Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has apparently found the fountain of youth. The 35-year-old is on pace to turn in his best offensive season since 2007. Rollins is at an age where most players struggle to hang on, and appeared to be heading in that direction after a poor 2013. Rollins hit just six home runs in 160 games last season, and considering he's rarely been a high-average hitter, it killed his Fantasy value. Through 40 games, Rollins has already matched his 2013 home run total. Has he finally rediscovered his power stroke?
The answer is a boring yes and no. While Rollins clearly experienced some decline last season, his lack of pop could be blamed on a career-low 3.1 percent home run rate. That figure was the fifth lowest among qualified hitters last season. It put Rollins in the same power category as Adeiny Hechavarria and Alcides Escobar. Considering Rollins belted 23 home runs in 2012, it didn't seem likely he would decline this much.
In that sense, we should have expected his home run rate to rise. While we are seeing some of that, Rollins is also posting the highest home run rate of his career. That's unlikely to last moving forward, especially considering his batted ball numbers haven't changed all that much. Rollins is hitting 39.2 percent of balls in the air this year. That's a slight increase from last season, but it doesn't match his figures from his larger home run years. In 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012, Rollins posted the highest fly balls rates of his career. He hit 90 home runs in those four seasons combined. In Rollins' case, a slightly higher fly ball rate seems to make a difference in his power output.
That's not to say he's a sell-high candidate. We should have expected his home run rate to rise, meaning Rollins was due to hit for more power this year. The pace he's currently on may not be sustainable, but there's a chance he rebounds and hits close to 15 home runs again. Given the dearth of talent at short, that could make him a valuable commodity in shallow leagues. A return to elite power numbers doesn't appear likely, but Rollins appears well on his way to gaining back his Fantasy value.