2011 Orioles Projections: Adam Jones

The initial team projections are posted here. A more thorough walkthrough of how I put the individual ones together is in the Matt Wieters post here. The components I’m looking for are playing time (plate appearances), batting line (BA/OBP/SLG), and fielding.

I was hoping to have all the starting position players done by this point, but the flu interceded (ironically leaving plenty of time to write but no brain-power with which to do so). To today I’m just getting to center-fielder Adam Jones.

Playing Time:

Jones has a career high 621 plate appearances last years, after missing more significant amounts of time in each of his previous two full seasons (~515 PA). Perhaps it’s a bit optimistic, but I’m going with 600 PA for 2011.

Batting:

While always having some plate discipline issues, Jones’ walk rate fell to just 3.7% last year – the third lowest mark in the majors. Adam swings at balls out of the strike-zone a lot, and there hasn’t been much indication of consistent development in that area. Even if he improves from his 4.9% career walk rate – and I think he will, if only marginally (say, 5.4%) – Jones will still likely have a ways to go before he’s even league average.

Partially owing to his free swinging ways and non-atrocious contract skills, Jones has posted (very slightly) better than average strike-out rates the last couple years (a little harder to get to strike three if you’re putting pitches one and two into play). A repeat of 2010′s 20.5% wouldn’t be surprising.

One of the things keeping Jones from realizing the 30+ home run potential people saw in him a few years ago is his relatively high groundball rates. Even though his home run per flyball rate has jumped around (6.9% to 17.8% to 11.4%), Adam appears to have gotten better at powering the ball out to all fields (which seems like a good sign). Given that, a slight bump from his career 11.4% to 12.4% would give Jones 20 home runs in 2011.

Jones has consistently posted above average BABIPs (and expected BABIPs), with a career rate of .321. A similar .320 for 2011 would give Adam 138 none home run hits, with 28 doubles and 5 triples.

So now we’ve got all the components. 158 hits in 568 at bats is a .278 batting average. Add 32 walks (and 8 HBP – Jones has taken one for the team fairly often) for a .330 on-base percentage. Slugging would be .451.

A .278/.330/.451 line would make Jones around 3 runs above average with the bat in 2011. But hey, maybe this will be the year Adam finally puts everything together at the plate and has that break-out season, right?

Fielding:

Despite being a “Gold Glover”, the defensive metrics haven’t viewed Jones as an especially great center-fielder for his career. His UZR/150 is -2 runs; DRS/150 is +7 runs (though much of that is from 2009, and his range component is negative – it’s all arm); TZ/150 is -1; and Fans Scouting Report for the last couple years is about -2 per season. Really, it might make sense – or, I guess, have made sense – to put Felix Pie in center (where I think almost everyone agrees he’s better) and Jones in left (where he’d almost certainly be a plus fielder relative to average). As is, Jones is the team’s best outfielder. And he’s not a great outfielder – though I think he could be above average out there (especially if he actually starts listening to the team/Buck when it comes to positioning and whatnot) – but for 2011 I’m going with -2 runs over a full season.

WAR:

Adding it up, Jones would be at about 2.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2011. With him entering for first arbitration season, I’m not sure if that kind of campaign would be good or bad for the team as far as locking him up longer term would go. On the one hand, a non-monster year keeps Adam cheaper. On the other hand, the team might be less inclined to sign a potentially just decent player for more than a couple seasons.

Let me know how you think Adam Jones will do next year here.


Stats: BB% & K%, FB%, HR/FB%, BABIP, wRAA, UZR, DRS, Total Zone, FSR, WAR