Jon Jay is in the midst of one of the worst slumps of his entire career. As noted in my very first blog post, he implemented a change in his batting stance to get out of a slump at the beginning of the season and was able to get his batting average up to its highest point at a respectable .286 on May 21st.
Since his high point, he has had just four hits in his last forty-eight at-bats–resulting in a lowly batting average of .083 in that span. He has lost all power as well with all four of those hits being singles. If I remember correctly, at least two of those four hits were also jam-shots that were lucky to find holes in the outfield to even count as hits. He is also striking out at an alarming rate (25% of the time)–12 times in those 48 at-bats.
One positive thing going for him is that his defense has remained steady throughout his ups and downs at the plate. He still has not made a single error in center field since the 2011 season. Although he has a below-average throwing arm, his glove and above-average range more than make up for that.
So what is next for Jay?
As it stands, Jay’s job for the Cardinals is relatively safe because they do not have a better solution yet. Oscar Taveras remains injured in Triple-A Memphis and as long as the team stays hot, he is the last player that management wants to rush up to the big league level. Although Shane Robinson hit his first home run of the season last night, he is not a viable option as an everyday MLB center fielder.
Thus, in order to be successful at the plate again, I have come up with a possible solution for Jay. He needs to go back to the basics.
In order to get going again, the only swings he should be taking are on pitches that are in the hot zones listed above–namely middle-in, down the middle (of course!), and high-and-outside. I realize that it is not as easy as I just made it sound, but he has played baseball his entire life so he has a pretty good grasp of the strike zone by now. Also, he needs to quit swinging at the first pitch because he has just four hits in seventeen at-bats when he puts the first pitch in play this season.
Surprisingly, his best batting average has occurred on a 0-1 count: eight hits in twenty-two at-bats for a batting average of .364. The best chance he has at getting to this count is by taking the first pitch–unless it is in one of those three hot zones I listed above of course.
Also, and I know this is considered a stretch at this point given his super slump and Freese’s hitting streak, but Mike Matheny needs to put Jay back into the 6th spot in the lineup. He has seen his most success at that spot with a batting average of .324 and an on-base percentage of .378.
For those of you shaking your head right now, I did a little bit more research to back up my point. I found out that David Freese hits just about the same if not better in the 7th spot compared to the 6th spot. In the 7th spot, he is hitting .271 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. In the 6th spot, he is hitting .271 with just 1 home run and only 8 RBI.
Thus, I know that it will be a process for Jay to get back into form at the plate. However, if he goes back to the basics by swinging only at pitches in his hot zones and if Matheny moves him back to the 6th spot, it will put him in the best position to have hitting success again. He is one of the truly good guys in baseball, so all of Cardinal Nation is pulling for him.
Until next time…