Jimmy Rollins is not currently a Hall of Fame player.
At the end of his newly signed contract, he will not be a Hall of Fame player.
His only hope of the Hall? Play eight more years and get to 3000 hits.* Here’s why.
[*His only chance based on personal achievement, that is. The Phillies could win three more World Championships he could ride the coat tails of that success into a Hall appointment.]
The Hall of Fame is for the exceptionally great players. While Jimmy Rollins has been good, and while he had one great MVP season, he’s been nowhere close to great.
Consider his awards to date. He’s made only three All Star games, won only three Gold Gloves and won just a single Silver Slugger award. Compared to other contemporary shortstops*, he is certainly not a standout. Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Edgar Renteria, Omar Vizquel and Jose Reyes have made more All Star games, and Hanley Ramirez has already made three trips to the mid-Summer classic. Tejada, Ramirez, Renteria and Tory Tulowitzki have more Silver Slugger awards. Vizquel has 11 Gold Gloves and Tulowitzki already had 2. And considering that Tulo, Ramirez and Reyes are all at least four years younger than Rollins, he’s going to fall further behind in these categories.
[* I’m not even going to bother mentioning Jeter who’s basically already in the Hall and A-Rod who, regardless of the ‘roids, hit 345 of his 600+ homers and won multiple awards as a shortstop. Those guys are in a different class.]
By the time Rollins would be eligible for the Hall, he’ll possibly be ranked in the middle to bottom half in the top ten list of contemporary shortstops. Jeter, A-Rod, Ramirez and Tulo, will be head and shoulders above the rest with Jose Reyes and Omar Vizquel probably next, followed by Tejada, Rollins, and Renteria in the following group. Hall of Fame worthy? Not even close.
Consider recently inducted shortstops and how they compared to their peers. Cal Ripken had 19 AS games, 8 Silver Sluggers and 2 MVPs. Barry Larkin had 12 AS games, 3 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Sluggers and an MVP. Ozzie Smith had 15 AS games, 13 Gold Gloves and an MVP. Robin Yount won an MVP, went to 4 AS games and won 2 Silver Sluggers while playing shortstop. He then won another MVP and Silver Slugger as an outfielder.
Consider shortstops that aren’t in the Hall and how they compared to their peers. Alan Trammell had 6 AS games, 3 Silver Sluggers and 4 Gold Gloves. Dave Concepcion had 9 AS games, 5 Gold Gloves and 2 Silver Sluggers, as well as 2 World Series rings.
There are 21 shortstops in the Hall of Fame. Jimmy Rollins has a nice resume, but it’s peanuts compared to those guys.
“Yeah but if Jimmy is able to start another 4-5 years and finishes around: .270/.750, 1500 R, 2600 H, 525 DBL, 120 TRPL, 225 HR, 1000 RBI, 500 SB, then I think he's HoF material,” some may say.
Hogwash. Those are the definition of “pretty good” stats. If you don’t believe me, check out his baseball-reference.com profile and check out his Hall of Fame monitor. Not even close.
Sure, Rollins might have more hits than some, or more steals than another, but Rollins doesn’t have any one statistical category that’s Hall of Fame worthy. Also, we’ve all seen the “Steroid Era” and the inflation of statistics. 2000 hits and 400 homers in the 80’s is much more impressive than similar stats put up recently. That’s why it’s important to compare players to others in their own generation, which I’ve done above.
However, if you want to talk direct stats, here’s some for you. Rollins has lead the league in triples four times, runs once and steals once. That’s it. The only other time he’s lead the league in an offensive category is at-bats and outs made.
Jimmy Rollins spent most of his career batting leadoff. However, he’s never had 50 steals in a season. He’s never had a OBP over .350. He’s never walked more than 58 times in a year which is why despite 1800 hits, he’s never hit .300. So as a leadoff hitter, he’s average at best .
His career OPS is .761, which is less than the light hitting Jose Reyes and not even close to the premier shortstops currently in the league. He has 373 steals, 3 ahead of Reyes. It’s a nice number, top 100 of all time. But it’s certainly not Hall worthy, considering there are plenty of average players with 450+ steals.
Rollins’ only shot at the Hall is reaching 3000 hits. He needs 1134 more hits. Over his last three full seasons, Rollins has averaged 158 hits per season. At that pace, which likely won’t continue as he gets older, he would need a little over seven more full seasons to reach 3000. Since it’s unlikely he could play 7 full seasons consecutively at his age, he’ll likely need 8-9 more years to reach 3000. It’s possible. But it’s not very likely.
Also, how many players should go into the Hall of Fame? It should be only for the greatest and there are loads of past and current players that are much better than Rollins. Griffey, Biggio and Piazza are already posing for their plaques. (Bonds is posing for a mug shot.) Recent players like Jeff Kent, Jim Edmonds, Edgar Martinez, Albert Belle, Mark McGwire, and Larry Walker have a better Hall argument. And older players like Lou Whitaker, Tim Raines, Dale Murphy and many others have good stats but sit at home and not in Cooperstown. And look at the active players with far better career numbers – Pujols, Jeter, A-Rod, Chipper, Vlad Guerrero, Miggy Cabrera, Ichiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Thome, Man-Ram, Helton, Berkman, Beltran, Abreu, Rolen, Mauer, Utley, Teixeira, Wright, Adrian Gonzalez, Ortiz. And then the players who certainly will have better numbers if they don’t already – Longoria, Holliday, Cano, Kemp, Fielder, Tulowitzki, Votto, Howard, Braun. Then there are the good, but no Hall worthy players, that have better numbers than Rollins – Aramis Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Kevin Youkilis, Jose Reyes, Carl Crawford, Michael Young, Torii Hunter, etc. I put Jimmy Rollins ahead of few, if any, of these players.
Consider the aforementioned Craig Biggio. Biggio hung around until he was 41 years old. Why? So he could get 3000 hits and get into the hall of fame. If Biggio retires at 38 and doesn't waste everyone's time with those sub-par last three years, he would have ended up 400 hits shy of 3000 and probably would not have gotten into the Hall. But Biggio went to 7 All Star games, won 4 Gold Gloves and 5 Silver Slugger Awards, all of which top Rollins. Also, he won a GG and SS at two positions, and would have had much better stats if he would not have spent three full years catching. Just look at what happened when he moved out from behind the plate. The point is, Biggio is more of a Hall of Famer than Rollins, but even he would wouldn't have made it without the 3000 hits.
In summary, Rollins has nice stats but you don't get into the Hall by having above average stats. You get in with great stats or being the dominant player are your position during your playing ear. Jimmy Rollins does not have exceptional numbers has not been dominant or elite at his position. His only chance is via stat accumulation through longevity, ie 3000 hits. So, get back to me in 6 or 7 years and we’ll revisit this argument.