It seems like a distant memory now, but it wasn't that long ago that I wrote an article here wondering why Adam Jones gets criticized so much.
Some said we just want him to be an elite player. Some said he needs to walk more. Some said he chases too many pitches.
Now, Jones is not getting criticized much by anyone about anything. There is no reason to do anything but appreciate the fact that he is the best player and best leader on the Orioles.
He was named to his fourth All-Star team yesterday and he's having a season that might prove to be his best ever.
Jones is filling up the stat sheet right now. In 88 games, he is batting .310 with 16 homers, 53 RBIs, 52 runs, a .504 slugging percentage and an .838 OPS.
Jones is on a pace for career-highs in average and slugging, and his OPS is one tick off his career-best of .839. He may come close to or exceed career-highs in several other categories.
In 34 games since June 1, Jones is batting .356 with seven doubles, 10 homers and 24 RBIs. By the way, the Orioles are 21-13 in those 34 games.
On June 20 at Yankee Stadium, Zach Britton gave up a ninth-inning homer to Carlos Beltran as the Yankees came up with a 5-3 walkoff win over the Orioles. In the first inning the next day, Jones homered and the Orioles won 6-1. Two days later, the Orioles faced Chris Sale at Camden Yards. Jones took him deep in the first, a two-run shot. The O's won that game.
What are we hearing from Jones' critics these days? Crickets, that's what.
He is playing his best ball of the season now and the Orioles are, too. It is far from a one-man show here, far from it. But his almost daily significant contributions cannot be overlooked.
At age 28 - he won't turn 29 until Aug. 1 - Jones now has four All-Star nods on a resume that includes three Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and back-to-back top-13 finishes in the voting for the American League MVP.
Oh yeah, he plays every day with great intensity and does some nice things in the Baltimore community. When the Orioles traded for Jones in February 2008, he was a promising 22-year-old prospect that had batted just .230 in 139 major league at-bats with Seattle.
In Baltimore, he has turned into a star. If you talk about the very best players in the game, the elite, maybe he doesn't make that list. But you won't have to call the roll too long before you better call his name.
Jones is an All-Star again. He earned it. In recent weeks, he has elevated his game and he's taken the team along with him.
The Orioles play Washington tonight at Nats Park. The O's and Nats meet in Washington tonight and tomorrow, and at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday. The Orioles are 7-3 the last two years against the Nationals and 26-20 all-time.
The series begins tonight when Chris Tillman (7-4, 4.21 ERA) pitches against Stephen Strasburg (7-6, 3.53 ERA).