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.
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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.
Others barely made it, but hey, a homer is a homer is a homer.
Jones hit 32 Home runs in 2012, and they came in all shapes, sizes, and especially distances. Why the focus on home runs though? Well, Jones’ value depends heavily upon whether or not you think 2012 was his true talent level when it comes to power, or if it was just a lucky year and he’s more of a 20 Home run guy.
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.
Below is the same PITCHf/x Hitter profile, with the exception that this one comes from 2012. You can see that there’s a lot less blue, and a lot more red in this picture. It’s still not what you would like to see, but it’s a drastic improvement over 2009 and the rest of his early career.
Ultimately, this improved pitch recognition also helps with power, as Jones can more easily identify good pitches to hit and bad ones to avoid. The PITCHf/x Hitter Profile below shows Jones’ LD rates, compared to other right handed hitters. In the middle of the zone you can see a figure of 161% which means that Jones hits line drives on pitches in that zone 61% more often than the average righty.
I think that Adam Jones has very real power, and his ability to identify pitches makes that power more accessible in-game. That is, Jones is able to hit for power more and more as his pitch recognition improves, and he can identify the best pitches to hit.
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.
Jeff was the owner of the Orioles blog Warehouse Worthy, which focused on making advanced statistics a part of the conversation for the average fan. Outside of baseball, Jeff is a graduate of Loyola University where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration. The Maryland native currently works for an Advertising Agency in downtown Baltimore. Previously a contributor to Beyond the Boxscore, he joined Baseball Prospectus in September 2014. You can reach him at [email protected]