The Phillies shipped off a crucial piece to their run of dominance from the mid to late 2000’s today in Jimmy Rollins. While the rebuild has started two years too late, it is good to finally see Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledging that this group cannot get it done anymore. To be honest, I haven’t even really looked into what the Phillies got in return for Rollins just yet, so I can’t comment on the actual trade, but I commend the Phillies front office for A) finding an actual suitor for Jimmy Rollins and B) finding a suitor that Rollins would be willing to waive his no trade clause to go to.
The reason for this post isn’t to talk about the Rollins trade, rather to talk about an argument I saw on Facebook earlier this evening. I love Jimmy Rollins. He is one of my favorite Phillies and has been since his rookie season in 2001. People were hating on Rollins, and I’m not sure why, given what he has done both on and off of the baseball field for the city of Philadelphia, but that is neither here nor there. My issue was with the statement that Jimmy Rollins was ahead of Chase Utley in terms of the Phillies all time greats. No, just no.
I did some quick research and crunched a couple of numbers to prove that Rollins was not the better player on the field for the Phillies and I’ve decided to put it in a blog post to publish to make any other ill-informed Phillies fans rethink it if you share the same thoughts.
Let’s take a quick look at some numbers.
Player A: 9,511 plate appearances, .267/.327/.424 – .751, 216 HR, 887 RBI, 1325 runs, 453 stolen bases, 7.9 BB%, .156 ISO – .326 wOBA, 49.3 fWAR
Player B: 6,335 plate appearances, .285/.370/.488 – .858, 228 HR, 886 RBI, 926 runs, 139 stolen bases, 9.5 BB%, .203 ISO – .370 wOBA, 59.2 fWAR
Player A: reached base once every 3.11 plate appearances, had an extra base hit once every 11.80 plate appearances, hit a home run once every 44.03 plate appearances, scored one run for every 2.31 times on base.
Player B: reached base once every 2.92 plate appearances, had an extra base hit once every 10.39 plate appearances, hit a home run once every 27.79 plate appearances, scored one run for every 2.35 times on base.
As if it needs to be said, Jimmy Rollins is Player A while Chase Utley is Player B.
Sure, Jimmy has swiped more bags, scored more runs, tallied more hits, but Utley has easily been the more valuable player of the two to the franchise. The ultimate stats, wOBA and fWAR, strongly prove this. Utley has been worth almost 10 fWAR more than Rollins in significantly less time on the field. In fact, Utley has been the better pure base runner, too. Utley has tallied 1 UBR per every 67.45 times on base while it has taken Rollins every 76.67 times on base to tally 1 UBR.
Defensively, Utley is severely underrated. He has 137 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) over the course of his career. Rollins, in comparison, has 48 in just under 6,000 more innings. Rollins undoubtedly plays the more heralded position defensively, so that gives him a bump, but not enough to cover that wide of a margin. In comparison for SS, Andrelton Simmons has already tallied 88 DRS in just three seasons. Rollins is (kind of) overrated defensively. He’s merely good, not great. He was great early in his career, but tailed off fast.
Chase Utley will, more than likely, go down as a top 10 second basemen in baseball history. He currently sits 16th all time in fWAR among the position and should find his way into the top 10 before his career is done barring any significant injury. He would already be there if it weren’t for his past injury history. Jimmy Rollins, for comparisons sake, sits at 20th all time among SS’s in fWAR. He should settle around the 17-18 mark when it’s all said and done, but it’s hard to imagine him being any high than that.
People forget just how great Chase Utley was (and still is, for that matter). There was a stretch where Utley was one of the best players in baseball. In fact, during the height of his career (2005-2009) only Albert Pujols tallied a higher fWAR than Utley – IN ALL OF BASEBALL. Still, from 2005-2014, still only Pujols has a higher fWAR IN ALL OF BASEBALL. Chase Utley has been worth more than Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, and Robinson Cano since 2005 in less games.
Please, don’t forget just how great Chase Utley is. He should go down as the second greatest position player the Phillies organization has ever seen. Jimmy Rollins is top 5, and I’m not taking anything away from him, but he HAS NOT been better than Chase Utley during his tenure in Philadelphia. I have no bias in this. I am a Braves fan, after all. I have given cold hard stats, not opinions. Numbers do not lie.