Will Adam Jones have a breakout year in 2011?

Among all the Orioles, the player that seems to evoke the greatest disparity of opinion on his play and his future from fans is center fielder Adam Jones. The commentary can range from fans writing in to say they think Felix Pie - not Jones - should be the center fielder to others saying that now is the time to sign Jones to a long-term contract. Some see Jones and see future greatness, while others see a player with holes in his swing who frustrates fans with moments of less-than-heads-up play. This game, though, has a past where many players have not reached their full potential until their fourth, fifth or sixth year or not until they turned 27 or 28. Jones will not turn 26 until next August. When Jayson Werth was 25, he showed promise with the Dodgers, hitting .262-16-47. At 30, he topped 30 homers for the first time with 36 and, at 31, he signed a contract worth $126 million. But Jones, even with more than 100 more at-bats last year, still saw his stats from the previous year decrease in RBIs, runs, steals, OBP, slugging, OPS and average with runners in scoring position. The perception is that Jones can't hit the down-and-away curve or slider and chases those pitches. But the stat sheet says his career OPS is higher versus right-handed pitching, .776 to .675. That surprised me. In 2010, Jones hit .293 with an OPS of .804 against right-handed pitchers and .259/.666 versus lefties. In 2009, he hit just .246/.665 against southpaws. Clearly, Jones also needs to take more walks. He had just 36 in 2009 and only 23 last year. Just adding to that stat will help him become more productive. His on-base percentage of .355 in the second half of last year showed some progress in that regard. But when you watch Jones play, you see a player who may have the best bat speed on the team, someone that can crush a mistake, a player with some of the best foot speed on the club and one of the Orioles' strongest arms. But with that comes a player who makes some inaccurate throws and doesn't steal many bases. Jones is far from alone on the Orioles in terms of being a young player still hoping to reach his full potential. Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold join him in that category. After agreeing to a 2011 contract with the O's and avoiding arbitration, a lot will be expected from Jones this coming season, his fourth full year with the Orioles. It could be that the combination of a few small Jones improvements, coupled with the whole batting order becoming better with the new players, will give Jones a chance at a breakout season. What is your take on Adam Jones and his talents? What improvements does he need to make and how good can he be for the Orioles? Would you consider signing him now to a long-term contract?

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