With the early successes of Manny Machado and Chris Davis, it seems as though Adam Jones‘s stellar season at the plate has gone overlooked. This season it’s easy to get lost when you’re batting in the Orioles lineup. 34 players in the big leagues are hitting over .300, five of them play in Baltimore (Nate McLouth, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Chris Davis).
The simple “fan scouting report” says that Jones swings at a lot of breaking pitches outside of the zone. In his first few seasons with Baltimore that was the case and we’ve seen Jones revert back to these struggles when he’s pressing at the plate. Jones hasn’t particularly become a more disciplined hitter, but he’s making more contact with pitches thrown to him outside of the zone.
According to FanGraphs.com’s PITCHf/x data, Jones has swung at 41.8 percent of the pitches he’s seen outside of the zone, up from the 40.4 percent he swung at last season and higher than his 39.9 percent career mark. Of those pitches out of the zone, Jones is making contact with 60.6 percent of them, which seems pretty impressive. That’s also higher than his 52.6 percent out of the strikezone contact rate from last season.
Though he’s not more disciplined with pitches out of the zone, Jones is seeing balls in the strikezone better than he has in previous seasons. He’s swinging at 73.7 percent of those pitches, compared to 70.9 percent a year ago and 69.9 percent over his eight years in the majors. His contact on pitches in the zone is almost identical to his career totals, 86.9 percent this season, 87.0 percent last season and 85.4 percent over his career.
Jones strikeout rate is about the same through 54 games this season as in 2012 and over his career. With 44 strikeouts in 238 plate appearances, he’s striking out 18 percent of the time matching his mark from 2012. Over his career, Jones strikes out 19 percent of the time.
The big difference so far in 2013 has been Jones’s batting average on balls in play. His .351 BABIP is tied for 14th in American League and up from his .313 mark last season and .318 career total.
The pitches Jones hits, whether in the strikezone or not, seem to be finding gaps at a high rate and has had much to do with his .311/.340/.858 slashline.