Around this point last year, it looked like the Texas Rangers had a steal in Andruw Jones.
Signed to a minor league contract after being dishonorably discharged by the Dodgers, Jones won a spot on the 25-man roster out of spring training and proceeded to hit the daylights out of the ball for the season’s first two months.
On May 19, 2009, Jones had an OPS of 1.032. He only had hit four home runs to that point, but had drawn 18 walks en route to a .447 on-base percentage.
Then, from May 22 (his next game played after May 19) through June 21, Jones slumped. His OPS during that stretch was .668, only propped up by a .439 slugging percentage thanks to four home runs.
Jones continued to hit home runs while slumping, but those home runs dried up after July 29. From July 30 through the end of the season, Jones’ OPS was a paltry .488, taking his season OPS down to .800.
Here we are on May 20, 2010. Jones has been outstanding to this point in the season, smashing nine home runs, drawing 17 walks, and even stealing seven of eight bases. He and his .934 OPS have come up in a few big spots to keep the White Sox floundering offense afloat.
But will it last?
Given Jones’ history and a few recent red flags, that’s not a guarantee.
The first red flag is that Jones hasn’t homered since May 5. He’s had 39 at-bats since he hit a home run, although, given his swing, he’s trying to break that streak in a big way. And that’s led to some pretty bad at-bats recently.
Case in point: Jones’ two key at-bats last night against the Angels. With men on second and third and one out in the bottom of the sixth, Jones flew out weakly to right on the first pitch from Joe Saunders. The White Sox failed to score in the inning, and that failure fell squarely on the shoulders on Jones.
Then, in the eighth, Jones came up with a runner on second and two out to face Fernando Rodney, who entered the game with the same number of walks as strikeouts (11).
Jones fouled off a 94 mph fastball and a changeup before taking two balls to even the count at two. Rodney responded by firing a high, 97 mph fastball—out of the strike zone—at which Jones took a home run swing…and missed.
The first situation was more damning than the second because Jones failed to get what would have been the tying run home from third with less than one out. But the second out was still frustrating, as Jones—a guy who has been so good for 2010’s first month and a half—went down like the post-May 19 Jones of 2009.
During Jones’ power outage (May 6-19), he’s hitting just .200/.275/.286 with four walks and nine strikeouts. Usually, you shouldn’t get too caught up in nine-game stretches, but given that this was about the time Jones started struggling last year, there’s a cause for concern.
It’s too early to say Jones definitely is heading his 2009 path, but he also hasn’t done anything to alleviate any of those worries lately.
At the least, now would be a good time for Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin, and Alexei Ramirez to start hitting, because those are going to be the guys (Ramirez to a lesser extent) who are going to have to offset an extended Jones slump.
- Pour one out for Andrew at 35th Street Review, who’s leaving the White Sox blogosphere. His wit, snark, and insight will certainly be missed.
- Jim writes about bad mentalities.
- Cheat says Mark Teahen would’ve done the same thing.
- Joe Cowley wins.