A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Andruw Jones: Major League Enigma

Yesterday, Andruw Jones was released by a team in my fantasy league after new Dodgers Manager Joe Torre benched his high-profile center fielder (please notice my refusal to describe Jones as a ‘star’ center fielder). I jumped on the opportunity to stash Jones on my roster this early on in the 2008 season. Currently, I have Alfonso Soriano and Grady Sizemore as the two regulars in my outfield. The final spot consists of a platoon featuring Rick Ankiel and Johnny Damon (who I defend against fantasy critics here). Naturally, I thought Jones could only help this situation…

This transaction occured the same day Matthew Berry blogged about “regretting the Andruw Jones prediction” of batting .265 with 30 home runs in 2008. Baseball Prospectus knocks about ten points off the average (.256) with one less home run (29). Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster projects nearly identical numbers for Jones as well with a .254 BA with 28 homers. Aside from Berry’s Richie Sexson-esque prediction, BP and Shandler are eerily similar in their projections.

Now let’s look into what people thought about Jones before he began to take the same shape as his fat contract:

Baseball Prospectus: They look at Jones’ stats over the past three seasons as ask “was it a change in his skills, or just one of those fluke seasons?” Due to his age (31) and his somewhat robotic output of 30+ homeruns, 100+ RBI, and a .260 BA, BP views 2007’s lows as “one of those fluke seasons.” I’m sure the crew over at BP may be reconsidering that view as Jones has looked sloppy in physical stature and sluggish on the field as a member of the Dodgers.

Baseball Forecaster: Quite simply: “Lotsa oddness.” Shandler points out that Jones’ second half was more in line with his career batting peripherals. However, his power was still missing. Personally, I think the 51 HR / 45 HR Jones is gone forever, so I can’t really gripe about the lost power source in 2007; but Shandler’s right, once everything else (BA, OBP, SLG, Contact%) improves for the second half, it’s really a head scratcher that the power doesn’t follow suit.

Obviously, Jones has been absolutely putrid in April thus far. Let’s take a look at his OPS, HR, RBI, & Runs Scores in 2008 compared to 2007:

In 2007, Jones had 88 At-Bats in April that resulted in the numbers above. However, Jones’ current pace puts him nowhere near the April numbers of last year (which was recognized as a “bad” year).

This bring us back to my predicament: Am I certifiably insane for picking up this mess of a ball player for my squad? Maybe. But my thinking is that he’s, at most, 1/3 of a starter for my team. I’m not going to be relying on Andruw Jones to carry my team by any means, but (as Ron Shandler reminds us all) once a player demonstrates skills… he owns them. As I said before, I think the 45-125 Andruw Jones is lost and gone forever, but I think that he still possesses enough skill to be the man who Matthew Berry is afraid to stand by. My bold prediction is that Jones will win me at least one fantasy game this year… and for that, this transaction was well worth it.


Mike Plugh said...

It's early. He's in a new division in a new uniform with new teammates. I think he's going to come around. I think the PECOTA is very reasonable actually.

As a BP writer, I swear by their work. He may come in slightly lower in the power numbers, but he'll get his in the end. I don't think he's a great player by any stretch, but he's the type of guy that goes from being overrated to underrated in a breath. There's very little middle ground perspective on Andruw Jones. I'll bet you a shiny penny that his numbers are within 10% of the PECOTA weighted mean when the season ends (injuries notwithstanding).

bfadds said...

I know it's early Mike, but let's not forget that this guy barely posted a .200 BA in the first half of last seasons. He's well on his way to doing that again.

I hope that you're right though. If Jones provides me a Sexson-esque .250, 30, 100, I'll be a happy camper. My question to you, though, is: If he comes within a shot of these numbers is it work it for me to hold on to him... or should I be exploring different options at this point (keeping in mind he's a reserve on my team).

Great point also about the overrated to underrated in about .5 seconds. I got that feeling as well.

Mike Plugh said...

Here's the thing, he's worth hanging on to because an Andruw Jones hot streak is as good as anyone in the outfield across the league. If you can get him in during a good stretch he has value. If his roster spot is mostly wasted on him gathering splinters while you could better fill another need, drop him. Outfielders are dime a dozen, really and you can get a decent guy without much effort. He's not a regular for you so you have the luxury of a choice.

I'm sitting on this group:

Manny Ramirez
Rick Ankiel
Jeremy Hermida
Nick Swisher
Brad Hawpe

I grabbed Hermida off the waiver wire just before he came back from the DL. Someone had drafted and dropped him. Sweet for me. Someone also dropped Jason Bay the other day and I tried to claim him. Got beat to it. I didn't need him but he's an elite outfielder.

