In praise of Jon Jay

I've been tough on center fielder Jon Jay, but I try to be fair, and to that end I have to say he's really been one of the Cardinals' best players so far in 2014 ... and one of the most consistent Cardinals, too.

Granted, that isn't saying much considering the dull showing of the STL offense. But in terms of Cards' position players that are at least playing up to their ability level, it's difficult to find fault with Jay's performance. He's done a nice job so far. 

Compared to most of the Cardinals' hitters, Jay isn't having an underachieving season. He's doing well. And this, despite the attempts to basically phase Jay out or at least greatly reduce his playing time.

Some small-sample factoids on Jay's 2014: 
• With a .295 batting average he's outhitting Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta, among others. 
• Jay's .352 onbase percentage is topped only by Matt Carpenter (.393) and Holliday (.376.) 
• Jay's .388 slugging percentage puts him above Craig (.375), Holliday (.369) 
• In 73 plate appearances since April 30, Jay is batting .333 with a .384 OBP and .409 SLG. 
• Jay's .740 OPS ranks fourth among Cardinals' regulars. 
• Jay has driven in 17 of 104 runners on base; that may not look like much but that "OBI" (others batted in) percent of 16.3 % is the best among Cards' hitters that have at least 100 plate appearances. 
• Jay has been effective coming off the bench, going 9 for 20 (.450) after entering the game as a substitute.
• When he leads off an inning,  Jay is 8 for 20, or .400.
• In "late and close" situations Jay is 3 for 10, or .300. 
• With runners in scoring position and two out, Jay is 6 for 18, or .333. 

The Cardinals acquired CF Peter Bourjos from the Angels to displace Jay. Rookie outfelder Randal Grichuk was included in that trade. The Cardinals twice have promoted Grichuk from the minors and given him a few opportunities to start in center. 

But in games in which they've played center field, Bourjos and Grichuk have combined to go 29 for 141 (.205) with 45 strikeouts. Bourjos' overall strikeout rate of 29.4 percent is the 23rd highest (worst) K rate among MLB hitters with at least 100 plate appearances so far. 

Jay has been OK defensively, not nearly as good as Bourjos in the metric valuations. But is minus 3 rating in the John Dewan plus-minus system isn't atrocious. 

Please understand what I'm saying here ...

I'm not saying Jay is a great player who should be in there every day no matter what. I'm not saying Jay should be the CF for the rest of the year, or next season. 

But based on his track record and reasonable expectations, Jay is doing his part to help the Cardinals. He's getting his job done. And that's more than most Cardinals can say right now. 

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