7.32 14.02
FLA 5.27 8.28 13.55
WAS 3.71 5.46 9.17
PHI 4.72 4.19 8.91

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