You Want Adam Jones

When building your supporting cast, finding a few breakthrough candidates is paramount to your success.  Hopefully your studs perform as they should and your late round sleepers find a way to outshine their draft positions, but on the chance that something goes awry, having some middle round breakthroughs could be the difference between winning your league and being an also-ran.  Drafting Orioles center fielder Adam Jones would be a great place to start.

Jones is by no means a hidden gem in fantasy baseball.  He was a highly touted prospect in the Mariners system, offering a nice blend of both power and speed, and was the key piece going to Baltimore in the trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Pacific northwest.  He was just 22 years old when he debuted in center for the Birds and although he had his share of struggles and some injuries, the potential was evident.

The following season, he took a strong step forward.  He increased his miniscule walk rate, lowered his strikeouts and increased his power with 10 more home runs and a .180 ISO that was 50 points higher than the year before.  He also maintained his double digit steals and increased his batting average as well.

Though 2010 looked more like a step back — less walks, more strikeouts, same power production but in 102 more plate appearances — you can look at it as a young ballplayer merely finding his way.  Sure, his overall totals showed little improvement, but it was nice to see him lower his GB/FB and start legging out more infield hits.  He also saw his BABIP stay in the range of his career totals and he had a slight increase in his LD%.  Not the most noticeable improvements, but progress nonetheless.

Then 2011 rolled around and Jones showed us all that he learned his lessons form the previous years and was ready to put it all together.  He still couldn’t draw a walk to save his life, but he brought the strikeouts back down while still swinging at more than half of what came his way.  He just seemed to have a better understanding as to how pitchers were handling him and his adjustments proved successful.  He popped 25 home runs in fewer plate appearances than the year before and also rang up 26 doubles and a pair of triples to give him a career high .185 ISO mark.  All that plus he continued to hit .280 and brought his stolen base total back up to double digits.

Now we come into 2012 with even more hope and expectations.  He’s definitely grown over these last four seasons and is still just entering his prime years here.  Jones will be 26 years old this season and should be taking his game to the next level.  Yes, most people earmark 27 as the year to do it, but Jones already has four full seasons under his belt and we’ve definitely seen a change where plenty have begun their peak at 26 when they enter the majors at a younger age.

Jones is also, in a way, playing for a contract.  He signed just a one year deal and still has one more year of arbitration ahead, but would very much like for the O’s to pony up a nice long term deal for him.  If they don’t and he goes to arbitration, then he is going to want to produce a season worthy of a high figure and then take that into free agency.  If money isn’t the best motivator…

His ADP is currently at 74.96 (mid-6th round in a 12-team league), so he’s not coming at a bargain rate.  Although, if he continues his growth and stays on the path that he’s on, then he will certainly out-earn that draft position.  Improving hitter who bats cleanup, has solid lineup protection and plays in a hitter’s park?  I’m sold.  I drafted him in the KFFL Experts League and used my pick in a supplemental draft for my primary keeper league to grab him.  I’ll be reaping the benefits all season long.  Will you?



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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

26 Responses to “You Want Adam Jones”

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  1. Vinegar Bend Mizell says:

    Adam Jones is a solid player, and this analysis nicely illustrates the steady progress he has made at the plate in recent years. But Derek Carty and others have shown that the idea of the age-27 breakout is overblown. In fact, the data suggest that players are more likely to make large improvements in their game (i.e., have their “breakout”) at an earlier age.

    Given the length of Jones’s MLB track record, I wonder why we should expect significant further improvement from him this coming year. He will still be a sound mid-round pick even if he maintains his 2011 production, but a younger player would seem more likely to give you the breakthrough that’s set up so enticingly in the first paragraph.

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  2. Marver says:

    I’m actually operating under the belief that Jones is one of the most overrated players in fantasy baseball. .280-25-85-85-15, which is basically the aggregate of his projections here, doesn’t warrant a sixth round pick, especially when there are guys going considerably later with just slightly worse projections: Matt Joyce, J.D. Martinez, Alex Presley, etc.

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    • NBH says:

      .280-25-85-85-15 is basically Hunter Pence with a bit more speed, and Pence is being drafted in the 30s or early 40s.

      ESPN ranks Jones #80 and MDC ranks him a couple of picks earlier, so you can get him in round 7 in a 12 team league. I’m often torn between Jones and Choo – they are a couple of picks apart in ESPN’s rankings. When I ask people in the mocks who they prefer, it’s usually 50-50.

      Last year Jones went .280-25-12 (68 runs, 83 RBI) which put him #70 on the ESPN player rater. I think he is a solid round 7 pick, but not much better than the other guys you have in his neighborhood (Choo, Bumgarner, Utley, BJ Upton). No way do I take him in round 6 in a 12 team league.

