Jimmy Rollins Harnesses the Power of the Hitter's Count

December 10, 2012

It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, a shortstop led all of Major League Baseball in home runs.

In 2002, 27-year-old SS Alex Rodriguez smashed 57 long balls as a member of the Texas Rangers. He followed up with 47 homers in 2003, left for New York in 2004, moved to third base, and the rest is history—including the brief golden era of the power-hitting, big-league shortstop.

Sure, there are shortstops who can hit for power. Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies hit 57 home runs—in 2010 and 2011 combined—tops among Major League shortstops.

However, as a March 2012 New York Times article illuminated, the power-hitting shortstop is nearing the brink of extinction:

“For nearly all of baseball history, shortstop has been occupied by little guys with names like Pee Wee, Pesky and Ozzie—quick-footed, sure-handed and not much of a threat with a bat in their hands.

"There had been exceptions...and many thought Rodriguez, [Derek] Jeter, [Miguel] Tejada and [Nomar] Garciaparra represented a sea change, paving the way for bigger, stronger hitters to take over one of the most important spots on the diamond...[but] now it is looking more and more as if that was a special group rather than a revolution."

Nevertheless, the Times concludes, “a shortstop can still be an offensive force without hitting home runs.”

Philadelphia Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins falls into both of the aforementioned categories. He’s listed at 5’8” and 180 pounds, owns four Gold Glove Awards, and won the National League Silver Slugger Award in 2007, a year in which he belted a career-high 30 home runs.

Rollins’ power numbers dropped off following his smash-hit 2007 season, but he brought the power back in 2012, to the tune of 23 home runs.

What was the source of Rollins’ power resurgence? An advanced fitness regimen? A new bat?

Try a keen eye and disciplined approach at the plate.

In 2012, Rollins ranked among the league’s top 10 for working the count in his favor, putting himself in a hitter's count in 69.5 percent of his plate appearances, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Info.

Simply put, working a hitter's count allowed Rollins to be more selective at the dish and swing predominantly at pitches in his hitting zone. Nine of his 23 home runs came on counts of 2-0, 3-0 or  3-1, and another six dingers came on a 1-0-count.

Those numbers may not seem staggering at first, but compare them to David Wright, who ranked first at getting into hitter's counts (80 percent of his at-bats). Wright hit zero home runs on 2-0, 3-0 and 3-1 counts. So it’s clear that Rollins capitalized on the advantage.

Says Rollins of his strategy at the plate, “I try to get the pitcher to get his pitch count up early. My first at-bat, I’m focused on who’s on the mound, what are his strengths, what is his velocity, and whether he has control of his pitches. After the first at-bat, I’m focused on what it’s going to take to get things going for my team. Sometimes I go up and decide I’m going to take the first pitch. Other games, I know the team might need me to work the count.”

Working the count is only half the battle of an-bat; as a hitter, you must know what to do with the bat when served with a pitch in your hitting zone. Discover a hitting drill Rollins uses that helps reinforce proper swing mechanics and enables him to drive the ball to the deepest parts of the park.

Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,230,103
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,214,245
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,799,501

Featured Videos

Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Views: 1,175,887
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 23,406
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,968
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,214
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,426,460
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,798
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,596
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,222

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

The Importance of the Two Step Lay Up Drill As a youth when you begin to play the sport of basketball your one wish is to see the ball go into a...

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

The Football Route Tree, Explained

The Football Route Tree, Explained

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

YardBarker