While at first glance one might think St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay has had a rough season, a deeper look at his splits tells a different story.
The past two seasons for Jay have been extremely solid. While some gaps in his game were exposed in that period, both his offense and defense remained far above average.
Few would argue against Jay’s defense. He has good range and sharp instincts that give him a quick jump on the ball.
His arm is his only defensive weakness. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but it’s definitely not up to par with his defensive range.
In recent years, his offense has also been a huge plus, but it had a major hang-up—his home and road split.
That issue seems to have been corrected.
In 2012, Jay batted .384 at Busch Stadium, but on the road he struggled severely at the plate, hitting only .224. Some decline on the road is normal; however, a 184-point difference is not.
In 2013, that difference has been cut to only 11 points. Now he's batting .273 at home and .262 on the road.
Sure, his overall .268 batting average could stand to be higher, but that is a major correction to a problem that was discussed ad nauseam in 2012.
Despite being well below last year, his season has come with a few bonuses.
First and foremost, he's been healthy. Jay has been in the Cardinals' lineup for 148 games this year, as opposed to 117 in 2012.
As a result, he has seen a marked increase in his RBI total (which has also been aided by his shift in the lineup). Regardless of the reason, he has 65 RBI as opposed to only 40 in the previous year.
Jay has also seen an increase in walks (49 versus 34) and doubles (26 versus 22).
As I mentioned earlier, some of that is due to his shift away from the leadoff position in the lineup. In fact, he's been quite productive in the No. 6 spot. Jay has hit for a higher average in the 7-spot (.298), but the 6-slot has resulted in more run production while Jay has been batting a decent .273.
Jay has also seen success batting with men on base with a very impressive .316/.393/.466 stat line. The same can be said for his numbers with runners in scoring position (.290/.395/.427).
In most aspects, his first half of 2013 was a struggle. He bounced through multiple positions in the lineup and struggled to find his swing.
In the second half, however, Jay found it.
Since the All-Star break, Jay is batting .296 with a .369 OBP. That's well on pace with his numbers from the previous two seasons. Basically, he had a tough first half.
Once his role on the team became more solidified, he became Jon Jay again.
His numbers haven't been ideal for batting leadoff, but the competition for the top of the lineup was stiff (ahem, Matt Carpenter.)
Jay may very well find success following the team’s big bats in a slot where the Cardinals have long needed steady production.
I'm not making excuses, just putting things into perspective.
Stats from Baseball-Reference current through Sept. 19, 2013.