Adam Jones is a big fan favorite, for reasons that are almost immediately obvious if you follow Jones on twitter. His twitter and instagram accounts are often filled with pure gold. Oh yeah, he’s pretty good at baseball too.
Jones posted a triple slash of .287/.334/.505 in 2012, all of which were career highs (well, except for OBP which was .001 lower than the number he posted in 2009. Close enough I say). Jones also posted a wOBA of .361 and a wRC+ of 126, both well above his previous bests in either category. He also increased his home run total for the second straight year, going from 19 to 25 to 32 from 2010 to 2012. Four of said home runs came in the 11th inning or later, adding excitement to his new-found power.
Some of his homeruns were straight crushed.
Here’s what I mean. Here are two projections for Adam Jones in 2013, the first from Oliver, and the second is Fangraphs’ fan projection:
Oliver: .275/.326/.459, with a wOBA of .338
Fans: .290/.332/.498 with a wOBA of .356
How big of a difference is that? Oliver’s wOBA would’ve had Jones ranked 68th in MLB last year, one spot above Kendrys Morales. The Fans’ projection of .356 has Jones at 41st, just 4 spots below Albert Pujols (Jones actually finished .001 ahead of Pujols in 2012). That’s a pretty significant difference, especially when you consider that the Fans had Jones hitting 30 home runs compared to Oliver’s 23.
Obviously more goes into these numbers than just home runs, but they are a huge component to what Jones brings to the table. One ironic side note is that the fans have less faith in Jones’ ability to take a walk, coming in roughly 1% below all of the projections (Bill James, Steamer, Oliver, ZiPS) for 2013. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with Jones at this point. Decent base running, passable and occasionally spectacular defense, precious few walks, and some pop in a solid bat.
My opinion is that Jones has improved his pitch recognition over the past few years. Now, he still chases that slider on the outside corner, but not nearly as often as he once did. When he does chase, he doesn’t miss it as much as he once did either. Below is a PITCHf/x Hitter profile for Jones from 2009, which shows his True Batting Average against breaking balls from righties. The bottom right of the box is the region in question the low and away breaking ball that Jones has struggled with throughout his career. Not pretty.
If you ask me, the power is very real. As such, I think we can see a similar season to 2012 for Adam in 2013. While Jones has improved basically every season as a pro, I do think that 2013 will be the start of a leveling off for the centerfielder. I think that the Fangraphs Fan projections seem pretty realistic, though I might give Jones more credit in the field and on the bases. I hope you’re excited for more of the same in 2012, because that’s what we’re likely to be in for.