Jon Jay Jingleheimer Schmidt

Whenever we go out, the people always shout: “Is it time to pick up Jon Jay for my lineup quick?” And I say: “Probably not if he’s available in your league,” which doesn’t quite make for a good song. But it might make for a good RotoGraphs post.

Yahoo tells us that Jay is available in 91% of leagues, which means that he’s off the board in NL-only leagues and probably not available in eighteen- or twenty-team leagues. And if your 14-team league has five outfielders, should Jay be one of them? For example, my Blog Wars team has Cody Ross and Michael Brantley sharing my final outfield slot. Jon Jay is gone even in that league.

Which probably means he’s not a great pickup if he’s available in your league. He just looks more attractive until you poke around under the hood.

The lifetime .298 batting average does that for a player. But even his biggest strength is no certainty, given the vagaries of the bouncing ball. So far, in 838 at-bats, Jay has a .344 BABIP, which seems too high. He strikes out at a better-than-average rate, so his 15.6% rate in that category does help him put balls in play and avoid the average-killing strikeout, though, so that helps. And then there’s his lifetime .381 xBABIP given his lifetime batted ball mix. All those ground balls and line drives, paired with speed that helps him to a 20% infield hit rate, make him likely to be a high-BABIP player.

So his batting average might be somewhat secure. The problems with Jay’s candidacy for your team begin once you scan past that stat.

Jon Jay is unlikely to ever put up league average power. The league puts up a .145-.150 isolated slugging percentage most years, and Jay has only topped that number twice in his Minor League career. He’s also an extreme ground-ball guy — only four players in baseball (Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Elvis Andrus) had higher ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratios than Jay (2.32 GB/FB in 2011). Jay’s .127 ISO was the highest ISO among players that averaged two or more ground balls per fly ball. If we reach down to a 1.75 GB/FB ratio, we find Howie Kendrick (.179 ISO), Cameron Maybin (.130 ISO), and Michael Young (.136 ISO). That’s not a ton of power.

Maybin’s inclusion on the list should perk some ears, though. An outfielder with a great batting average, Maybin’s recent power within reach, and some speed would be useful in most leagues. Except that Jay doesn’t have Maybin’s speed. He was caught on six of 13 attempts last year, and that sort of success rate won’t lead to more stolen bases. He was caught four of six times in 2010, too. His best Minor League year had him steal 20 bases in 564 plate appearances. That represents his Major League ceiling, and it would take a generous Mike Matheny to allow him to keep taking off in the face of some caught-stealings.

The last of Jay’s unappealing aspects is related to his playing time. On Sunday, Jay took a seat with the Cardinals facing lefty Randy Wolf. With the right-handed Shane Robinson on the team, this could happen regularly. Despite Jay showing a negligible platoon split in the Major Leagues (107 wRC+ v LHP, 110 wRC+ v RHP), he did show them regularly in the Minor Leagues in a larger sample. And obviously his team thinks he should see fewer lefties.

So you’re left with a one-category contributor who will play three-quarters of the time. That’s how you get a composite projection of .288 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in 437 at-bats. That seems about right for a sixth outfielder in a 14-team mixed league with five OF slots. Or perhaps a batting-average starved team could use him similarly in a shallower league — but any owner should know that they’ll have to platoon their outfielder, and that Jay may not reach double digits in power or speed.

Jon Jay Jingleheimer Schmidt — let someone else sing that song.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

12 Responses to “Jon Jay Jingleheimer Schmidt”

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  1. Stech36 says:

    And once Allen Craig comes back he will play even less.

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    • harpago17 says:

      While I’d love that to be the case, how do you figure? Craig or Holliday won’t play CF, and Beltran made it clear when he signed with STL that he couldn’t handle the rigous of CF on a regular basis. Considering that his defense is pretty good, how will Craig’s return really affect him?

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      • Stech36 says:

        I just remember hearing at the time of the signing that Beltran would play occasionally in center to get Craig’s bat in the lineup more consistently. I hadn’t heard the Beltran comment.

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      • just jim says:

        In additon to RF Craig can also play second base (although not great) and is a better (hitting) option than Shoeless Skip Schumaker or Daniel Descalso. He also played a few games at first so he can spell Berkman when the old man needs a day off. When he comes back if he’s hitting the way he did last year they will find a place for him and I say he will split time between right field and second.

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      • oPlaiD says:

        There is little chance Craig plays at 2B. His defense there just isn’t good enough, and Descalso has looked good there so far.

        However, it’s extremely likely that Craig plays in right field and Beltran plays in center on days the Cardinals face lefties, and maybe other days, too.

        Craig will also spell Berkman on occasion.

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      • the hottest stove says:

        Beltran made it clear that he didn’t want to start every day in center, and he has since backed off of these statements. The Cards’ front office has already indicated that once Craig comes back they will be looking for spots in certain smaller ball parks to play Holliday-Beltran-Craig across the outfield to get all of their bats in the lineup. They played Beltran in center this spring a few times in preparation. I think they want to avoid doing it on a regular basis, but I bet we see that lineup 30-40 times if everyone stays healthy. It’s generally accepted in StL that Jay will lose some at bats to Craig once he’s back on the team.

        ….And the Craig playing 2b was a La Russa thing….It left when Tony did so you want see it with Matheny running things.

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  2. Jerry says:

    Jay will be given the green light to run more this year than the previous 2. Larussa was notoriously stingy about the stolen base, while Matheny has said that he plans on making it a larger part of the team’s strategy. Jay probably won’t be running much if he maintains his poor career success rate, but like you said he has plenty of speed so maybe he’s just been unlucky. At any rate, I’ll take the over on 7 SBs. I’ll also take the over on PAs. Shane Robinson isn’t going to take much PT, and he should be gone when Craig returns, leaving Jay and rule 5 pick Komatsu as the only true CFs on the team.

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  3. Luke says:

    Eno, this is late and random, but I was disappointed in some comments from your last chat. You’re usually on the ball but someone asked why keppinger was hitting 4th and you acted shocked and asked “where is luke scott.” Isn’t it your job to know things like the fact that keppinger was brought in solely to face lefties (career .861 ops vs lefties) and luke scott can’t hit lefties (they were facing sabathia)? I expect better from you!

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Hah. Yes it is. but I think it’s maybe okay that I didn’t know right off the bat that CC was starting that game, especially since bringing in Keppinger to face lefties doesn’t mean you have to bat him fourth. Also, in that chat I said that Joel Peralta was a ROOGY and a fastball/slider guy when he’s been way better against lefties the last two years and has three pitches.

      So, lesson is I make mistakes sometimes! Mea culpa.

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      • dudley says:

        kudos for admitting your mistakes, Eno! plus, i don’t think it’s necessarily reasonable to expect even you to know EVERYTHING about baseball.

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      • Luke says:

        Agreed, I’m glad you can admit mistakes, even though you prooooobably should have known cc was starting on opening day!! But I still appreciate and respect your response. And I agree, 4th is an odd spot for keppinger but I’ve learned not to doubt Maddon. He’s a genius.

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  4. wjylaw says:

    If the Cardinals offensive Juggernaut continues Jay is a good last or reserve outfielder, especially in daily leagues. Not a guy who you’d want as a counted on starter but fine for what he is.

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