Jimmy Rollins and the Hall of Fame


Buster Olney of ESPN posed a very interesting question this morning about Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins, who has spent his entire career with Philadelphia and is entering free agency, has put together a very nice career.  How nice though?  Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with the easiest method for determining Rollins’ Hall of Fame candidacy, Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor.

This metric assesses how likely a player is to make the Hall.  Some of the factors going into the score are batting average, hits, RBI, home runs, MVP awards, and All-Star appearances.  A score of 100 is a likely Hall of Famer.  A score of 130 is a virtual lock for the Hall.  Jimmy Rollins scores a 79.  He’s still got some work to do here.

Obviously, the above measure of Rollins’ Hall of Fame potential is a simplistic (yet, pretty accurate) representation of where Rollins may be in his career.  Rollins still has at least one more contract coming his way during his playing career, so that number may increase.  However, another good measure of a particular player’s potential to reach the Hall of Fame is a comparison to other Hall of Famers at his position.

We’ll start with Wins Above Replacement:

Cumulative –

As you can see, Rollins only company in the cumulative war by age is Luis Aparicio.  Of the other Hall of Fame shortstops I analyzed, the next closest is Pee Wee Reese and he missed 4 years due to World War II.

Career Totals-

Again, only Aparicio is in the same region as Rollins.  Now Rollins has some years to catch players like Ernie Banks, Pee Wee Reese, and Cal Ripken Jr.  To do that though, he would have to replicate or exceed his WAR totals of the first half of his career.  Honus Wagner’s totals are far beyond Rollins’ reach or anyone’s reach for that matter.

Now, let’s take a look at hits:

Keep in mind, these are career totals.  Rollins can make up some ground here.  His career hit totals to date are admirable, and with a little luck he can reach the 3,000 hit mark.  For now though, he is closer in line with Pee Wee Reese.  But remember, Reese lost 4 years to war (not to be confused with WAR).

Finally, because I’m a big fan of on-base percentage, let’s track each players’ OBP:

OBP by Age –

Again, we see Rollins fairs only better than Aparicio.  His OBP fluctuates but overall is well below Banks, Ripken, Wagner, and Reese.

Career Average OBP –

Rollins has only the 5th highest OBP out of this group, but rates only 0.001 percentage point below Ernie Banks.  Rollins will have to finish his career pretty strong to catch Pee Wee Reese.  It will even take some work to catch Ripken.

In all I think these comparisons paint the picture of a very good shortstop, but not a Hall of Fame shortstop.  Rollins can have an incredible finish to his career and prove me wrong, but the current numbers don’t lie.  So to answer Buster Olney’s original question, no, Jimmy Rollins is nowhere near a lock for the Hall of Fame.