When will this guy stop talking about the Rangers? It's all Rangers all the time at this blog allasudden!
I don't have a ton to say today, but I've been thinking about Andruw Jones.
First, the Dave Cameron article
Away back on May 1, I linked to an article that Cameron, one of my favorite baseball writers, wrote on April 28 called Welcome Back, Andruw (and then responded to criticism over that, Cameron did, with this piece on the usefulness of small sample sizes). My feelings on it were only insinuated in this space, but you could pretty much tell (or tell for sure if you read my comments below the initial article) that I was really skeptical about basing anything on 35 plate appearances by anybody, no matter how great those 35 were.
Since April 28? Jones has gone on being a part-time player, batting .204/.312/.463 in 253 PA to drive his season batting average from .370 to .222, his OBP from .514 to .337. He's still got tons of HR power (a rate of 39 per 162 starts). but not a lot else.
I doubt Dave will say it--after all, Jones is better than he was in 2008 (it would be hard to be worse), and, for the year as a whole, better than 2007--but he got one wrong for once. Not just with Andruw--a guy with a .300ish OBP (as he's been since the 28th) who is mostly a DH and LF just isn't a particularly useful player--but with his ruminations on small sample sizes. Line drive rates and contact rates and all that fun FanGraphs stuff are approximately as susceptible to sample size fluctuations as batting average and homers. As I pointed out in the comments to Dave's initial article, Andruw Jones had almost the exact same stretch in 2007 as he did to start 2009--but in July, not April, so nobody even noticed. Small samples are interesting, not useful. A great month should adjust our expectations for what we expect a guy's final line to look like (as I tried to do a few times very early on), but we should wait a bit more than 35 PA before we start adjusting our expectations for the rest of the season.
Second, on defense
This is just a passing thought, because I've watched Andruw just twice this year and have no idea what I'm talking about. But: he's just 32 years old. I know he's gained some weight, but has he really fallen so far in two years that he's gone from a (deserving) Gold Glover in 2007 to a DH in 2009?
I just can't believe that. First, even in 2008 when he looked completely lost and useless with the Dodgers, UZR had him as approximately an average center fielder. Second, in his limited time this year (5 games in RF and 12 in LF), his UZR has been great (doesn't mean much, but it doesn't mean nothing, either). Third, he's tried five steals in what was, let's face it, not very many times on first base, and he's only been caught once. I have to believe that he'd at least hold his own if given a chance in left, and, I mean, he's Andruw Jones. How do you not even try him in center, even once?
Now, the Rangers' D has been great (and is probably the biggest part of their success). Consider: UZR thinks Michael Young is as bad at 3B as he used to be at SS, but no one else on the team has been more than 1 run below average at any position. With Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus, they've got two of the best at their positions in the game, and even Josh Hamilton (who looked horrible last year) has put up a good number. But anyway, Hamilton has been hurt, and guys need rest now and then. How has Andruw gotten a total of 17 innings in the OF? Has he really lost that much at 32?
Third, a weird observation about his splits
Putting those crazy first 35 PA back into play, so for the whole season: .224/.302/.552 vs.R, .220/.380/.420 vs.L. 13 of his 17 HR have come against righties, but 20 of his 30 walks have come against lefties.
That's two totally different players. You might think a lot of guys are two different players based on their splits, but all that usually means is that one is a good player and one is a bad player. Andruw is two totally different players--of roughly equal value, but just about as different as they can be. Against righties, he's Dave Kingman; against lefties, Max Bishop.
I'm sure that's not that unusual, especially with less than a full season's worth of PA. But I thought it was kind of funny.
12 hours ago