Andruw Jones is definitely having a comeback year relative to his 2008 campaign; however, his wOBA has dipped to .348 on the season, and for a player who is primarily a DH, a .348 wOBA isn’t all that impressive. However, because wOBA takes into account hits, it is influenced by the player’s BABIP, which could distort the numbers. For the year, Andruw Jones has a .218 BABIP, one of the worst marks in all of baseball, and it has begun to affect his production numbers in a big way.
However, what’s remarkable is that Jones has been plagued throughout his entire career with low BABIPs. His highest in any season is .313, and he’s been playing since 1996! He’s had a BABIP over .300 just three times in his whole career, bringing his career average to a .279 mark. That terrible a track record would lead one to believe that there must be something wrong with Andruw Jones’s balls in play, as it’s hard to be as good of a player as he’s been and consistently get that unlucky. But although Jones is pretty slow and lethargic in 2009, he used to be a slender and quick kid who sprayed line drives.
Using Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix’s xBABIP calculator, we can take a look at how Andruw Jones has faired since 2002, when batted ball data became available. I’ll use the Simple xBABIP (expected BABIP) calculator, which they say “uses a slightly simplified predictive model using more readily available statistics.” To get a gauge for how these xBABIPs will be computed, the formula uses the following categories: Team, AB, HR, Strikeouts, Stolen Bases, LD%, # of Fly Balls, # of Ground Balls, # of Popups. Here are Jones’s numbers from 2002-2009 using the calculator:
Year BABIP xBABIP Difference 2002 0.29 0.323 -0.033 2003 0.297 0.318 -0.021 2004 0.305 0.324 -0.019 2005 0.243 0.315 -0.072 2006 0.27 0.314 -0.044 2007 0.248 0.314 -0.066 2008 0.231 0.32 -0.089 2009 0.218 0.299 -0.081 Total 0.263 0.316 -0.053
Man, it seems like Jones is seriously getting ripped off here. To lose an average of .053 BABIP points per year is absolutely huge. Let me point out that the calculator is definitely a more simplified way of doing this, and in some of Bendix and Dutton’s previous work, they have Jones’s BABIP lower than the calculator. In fact, I’ll include their numbers on Jones which range from 2002-2007:
Year BABIP xBABIP Difference 2002 0.285 0.288 -0.003 2003 0.293 0.285 0.008 2004 0.303 0.3 0.003 2005 0.24 0.29 -0.05 2006 0.264 0.302 -0.038 2007 0.242 0.292 -0.05 Total 0.271 0.293 -0.022
(Side note: difference in actual BABIP numbers must be from data discrepancies)
In these totals, Jones isn’t getting as slighted as before, and even enjoys some fortuitous years. However, he is still losing an average of .022 BABIP points each year; also, in the years where he gets lucky he’s barely getting anything, whereas in the years he gets unlucky it’s basically screwing up his entire season. Maybe some Braves fans can enlighten me as to why they think Andruw gets constantly unlucky almost every year, but I wouldn’t expect Andruw to be catching breaks any time soon.
Big thanks to fellow Tufts Jumbos Peter Bendix and Chris Dutton for their awesome work.