Dave Cameron pointed out the wave of young center fielders playing in baseball this year a few days ago. I wanted to take a moment to highlight one of those in particular whose game seems to be growing at a rapid rate.
Adam Jones in Baltimore got his first taste of regular play last year following the trade to the Orioles from the Seattle Mariners in the Erik Bedard deal. He responded by putting up some stellar defensive numbers. Although his hitting numbers were poor, the combination of defense plus position made Jones better than a two-win player, all for the league minimum.
Adam Jones has built off that experience this season, coming out the gate in a huge way at the plate. Jones hit all of nine home runs last year over 132 games. Through just 22 this season, he already has five dingers and nine other extra-base hits. He’s boasting an OPS near 1.100 and a wOBA of .471, good enough for over 11 runs above average.
His defensive numbers have fallen back to Earth which is the only facet preventing him from being among the most valuable players in the league. Expect those numbers to bounce back a bit, though all the way back to 2008 levels is likely too much to ask for. Still, Jones is well on his way to becoming a consistent three to four-win player and Baltimore has him under team control for quite a few years yet. Paired with Nick Markakis, the Orioles have an incredibly valuable two-thirds of an outfield sewn up.