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There hasn’t been any bigger mystery than what exactly got into the bat of Andruw Jones in the season’s first half. No other start in a career than spans back to 1997 (his first full season) has ever seen the powerful Atlanta cleanup man struggle so mightely. Jones showed signs of breaking out during the final roadtrip of the first half and the Braves will count on a productive Andruw to help secure a playoff spot this October.
How many ways have people looked at this slump? Over his past X-at-bats or the past few games, then a week, then a couple weeks and finally a couple of bad months turned the whole first half into a complete debacle. Heck, it got Jones’ super-agent Scott Boras worrying.
Here a few of the more disconcerting layers of the first half. Well there was that month of June that saw Andruw hit .143 for starters. So what was going on that month that was so different than any other month. Jones is a .238 hitter against National League pitching this season… far from ideal, but that is a "slump" that couple be turned around with a couple of torrid weeks. That points out that Interleague play must have been pretty hard on Andruw.
Here are those numbers…
Just three hits in 49 (0-for-17 against Boston alone) with 18 K’s in 13 games. And of course, during that interleague nightmare: 0 homers, 0 RBI and just two runs scored. Ouch. That pretty much would be the chunk of play that has most adversely affected Jones.
No one expects a career .267 hitter entering his contract year to stray too far north of that mark. Having hit .300 just once in his career, no one is expecting Jones to go much beyond the .270 or .280 mark in a season. He’s hit .263 and .262 the last two seasons respectively.
Most people could probably deal with a slump that saw the average down 20 or so points… but when it dipped to low of .197 on June 25… it was then that even those with their heads buried in the sand could be found pressing the nearest panic button.
Bobby Cox dropped him to seventh – don’t expect that trend to continue. Andruw is going to hit forth in this line-up. The argument Cox is employing is valid. Not that it’s any secret, nor a surprise – Cox will remain loyal. Boiled down, Cox looks at it as: If the Braves are going to win, they are going to have to have Andruw Jones producing – and doing so in the number four spot. He isn’t going to do much good batting seventh (or eighth for those critics and cynics who had completely given up on him in June).
The run production is there – He should have 30 homers, he should have 100 RBI – on pace for both. He comes into the second half with a .211 average to go along with 15 homers and 54 RBI’s. Swinging a hot bat on the recent roadtrip, Jones finally began hitting to all fields and driving the ball the opposite way. Those results may prompt him to do so more often.
I think it’s a safe bet to say that some poor team’s in the second half are going to pay for the rough first half Andruw suffered through. He takes pride in his work and finally seems to be making the adjustments that could allow him to get on a prolonged hot-streak. Just like the old Andruw we’ve all come to know and love.
Till next time,