In 2009, the Phillies have attempted to steal 82 times and have been successful 65 times, a 79 percent success rate.

That’s the best stolen base percentage in the NL, and it’s surprisingly good considering the team’s two “best” base stealers, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, have stolen 31 bases between them and have been caught 14 times (69 percent).

Last year, Victorino stole 36 bases and was caught 11 times, a 77 percent clip, while this year he’s only been successful 68 percent of the time. That’s a drop off, but it’s not alarming.

Rollins, on the other hand, has been successful only 70 percent of the time in 2009 after heĀ  was successful 94 percent of the time in 2008 (47 out of 50). That’s a pretty steep decline.

Defensively, Rollins’ range factor per 9 innings is down this season to 3.7, after scoring 4.5 in 2009.

I know this is curious timing. After all, Rollins has been one of the hottest players in baseball over the last couple of weeks, after a terrible first half.

But after nearly 4 months of baseball it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Rollins is slowing down.

Maybe this is just a fluke? In 2002, he was only successful stealing bases 70 percent of the time (31 for 44), and in 2003 he was only successful 62 percent of the time (20/32). So he’s had mediocre seasons before. But since 2003, Rollins has been a base-stealing machine, with his stolen base percentage creeping steadily upward each year.

Moreover, Rollins has never posted a RF/9 below 4. Never.

Is he hurt? Is age catching up with him in a hurry? Or is there something else at play here?

UPDATE: In the five minutes since I published this post, Rollins has been caught stealing. Again. This time he was thrown out at second by Cubs catcher Jeff Baker.

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