At the start of August, Jon Jay‘s batting average was .253. Now, 18 games into August, it is up to .273, and he appears to be climbing towards that coveted .300 mark. Needless to say, Jay has been one of the hottest, most consistent hitters for the Cardinals of late.
Jay has the most hits (27) and most RBI (17) in the National League for the month of August. He is second in doubles with eight. His batting average is .370, his on-base percentage is .420, and his slugging percentage is .562–over 50 points higher than Cardinals’ slugger, Matt Holliday.
So, what is different then?
It does not appear that his batting stance is drastically different than what it has been. His hands may be a little higher, but nothing too obvious to the fan’s eye. If anything, it looks like it is closer to what his stance was at the beginning of the season when he was slumping–at one point in April, his average dipped all the way down to .197. Yikes!
Well, let’s take a look at his (hitting) spray chart for the month of August. This may show that he is using a different approach at the plate.
Thus, it looks like the difference is that he is finally consistently hitting the ball to the opposite field. Sure, he has pulled a couple singles to right field, but the majority of his power has been the opposite way to left–including both of his home runs.
In April, he struggled with a .213 batting average, and his spray chart looked much different (shown below):
As you can see, he did not have a single extra base hit to left field in April. Sure, he had a couple up the middle, but nothing truly to left field. This is vastly different than his performance in August in which he has already hit two home runs out to left and has had multiple doubles down the left field line.
I won’t bore you with another spray chart, but if you look at his chart from 2012, a year in which he hit .305, he was hitting the ball to the opposite field on a regular basis, just like he has been in August thus far.
In short, Jay is not a “pull” hitter. To be honest, he is at his worst when he is pulling the baseball. We all have seen him roll over on pitches and hit slow ground balls to the first or second basemen many times throughout his career. Well, those are a direct result of him not allowing the pitch to get deeper in the zone.
His stance may not be much different, but his approach at the plate has most definitely changed. He is letting pitches get deeper in the zone and is looking to shoot them out the other way, a la Matt Carpenter.
I know that opposing pitchers and pitching coaches will notice that he is taking a lot of pitches out to left field because they have access to more in-depth scouting reports than I do. As a result, they will start pitching inside to Jay more and more. Thus, if he has a little cold streak for a while, give him time to adjust. Jay has a .293 career average for a reason–he will figure it out. Jay has proven to be an integral bat for the St. Louis lineup (notice, this post has nothing to do with his defense).
Final point. It is in Mike Matheny‘s best interest to keep Jay in the 6th spot of the lineup. It is where he has enjoyed the most success this season. In 91 at-bats in the 6th spot, he has 28 hits and 21 runs batted in. Of those 28 hits, seven have gone for doubles and three have been hit over the fence for home runs.
Until next time…
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P.S. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out what Jay has been doing differently during his recent hot streak, but I figured I would make it easier for my readers to compare his different spray charts in one post.
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