Despite playing only 77 games so far this season, Jon Jay ranks 3rd among all NL center fielders with 3.1 WAR, and he trails only Andrew McCutchen (6.4 WAR) and Michael Bourn (5.9 WAR). Without even factoring in the playing time deficit, he has produced more on the field than guys like Dexter Fowler, Angel Pagan, Shane Victorino, Gerardo Parra, Carlos Gomez, Drew Stubbs, and Cameron Maybin. Considering that all the aforementioned players not named Jay have each played at least 96 games this season, Jay has given the Cardinals a highly concentrated dose of productivity. With 41 games remaining on the schedule, Jay has a reasonable shot at reaching 4.0+ WAR on the year.
If the Cardinals still seek a center fielder of the future, maybe what they seek sits right under their collective brain trust’s noses. He may not appear to be the prototypical leadoff hitter at first glance, but since when does prototypical matter more than getting the job done. Jay has done just that, and he has put up all the numbers needed to prove it. Maybe that takes a bit away from the “Jon Jay misjudges ball” meme, but consider the numbers for a moment.
- Career line of .300/.360/.418/.778
- For 2012, Jay is hitting .305/.386/.404/.791.
- He stands 13 for 15 in stolen base attempts this season.
- He sits 1 walk shy of his career high in walks for a season at 27.
- Among all MLB CFs with 600+ innings at the position, Jay ranks 2nd to only Michael Bourn with a 11.0 UZR/150 and 3rd behind Bourn and Denard Span with 5.4 UZR total.
- Against RHP in 2012 – .308/.392/.421/.812
- Against LHP in 2012 – .299/.372/.364/.736
- As a leadoff hitter – .300/.397/.440/.837
- With RISP – .273/.444/.400/.844
- With 2 outs – .363/.433/.475/.908
Admittedly, Jay does not possess great numbers in terms of driving in runners, but that’s not his primary function. He has all the makings of an excellent table setter, and asking him to both set the table and clear it may be a little too much. Then again, maybe just being the team’s best option in CF and in the leadoff spot should suffice. While many who follow the minor league affiliates of the Cardinals have questioned whether or not Oscar Taveras can play CF, maybe that question requires no answer at all. Instead, maybe we should be wondering how well Taveras can play right field with Jay in center, because has already proven that he’s a legitimate major league CF.
As far as CF goes, Jay has it covered.
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