Friday, April 23, 2010

Andruw Jones Destorying Opposition

I have held off on posting this piece for as long as possible but after this, I'm no longer able to hold back.

Andruw Jones was left for dead. For good reason too, his career had taken a serious nose-dive over the past three seasons with his OPS plummeting from .894 in 2006 to .724 in 2007, his final with the Braves. Scott Boras somehow got the Dodgers to sink 36.2m into him.

For their 36 million dollars the Dodgers got 209 at-bats of a .505 OPS during 2008. Not quite what they had been hoping for. In 2009, they released him, eating the remainder of his contract and the Rangers signed him to a minor league deal. He had a solid season for them, hitting .85 at the friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington. He wasn't nearly as good away from home however, posting an OPS of just .705.

The Rangers obviously weren't impressed enough with him to ring him back, instead choosing to sign free agent Vladimir Guerrero. That's worked out extremely well for them so far. But what many in the national media seem to be missing, is just how phenomenally well it's worked out for Jones.

The trade of Jim Thome last season to, surprising, the Dodgers, opened a hole at DH for the White Sox. They decided to go with a committee approach, bringing in Mark Kotsay to split at-bats with Jones. The early season returns with Kotsay have been, um, underwhelming. But that's ok I suppose because Jones has been amazing. In just 41 at-bats Jones has lashed out a .293 average and six home runs for a 1.164 OPS. The latest blow being a bottom of the 9th blast to left that let the White Sox walk off against the visiting Mariners. Did I mention it was his birthday?

For a team in desperate need of offense - the White Sox have scored the 5th fewest runs in all of baseball before tonight game - Andruw has been a god send. The question that begs asking of course, is can it continue? Jones got off to a similarly hot start last year for the Rangers, posting an OPS of 1.304 in April before falling off in May and June, and then having a strong July. He then faded for the remainder of the season.

So has Jones turned a corner? Or is this simply another blip on the radar? It's tough to tell. Clearly some of the talent that made him such a star for so long still exists. But there have been issues for years with his legs and back, and their ability to hold up. If Jones can stay healthy, I'm tempted to say that he could continue to produce at a solid level for the White Sox. Not a 1.000 OPS+ level, but a .800 one perhaps.

Either way, the White Sox desperately need his bat right now to continue to try and tread water until their pitching gets back on track. The Sox aren't going to win because of Jones' bat, in 2009, but he can help to keep them from losing too.

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