On a night where Matt Holliday went from injury scare to extra-innings hero for the St. Louis Cardinals to help them win a key series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was perhaps the continued reemergence of a fellow outfielder that the team should be feeling even more positive about.
That’d be Jon Jay, the team’s continually underrated center fielder who’d been mire in a slump for the better part of the 2013 season.
Sure, he’s certainly not as important to the team as Yadier Molina (who returned with a 0-for-5 performance on Thursday — but at least he’s back) or Holliday, but there’s little doubt that the redbirds have missed the spark that he can provide to the offense this season.
Don’t think so? You don’t have to look any further than the 2012 version of the team for some proof, as he was the Cards’ fourth-most valuable player at 3.7 fWAR.
Though that number sank to just 0.2 in the first half of 2013 in what should have been a continued breakout for the speedy outfielder, Jay is trying his best to make up for long time. It might seem like an arbitrary endpoint, but the 28-year-old has come out of the All-Star break essentially a new man, notching hits in eight of the first 13 games of action he saw to close out July with a season-high monthly OPS of .758.
As it turns out, that was merely the warm-up.
To put it simply, Jon Jay has been slugging the cover off the ball in August. Yes, that’s “Jon Jay” and “slugging” used in the same sentence, and it’s totally warranted in this case too, even if he hasn’t hit a single home run through his 65 PA this month.
Nah, he might still not have that kind of power, but his six doubles (season-high monthly total already) say that he’s not exactly a singles machine hitting just ground balls either. Don’t let that 3.14 GB/FB ratio fool you — he might not be hitting a whole ton of fly balls (just 15.6 percent) … but that’s because he’s lining everything he sees at 35.6 percent this month.
Combined with hits in 12 of his 14 games thus far in August, seven of them being multi-hit variety, and what St. Louis has is a player who has now hit .390/.422/.492 in the month to go along with a .841 OPS since the break — good enough to make Jay easily the third-most valuable Cardinals player in the second half at 0.7 fWAR.
In short, he’s right back where he belongs … even if he still might not be considered a usual suspect.