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      • cfg720 says:

        Those are Pence’s projections? In Houston he averaged better than what you have. Now he’s not only in a much better lineup, he’s palying in a much better park. I’d be surpised if he doesn’t hit .300 and drives in less than 100 runs.

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    • illinibob says:

      Projecting Joyce, and CERTAINLY Martinez and Presley to put up numbers anywhere near CLOSE to Jones requires an unbelievable leap of faith. Jones has done it consistently now for 3 plus years and is VERY reliable to put up those numbers again. The 3 comparables you have listed have very small track records of success. You have to put reliability into the equation when drafting, and don’t rely solely on someone else’s “projections”.

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  3. Monosodium Glutamate says:

    Career GB% of 48.8%. HR/FB% fluctuating from 7% to 17%. Atrocious BB%. Career high of 12 SB. Floundering organization with mediocre lineup. Trouble staying on the field (132 G in ’08, 119 in ’09). I don’t see it.

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    • MH says:

      Don’t forget SwStrike% routinely hovering right around 13%. Tough to succeed when you swing and miss that much, and then nearly half the pitches you do put in play wind up on the ground.

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      • Monosodium Glutamate says:

        Good point about SwStr%. And he plays OF. Please don’t take him over all the pitching talent that will be available at his ADP.

        I think people still see his 2007 AAA numbers and think upside. There is no upside here. He’ll end up hitting sixth again when he posts one of his patented sub .300 wOBA months. Note also that he scored 68 runs last year. Mediocre player in terribad situation. Why?

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  4. 40/40club says:

    Couldn’t disagree more (well, actually that probably an exaggeration, but still). Adam Jones is a good fantasy option but there are way better OF options that you can get later. Both Corey Hart, Lance Berkman and Micheal Morse are projected to got later while having more HRs, RBIs, Rs and a near identical AVG while going about a round or two later (Plus Morse and Berkman will have versatility as 1B eligible). In that case, your saying Adam Jones is a good deal because of his steals potential (despite having below average speed and never stealing more than 12). I would rather wait and have either Hart and pair him with a Quasi-Ace (Bumgarner or Latos) than get Jones and a tier 2 kinda pitcher. Adam Jones is if anything over-valued as he could regress or get injured and just doesn’t steal enough bags. But that’s just my humble opinion

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    • NBH says:

      Hart, Berkman AND Morse are all ranked ahead of Jones in ESPN’s rankings. ESPN has Choo, Jones, BJ Upton and Werth all clustered together – I can see any of those players being the best or the worst of the bunch in 2012. Jones has the least risk (in my opinion) – his numbers are the most consistent. However, I would take Upton for the 60 HR + SB.

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  5. Freddy T says:

    Yeah, I don’t know about his speed numbers going up, especially hitting cleanup, but I could see him approach 30 HR.

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  6. Vince says:

    Most places definitely do not have Morse going after Jones.
    And you could say why not wait for guys like JD Martinez or Alex Presley, but Adam Jones has actually delivered those number before. You’re just hoping those other guys can do it.
    You can also flip that train of thought around and say why pay for McCutchen in the early 3rd when you can take Adam Jones rounds and rounds later.

    I think Jones presents decent value without ton of risk, and has accumulated the number of MLB at bats at which a hitter is most likely to take the next step.
    Good article.

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    • Marver says:

      There’s a much more significant difference between Cutch and Jones than Jones and the crowd I presented. According to projections, roughly: 25 runs, 20 rbi, 8 points in average, and 20 SB while hitting the same number of homeruns.

      Joyce is practically a carbon copy of Jones on a per-start basis, while Presley/Martinez sacrifice elsewhere while having extra value in other areas…and cost $1 (or late round pick).

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      • NBH says:

        I love Presley, Tabata, Boesch and Revere as late round OFs, but I agree with Vince – Jones is a safe, steady pick who doesn’t hurt you anywhere. I need to fill 5 OF slots – I like to draft the crappy closers late in the draft and fill 3 OF slots by round 10.

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  7. Vince says:

    Marver- No one is saying those other guys aren’t good options later on, or that they don’t present good value, but it’s not a mutually exclusive thing. They can all be good values where they are going. You’re also making it sound like you only need 1 OFer. As NBH said, most people have 5 OF spots to fill, not to mention a UTIL spot. I love filling the back end of my OF with late draft steals like Joyce, but I don’t want them to all be like that. I’m very happy with the numbers and level of risk Jones provides for where he is going (Yahoo has his ADP at 95ish).

