Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Don't Look Now.....

.....But James Jerry Hardy is improving at the plate!! (Albeit in baby steps) Everybody knew that J.J. wasn't going to provide much offense this year.  He was brought up basically w/o any Triple-A experience to play Gold Glove caliber defense.  It was widely considered that anything he could do with the bat would be an added bonus.  Take a look at the monthly splits for Hardy so far for this year.


April .143 .284 .179 .463
May .218 .283 .309 .592
June .188 .304 .313 .617
July .278 .381 .389 .770


While I don't expect him to continue to sport a .770 OPS for the rest of the month, it is obvious that he has slowly but steadily improved at the plate as each month passes.  If you have been watching the majority of the games on TV, you should notice that he is making much more solid contact and is driving the ball with more consistency.  I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility that he could finish the year with a .220/.300/.375/.675 line.  Of course, a lot of it will depend on what sort of playing time he will get as the year progresses.  With Russell Branyan coming back and making his debut last night, it will be tougher for Ned Yost to juggle his lineup to make sure Branyan, Hall, Helms, Hardy, and Cirillo get enough at-bats. 

It should also be pointed out that Bill Hall has also quietly fallen back to earth at the plate.  Over his last 10 games, Billy's numbers have gone from .306/.350/.569/.919 down to .276/.319/.527/.846.  His current numbers are still considered excellent for a middle infielder, but I sure wouldn't pin any hopes to him putting up a similar line at the end of the season.  He'll most likely regress back to his career averages a bit.  I will predict a line of .270/.310/.450/.780 at the end of the season.  Hopefully Yost won't have blinders on and continue to run Hall out to shortstop while letting J.J. rot on the bench.  Here's to hoping....


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