The Andruw Jones Revival

A few roster decisions on the horizon
A-Rod was "a little tentative" during last night rehab game
(Barton Silverman/The New York Times)

Andruw Jones made a pretty good first impression on Yankees’ fans. His first plate appearances of the season resulted in six pitch at-bat and a solo homer off Twins lefty Brian Duensing, exactly the kind of pitcher he was brought in to mash. Andruw had four hits in his first four games (three starts and 11 plate appearances), including a double and the homer, so everyone was happy. Unfortunately the good times stopped there, at least for a while.

Jones’ bat went silent after that, with April 27th and May 25th (two dingers) representing his only other multi-hit games in the first half. He went into the All-Star break with a .195/.278/.356 batting line in 97 plate appearances, hitting just .231/.315/.446 in 73 PA against lefties. Forty-one days had passed since his last extra base hit when the Yankees parted ways for the break, and he had been hitless in his ten previous at-bats before the midseason vacation. Considering how massively productive (126 wRC+) and likable the guy he is replacing (Marcus Thames) was in 2010, the majority of the fan base was decidedly anti-Andruw come mid-July.

Since the All-Star break, it’s been a much different story for Mr. Jones. He started the first game of the second half against the Blue Jays and lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, and he responded with two homeruns. Two days later he started against Ricky Romero and singled in the tying run in the eventual win. Gio Gonzalez was met with two RBI singles a few days later, and a couple days after that it was Zach Britton feeling the wrath of an RBI double and Jason Berken getting taken deep for a solo shot. Andruw came back from the break like a man possessed, hitting everything in sight and he hasn’t stopped since.

In 46 second break plate appearances, Andruw’s hitting .342/.457/.632 overall and .370/.485/.667 against lefties. Of course it’s a small sample size, we’re not trying to determine if this pace is sustainable (hint: it’s not), we’re just acknowledging that Jones was able to shake off the poor first half and make some noise heading into the dog days of summer. His season batting line has been boosted to .240/.336/.440, better than his preseason ZiPS projection (.221/.320/.438). He’s getting on base (.368 OBP) and hitting for way more power (.239 ISO) in 106 PA against lefties than Thames did last year (.352 OBP and .154 ISO) in 142 PA. Andruw’s also hitting .343/.410/.543 with runners in scoring position, for those inclined to value those situations.

The season hasn’t gone exactly according to plan for the Yankees fourth outfielder, but a scorching hot start to the second half has helped offset his awful first half. Jones is at the point where he’s doing what’s expected of him, and that’s get on base and hit for a ton of power against lefties despite a low batting average while playing something better than awful defense. It’s a thankless job for a guy that once ran off four 7+ fWAR seasons in a five year stretch and owns 400+ career homers, but Jones is contributing to the Yankees cause and has been better than expected since the All-Star break.

A few roster decisions on the horizon
A-Rod was "a little tentative" during last night rehab game
  • Jim S

    He’s made keeping Montero down in the minors a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

    • MattG

      Well, Montero has somewhat contributed to that cause himself, with a 32/88 BB/K ratio. Hard to see that playing up in the major leagues.

      • jsbrendog

        plus his power having taken a stepback as well doesnt help him

      • Jim S

        Yeah I’ve been fine with the Yankees handling of the situation.

  • CP

    Considering how massively productive (126 wRC+) and likable the guy he is replacing (Marcus Thames) was in 2010, the majority of the fan base was decidedly anti-Andruw come mid-July.

    I love the fact that people were still complaining about Jones even though Thames was hitting just .197/.243/.333/.576 for the Dodgers.

    • jsbrendog

      seriously, does cashman get any credit for letting he of the 67 ops+ marcus thames go and bringing in the exponentially more productive (this yr) andruw jones? no of course not.

      even so i bet this thread will be filled with complaints but honestly, is there a 4th outfielder out there now that overall has outproduced jones? I’m not trying to hammer home his effectiveness, i[m genuinely curious, i would wager no. there is not.

      • Jim S

        I’d also guess not, because most 4th outfielders who are as productive as Jones would probably have garnered a starting job anywhere outside of NY/Boston.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I love the fact that people were still complaining about Jones even though Thames was hitting just .197/.243/.333/.576 for the Dodgers.

      Last I checked, Austin Jackson was hitting .300/.400/.500. Also, we should of kept Matsui, Damon, and Jerry Hairston Jr.

      • jsbrendog

        as soon as ajax was traded he became a career 000/000/000 hitter.

      • nsalem

        and don’t forget the great Richie Sexson

  • Tex sucks

    Haha my boy Jones.

    Looking like a 30 year old baby.

  • Dlaik1

    Didnt we resign Thames to a minor league deal a few weeks back? He hasnt been playing in any games, wonder what happened there.

    • JohnnyC

      Injured shortly after he signed while working out in Tampa. Haven’t seen any updates since first week of August.

  • jsbrendog

    jones sucks, he smiles when he strikes out, cut him.

    (am i doing it right?)

    • Nigel Bangs

      Hey dad, new handle?

  • the Other Steve S.

    Whatever happened to this guy? Was he a roider? I’m not sure I have seen anybody go off a cliff like he did, except maybe Bernie.

    • James d.

      It’s not unreasonable to suspect that some of his decline was due to playing 1,761 games through his age-30 season, including 9(!) consecutive years playing at least 153 games in center field.
      That, and clearly having lost something physically and in his fitness regime, might account for the dropoff and the inability to play every day.
      But for a fourth outfielder expected to provide some pop, he might not have fallen off as much as we think (except for that year with the Dodgers).

      Three (admittedly) cherry-picked stats:
      Through age-30: 113 OPS+, .234 ISO, 5.8 RC/G
      2009-present: 109 OPS+, .241 ISO, 5.0 RC/G

      • jsbrendog

        there were also grumblings in LA when he fell off that he didnt care and didnt try etc. it is possible he skated by on INSANE talent and when it came time to put in the extra effort he continued to try and skate through. also possibly not. who knows.

        but at the end fo his days in atl he def seemed to get super fat

        • jsbrendog

          i meant in la, not atl.

          • Jerome S.

            What is la… is that like Shangri La?

  • Guest

    I think the three spot should go to the best combo of patience/power/average you have. While a high OBP for the three hitter is great (he will have a lot of opportunities to make outs if he doesn’t get on base consistently), I think you want someone with a really good “hit skill” as well. Lots of opportunities for a three hitter to hit with someone in scoring position, and in those cases, a hit is at least a wee bit better than a walk.

    For 2011, that man is Grandy and its not particularly close. He is walking at an insane clip relative to his career average. .270/.280 isn’t great batting average wise, but compared to the rest of the starters, its pretty darn good. And his power…well nothing needs to be said about its shere awesomeness.

    I’ve come to grips with the idea that lineup construction is really just a “for sh*ts and giggles debate” and has little impact on anything. But, “for sh*ts and giggles,” here’s what I’d go with (operating in a world Jeter HAS to be at the top of the lineup…and he’s been on fire, so maybe its not all that bad to have him up there):

    1. Gardner
    2. Jeter
    3. Grandy
    4. Arod
    5. Tex
    6. Cano (even with his hot streak and Tex’ poor BA, I think Tex is a better to get on base and Robbie is a better bet to drive in people who are on base).
    7. Swishahouse
    8. Montero/Chavez/Jones/Posada
    9. Martin

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Cool story, bro.

      • jsbrendog

        woo woo woo you know it bro

  • nsalem

    sox lose

  • jon
    • Hugh

      Seen it now. Agree – great story. Well done everyone.