When the Cubs score 13 in a game, there’s going to be a lot of fun to go around. Most will come in the form of the dingers, but I wanted to spotlight one other run the Cubs scored yesterday, and toss some love in the direction of the dude who scored it.
With two outs, Jon Jay stood on second base and took his lead as Kyle Schwarber grounded one deep into the shift at second base. Schwarber was busting it up the line, and, combined with a poor throw, wound up safe at first with an infield single.
And Jay? The guy just kept running, scoring easily from second base (video here at MLB.com).
It was one of two runs Jay scored on the day with some effort on the bases (Jay also scored on a wild pitch, each run coming after he’d entered the game midway and knocking a single and a double).
This isn’t one of those “you may not have noticed” things, because I think everyone has noticed at this point: Jon Jay has been absolutely fantastic with the Cubs.
Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason against the backdrop of Dexter Fowler very likely departing (we didn’t know for sure it would be the Cardinals at that point, but it was on the table), a lot of fans did not immediately take to Jay. Having made his bones with the Cardinals, himself, Jay was seen as one of those frustrating guys who’d plagued the Cubs for years. Moreover, he was injured in 2016 in San Diego, and anyone who’d assumed he was going to be “the new center fielder” was angry.
But Jay was never signed to be “the new center fielder,” and he wasn’t brought in to replace Dexter Fowler. Instead, Jay was brought in to do exactly what he’s done: contribute off the bench, periodically start, and play all over the outfield as necessary. He was always viewed as a complementary player, and he was one of the better ones available in free agency.
Even still, it’s been tremendous to see just how useful he’s been in that role. The 32-year-old lefty batter is hitting .312/.411/.403 through 91 plate appearances, and his BABIP has finally crept down to a slightly-less-insanely-unsustainable level, at .407 (after spending the month of April near .500 – he’s always been a high BABIP guy, but obviously that’s nuts). He’s walking (11.0%), he’s not striking out a lot (19.8%), and he’s running the bases for positive value.
Only Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ have a higher on-base percentage, and each has just 1/3 the plate appearances of Jay.
It’s a long season, and things can always turn. But, so far, Jay has been exactly what the Cubs were hoping he’d be, and he’s clearly been deployed very well by Joe Maddon.