The Orioles knew they acquired a very special outfielder in-the-making when they shipped prized-lefty Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners in early 2008 and received Adam Jones in return. Jones has really broke out and become a strong every day player in his fourth full major-league season both patrolling center field and at the dish.
The Mariners drafted Jones out of high school in the 1st round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft (37th overall) as a shortstop and pitcher of all positions. The 6’3’’ 220 lb. centerfielder was moved to the outfield in 2005 after the M’s acquired Yuniesky Betancourt for shortstop.
Jones was part of the highly-publicized five-player trade for only the Birds star-southpaw Bedard and he began the 2008 season with the Orioles. Quickly after he arrived, Jones, along with Nick Markakis, became the faces of the Baltimore Orioles and he began building a young fan base.
His first full season with the Birds was not one of his best seasons in the majors, but that is understandable since he was getting acclimated to Baltimore, the players, coaches and fans. Not to mention, Jones was only 22 years old when he was traded to the Orioles and had only played in 73 major-league games before become an Oriole.
Jones finished the 2008 season by hitting at a modest .270 clip, with nine homeruns and 57 RBIs through 132 games, almost twice as many games he had played in his entire career. Jones hit seven triples on the year, which was good for 11th place in the majors, and recorded 129 overall base hits.
People who have heard of Jones before probably remember him for his performance in his second year with the Birds. The centerfielder actually played in 13 fewer games (119) than the year before, but his production numbers shot up.
In 2009, Jones finished with 19 blasts on the year and 70 RBI, shattering his previous career-highs. The encouraging news from his 2009 stats is that he hit ten more homeruns and drove in 13 more runners in 13 fewer games, and the most games he’d ever played in a single season was 132. Think of what he could do if he played in about 150 games.
Jones was named to the All-Star game for the first time in his young career and it was a night he will never forget. Curtis Granderson of the Yankees was on third base for Jones and the score was tied at 3 in the top of the 8th inning. Jones drove him home on a sac fly and that proved to be the winning run as the American League won the game 4-3.
Whatever happened to the old sophomore slump adage? Well, it didn’t seem to faze Jones as his second full season with the Birds showed a vast improvement in his power numbers, average, hits, walks and strike outs.
Jones recorded 131 hits in 2009, which is two more than his first season, in fewer games. He struck out 108 times in 2008, and cut down on his strike outs in his All-Star season to 93 K’s. Jones showed more patience as he walked 13 more times (36 in 2009).
Jones not only was an All-Star for the first time in 2009, he always won his first Gold Glove in for his patrolling in center field as he committed only five errors in 349 putouts (.986 fielding percentage) and he gunned down nine runners on the bases (assists), which ranked 5th in the major-leagues.
After he put up stellar numbers in 2009, you would think that he would continue to grow and learn at the major-league level. His 2010 statistics are very similar to his numbers from a year before, and he played in 30 more games in 2010, which is a bit off-setting.
Jones concluded 2010 with the same number of homeruns as his previous season (19), one less RBI than a year ago (69), but a higher batting average at .284. He raised his average by six points, which is definitely a good sign for Jones and his future as he continues to improve his average each season.
The concern in Jones’ 2010 numbers is his power. As we’ve seen, his power numbers jumped from 2008 to 2009, but from 2009 to 2010, his homeruns remained the same and he stepped to the plate 108 more times in 2010 as he saw even more playing time in his third season with the Birds.
Oriole fans should be convinced of Jones’ athletic ability and agree with the notion that he is a five-tool player and can support a team on his shoulders. At the time of the infamous trade, Jones and the question whether he is a five-tool player came to light, but he’s proved thus far this season that he has all the tools he needs to be a successful major-leaguer.
This season through 65 games, Jones is hitting .286 with nine homeruns and 36 RBI, with 71 base hits over 248 at-bats. Last season on this date, he was only hitting at a .255 clip with eight homeruns and 24 RBI, and 68 hits over 267 at-bats.
If Jones continues playing as well as he has thus far into the season, he will finish the year with career-highs in homeruns, average, RBI, games played, at-bats, among other categories. Jones is projected to smash 22 homeruns and knock in almost 90 runs (89.5). He’s played in 65 of the Birds 68 games this season, and if he continues on this rate, he’ll have around 600 at-bats for the first time in his career.
With the exception of the 2010 season, Jones’ play both offensively and defensively have improved while with the Baltimore Orioles and right now, he is having an even better season than his lone All-Star appearance in 2009.
On July 12th, 2009, which was the last game before the mid-Summer classic, Jones’ average was above the .300 mark at .303, and he crushed 12 homeruns and drove in 47 RBIs in 307 at-bats over 80 games.
Jones only needs three more homeruns to even the mark in 2009, and he has a bit less than a month to accomplish that feat. Over the past week, he has been flirting around, both above and below, .300. And, he’s only 11 RBI short from his All-Star season. I think it’s safe to say that he’ll surpass all of his 2009 mid-season marks and he should be considered for the All-Star ballot.
Last season, the highest that Jones hit in the later portion of the year was .286 on September, 21st, and he finished the year batting .284. Right now, he is batting at .286 and he is showing signs of breaking out this season and it could be his first year batting over .300.
Not only has Jones’ eye at the plate improved, but his eyes in the outfield have too as he has made some great plays this season, and his most memorable thus far was in Seattle on June 1st as he robbed Miguel Olivo of an extra-base hit with an over-the-shoulder catch at Safeco Field. Here is a link to a video if you haven’t seen it…it’s amazing. It was a hot topic on all the sports shows.
Jones is tied for third in the American League in outfield assists this season with seven already. Shin-Soo Choo of the Indians and Torii Hunter of the Angels lead the league with eight on the year. Last season, Jones recorded a career-high 12, which as tops among all major-league center fielders and tied for second among all outfielders. He is on his way to breaking that record as well.
I’m not saying that he should be a starter in the outfield for the American League because there are definitely other players more worthy of that reward for their unbelievable seasons. Of course, I am talking about Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson, who each are sitting with 21 homeruns already this season. Josh Hamilton, last year’s hero in Texas, is the third outfielder, who has been injured most of the season, but is a fan favorite.
But, I believe that Jones should be one of the reserves for the American League chosen by Ron Washington, manager of the American League All-Stars this summer. He’s proven he can handle pressure by driving in the winning run in his first All-Star appearance, and his numbers this season, thus far, have been his best as a major-leaguer.
Jones deserves to be named to the All-Star team, as a reserve at the least.
Battle of the Beltway Series Tonight
The Birds visit the rival Nationals tonight to resume this season’s Battle of the Beltway series. The O’s will send rookie Zach Britton (6-3, 3.18) to the hill to face the Nats for the first time in his career.
Washington will counter with veteran Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.67), who is having a resurgent season at the top of the Nationals’ rotation. The Nats have won a season-high six straight (first time since the end of the 2009 season).
Jones is has smashed three homeruns and 10 RBI in nine games in Washington in his career.
The Orioles won the first three-game series in mid-May.
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About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.