When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins, they expected him to bridge the gap to 21-year-old Corey Seager and produce his career slash average of .265/.325/.421. However, the player they got was very different.
Rollins has slashed just .213/.266/.338 with a career low 70 wRC+ and he is beginning to experience more of something he had never been used to in his career.
The shift has been affecting Rollins, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
I might have seen them once or twice last year. But not like this,” the veteran Rollins said. “My strong side has always been my pull side. But it just hadn’t been working. You put the shifts on top of that – it makes it a lot more difficult to hit the ball in an open area with a whole bunch of people standing over there.”
The shift against him has been rightfully justified. Of his 67 hits this year, 33 have been pulled and just 10 have been hit to opposite field.
After coaches Mark McGwire and John Valentin showed Rollins that pulling the ball in Dodger Stadium would not help him, the shortstop was still timid to change his approach:
He was – but who wouldn’t be with all he’s accomplished in this game?” Valentin said. “But we laid it out for him. He’s got to do that enough that he’ll get his money shot once in awhile. That’s one of the hardest things to do when you’ve played 10, 12 years in the game. … We’ve all played so we’ve been at the stage where he is at 36 years old.”
McGwire also believes that Rollins still has some gas left in the tank and can hit much better:
It’s one of those things where I really believe he can hit .260, .270. It’s absolutely still there. It’s staying with this and working on the little adjustments he’s making to narrow the strike zone down.”
These adjustments have worked well for Rollins. In the last 28 days, he has hit .253 with 11 RBIs. Although this is still not where the Dodgers would like him to be, it is a great improvement from his season batting average.