I’m going to post my own World Series preview later today, where I go position by position. But first I wanted to point out that Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin has his own preview up, where he compares the Phillies lineup to the Yankees lineup. Much of the column is fine, but he starts out with one big, steaming turd:
Leadoff: Jimmy Rollins vs. Derek Jeter
The Yankees’ captain is a first- ballot Hall of Fame lock. Rollins adds to his credentials year-by-year. Both are run scorers and producers. Give Jeter the edge as a pure hitter, Rollins check marks for power from both sides and speed. Jeter’s intangibles are off the charts. Rollins revels on the Big Stage.
RINGS: Rollins 1, Jeter 4.
Even? Wow. That’s pretty bold. Jimmy Rollins had a terrible year, while Jeter had a career year and if not for Joe Mauer he’d probably be your AL MVP. Really, here’s all you need to know about the Rollins vs. Jeter debate. A leadoff hitter’s job is to get on base. Rollins was much better at getting on base after the All Star break, but even then his OBP was only .305, which is absolutely terrible. Jeter’s OBP this season was .406 and his career OBP is .388, a much higher mark than Rollins has ever posted in a single season.
I love the Phillies and I love Rollins, but it is impossible to make an intelligent argument that Rollins is a better leadoff hitter than Jeter, which is probably why Conlin keeps things so vague in his column. Rollins gets “check marks for power from both sides” of the plate? Against lefties, J-Ro had two more home runs than Jeter. Against righties, Rollins had one more home run. Does that make up for the 100 points of OBP? Or Jeter’s 40 point advantage in slugging? Bill, did you take into account that Jeter played in a league with stronger pitching? Bill, when you give Rollins check marks for speed, is that because he had one more stolen base this season than Jeter? Because that seems pretty negligible. And did you notice that Jeter actually had a better stolen base percentage? Because that actually seems relevant.
Come on, Bill. Rollins is the man, and when it comes to making bold predictions and giving good quotes he has no peer. And you could make the case that Rollins is a better defender, even though ultimate zone rating suggests Jeter had the better season defensively, as well.
But Jeter is the better leadoff hitter, and it isn’t close.