Getting To First-Base The Hard Way

There are many players in the majors who don’t walk very much, and this tends to come through in their on-base percentages, unless they hit for sensational batting average (Ichiro comes to mind). Sometimes though, even a low OBP can be a little deceiving. For example – the player that inspired this post – Adam Jones.

Jones is still a relatively young guy with a lot of tools, but his lack-luster plate discipline has been his main Achilles heel. In 2010, he hit .284/.325/.442; putting up below league average OBP despite a batting average almost 25 points above. And yet even that low OBP doesn’t tell the full tail of Jones’ issues with patience at the plate, since a large part of his isolated OBP comes as a result of 13 hit by pitches (the 8th highest total in the majors).

Take them out – leaving Jones with only 23 walks (3.7% walk rate) – and his OBP would have been just .310. That’s not to say that getting on base via the HBP is just a fluke – Jones did have 7 in each of his previous full seasons, and Craig Biggio famously bumped his on-base numbers by getting plunked a whole lot – but it does warp our conceptions of a player’s skill set somewhat when just looking at his slash stats.

Where did Jones rank among the guys who got the biggest (relative) bonus from taking one for the team in 2010? Check out the graph at Beyond the Box Score.