If you look at Adam Jones’ offensive stats, they have been trending upward for three years now. It makes you wonder just how good the Orioles center fielder can be and how much better he can get.
When MLB Network recently picked its list of the current 10 best center fielders, guest host Bill James rated Jones fifth and analyst and former Oriole Bill Ripken placed Jones third among all center fielders behind only Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
Ripken said of Jones that he got a lot of big hits despite a less than 100-RBI season. He said defensive metrics don’t do Jones’ defensive skills justice and that he should be a Most Valuable Player candidate this year. Jones finished sixth in the MVP vote for 2012.
The good news for Orioles fans is that Jones has established himself already as an All-Star caliber player. His numbers keep getting better and, at 27, he is coming into the prime years of his career.
Jones’ doubles total the last three years has gone from 25 to 26 to 39 last year. His homers went from 19 to 25 to 32. His OBP increased from .325 to .319 to .334 and his slugging went from .442 to .466 to .505. That moved his OPS from .767 to .785 to .839.
So what is next for Jones?
Jones drove in 82 runs last year, but he had 15 homers that put the Orioles ahead in a game. His Sept. 6 homer in the eighth inning against the Yankees may have been one of the club’s biggest of the year. So was his homer in the 17th inning May 6 at Boston.
Some fans get frustrated when Jones chases curveballs out of the strike zone against right-handed pitchers, but that seemed to happen less last year and Jones’ career numbers are far better versus right-handed pitchers.
None of this mentions Jones’ leadership on the club, a role he always wanted and one he now welcomes. He has become the clubhouse spokesman many nights and continually preaches in those interviews that it’s all about the team, not the individual.
Jones shows up ready to play. He was one of just three major leaguers (along with Prince Fielder and Ichiro Suzuki) to play in all 162 games last year.
When a reporter kidded him last summer that he was taking a while to hit his 100th career homer, Jones quickly said, “Who cares, the team is still winning.”
What’s not to like about Jones as an Oriole? It looks like his future is very, very bright.