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Yesterday, Andruw Jones hit a game-winning home run. But that was a blip on the radar. Otherwise, this season Jones has been terrible. His swing is a mess. In a game against the Red Sox recently he struck out five times.

In his Saturday column, AJC sports writer Mark Bradley suggests Andruw’s prolonged slump might hurt his chances at a big contract.

Of course, as Bradley suggests, the more affordable Jones gets, the better the chances that the Braves will keep him.

If they still want him.

Braves hitting coach Terry Pendelton says it’s possible Andruw is worrying about his contract status.

Andruw says that’s not true. But contract or no, there’s one more thing for Andruw to worry about. ESPN stat-head Jason Stark has a new book coming out, The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History, and in it he calls Jones “the most overrated center fielder of all time.”

Ouch.

A few days ago, ESPN.com ran an excerpt from Stark’s book, the part where he describes Jones as the most overrated center fielder of all-time. Jones quotes scouts. But the best quote comes from an anonymous player:

“It’s all perception,” said one player who has played against Jones for years. “Perception is like muscle memory. People have a memory of you doing something. So you have to do something dramatically different to undo that memory.”

But, this being a Jayson Stark book, it all comes down to stats. Stark uses some complicated ones, relying heavily on zone rating. I won’t go into here. But check it out. And then make sure you read the counterpoint from JC Bradbury over at Sabernomics. That guy is a nerd, in the best sense of the word.

I was always under the impression that Jones was the most UNDERRATED center fielder of all time. That’s what my Braves-fan friends were always telling me, anyway.

Until a couple of years ago I always thought that Andruw was a good defensive outfielder who brought little offense. Then he started putting up steroid numbers and my perception of him changed. He went from “good but incomplete” to “wow” status overnight.

Now, two months into the season, Jones isn’t hitting his weight. And speaking of his weight…well, he’s fat. And he doesn’t play center field the way he used to.

Jones has put up some respectable numbers over his 12 year career: 350 HR, 1056 RBI, .265 AVG., .344 OBP. Most impressive of all, of course, is his nine consecutive gold glove awards, a streak that he hopes to continue this season.

If you listen to the Braves announcers talk, Jones is a Hall of Fame candidate. I’m not so sure. What do you think?

PS. Stark solicits book jacket quotes from Mike Greenberg and Peter Gammons, but the best quote comes from former Pirates CF Andy Van Slyke, who says, “if this book doesn’t end up in Oprah’s Book Club, then Oprah’s list is overrated.”

Classic.

2 Responses to “Andruw Jones: Overrated?”

  1. Jojo Fireball says:

    What if he gets traded somewhere else in the AL? will he still get freaked out when he throws at what used to be his home park in Anaheim? just a thought.

    I think this is interesting that people even make a big deal out of this… It says soemthing about our society what with our infatuation with emotional disorders and keeping ourselves over medicated. Would this story even have been run in 1965?

  2. Paul Moro says:

    I don’t think anyone can accurately place the significance of Andruw’s career just yet. He’s only 30 years old, which is kind of hard to believe because it already feels like he’s been around for so long. If you look solely at his offensive numbers, though, I think he’s only moderately better than, say, Jeromy Burnitz (who, coincidentally, is a fellow member of the “Yes, This Really Is How You Spell My First Name” club). Not arguing that they were offensive equals because, well, Jones is better. But not THAT much better than his perception (at least as it seems to me) merits.

    Defensively, I think he became overrated to the point where he was underrated. So many people were talking about how great he was that it created a backlash. Detractors started purposely looking for signs that would support their case. They’d point to his weight and his diminished stolen bases and be immediately convinced that his range isn’t what it used to be. To be fair, I’m not optimistic about a CFer his size entering into his thirties either. But you can’t write the guy off yet. In a few years (at the latest), he’ll be a corner outfielder. I think only then can we accurately place the guy’s career in context.

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