It’s Adam Jones Day!
I saw one of Adam Jones’ three games in Everett back in 2003 (which is a fine reason to go check out Aquasox games). I’d heard that his eventual position was on the mound, so I was more interested in seeing his arm than anything (also on that 2003 team, Felix Hernandez). And he had a cannon for an arm that fired rockets with lasers on them.
I left interested, wondering how things would turn out, and followed his progress as his hitting skills seemed to improve at every level. Last year I got to see him again, as he made the transition to the outfield, saw how quickly he was coming around to being a good defender, especially considering he’d only just converted, and it made me happy.
We saw him struggle in his call-up, when he didn’t hit and Hargrove decided he didn’t like the rough defense he saw, so he was going to get squeezed for playing time. Jones’ 2006 line was a poor .216/.237/.311, and I think that did a lot to dim his star in the eyes of general M’s fandom. I heard that his hot start in Tacoma might have been a fluke, and whatever else.
But here’s the thing: Jones was 21 last year. He hit .287/.345/.484 in Tacoma. This year, he went on to show that it wasn’t a fluke, either:
The only thing that didn’t take a big step up was his plate discipline: Jones attacks the ball. He doesn’t walk that often (though his rate’s not horrible) and he strikes out a lot. But when he makes contact, the ball goes places in a hurry. 44% of his hits so far this year have been extra-base hits. 44%!
Look at his ISO (isolated power, SLG-AVG) which will serve us decently here: it’s .272. If he put up a .272 ISO in the majors, he would be one of the ten best, behind Miguel Cabrera (.279), Barry Bonds (.277) and Justin Morneau (.276).
And, unlike somebody like, say, Prince Fielder, or Adam Dunn, other guys who hit for that kind of power, he’s a good outfield glove.
Yeah, so… Have I mentioned I’m a huge fan? I love watching the way Jones plays.
We’ll see if he can translate his steady impressive hitting progress into success at the major league level this time and seize a starting job. And we don’t know how they’re going to get him into the lineup, though all signs are the organization’s committed to seeing him play regularly, which is good.
But Jones is another one of the players I’ve followed for years. I’ve enjoyed seeing him move up the farm system, finding greater and greater success, and I hope everyone else will get to see the Jones I, and the other fans who’ve seen him cut a swath through the minor leagues, have been lucky enough to see.