Is Andruw Jones back?

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Andruw Jones White Sox.jpgThe White Sox’ Andruw Jones has gotten off to a fantastic start: .292/.404/.708 with six home runs, including the walkoff job on Friday night.  Is the guy who once wowed us with his defense back to being a productive player after years in the wilderness?

Not so fast says FanGraph’s R.J. Anderson, who notes that his quick start is most likely a function of some luck on balls in play and a home run friendly park. His last line tells you all you need to know about how Anderson feels about Jones: “He’s just an aging slugger using his bat to prop the casket lid open.” Ouch.

While I want to be optimistic about Jones because (a) I vividly remember when he didn’t suck; and (b) he actually got into pretty good shape this winter, and maybe that will make a lasting difference, we’re clearly into “I’ll believe it when I see it” territory with the guy.  After all, he started out even hotter for the Rangers last April: .344/.523/.781. The rest of the year? Miserable. A blip of eight homers in July gave him a slugging-heavy .934 OPS that month, but otherwise he was terrible.

So many people wanted to believe that he was back in 2009. I imagine a lot of people want to believe the same thing this year. Until he puts up another month or two of good performance, however, we shouldn’t be buyin’ what he’s sellin’.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.