COMMENTARY | Winning seasons require various players to get hot at the right time.
Jon Jay has been the source of concern for many fans of the Cardinals. His production is lacking at times, his defense is not as great as we would like to believe, his arm is suspect at best, and many people wanted to see the team upgrade in center field at the trade deadline.
Over the course of his career, Jay has played well enough to allow the Cardinals to upgrade their pitching staff at the trade deadline by dealing outfielders Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick in subsequent years. Jay took over the majority of the playing time due to his production prior to the trades and then returned to the level of play that most expect of him. Generally speaking, many believe Jay is best-suited as a fourth outfielder that plays frequently, not constantly, and provides a good backup option to veterans like Carlos Beltran.
But when Jon Jay gets hot, manager Mike Matheny realizes he should ride the wave created by the outfielder and hope it's enough to carry him into the postseason. That wave is huge right now, as Jay is enjoying one of the best months of his young career.
Get On Base
At one point, the Cardinals were convinced that Jon Jay could solve the issue at the top of the order. He seemed to be able to get on base -- and that is something the team needed badly. The emergence of Matt Carpenter pushed Jay and his .334 on-base percentage entering August to the bottom of the lineup. Jay's on-base percentage has risen 12 points over the first 19 days of the month as he continues to reach base at a rate greater than 40 percent this month. He has found his way on base in 15 of 18 games in August.
Hitting The Ball Hard
August seems to have brought some power to Jay's bat, and he is quickly adjusting his season totals as he goes. He has hit two home runs thus far in August, increasing his season total to seven. His ability to find the gap in the outfield to produce doubles has taken a huge leap forward this month. Through the first four months of the season, Jay had produced 14 doubles over 356 at-bats. He found his stroke in August, driving the ball for eight doubles in 73 at-bats.
Jay is often looked to for run production. At the top of the lineup, he is expected to score runs and at the bottom, he is asked to help drive them in. Through those first 356 at-bats, Jay drove in 39 runs and scored 48 times. That means that Jay produced a run by either scoring or driving someone else in every four at-bats. The first few weeks of August have seen Jay produce a run every 2 1/2 at-bats.
The Cardinals need the production from sources they have not been able to rely on previously. They have made subtle moves to rejuvenate an offense by bringing up Kolten Wong and limiting David Freese's play for the immediate future.
Jon Jay may be the key to the whole season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jon Jay