Adam Jones: UZR and Me

UZR is catching up to Adam Jones, or maybe it‘s the other way around. Either way, the Orioles centerfielder is finally receiving some love from defensive metrics — his league-leading 5.9 UZR is by far the best of his career. He already had a Gold Glove, as well as both appreciation and skepticism for the numbers that assess his play. The 26-year-old Jones discussed his defensive game — and those numbers — during a recent visit to Fenway Park.

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Jones on defense and data: “Defense adds to your overall value. Teams look at what you bring to the table both offensively and defensively. In this division, along with myself you have [Jacoby] Ellsbury — who is on the shelf right now and I wish him a speedy recovery — [Curtis] Granderson and [B.J.] Upton. You also have [Colby] Rasmus. I can’t forget my man Rasmus. I think we’re all plus defenders. We’re also plus offensive players, which is why most of us are hitting in the middle of the lineup for our teams. We bring both to the table.

“There are stats now like defensive UZR, and all that, but they don’t show the placement of the player. Everything nowadays is so statistical. Like wOBA. We have a wOBA this year –weighted on-base average. It’s pretty cool to look at that, even though we joke about it. There are so many statistical-analysis ways to look at the game now that it’s crazy.”

On Gold Glove voting: “Gold Glove winners usually deserve a Gold Glove. There are multiple guys each year who deserve a Gold Glove [at each position], it’s not just one guy. Last year, I’m sure a lot of people around the league felt other people deserved it. The guy who did win, deserved it; Ellsbury was very deserving. Austin Jackson, in my eyes, was very deserving. Granderson was very deserving. Who wins is the one who gets the most [votes], but there are some really good centerfielders. [Franklin] Gutierrez is another. It comes down to votes. Some people think it’s a statistical thing, but nowadays — how they do it with each position — they look at it like that.”

On the Fielding Bible saying that he doesn’t always take good routes to the ball: “They assess how they assess. But I don’t think they look at where we play the hitters, as opposed to just the charts. That’s the only thing. But maybe I need to clean it up and get better in my routes to the ball. That’s basically what they’re telling me.

“Data like that shows you what you need to improve on. If I showed up here and wasn’t willing to improve, then why am I showing up? It means I have something to work on, and I will. I think I’m still a work in progress and trying to get better. We have a really good outfield here. We have some really good guys and as a team we’re consistently trying to get better.”

On defensive positioning: “You have to understand the hitters. You have to understand the pitchers. You have to understand the pitcher’s velocity that day. He might usually be 92-94, but he’s 90-92. You have to recognize that, as well as how the hitter is swinging. How is the pitcher’s breaking ball? There are so many things that go into it.

“We have a chart on how we’re going to play hitters, based on previous [data], but this game is about constant adjustments. We were just in New York and in some at bats I played Granderson in, and in some at bats I played him deep. Some at bats I played [Mark] Teixeira closer. Some at bats I played A-Rod in. Sometimes I’d play [Robinson] Cano a little deeper. It depends on situations. A lot of things tie into how, and where, you position yourself on the field.”



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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.


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Rich Mahogany
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Rich Mahogany
4 years 4 months ago

These interviews are unreal (in a good way).

Greg in Baltimore
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Greg in Baltimore
4 years 4 months ago

Maybe I’m not reading it correctly… but Adam Jones’ “league-leading 5.9 UZR” is behind four other American Leaguers, and three outfielders at that?

Metsox
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Member
Metsox
4 years 4 months ago

Indeed. Great work.

Chip buck
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4 years 4 months ago

Um…Adam Jones knows about UZR and wOBA? That’s freaking awesome. I have a new found respect for him. Awesome interview.

Piccamo
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Piccamo
4 years 4 months ago

Yeah. I was thinking the same thing. It’s a far cry from some outfielders asking about OBP being important lol

Thomas
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Thomas
4 years 4 months ago

The more mainstream sabermetrics starts to become, the more you’ll see the players themselves start to use and notice it.

gobears
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gobears
4 years 4 months ago

Especially since he’s hardly careful in his approach at the plate: I’m thrilled for him to be having a year like this, but I wish he could take a few more walks instead of chasing all those sliders….

Andre Ethier
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4 years 4 months ago

yeah and he also said, gold glovers are usually deserving. gotta love him!

Spunky
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Spunky
4 years 4 months ago

Great interview!

Nick
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Nick
4 years 4 months ago

BJ Upton’s glove > Adam Jones

MGM
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MGM
4 years 4 months ago

I would agree with you, but for the fact that Upton’s glove is attached to Upton. The leather is pretty sweet, though — can’t argue that.

A Comedy of ERAs
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A Comedy of ERAs
4 years 4 months ago

What you believe you understand about the English language > What you actually understand about the English language

bstar
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bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Uhhh, what?

johnnycuff
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johnnycuff
4 years 4 months ago

gotta say, i love these player interviews

CS Yankee
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CS Yankee
4 years 4 months ago

One of the most exciting young players in the game. He seems knowledgeable, humble and always trying to get better…a class act.

MetsFan212
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MetsFan212
4 years 4 months ago

Very cool.

Minja
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Minja
4 years 4 months ago

Pleasantly surprised that AJ is so knowledgeable about the game (I have him in every fantasy league and was hoping for a big breakout this year; so far so good). I guess I just (unfairly) assumed most baseball players were meatheads and the Brandon McCarthys of the world were more of a rarity. Good stuff.

hawkinscm
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hawkinscm
4 years 4 months ago

If only it were real

Gary
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Gary
4 years 4 months ago

I really enjoyed this. For whatever reason, I assumed all players were clueless to the more advanced sabermetrics. Pretty cool to see players who are keen on them.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
4 years 4 months ago

I would guess a lot of players are more statistically advanced than you’d think. Maybe they just don’t explain them the same way or get their information the same way. I don’t know who it was, maybe Frank Wren, but he said that the Braves have their own stats they use. Maybe a lot of players are the same way.

kick me in the GO NATS
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kick me in the GO NATS
4 years 4 months ago

It is less cool to be a stat head after all the players adopt Saber-metrics. More importantly, Moneyball becomes the way teams are all managed, and the discrepancy between the haves and havenots widens.

dtpollitt
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Member
dtpollitt
4 years 4 months ago

This is my favorite feature on FanGraphs. And Adam Jones is awesome.

bstar
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bstar
4 years 4 months ago

I already liked Adam Jones, but wow he really does seem to have his head screwed on straight. Great interview!

Slats
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Slats
4 years 4 months ago

Come back to Seattle Adam!

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