For newcomers, here are the two parts of Braves Journal Andruw Theory:
1. He hits better when he’s getting hit by pitches.
2. He is wildly unpredictable during the season, but at the end of the season will put up pretty much the same sort of numbers as he always does.
Even in 2005, when he hit 51 homers, Andruw’s batting average and OBP were basically right on his career norms. In 2006, he hit ten fewer homers and his batting average dropped one point, but in many ways it was a more productive season as he drew 82 walks, one short of his career high, and drove in one more run, breaking his own team record (but didn’t lead the league this time). It was his most complete season as a hitter since 2000. Though he missed four more games than in 2005, Andruw had just three fewer PA, a function largely of hitting high in the batting order the whole season, plus being in a better offense.
Defensively, Andruw has fallen from “historic” to “outstanding” in my estimation, though some others would have “average”. As far as I’m concerned, his defense is no problem whatsoever, and he anchored the league’s best defensive outfield. No longer a stolen base threat, as his four last year matched a career low, but was caught just once.
My guesses (and these are just guesses) as to Andruw’s future:
65 Percent: Andruw plays out the season in Atlanta, then signs elsewhere as a free agent.
20 Percent: Andruw is traded in July or August.
5 Percent: Andruw is traded before the season.
5 Percent: Andruw re-signs during the season.
5 Percent: Andruw re-signs after the season.
Andruw sits 29 homers behind Dale Murphy, 15 behind Chipper, on the Atlanta career list. I expect that at some point this season he will be the Atlanta leader. With a complete season at his 2005-06 standard, he would pass Murphy in RBI and in doubles, in both cases for second in Atlanta history. Needs 58 homers for 400, which is unlikely to happen in 2007 but not impossible.