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.