Usually, when someone begins a statement with, “no disrespect but,” disrespect follows.
Such was the case when former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder and lead-off hitter Lenny Dykstra made his debut as a talk show host in the city on Friday by ripping how Jimmy Rollins has approached that job as one of Dykstra’s successors.
Dykstra said on 97.5 radio, “No disrespect but Jimmy Rollins’ career OBP is .327 and that’s just not doing the job the way it is supposed to be done for a lead-off hitter.” All over Philadelphia, fans were nodding their heads in agreement. Rollins is no longer the team’s lead-off hitter because current manager Ryne Sandberg feels Ben Revere is better-suited for the job, but Rollins had been the lead-off hitter for the Phillies for much of the last decade.
Dykstra was the opposite of Rollins, both as a player and a lead-off hitter. In his 12 years as an MLB player, Dykstra averaged .285 with an OBP of .375. He also drew 129 walks in his best year (1993.) Compare that to Rollins’ career average over 15 years of .269 and an OBP of .327. In Rollins’ best year of 2006, he drew only 49 walks.
There is a nagging feeling in Philadelphia and elsewhere that Rollins’ intoxication with the long ball has hurt his career,and those numbers and Dykstra’s comments seem to support that theory. Rollins is not selective at the plate, and often gets himself out with weak fly balls and pop ups to the opposite field, a clear indication that he never understood the role of the lead-off hitter.
Many fans feel that if Rollins was more selective and learned to bunt for base hits and chop the ball to the infield, he would have been a much more productive player in a spot in the order where OBP trumps the occasional homer.
Maybe hearing Dykstra say it will wake Rollins up, but it’s probably too late for that.