One of the Orioles six arbitration cases that settled this offseason, center fielder Adam Jones looks to put injuries behind him for good and step up in 2011 for Buck’s Birds. A fan favorite on Twitter, Jones signed a one year, $3.25 million deal that secures him as a continued key piece to the Orioles bounce back from 13 straight losing seasons. Winning over O’s fans with his relentless appreciation and fun personality, many people hope that number 10 can put up the top quality numbers in 2011 that were expected of him when he was a prospect in the Seattle Mariners farm system.
In two years and 197 games with AAA Tacoma between 2006-2007, Jones had superstar written all over him, posting a .301/.364/.586 line with 41 HRs. After being traded to the Orioles which sent ace Erik Bedard to Seattle, “Jonesy” has put up a range of numbers across the board in his three years here that make people wonder what he will be for the organization in the long run. Winning the Gold Glove Award and being named to the All-Star Game in 2009, it looked like he was about to take off after hitting 19 HRs and making great progress in his K/BB numbers from 2008. After an injury ended his 2009 campaign, Jones came back in 2010 in streaky fashion. An overall improved batting average is one area to look for a positive change, but overall, the stats were not stacking up to his 2009 at the plate. The strikeout number went up, walks went down, HR/AB went down, and even number likes runs scored, RBIs, and stolen bases went down, even with 30 more games played.
|162 Game Avg.||162||617||572||83||157||25||5||17||71||11||5||30||124||.274||.319||.427||.746||97|
|BAL (3 yrs)||400||1654||1531||220||425||68||15||47||196||27||14||82||320||.278||.324||.434||.757||100|
|SEA (2 yrs)||73||147||139||22||32||6||1||3||12||5||2||6||43||.230||.267||.353||.620||63|
Many people look at his struggles in April/May as a reason for his statistical drops, though July can be included in those months of sub-par play. On the bright side, Jones hit above .300 in June, August, and September (.320, .304, .330 respectively), with a grand eight HRs in June.
These inconsistencies were due in large part to adjustments he was making, along with ones opposing pitchers made, when he was at the plate, as it was known that Jones became a free swinger of sorts, and lacked the plate discipline that either a quality hitter for average or power has.
Other than his offense, Jones’ defense was drastically different between the first and second halves of last year. With a collection of errors and botched plays in the field throughout the first two months of 2010, fans started calling for a change. Making ESPN’s Not Top 10 multiple times and no highlight reel jumping catches, Jones was on his way down with the glove. As many hoped and expected out of him, he was able to pick it up and have a spectacular second half defensively, even drawing reporters and analysts to raise his name in talks for the Gold Glove Award.
Seemingly unpredictable on a monthly basis in 2010, Jones looks to gain plate discipline this season as he continues to mature as the 25 year old athlete that he is. An average in the .285-.295 range is not out of the question, but the key for him will be to keep the strikeout number down (119 in 2010) while continuing to improve upon his power to all fields (19 HRs, 25 doubles in 2010). The HR count will hopefully hit 20-25 this year, while the RBI count should definitely improve from 69 in 2010 with the added pieces to the lineup. While the K% hopefully settles around 20% for the rest of his career (not back up to 32.3% in his debut in Seattle in 2007), a key for Jones will be his BB%. After a career high 6.9% in 2009, that number dropped dramatically in 2010, hitting 3.7%. If he can keep his glove under control, bat more consistent, and grow as an individual and as a baseball player, we could see a big step up in the career of Adam Jones in 2011.
As he said himself: “The time is now.”