5.20.2007

FIVE Strikeouts? In ONE Game?


Andruw Jones is going to be a free agent at the end of the season. The good news is that he is doing everything possible to drive down his market price.

Through today’s game, Andruw was hitting .212 in 43 games and had been dropped from his usual clean-up spot in the lineup to sixth.

The above picture of Andruw Jones was from last season. How can I tell? Well, mainly because he’s hitting the ball. That’s something he hasn’t done as much this year. After today, Jones had 51 strikeouts in 43 games, which puts him at an average of nearly 1.2 strikeouts per game, and on pace to amass a whopping 187 during the course of the season (both career worst figures). He struck out a staggering five times in today’s game alone.

I dunno, with such a pronounced inability to make contact when he swings, maybe he should be called “Fan-druw.”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m actually a big Andruw Jones fan and always have been.

He has been the greatest defensive outfielder of his generation by far, and even though the 9-time Gold Glover Winner has lost a step over the years, he is still clearly the best outfielder in the game today and (barring injury) will likely break the career record for putouts currently held by Willie Mays.

And as frustrating as he can be at the plate with his wild swings and insistence on trying to pull every pitch he sees, every season he’ll go on a 3-week tear where he turns into Babe Ruth and salvages his season.

Really, when you think about it, it’s hard to argue against a guy who hits 35-40 home runs and drives in 110 runs a year (Andruw’s averages over the past seven season) and is primarily known as a defensive player.

Hopefully, at the end of the year, the Braves will be able to come up with the cash to sign Andruw to another long-term contract.

I’m just hoping that his early season impotence will make him a little bit more affordable.

7 comments:

John Wright 5/21/07, 7:44 AM  

It's rare to run across a potential free agent of Andruw's caliber who has such a dreadful season as his is shaping up to be. And he isn't even at the age where his skills should be declining, per se.

Joe Simpson seems to think his struggles are because he won't go the other way, but Andruw's past success has come almost entirely by pulling the ball. Still, it might not hurt for him to try a new approach at this point.

Like you said, the only benefit from this is that he'll hopefully be more affordable this offseason. The Braves could certainly use him now, though.

Luke 5/21/07, 2:20 PM  

John,

I tend to ignore Joe Simpson’s hitting “insights” considering that he had a career .242 BA with a .606 OPS, but in this case, he also agrees with Terry Pendleton, whose opinion I value a little bit more.

Generally, it seems to me that Andruw is such a good pull hitter that he can stubbornly pull his way to 30 HRs, 100 RBI, and a .250 average or so.

When he goes on one of his short-term tears though, he usually does so by hitting to all fields.

Good point about it being unusual to see a player like Andruw struggle so much in a free agency season.

More commonly you see something like Javy Lopez in 2003 putting up arguably the greatest offensive season by a catcher in history, sign a big deal, and then disappoint.

Luke 5/21/07, 2:26 PM  

One other thing…

Regarding his age, ESPN’s Rob Neyer has been talking about how Andruw was getting old ever since he was like 27, and how because of that, he is really only an average CF now who wins Gold Gloves based on reputation.

While Gold Glove awards are notorious for going to players who are reputed to be good fielders, I think Neyer is full of it.

As I said in my post, Andruw may have lost a step, but he is still clearly the class of MLB when it comes to OF defense.

Defensive statistics aren’t as reliable as offensive statistics, but Andruw’s combination of range (determined by chances), reliability (fielding pct./errors), arm strength and highlight factor (the way he always ends up on ESPN because he's always making great plays) is unmatched in my opinion.

Edward Carson 5/21/07, 7:06 PM  

I have faith; he is a good ball player. I am a long time Braves fan -- dating back to the days of Dale Murphy; it happens. I still think he will be highly in demand.

Kenny Simpson 5/22/07, 8:45 AM  

And he's on my fantasy team...wonderful!!!

Luke 5/22/07, 2:36 PM  

Kenny,

That's too bad. That means you're not getting the benefit of his glovework, either.

Luke 5/23/07, 9:08 AM  

Edward,

That's good to hear. You will always be welcome with me. Dale Murphy is my all-time favorite.

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