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.

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

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.

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

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.

It appears as though Jones actually got

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.

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

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.