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What's up with Andruw Jones?

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All that talk of pending free-agents having career years has flown out of the window with Andruw Jones' inept start to the season. As things currently stand he is batting .220/.340/.409, which is comfortably below his career line of .265/.344/.503. Saying that OBP isn't too far out of line, which confirms Andruw's intention to focus on walks this season. That is a fine strategy, but few imagine it would have been at the expense of contact AND power. Let's have a look at some of his other stats and see if we can work out what is going on: HR-rate:
  • 2005: 8.7%
  • 2006: 7.2%
  • 2007:† 3.8%
  • 2005: 10.9%
  • 2006: 14.5%
  • 2007:† 17.0%
  • 2005: 19%
  • 2006: 22%
  • 2007:† 32%
Swinging strike %:
  • 2005: 21%
  • 2006: 21%
  • 2007:† 26%
Overall swing%:
  • 2005: 74%
  • 2006: 74%
  • 2007:† 77%
Contact rate:
  • 2005: 72%
  • 2006: 65%
  • 2007:† 73%
We can stop there, the numbers all point in a similar direction. The odd thing is that he is swinging more, drawing more walk and yet making less contact -- how does that work? If you look at pitches/PA you'll see that that has also climbed significantly this year (4.05 in 2007 vs 3.74 career average). This isn't the Andruw that we know and love. The fact that his swing% has risen along with his K-rate implies that he has changed his approach at the plate. Now, I'm no biomechanical expert but he also looks more awkward when batting. The Andruw of old never used to flail at the ball or look wildly off-balance after swinging. The 2007 version does. What does this all mean? I'm not sure. I hope that Andruw will recapture his form and propel the Braves back to the post-season. If we are to overhaul the Mets he'll need to find some pop in his bat. It also makes the upcoming off-season all the more interesting. The $$ will soon be starting to edge away. Apart from a slump the only other explanation is that he is playing through pain. I'm not sure. Andruw has always been a streaky player ... this is likely just the worst one.

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