An Early Look at 2006 - Andruw Jones
by Asher B. Chancey, Baseball Evolution
January 3, 2006

I was chatting with a buddy at Tulane last spring, and he was consulting me on his fantasy draft. He pointed at Andruw Jones, and said, "I'm expecting big things there." I absolutely agreed. One year after Adrian Beltre finally broke out, it made sense Andruw Jones, at the age of 28 might put it together. As it turns out, he was right Andruw Jones hit 51 homeruns and enjoyed a career year.

By way of getting a start on my predictions for next season, I would like to point out something about Andruw Jones. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, or sounding like I am simply stating the obvious, I point out that all Andruw did last season was hit 22 more home runs than the previous year.

This may seem obvious, and the average baseball fan may look at such an increase alone as an indication that, by definition, Andruw Jones vastly improved last season. But we go deeper.

Runs Scored: 2004 85; 2005 95

In 2004, Andruw Jones scored 85 runs while hitting 29 homeruns. In 2005, he hit 51 homeruns, 22 more than in '04, but managed to score only 10 more runs. What this means is that Jones actually scored 12 fewer runs in at-bats when he did not hit a homerun. And oh by the way, he batted 16 more times.

Doubles+Triples: 2004 38; 2005 27

In 2005, Jones hit 22 more homeruns, but had 11 fewer doubles and triples. Jones hit only 11 more extra-base hits than the year before.

AVG/OBP/SLG: 2004 261/345/488; 2005 263/347/575

Jones' average essentially remained unchanged from 2004 to 2005, and his on-base percentage went up by the same amount as his average. The only one of these three that went up was his slugging, which went way up. Remarkably, Andruw Jones managed to vastly improve his slugging without managing to improve his average or his on-base almost at all. In their recent breakout years, Sammy Sosa and Adrian Beltre experienced gigantic increases in their AVG and OBP. Jones' stats show that his game did not change in any way other than an increase in homeruns.

For that matter, in any season in which a player increases his homeruns by a significant total, one might expect the increase to be a result of fly balls becoming homerun balls. In Jones' case, its clear that his increase in homeruns was more a result of turning singles, doubles, and triples into homeruns, and of batting more.

Walks: 2004 71; 2005 64

It appears as though Jones actually got worse at taking walks in 2005. First, he walked 7 fewer times in 6 more games. But his intentional walks actually increased from 9 in 2004 to 13 in 2005, meaning that he actually drew 11 fewer walks by his own merits in 2005.

Strikeouts: 2004 147; 2005 112

The one thing, other than homeruns, that Andruw improved upon was his strikeouts, striking out 35 fewer times, and the least of his career since 2000.

Relative OPS

Jones' OPS+ went up 20 points to 133, or 33% better than the league average. This is an impressive increase, but still not a particularly good OPS overall. In fact, Jones had by far the lowest OPS+ of any player ever to hit 50 homeruns. For comparison's sake, Brady Anderson hit 50 homeruns in 1996, and had a 157 OPS+. Greg Vaughn hit 50 in 1998 and had an OPS+ of 158. The next lowest OPS+ total for a 50 homerun hitter was Sammy Sosa, who with 63 homeruns in 1999 managed an embarrassing 141 OPS+. After that, its Ken Griffey, Jr., with 56 homeruns and a 149 OPS+ in 1998. Everyone else was at least 50% better than the league.

The point of all this is that Andruw Jones was not a different player in 2005 than he was in years past. He was the same player, he just hit more homeruns.

2006 Predictions:101 Runs 42 HR 112 RBI; 275/337/515