Quick — coming into 2010, who was the last Phillie other than Jimmy Rollins to get a hundred plate appearances in a season as the number one hitter in the lineup? I would have guessed Shane Victorino, but I would have been wrong. Marlon Byrd proves to be the answer. In 2004, Byrd got 181 plate appearances as the leadoff hitter for the Phils and put up a 215/293/307 line. Since then, Jason Michaels, Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino had all led the Phils in non-Rollins top of the order plate appearances without ever getting 100 plate appearances in a single season.

This year has been a different story, though. Rollins and Victorino have gotten nearly equal time leading off for the Phils. Victorino has hit 279/339/488 in 310 plate appearances and Rollins has posted a 243/326/373 line in 313 plate appearances.

The table below looks at their numbers while batting #1 in the order for 2010. It shows the percentage of plate appearances in which they got a single, walked or were hit by a pitch, the percentage of plate appearances in which they doubled or tripled and the percentage of plate appearances in which they hit a home run. It also shows their career numbers while hitting #1 in the order and the numbers for all MLB #1 hitters for 2010.

 
PA

% PA 1B/BB/HBP

% PA 2B or 3B

% PA HR

Victorino, 2010

310

24.2

6.1

3.5

Rollins, 2010

313

25.9

4.8

1.9
All
#1, MLB ’10

4582

26.0

5.1

1.6
         

Victorino, Career as #1

514

23.9

5.3

2.7

Rollins, Career as #1

5358

23.7

7.1

2.5

So, in 2010, Rollins has been a lot more likely to get on base via a single, walk or hit by pitch than Victorino, but a lot less likely to deliver an extra-base hit. Again, Victorino and Rollins have almost the same number of plate appearances hitting #1 in the order. They both have 12 doubles for the year, but Victorino has hit seven triples and 11 home runs and Rollins has three triples and six home runs.

When you compare the numbers to the MLB averages for 2010, Victorino delivers even more power and reaches via a single, walk or hit by pitch even less.

While hitting first this year, Victorino is hitting .279 and on-basing .339. Rollins is hitting .243 and on-basing .326. Despite that, Rollins has still been more likely to deliver a hit (any hit, not just a single) or walk (32.3% of his PA) than Victorino (31.9% of his PA). Victorino has been way more likely to get a hit (25.5% of his PA) than Rollins (21.4%) and the hits he gets are better and go for more bases, but Rollins has walked at a much higher rate and the difference between the percentage of plate appearances in which Rollins has walked (10.9%) and Victorino has walked (6.5%) is larger than Victorino’s advantage in getting hits.

For years we have been imploring Jimmy Rollins to walk more. What seems to have gone without notice is that he has. The problem is that he has stopped getting hits at the same time, especially extra-base hits.

Here is the percentage of plate appearances in which Rollins has gotten a walk, single, double or triple and home runs in 2010 compared to the rest of his career (everything above this in the post referred only to numbers hitting #1 in the order — the numbers from now on refer to production anywhere in the order):

  % BB % 1B % 2B or 3B % HR
2010 10.4 15.0 4.8 1.9
Before 2010 7.2 15.9 6.8 2.2

So again, his walk rate is up huge in 2010 compared to the rest of his career. Coming into 2010 he walked about 7.2 times per 100 plate appearances. In 2010 he has walked about 10.4 times per 100 plate appearances, which is about 144.4% of his career number coming into the year. The rest of the numbers are way down, though, and the one that is down the most is the percentage of plate appearances where he is delivering a double or a triple.