In the past, I’ve been an anti-Derby guy — I advised against Chris Davis participating last season and after watching him develop a blister and go on to hit just 16 home runs in the second half after crushing 37 in his first 95 games of the season, I stand by that opinion. With Jones’ swing, I think he’s got a chance to do some damage in this year’s Derby. The official Home Run Derby Odds are finally here.
There are some concerns though. The Derby can be tough on guys and I don’t buy the “ah it’s not a big deal, it’s just like long batting practice” argument. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it can mess up a player’s swing, but I certainly think it can be exhausting and that’s definitely my concern with Jones.
AJ has played in all 89 games this season and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’s the Orioles most important player offensively. He’s slashing a ridiculous .346/.371/.571 when the O’s find themselves in the win column and .253/.274/.401 when they don’t.
Last season, Jones played in 160 games, the most among all players at his position. It’s admirable that he’s that reliable, but the O’s have got to find a way to keep him fresh in August and September. After slashing .311/.339/.509 in August, Jones hit just .233/.292/.447 in 26 games in October.
It’s a grind. A few off days here and there wouldn’t hurt him. I’d argue that they’d actually have the opposite affect.
With that said, there’s no player I want to watch more than Jones in the Derby. Yes, I know that Giancarlo Stanton is going to destroy baseballs in that behemoth stadium in Minnesota and I’m already anticipating Yasiel Puig‘s outrageous bat flips, but no one represents Baltimore better that AJ. I’m a huge fan of that guy and am pumped to see what he can do.
Hopefully, he’ll get a few days to relax afterward and help the Orioles pad that AL East lead after the break.
Image Credit: Keith Allison