For years we have heard about the potential of Adam Jones. We have heard about his 20/20 upside. We have heard that he has the stuff to be among the next great outfielders. Unfortunately, what we have seen has not live up to the hype (at least not fully). You can argue that he didn’t even take that next step in 2011, though at least there was a step taken.
It’s possible that he has yet to fully reach his ceiling, but his consistency over the past three seasons is pretty remarkable. The numbers from 2011 are close to a mirror image of the previous two years:
567 At Bats
.280 Batting Average (159 Hits)
25 Home Runs
12 Stolen Bases
.319 On Base Percentage
.466 Slugging Percentage
.304 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The power was up slightly, as he had hit 19 in each of the previous two seasons. He really turned up the dial after the All-Star Break, however, which gives us hope that maybe he can sustain it moving into 2011. He had 13 HR in 337 AB in the first half (one home run every 25.9 AB). In the second half, however, he hit 12 HR in 230 AB (one home run every 19.2 AB).
If he could continue that pace for a 600 AB season he would hit over 30 HR. Obviously it’s a tough pace to maintain, but it is not impossible. Last season he posted a 33.0% fly ball rate and is at 33.4% for his career. At 26-years old (he’ll turn 27 in August) it is possible that he will be able to put more balls in the air. With a 16.7% HR/FB (a realistic mark given his 17.8% mark in ’09), a few more fly balls would clearly go a long way.
What may be more unlikely is Jones staying healthy for an entire season. Over the past four seasons he has never had more than 581 AB in a season (including years of 473 and 477). He missed time in 2011 due to a thumb injury. Simply staying healthy would also go a long way in helping him improve.
Last season he got his chance to hit third in the order with regularity (279 AB), hitting .251 with 13 HR and 44 RBI. While the numbers weren’t overly impressive, the fact that he had the opportunity is what is more important. We all know that he can hit, so if he is going to be hitting third there is going to be significantly more chances for him to produce in the RBI and R departments.
It is not that the Orioles lineup is stellar, but there is more than enough support with the likes of Nick Markakis, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy. It’s hard to consider it a given that he is going to reach both 90 runs scored and 90 RBI, but at the same time would anyone consider it impossible either?
He has shown flashes of speed over the past few seasons. Though he has never stolen more than 12 bases in a season (which he did in 2011), the potential is certainly there for him to come in around the 15-20 range.
When everything is set and done, here is my projection for him for 2012:
.292 (168-575), 27 HR, 85 RBI, 85 R, 10 SB, .323 BABIP, .336 OBP, .492 SLG
If he could stay on the field the entire season the numbers would be even better. While he has never shown that he can consistently draw walks, he also has consistently posted a .300+ BABIP (.317 for his career) and strikeout at under a 20% clip. That makes the improved average far from a stretch, especially when you couple it with improved power.
He’ll turn the magical age of 27 this season, which also lends credence to a potential further breakout. With the opportunity to produce as well, Jones is a solid option as a #2 outfielder in all formats heading into 2012.
What are your thoughts of Jones? How good do you think he will be in 2012? Do you think he could take the next step in his development?
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Make sure to check out our other 2012 projections:
- Altuve, Jose
- Beckett, Josh
- Betancourt, Rafael
- Billingsley, Chad
- Boesch, Brennan
- Bumgarner, Madison
- Freeman, Freddie
- Lawrie, Brett
- Marcum, Shaun
- Teixeira, Mark
- Wieters, Matt