George Romero may have never considered the possibility of smiling zombies. The walking undead Andruw Jones is infectious with smiling, and he’s spreading the condition all around the Southside of Chicago. He’s burying the rough seasons spent with the Dodgers and Rangers and crunching into opposing pitchers to the tune of a .295/.415/.750 line, or a .499 wOBA.
Jones has hit six home runs while shifting between the outfield and designated hitting. About 30% of his balls in play are turning into hits, which is well above his career average of 27.6%. His ISO is an insane .455 thanks to a 37.5% HR/FB rate. Jones’ descent from one of the best players in baseball to one of the game’s biggest enigmas began with an increase in grounders hit. Right now, he’s hitting the ball on the ground a little under one-third of the time. That would be a career low if that mark somehow holds static through season’s end.
Jones is walking enough, striking out a lot, and hitting the ball in the air. Right now, that’s a successful formula, but heading forward I’m not so sure. He’s going to hit 20-25 homers playing within U.S. Cellular Field. He’s also not going to continue to hit near .300. It’s just not happening; he’s hit over .280 in a full season exactly once throughout his career.
ZiPS expects an above-average offensive output from the former defensive wunderkind. That seems about right. It’s not 2005. Jones is no longer the budding superstar, nor is he the notorious ball-hog of his younger days. He’s just an aging slugger using his bat to prop the casket lid open.