Jon Jay’s Stats Lie.
There’s a number of people who have come out gushing on Jon Jay again. Someone have been there all along. I’ve made it no secret that I am a fan of Peter Bourjos. Partly because he is good enough to play every day. His bat isn’t as weak as some people think, and his defense is stellar in a position that defense is a premium. You can stick bad defenders on the corners of both the infield and outfield, but up the middle (SS, CF, C) is where you want good defense. Now, people say that numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they can.
I feel like I have to write disclaimers because these are the things that can get a firestorm on Twitter. I don’t write this because of a personal vendetta towards Jon Jay. He’s a decent guy from what I’ve heard, and I have never had a bad experience with him. I am writing this piece solely because I want to give people context to all the great pieces that others are writing about him. That said, let’s dig in.
First, the numbers that people are pushing out now are very highly pumped up due to his recent hitting. We’ve all known for a while that Jon Jay is a streaky hitter. He’ll go through hot and cold streaks and there’s no real way to tell when those things will happen, but he’s on a very, very hot streak right now. If you would have asked about Jon Jay’s numbers before he hurt his wrist, he’s hitting .289/.347/.368. In the 13 games since he came back, he’s hit .417/.532/.639, which has pushed his average up 15 points, his on-base up 26 points, and his slugging up 33 points. That means his OPS (which most look at for hitting) has gone up 59 points in just two weeks. That’s a huge jump. It’s now 4th highest on the team, jumping two spots from 6th place.
He’s been hitting more doubles and homers recently as well. In these 13 games, he’s hit 2 of his 3 home runs this year as well as 2 of his 15 doubles. Within the slugging percentage, there is an inherent batting average as well. If you take that out, you get ISO, and Jay’s is 0.97. ISO is used to just look at how good a player is at hitting extra bases, and Jay’s ISO has jumped, but he’s still 3 points below the “poor” range according to Fangraphs. And it’s also nearly 20 points lower than any other player that’s currently on the Cardinals roster. Basically, anyone else on the roster is going to hit extra bases more often, but Jay gets more singles.
Finally, Jon Jay has a knack for getting hit with baseballs. This is partly because he has no idea how to move out of the way of a pitch. If you want to move out of the way, you scoot back or lean back depending whether it’s going at your upper or lower half. Instead, Jay, along with many other people in baseball turn their backs to the pitch to try and get hit in a better location like the back or the rear end. Now, Jay is tied for being hit by a pitch the most times in the major leagues at 14. If you were to take that down to a much lower number, let’s just say 4 or so (which seems to be about middle of the pack this year), his on-base percentage drops by 30 points to .343. That’s still good, but it makes a stark difference, including taking him from safely in second on the team to 2 points above 4th (Yadi) and 6 points above 5th (Peralta) on the team.
I’m hoping that gives you some context on Jon Jay’s inflated numbers right now. If you were to poll me a couple weeks ago and ask what I though of him, and poll me again, my opinion hasn’t changed. He’s had a great couple of weeks, and I appreciate that, but you can’t use his batting stats now without the disclaimer that he hasn’t been this good all year. He’s been fine for most of the year and just had a fantastic couple of weeks. I have a theory that these weeks are because of the rest that he got when he hurt his wrist, but even then, if the law of averages is correct, he’ll come back down to earth eventually.