Jon Jay was a good player in 2013.
He appeared in 157 game for the Cardinals, collecting 151 hits, 52 walks and generating 75 runs. No, you won’t be bouncing a grand-kid on your lap telling them about the ’13 Jay season, but considering he made $524,000 and the Cardinals won 97 games plus the NL Central title, he was a valuable cog in the machine.
Not everyone should, nor can be, the mega-watt star of any good team. Baseball needs solid players that go out and do their job day in a day out. Jon Jay was one of those guys for the Cardinals in 2013.
No, he didn’t do great in the postseason (6 for 52). No, he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm.
But he was a 2.6 oWAR player in ’13 and 3.0 oWAR player in ’12. (9.0 oWAR for his career, while a -0.7 dWAR during the same time).
To put that in perspective, a WAR point is generally worth anywhere from 3-4 million dollars per season. Meaning that Jay’s worth in a free market value would have been worth 15-20 million the past two years.
The Cardinals paid him just over 1 million.
A million other factors go into what a player actually gets. But the raw data tells us that Jon Jay was a tremendous value. And the Cardinals did reward him with a raise to 3.25 million dollars in 2014. And he’ll be arbitration eligible in 2015 where he’ll likely get another raise.
Jon Jay, everybody!
Now don’t mind us while we go out and hire a starting center fielder.
The Cardinals apparently saw too many runners take an extra base. Or grew frustrated with Jay’s postseason in ’13. Or maybe just wanted to shake things up. But they traded David Freese and got their guy Peter Bourjos.
Two years younger than Jay, he was known as an elite CF defensively (when healthy) and a comparable offensive player as well. (You know, except that 1.1 oWAR over the ’12-’13 seasons don’t tell the same story.)
Jay got a raise, but he also got benched. Had to be mixed emotions for the dude.
He didn’t roll over. He didn’t accept his fate. He didn’t bitch. He just decided that when he got his chances in 2014, he was going to show Cardinals fans and management that they had been taking his game for granted.
Bourjos has struck out 15 times in 40 at bats. Jay has 10 hits in his 33 chances.
It’s early. And the Cardinals are going to give Bourjos more time to get right. But as Jon Jay continues to be a player that’s batting over .300 and getting hits in clutch spots, it’s getting tougher to leave him on the bench.
After everything the past few months, might just be Jon Jay as the starting center fielder for the Cardinals sooner than later.
Same as it always was. Minus any controversy.
Photo: CBS Local