Johan Rojas can be an infuriating player – for both home and opposing fans alike – for the same reasons.

If you are a Phillies fan you want to see more offensively. It’s great that the dude can run down fly balls that most centerfielders cannot, but when he’s wielding a bat, he just flat out needs to be better than the picture he paints with the same color seemingly every at bat.

Go to his Statcast page and you’ll see he likes to do his painting in a lot of the same color – blue. And blue, isn’t good. The more blue you have, the worse a hitter you are. Rojas ranks incredibly low in the following categories:

  • Avg. exit velocity – 84.7 MPH (bottom 3% in baseball)
  • Hard hit percentage – 30% (bottom 10%)
  • Barrel percentage – 2.9% (bottom 7%)
  • Chase percentage – 34.9% (bottom 16%)
  • Expected weighted on base (xwOBA) – .269 (bottom 7%)
  • Expected slugging percentage – .324 (bottom 7%)
  • Walk percentage – 3.7% (bottom 4%)

The only things he paints in different colors on his batting profile is the grey hue of his whiff percentage (23.3%) which ranks in the middle of the pack in the sport (54th percentile) and the burst of red-orange that shows up in his strikeout percentage (17.4%) which ranks in the 76th percentile of baseball. All of this tells you he’s not a good hitter at all, and yet, like the late, great, Saturday morning, public television painter Bob Ross, Rojas can still make great art, usually with a series of “happy accidents.”

And that’s what makes him so infuriating to the opposition, because he creates such havoc with his “oops” contact. Rojas has 47 hits this season. And 20 of them have been in the infield.

And never mind the mistakes he creates with his speed, forcing throwing errors, as he did Friday night in the Phillies 8-6 win over the Braves. He had two infield hits, the second of which created three runs for the Phillies as he forced Braves pitcher Jesse Chavez to make an errant throw trying to get him out at first, allowing two runs to score.

Then, he forced a bad throw by Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud on an attempted steal of third base, which allowed him to score another run:

It’s these types of plays that make him an impact player. Even his harshest critics (including yours truly) have to admit that. The Phillies just want it to be more consistent. He can bat .230. That’s not the problem. But his at bats need to be more competitive. He gives away too many of them and becomes an easier out. He doesn’t work pitchers enough.

But the Phillies believe that’s still teachable – that in more time he will figure that part out, and when he does, he will be the best player to put at the bottom of this lineup.

That’s because he has elite speed and is a plus defender. Many great lineups had guys like this who were an annoyance to the opposition and made things happen with speed and defense.

The question the Phillies have to ask is, can he get there this year? There are flashes of an ability to do it, but the consistency just isn’t there.

If it were, the Phillies wouldn’t be on the hunt for an outfield upgrade. But, if nothing else, he creates enough havoc that he can serve a better role on the Phillies than a couple of the other players, who will likely be without a spot on this roster after July 31.

He almost had another big play – he tried a safety squeeze play and got down a good bunt, but it was thwarted by a great defensive play by Braves first baseman Matt Olson, who barehanded the ball and threw home to nail Whit Merrifield at the plate. But again, it was a ball on the ground where chaos could have ensued. It didn’t in this instance, but it would later in the game.

Yeah, there were other players who made the headlines in the win that built the Phillies lead over the Braves to 10 games in the N.L. East. Trea Turner hit two more home runs. Aaron Nola earned his 10th win of the season and the 100th of his career with another quality start.

But it’s the little plays that Rojas was involved in that made the difference between winning and losing. And no one else seems to be more frequently involved in these chaotic plays on the Phillies than their erstwhile centerfielder – accidentally or not.