    As far as the difference between McCutchen and Jones, projections are nice, but let’s go off of what we’ve seen. Last year Jones out homered him and hit for a much higher average. So to just say McCutchen is going to hit the same homers and beat him in BA like it’s a given is stretch for sure. And while Jones out homered and out averaged McCutchen last year, he was only 6 RBI’s behind, so again claiming that he’ll beat him by 20 like it’s a given is stretching it. It’s not like these two are far apart in age either, (Jones born in ’85 and Cutch in ’86).

    I like all three of these players, but all have their varying levels of upside, risk, and draft value.

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    • Marver says:

      Jones hit one more homerun than McCutch last season, and nowhere did I say McCutch would outhomer him this season.

      It seems like you object to the projections, not me, as I’m simply citing projections for the two players — based on the projections, the difference in draft spots is justified.

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  8. TY says:

    I’m so suprised when people take berkman ahead of the potential of Adam Jones, really? I mean a guy who was highly touted, went 25/12 and batted .280 last yr and people would rather take a 36 year old fat elvis? Who just had a end of career resurgence year… Man. If 25/15/.280 is overrated in the 7th and 8th rounds of a 12 teamer someone just got beamed back to 2001. That’s a pretty nice line for that part of the draft. WITH UPSIDE.

    We can compare/extroplate/DREAM about guys like Presley, JD martinez, and Matt joyce? was matt joyce really thrown out there, the guy that had 2 good months, followed by two terrible months, followed by 2 eh months…. come on. But when it comes down to it, adam jones has done it a couple of years now, those guys haven’t done anything, yet. I like adam jones this year. Baltimore has a younger up and coming line up and if he’s hitting in the 4 hole, nothing but upside. I’m a fan.

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  9. supershredder says:

    OF is getting kind of tricky to fill this year…too many teams with too many undecided outfield spots, like OAK and HOU. It’s especially hard when you have to draft 4 or 5 of these guys. It just feels like we’re all overpaying for a lot of mediocre guys due to, dare I say it, positional scarcity. Perhaps this is just an illusion that will be absolved towards the end of spring training when more starting positions are clarified.

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  10. wynams says:

    Actually, I don’t want Adam Jones.

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  11. Wes says:

    Personally, I’ve been burned a little to often from Jones in the past to consider him too early in drafts. He is too much of free swinger and although last year that seemed to work out well, I think it was more the law of averages than an improved approach. As previously mentioned his SwStr% is remarkably high and eerily reminiscent of Alfonso Soriano only Jones lacks the top tier power and speed Sori had in his prime years.

    Living in DC and watching the O’s often I grew frustrated by his carefree approach at the plate and I’m not even a true O’s fan, although I admit much of my frustration was that he was on my fantasy team in a utility role.

    I think it’s fair to assume a 20-10 season out of Jones but that average may slip a bit.

    I’d rather take a chance on someone like McCutchen who has far better plate presence and is more likely able to fully adapt to the big league game in years 3-5 of full time service. Just my opinion.

    Solid piece though..

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  12. Vince says:

    “Jones hit one more homerun than McCutch last season, and nowhere did I say McCutch would outhomer him this season.

    It seems like you object to the projections, not me, as I’m simply citing projections for the two players — based on the projections, the difference in draft spots is justified.”

    First of all, Jones hit 2 more HR than McCutchen, not 1. (25 vs 23)
    Second, I didn’t say that you said “he’d outhomer” him. I said you said he would “hit the same” number of homers. And yes, you did say that in your first post.
    Reading comprehension, try it.

    As far as projections, that was my whole point. Projections are great, but let’s look at what we’ve actually seen. Like I said, to just assume McCutchen is going out RBI Jones by 20 when he only did by 6 last year, is a stretch. As is assuming he will beat him in average when last year Jones beat him by 20 points.

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  13. Anthony says:

    Why is cutch’s power expected to go up? Dude is 5’10 170 and when he swung for the fences he dropped his avg 30 points. Jones and cutch are not similar players at all. Jones is a powerfully built 6’2 215 athlete growing into his power in a hitters park, and cutch is a smallish top of the order hitter miscast as a run producer in a miserable lineup and worse home park.

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  14. why says:

    just upgrade and go for frenchy… yes i just said that. better walk rate, more steals, hits in a better lineup with more opportunities for runs and rbi’s.

    it’s REALLY sad when frenchy’s walk rate is an upgrade… and its sad that people still think adam jones is worth anything other than a very late round pick. if you need to add 20 or so hr’s then go for it, but you can do better than adam jones for your OF.

    …and no im not saying you should draft frenchy, either. just saying, there isnt going to be a huge difference between their numbers once the season is over.

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