Let's kick off the 2005 review with the obvious. Andruw Jones was by far and away the Atlanta Braves' MVP...if not the league's MVP.
Before the season, Andruw made an adjustment in his stance that lead to a huge power surge. He spread his feet wider and used his legs to help develop more power which also added a bit more loft.
Andruw finished the season with a career high 51 home runs and 128 RBI. He made his fourth All-Star appearance and crushed a homer off of Kenny Rogers in the mid-summer classic. In 4 All-Star game appearances, Jones is 4-for-8 with a double, 2 home runs, and 6 RBI. Not too shabby.
While Andruw Jones was tearing up opposing pitchers, writers everywhere were tearing up Andruw's defense. Curiously, these "experts" based their analysis on fielding metrics. They claimed that the amount of balls hit to the center field "area" turned into less outs than in previous seasons. That's an interesting analysis, but it fails to take into consideration various subjective criteria. How good are the middle infielders going back on the ball? Where does left and right field end and where does center field begin? How hard were the balls hit to center field? What was the weather like and what kind of surfaces did Andruw play on? Were the corner outfielder better defensively than in prior years? All these factors contribute to a statistical analysis of defense, and all these factors involve subjective judgements.
Those of us who watched the Braves day in and day out saw very little change in Jones' defensive ability. Andruw may not make the dramatic catches that Jim Edmonds makes, but it's partially because he still gets such great jumps on the ball. He makes things look so easy. And since the Braves added corner outfielders like Jeff Francoeur, Andruw no longer needs to run foul line to foul line to make up for other defensive weaknesses. So if you want to use statistical analysis to judge a good outfielder, go right ahead, but I will gladly pick Andruw Jones to roam center field for me any day.
In 2005, Andruw Jones became the complete package. And to think, he's only 28! Fortunately, we have many more good years to look forward to as the best center fielder in the game just begins to enter his prime!