You always hear people saying things like, “He should hit the ball on the ground and use his speed.” I’m sure they know what they’re talking about, but it always seemed to me like whoever he is he might be better off to hit it in the air and use the fact that there are three guys out there instead of five and they have a whole lot more ground to cover.

Either way, things don’t go real well when you hit the ball to the infield, almost no matter who you are. As a team the Phillies have had 900 plate appearances this season where they’ve hit the ball to the infield. They’re 50-for-875 (.057) in those plate appearances (nothing in this post includes results from last night).

Jimmy Rollins isn’t especially good or bad when he hits the ball to the infield. Over the past three seasons he’s 36-for-621 when he hits the ball to the infield (.058). He’s hit .051 this year, .063 last year and .058 the year before that.

The problem, though, is how much he hits the ball to the infield. Remembering that Rollins was fantastic in 2007, a little less fantastic in ’08 and less fantastic still so far in ’09, here’s the number of plate appearances he’s hit the ball to the infield, his total number of plate appearances and the percentage of plate appearances he’s hit balls to the infield over the past three years:

Year PA hit to
infield
Total PA % to
infield
2009 139 316 44.0
2008 243 625 38.9
2007 243 778 31.2

Again, he (like just about everyone else) consistently can’t get a hit if he hits the ball to the infield, but the percentage of his plate appearances where he does has gone up from 31.2% in 2007 to 44.0% so far this season. In 2007 he hit the ball to the infield 243 times — if he gets the same 778 plate appearances in 2009 and continues to hit the ball to the infield at the same rate he has so far he will get about 342 plate appearances where he hits the ball on the infield. That’s 99 more plate appearances.

Rollins leads the team in plate appearance, but there are eight other guys who have gotten at least 100 plate appearances this season. The 44% of his plate appearances that Rollins has hit the ball to the infield is more than any of them:

Player PA hit to
infield
Total PA % to
infield
Victorino 123 310 39.7
Howard 73 302 24.2
Utley 76 297 25.6
Werth 85 291 29.2
Ibanez 81 280 28.9
Feliz 95 261 36.4
Ruiz 47 151 31.1
Coste 36 104 34.6

This says that the Phillies will bring Lidge back from the DL today. Also says Eyre, eligible to return on Saturday, may return soon and that Ibanez is eligible to return July 3 (next Friday).