Chicago Cubs: Jon Jay needs to be re-signed this winter
Jay brings experience
Jay was signed by the Cubs last off-season to help provide depth in the outfield. Without Dexter Fowler‘s presence in center field, Albert Almora would have to assume a bigger role. That could have proved to be problematic because, before this season, Almora had just 112 major league at-bats under his belt.
With Almora’s inexperience on their minds, the Cubs’ front office signed Jay to a one-year deal worth $8 million. Jay was coming off two solid seasons in which he slashed .260/.326/.339 in 169 games between the Cardinals and Padres.
From his rookie season of 2010, through 2014, Jay slashed .295/.359/.396 with 108 doubles and an OPS+ of 109 in a little more than 2,100 at-bats.
Jon Jay is a Swiss Army knife
Throughout his career, Jay has proven he can play multiple positions at a high level and see the ball well from left and right-handed pitchers. This season, Jay further drove home that point.
Over the last three seasons (2014-2016), Jay logged 738 at-bats from right-handed pitchers and 232 at-bats from left-handed pitchers. While the sample size against lefties is understandably smaller considering Jay is a left-handed batter, the results are surprising. In those three years against southpaws, Jay slashed .310/.369/.371. Against right-handers, Jay slashed .268/.339/.351.
This season, Jay stuck to the script of not discriminating against who is throwing the ball. In 85 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Jay slashed .318/.410/.341 with 12 walks and eight RBI. Against right-handed pitchers, Jay logged 294 at-bats. In those at-bats, Jay slashed .289/.364/.384 with two home runs and 26 RBI.
While Jay’s OBP was noticeably lower against right-handers, his slugging percentage was more than 40 points higher, giving him nearly identical OPS’s against lefties and righties.
Jay can play all over the outfield
Over his career, Jay has racked up over 6,800 innings on defense. The majority of those innings (5,140), have come as a center fielder, while just over 1,000 have been logged in right field and 665 in left field.
In center, Jay has committed just six career errors. That equates to a .996 fielding percentage, well above the league average of .988. At the corners, the story remains the same. In more than 1,700 innings between left and right fields, Jay has committed just two errors, logging a .994 fielding percentage. That is noticeably better than the league average of .984 for those two positions.