The Myth of Andruw Jones and “the Other Way”

Well, I’m happy to see Andruw Jones having phenomenal year so far (AVE/OBP/SLG = .278/.350/.597). It’s hard to believe that earlier in the year he was considered to be slumping. This just shows the dangers of paying attention to short-run trends and projecting them over long periods of time. There was a time when Andruw went hitting 0-28, now he’s hit 12 homers in his past 15 games.

It’s true. Fans were calling for his head and demanding he be benched. “Why is he swinging at that outside slider? He needs to hit the ball ‘the other way’ and stop trying to pull everything.” Lo and behold, here we are in the midst of an Andruw hot-streak and everyone thinks he’s finally responding to their advice. The Braves announcers aren’t helping either.

MLB.com now offers this great service. It provides a hit chart for most players in every field they’ve played in. So, I looked at Andruw’s 2004 and 2005 in Turner Field. Red = out, Black=hit, Blue = home run.

2004 Andruw Jones
AJ's 2004 in Turner Field

2005 Andruw Jones
AJ's 2005 in Turner Field

If anything, he’s pulling the ball more this year than he did last year. And when he goes the other way, he’s more likely to make an out than when he doesn’t. He’s yet to have a single hit to right field in Turner Field in 2005. The thing is, AJ hasn’t really made any meaningful adjustments during this year to make him hot or cold. He’s just been experiencing some ups and downs like he does every year. Overall, he’s had more ups than downs, and he’s become a darn good pull hitter.

Maybe his legs are a little wider and he’s staying on the ball better this year. But really, it’s not like he’s Brian Roberts. Andruw has always been good, just under-appreciated. He’s 28 and he should be expected to be having a good season like this. I doubt he’ll hit 60 HRs, but I think he’s on track for a good season. I should mention that John Dewan called it.

I want to make it clear that Andruw’s success does not involve going the other way, as so many of his critics have suggested he do. If anything he’s doing what I suggested a year ago.

Hitting to the opposite field may work for 50 year-old first basemen who want to play until they drop (I still love you Julio!), but it’s not what a 27 year-old with tons of power needs to be doing. Are you going to ask Jim Thome or Barry Bonds to go the other way? No. Certainly, Andruw is not in their category as a hitter yet, but clearly slapping the ball to the off-field is not the key Andruw needs to becoming a 40+ HR power-hitter.

I’m not saying he took my advice or listened to me (I’m not that pompous). The important thing is that he listened to himself. He’s taken what others have said and filtered it properly. Terry Pendleton and Bobby Cox probably deserve some credit as well, but I think AJ deserves the most. He’s caught more undeserved hell than anyone on the team, so it’s time for some praise even if it’s a little excessive. You’ve earned it Andruw, smile! :)

Addendum: This post was inspired by and dedicated to Fiona May who was born last night. Mother, baby, and father (Braves fan Kyle) are doing well. Hang in there guys!

6 Responses “The Myth of Andruw Jones and “the Other Way””

  1. JF says:

    In addition, the banter between Simpson and Caray on Sunday regarding the wide stance was even more baffling. Listening to Simpson, you’d have thought wide stances were the answer to everything. Of course, if they were, everyone would use them. And, even if they were the Answer to Andruw’s “problem,” (and his only) thendoes he really think they just thought it up? As a fellow economist, it speaks volumes for the Kahneman-Tversky finding of illusory correlation.

  2. Mac Thomason says:

    Simpson has been saying that Andruw should hit to the opposite field basically since 1997. He’s obsessed. And I got sick of it several years ago.

  3. Rich Lederer says:

    Another good post, JC. Value added as always.

  4. JC says:

    I’d love to hear Skip say to Joe, “If hitting the ball is so easy that you can just ‘change your approach’ to hit it the other way, then why did you only hit .242/.289/.317?”

    Andruw’s got more homers in his current hot streak than Simpson had in his entire career.

  5. Mac Thomason says:

    You know, it’s funny, but I like Simpson a lot more than Sutton but it’s clear that Sutton knows what he’s talking about and Simpson is clueless. Did you catch his weird Shanks-inspired anti-Moneyball rants awhile back?

  6. JC says:

    Yeah, I caught those comments from Simpson. I think even Joe Morgan grasps the book a little better. Simpson has never bothered me until this year. It’s like he thinks he’s got the wit of Skip with the baseball credentials of Don. He has neither, so he just comes off as kind of bitter old man. Maybe he’s just worn me down, but I think he’s been different this year. I’m kind of surprised I’m liking Chip so much. I don’t always agree with him, but his commentary is fresh. I love the shots at the Cubs that seem to come at least once a game.