The list of outfielders that I’d take in a draft over Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles is pretty small.
If both of those maybes become a yes, then I’d say that Adam Jones is my No. 7 player heading into the drafts. Given his average season over the last three years, it’d be hard to argue too much against that.
Adam Jones: 2011-2013 Averages
So, when you look at the current projections from Crackerjack Contributor Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball, everything seems to check out pretty well.
Adam Jones: 2014 Projections
Is there anything else that we should consider?
Why numbers may be high
My primary concern with Jones is in his batting average. If you want to find a .300 hitter, you want to see someone have line drive rate of better than 20 percent on batted balls. Thanks to Fangraphs, we can see that Jones hasn’t really been that guy over the last three years.
- 2011: 17.6 %
- 2012: 21.5 %
- 2013: 19.7%
That, on top of the fact that Jones has averaged 125 strikeouts over the last three years makes me a bit concerned. I will grant that an average between .280-.290 isn’t the same as .300 or above, but those peripherals would suggest that Jones is at least at risk of falling into the sub-.275 range.
That’s not to say that he won’t have any fantasy value in that range, but if you do draft Jones, you may need to plan on him hitting .275 and consider anything higher as a bonus.
Now, I will grant that Jones has been above .280 in each of the last four seasons. When that kind of production happens, it’s harder to point to his peripherals and suggest that his numbers are a product of luck. Luck may work for one season, but not four.
Just be aware that if nothing else, he’s a risk to slip in that area, even if the other stats are pretty bankable.
Why numbers may be low
When you project numbers, you’re basically averaging out what’s happened over the last three years and generally when there’s any doubt, the tendency is to go conservative. That’s why when you see our Draft Kit, you’ll notice that we only have a few players projected at over 100 RBI or runs. Realistically, we know that it’s going to be more than that but when matching projections against goals, you need to be conservative. So, since we’re projecting, we have to go conservative.
On paper, Jones would be a pretty natural guy to use the last three years with, as he’s played between 151-162 games in each of the last three years.
Still, the averages can be a little deceiving.
For instance, Jones has averaged 90 runs over the last three years. We see that, go a little more conservative, and arrive at 88. It makes sense. But Jones has scored 100 or more runs in each of the last two seasons. He scored only 68 in 2011, dramatically dropping the three-year average.
Remember that Chris Davis was only on the 2011 Orioles for the final two months of the season and played only 31 games for the team. He did hit in front of Jones for much of 2013, but not so much in 2012. If Crush regresses a bit in his average, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Buck Showalter flip them again.
Similarly, if he continues to bat after Davis and Manny Machado, then I’d feel a bit better projecting him to drive in over 100, instead of the 83 or 82 that he drove in in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Ultimately, what makes Jones so appealing is that with the possible exception of average, there’s no real reason to expect significant regression anywhere. Actually, most of the discrepancies in his projections come from thinking that he’ll be a little better.
The biggest question centers around average, and it makes me ask the question. If I use a Top-10 pick on Adam Jones and he falls to .275, could I live with it? It wouldn’t be ideal, but I could actually live with it if he fell to .265. The rest of the numbers are just that good and that bankable.
In addition to the ones I mentioned above, you may be considering a few other guys over Jones. Carlos Gonzalez may miss a bunch of games a year, but his numbers are pretty reliably solid. Ryan Braun may have some questions, but was one of the most reliable performers in baseball for six years before 2013’s debacle. Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig may have a small sample size, but the talent is obvious.
I like dependability from early picks, so I’d still take Jones at seven. But I will say that if he falls out of your Top-10 and you don’t take him, you’re running a big risk and potentially doing your fantasy team a great disservice.