Key Stats: Adam Jones is one of those players that could go either way. In one sense he doesn’t really offer anything of terrific value at an over-crowded position. He’s never hit as high as .285. Never hit 20 home runs. Never driven in more than 70 or scored more than 85. Never stolen more than 10.
Then again, he’s been ranked 123 and 128 the last two seasons. That’s consistency. He’s also only going to be 25 years old this season, so we can safely assume that his value hasn’t peaked in the 120s either.
Skeptics Say: Well the numbers above can be had by several catchers at this time in the draft, so why waste a pick on a player that plays such a deep position? The right-handed hitting Jones has had a good deal of difficulty hitting lefties (.252 average versus .294) and his power numbers have been down against south paws as well (1 HR every 41 at-bats versus 1 HR every 24 at-bats) the last two seasons.
Peer Comparison: CBS ranks Jones 51st while Tristan Cockcroft ranks him 24th. Quite a discrepancy, but Jones is the kind of player that leaves a lot of questions up in the air. Let’s look back on some other outfielders that were around Jones’ age and experience level that have been tough to figure.
A year ago Chris Young looked to be in much worse shape than Adam Jones. He hit .212 and struck out more than 30% of the time. He was ranked 847th. Young was only 25 that season, and in 2010 he made several corrections. He struck out 6% less and came close to being a 30/30 player.
As a 23 and 24 year old, Jeremy Hermida hit 18 and 17 home runs respectively and an OPS of .794. Jones hit 19 home runs in both his 23 and 24 year old seasons with a .778 OPS, so the two aren’t too far off. Of course in two seasons since, Hermida has dropped off.
Chris Coghlan won the Rookie of the Year as a 24 year old rookie and in year two as a 25 year old struggled before succumbing to injury.
In his first season at age 22, B.J. Upton appeared to be a 30/30 threat in no time by hitting 24 home runs and stealing 22 bases. He hasn’t hit more than 18 home runs in 3 seasons since, but has stolen more than 40 in each of the three seasons. All the while he has survived trade rumors, benchings, slumps, fastball struggles, and strikeout issues to be ranked a top 100 player in two out of three seasons and a respectable 162nd in the third season.
Delmon Young who was written off by many last year despite being only 24 years old, battled back from three years of failing to reach lofty expectations and was ranked 51st.
Young had 9 more extra base hits than Matt Kemp, who in his third full season at age 25 took a step back from where he was in 2009. I could go on and talk about the ups and downs and ups again of Corey Hart, Alex Rios, and Hunter Pence. I could also talk about the fast starts to the careers of Ben Grieve, Eric Hinske, or Aaron Rowand that just as quickly became insignificant. The fact is that Jones could be great or just continue to be average depending upon your own interpretation.
Lineup Outlook: Jones hit third or fouth in the lineup only 4 times all of last season. Assuming Brian Roberts stays healthy, Jones is a lock not to hit first either. Jones has to hit in front of Felix Pie, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy. Right now my guess for the Orioles lineup is this:
Projection: Jones was better his rookie year than he was last season. If he can fix his sophomore mistakes he will get to 20 home runs for the first time.
89 R 21 HR 67 RBI 12 SB .280 AVG .808 OPS
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