Who would have thought at this point in the season, heck, any point in the season, that our new center fielder, Mark Kotsay, would have three times as many homeruns and over four times as many RBIs as our old center fielder, Andruw Jones? Some of us thought that Andruw might regress a bit more from the numbers he put up last year, which were all pretty much career lows. Still other's thought that last year was just an off-year for Jones, and that he would eventually rebound; and he may eventually rebound, but right now he is the worst hitting center fielder in baseball. He's worse than Michael Bourne, he's worse than Lastings Milledge, he's worse than Rick Ankiel, his OPS (.543) is almost half that of Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth (1.079).
|2008 - Andruw Jones||33||106||15||18||5||1||1||4||16||36||0||0||.170||.279||.264|
Who would have thought that Andruw would have fallen this far. On the other side of that coin, who would have thought that Mark Kotsay would have rebounded from his past injuries and off-years to produce at the level he is currently producing at -- when judged by OPS he is the sixth best center fielder in baseball; better than Grady Sizemore, Vernon Wells, or Carlos Beltran.
|2008 - Mark Kotsay||30||110||15||34||5||2||3||15||10||12||1||1||.309||.367||.473|
But when judged on defense, surely Andruw is better, right? Wrong. While neither has made an error, when judged on zone rating Kotsay is among the top third of all major league center fielders, while Andruw is in the bottom third.
I thought there might be a red flag in Andruw's stats that would tell us why he's doing so bad, but he's bad pretty much across the board. His average is under .200 either at home or on the road, either against left-handed or right-handed pitching, either day or night, either with runners on or with the... oh wait, he's hitting a whopping .246 with the bases empty -- his highest average of just about any split category. Compare that with the .038 average with runners in scoring position -- just 1-for-26 with 3 RBI -- and we begin to see the negative value of Andruw Jones.
While Mark Kotsay is not hitting left-handed pitching particularly well, he is hitting right-handed pitchers at a Chipper-esque .394 pace. He's also hitting a more-than-respectable .297 with runners in scoring position.
Better hitting, better defense, I never thought I'd say that I'm glad we have Mark Kotsay rather than a long-term albatross of a contract (or even a one year bank breaker) with Andruw Jones. I think most of us would like to see AJ come out of his funk, but after watching him last season it's hard to believe that he will be able to pull himself out of it, let alone return to his MVP form from just several years ago. Here again is another win-win player personnel decision by the Braves, who must have seen the writing on the wall.