The point is, I have 5 top outfielders and there are still guys available on a regular basis because it's a position fantasy GMs think is expendable. If they need something else urgently, the spare outfielder goes. Jones is the same.

P.C. said...

Andruw Jones is the last thing the Dodgers needed.

Their outfield is filled with talent: Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp are all guys that are capable of putting up great numbers.

I see Jones furthering the rift in an already divided locker room. I am certainly not a fan of his and hope Kemp, whom I drafted and have high hopes for, will play more and have a much deeper role as the year progresses.

I was offered Jones, but did not want to touch my outfield, which I think is amazing (Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Nate McClouth, and Justin Upton filling in and playing utility.)

With that said, I guess he still is worth a stab, after all he is Andruw Jones - it's far too early in the season to give up on a player who just two years ago was such a prolific hitter.

Dick Peligro said...

I can't understand why everyone is so baffled about Jones' tank-diving. Look, the fundamental problem with Jones isn't his weight; it's his inability to spell his first name properly! This has always been a portent of bad things to come...for those who have eyes to see, that is. Moreover, this is but another twisted branch from the same dysfunctional Dodger tree that gave us Eric Gagne, who is unable to pronounce his last name properly (unlike Greg Gagne, who did). And look at the sorry state to which HE'S come.
I don't care how they do it Curacao or Canada; both these guys play in the U.S. and are (over)paid in U.S. greenbacks, so they can darn-well respect our culture, our spelling & our pronunciation! Confucius say: when in Rome, do as the ones paying your salary do.

bfadds said...

Wait, wait, wait... The fact that they're filthy rich right now isn't their fault. The players' union has done an absurdly good job at setting the market so high that the Derek Jeter's and Manny Ramirez's of the league actually look like bargain making between 18 and 20 million a year. Also, let's not pardon the Dodgers for this absolutely ridiculous signing. The only credit I can give them is that it's for 2 years and not 4 or 5.

Also, not that I know this to be the case for Andruw Jones, but in baseball there's a lot of head cases that are crazy good hitters. Manny Ramirez is the best example of that today. Either way, I'd be willing to wager that not everyone in the baseball hall of fame is a Rhodes Scholar.

On a comepletely random sidenote: Did I miss something? What have Eric Gagne and Andruw Jones done to disrespect American culture? Start to play badly? The only disrespect I could see either of these players having shown to an American PASSTIME Gagne's steriod allegation. Other than that though, we may need some further clarification here.

Mike Plugh said...

Gotta take issue with p.c.'s comment that:

"Their outfield is filled with talent: Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp are all guys that are capable of putting up great numbers."

Juan Pierre is about as far from talent as I am from Adriana Lima's phone number (see: Marko Jaric). His career OPS+ is 84(!!!!!). What. Let me go look that up again, 'cause that just can't be right. Hang on....




Okay. I was right. Career 84 OPS+. He must have had a hard start to his career, but he got a gigandous contract from the Dodgers, so he must be great now. What did he do last season?




Uh. 75. *cough* Has he ever produced anything resembling a league average season? Well, there was 2004 with the Marlins when he had a 107 OPS+. That's good. And...there was....nothing else. Every season of his career, Juan Pierre could be replaced by a AAA outfielder and his team wouldn't have been hurt in any way.

I think 75% of Andruw Jones is probably an improvement on Pierre.

P.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P.C. said...


I'm no baseball writer, and I'm not 100% sure about this stat, but I think Pierre is second only to Ichiro in hits in the past 4 or 5 seasons, leading the league in hits once or twice in that span.

Low OPS aside, he batted .290 something last season and stole 64 bases, and had around 200 hits.

All this seems pretty good to me.

All I'm saying is, Jones appears to be heading downhill really fast in this stage of his career. I'm not at all in love with his attitude as a major league player. He landed a huge deal, even after putting up horrible numbers in a contract year. He has every reason to be the talented, but unmotivated player he has always been.

bfadds said...

Mike -- His OPS does suck, but let's looke at what this guys is... a singles hitter who doesn't walk. He's the anti-OPS. You can't get any slugging% with on hitting infield singles and your OBP is going to suck when you BA is based primarily on luck (if he hits a groundball to a better SS/3B he'll get thrown out). Pierre's hit or miss and that's why I don't like him.

P.C. -- You're right the talen is there... but I've been hearing about it for years now... I just hope one of the Dodger kids (Loney, Kemp, Ethier) can bust it out.

I have to say that I think we all agree that as bad as the Andruw deal is... it isn't anything compared to the horrid Juan Pierre deal of a few years ago.