With two HR in a 7-6 Chicago White Sox victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday, Andruw Jones appears to be inching back into the limelight. Jones has already hit 8 HR this season and he’s got a 1.170 OPS. This comes after hitting just 20 HR combined over the past two seasons with a .664 OPS. So how has Jones turned it around?
A pessimist would just say that he was lucky to face Javier Vazquez at Yankee Stadium. Jones now has 7 HR in his career vs Vazquez, the most vs any pitcher in his career, and he now has hit four HR and reached base in six of his last seven plate appearances vs him dating back to 2005.
But Jones is hitting better against all pitches. And according to Inside Edge data it’s Jones’ performance against non-fastballs that’s proving to be the biggest improvement to his game.
In 2008 and 2009, Jones hit just 5 of his 20 HRs and a combined .133 (26-196) against curveballs, sliders and change-ups. This season, Jones has already hit 4 HR off of non-fastballs and he’s batting a combined .278 (5-18) against said pitches.
Jones is also doing better in situational hitting. He’s taking advantage of pitchers when ahead in the count and he’s doing a better job of surviving when behind in the count.
Situational Batting Averages
Wednesday's game was the second time in his career that Jones hit 2 HR and stole a base in the same game. The first time was way back on April 23 against the Seattle Mariners. Jones is still striking out quite a bit (0.61 BB/K ratio, 3.22 AB/K), but given the results when he does put the ball in play, he and the White Sox probably don’t mind too much right now.