Jim Edmonds was the greatest Cardinal that I have ever had the chance to watch play. He was drafted by the Angles in seventh round of the 1988 draft. He was traded to the Cardinals for second baseman Adam Kennedy and pitcher Kent Bottenfield prior to the 2000 season.
He ruled over center field, and I credit him with recreating the way it was played. Number 15 played so shallow that it never looked like he had a chance of catching deep-fly balls. But Edmonds took the best routes to get the ball—he never got turned around or tripped up like some of the current outfielders. He carried a certain amount of cockiness that led the fans at Busch Stadium to believe that every ball would fall into his mitt instead of onto the center-field lawn. Edmonds was charged with 54 errors at the center field position (1768 games) and 58 total errors through out his career (1,935 games) at all outfield and first base positions, according to ESPN.com. During Edmunds’ professional career from 1993 to 2010, he held a .998 fielding percentage at center field.
I remember ‘The Catch’ that he made in the 2004 NLCS game 7 against the Astros. Edmonds made the defensive play of the series. His running, full-stretched, over-the-shoulder catch in the second inning robbed Brad Ausmus of a double, leaving runners stranded at first and second base.
This was a moment that left the 14-year old me stunned in amazement. There were two special parts of this play that really stuck out to me. When Ausmus hit the ball to deep left-center field, Edmonds took off; he didn’t have to watch the ball. Some how he was able to calculate the flight of the ball and estimate where the ball would fall. After several strides, Edmonds looked over his shoulder, still running at full speed, and stretched out to make a catch that made Willie Mays’ famous catch look elementary.
The most important, and impressive part of this moment was the way he instantly got up to throw a one bounce strike to second baseman, Tony Womack to nearly tag out the runner at second base, Jeff Kent. This play surely saved one run, and gave the Cardinals an immeasurable amount of momentum to beat the Astros and advance to the World Series.
Now, without question, Jon Jay is my favorite current Cardinal. He reminds me of Jim Edmonds because he is such a consistent outfielder.He carries a certain amount of cockiness similar to Edmonds. He appears to have a fearless attitude and takes direct routes to the ball. Last season Jay made plays that excited the telecasters and crowd alike.
Although he has only been a big-leaguer for three years, Jay has committed only four errors in 344 games –a fielding percentage of .994. Last year, 2012, Jay did not have a single error during his entire season (116 games). It was said that he missed out on winning a Rawlings Gold Glove Award because Jay was out with an injured shoulder after crashing into the center-field wall chasing a ball that wound up being a home run for the then Reds’ Drew Stubbs.
Jon Jay is a necessary piece to the Cardinals puzzle. If he is able to stay healthy and play at the high level that he has been playing at, the Cards will be able to have a successful season.
Last year Jay finished 24th in defensive wins above replacement with a score of 0.5, but Jay is also showing that he can be a successful hitter. He has a career batting average of .300 and struck out 16 percent of the time last season.
Prior to his shoulder injury in 2012, he was batting .349. After missing significant playing time, Jay finished the season batting .305. He placed third behind Yadier Molina and Allen Craig in team batting average.
The return of Rafael Furcal is uncertain, so the Cardinals will need Jay to continue to be a catalyst at the top of the lineup in order for the cardinals to have a successful season.