Every year Jon Jay seems to oscillate between “best name on free agency” and “most expendable player on someone’s roster.” He never keeps either distinction for too long, but no one can seem to figure out exactly where he belongs.
Last year Jay ranked 126th overall, which would seem to indicate that he deserves a full-time roster spot in leagues of any depth — particularly deep leagues — but much of that value is tied up in his ability to hit for a .300 average over 500 plate appearances with the speed to steal more than a handful of bases. Unfortunately, Jay doesn’t do much else. His home run power is almost nonexistent, he doesn’t hit enough extra base hits to drive runners home or have a positive impact in leagues that count slugging, and he hits at the bottom of the lineup, which hurts his run-scoring potential.
Still, he’s a full-time outfielder who does a little of almost anything, but sure can hit for average.
At a Glance
Strengths: BA, OBP
Neutral: R, SB
Weaknesses: HR, RBI, SLG, SB% (or CS or net SB, whichever your league might use)
Best-case scenario: Alejandro De Aza (CHW)
Likely scenario: Denard Span (WAS), Marco Scutaro (SF), Erick Aybar (LAA)
Worst-case scenario: Daniel Murphy (NYM)
Jon Jay 2013 Fantasy Projection
Jay has one of the strongest ground ball tendencies in the league, last year hitting grounders more than three times as often as fly balls. That’s good for his batting average, but bad for everything else.
For a left-handed hitter, Jay doesn’t appear to hit all that poorly against left-handed pitchers…that is, until you see his ISO. Last year Jay batted .281 against lefties, but his ISO was .055. He managed just seven extra base hits in 128 such at-bats, and for his career he has just one homer off a lefty (in 287 AB) versus 17 against righties. He still gets on base at a good clip, but Jay is definitely a player you want to sit against left-handed pitchers.
And despite posting only modest walk rates, Jay has a very good OBP, so in those leagues he has added value. In leagues that count caught stealing, net stolen bases, or anything of the like, Jay’s value takes a small hit. For his career he’s just 60.0% when stealing bases, and interestingly (likely fluky), he’s just 8-for-18 (44.4%) on steal attempts on the road.
Jay’s offensive profile is more reminiscent of a light-hitting middle infielder, which makes him a more uncommon fantasy player among outfielders. Sadly, that’s not wholly a compliment. On the right fantasy team, Jay’s strengths can help your team immensely, but you’d better have some infield power to counteract the damage he does in those categories.