Yesterday Peter stated in the comments that Manny Ramirez' defense made Juan Pierre's defense look like Andruw Jones'. I made a crack to him about it, stating he should've prefaced it as vintage Jones' defense, for whatever reason I assumed Jones' defense had slipped to the point where no longer Jones was the wunderkind in center. I chagrined after stating such as the realization that I actually wasn't too sure whether Jones was still of the top tier or not.
Using THT's database I ran the numbers for each year since 2004, including this year, as well as a comprehensive 2004-2008 list of centerfielders. From there I used a technique that Sky Kalkman has used in the past with one exception; I only used the THT numbers and not the ESPN numbers. His technique is to add out of zone plays with plays made and divide by the balls in zone. It's possible to go over a "1.000" ratio, and as we'll see with our centerfielders it happens quite a bit.
From there plug the numbers in to this equation:
Balls in zone*(Player ratio - average ratio)
That gives us the plays made above average, and if you want to turn that into runs simply multiply by the run value of a single turned into an out, 0.8, and we'll get runs above average. With that in mind here are the numbers of an average centerfielder for each of the last few seasons:
Here are Jones numbers:
Now I don't have access to Andruw's numbers past 2004 so I can't make any statements on how much his defense had declined from his earlier days until this point, but last year was a pretty great defensive season, and despite his putrid offensive performances Jones ranks fourth for centerfielders with 450 or more innings behind guys like Carlos Beltran, Chris B. Young, and the shockingly good Cody Ross.
Jones' offense withstanding he's still a valuable defender, and on a team with Manny Ramirez the Dodgers pitching staff is going to need him to perform at even higher levels on balls hit to left-center.