Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Yahoo! recently posted a big-ass picture of Adam Jones with the words “Adam Bomb” emblazoned over it. So you know what that means… it’s time to trade him.
Explanations after the jump:
Tools are great. They make great bands and great, um, tools. They also force fantasy owners into thinking a player has a much higher ceiling than they deserve. Adam Jones is a perfect example of this. In the OF edition of “Tiers, Not Fears” (where I ranked him 42nd overall among OFs), I wondered aloud why people were so intrigued by Jones as a breakout candidate. The only reason one could give for Jones suddenly busting out is that his athletic gifts will finally translate to baseball and he will become a superstar. Last time I checked, pretty much every professional baseball player is athletic, so this notion of calling a player “toolsy” is rather faulty. Yes, there are schlubs of the sport like Nick “Rapist Mustache” Johnson and John “I Look Like I Should Be On An Episode of ‘Cops’” Kruk, but in this day and age, most pro ball players are crazy athletic. Obviously some players are more physically gifted than others, but athleticism alone doesn’t get the job done (see: Joey Gathright).
Getting back to Jones specifically, he’s getting his own post here at Sons of Roto because his value is at an all-time high. The 5×5 numbers are impressive to date, but can he keep it up? Let’s start with the power. For starters, Jones’ career-high 25 HRs last year were aided by some luck as 10 of his bombs were of the “just enough” or “lucky” variety according to HitTrackerOnline.com. While his power has been very good so far in 2012 and his LD% is up (21.3 percent), some luck has already been in his favor in terms of his power production. Still think he can top 25 HRs? I can’t emphatically disagree, because he does have legit power. However, what I can do is point out that he isn’t exactly making major strides this year as a complete offensive force.
Jones has never been one to draw many walks, but the fact that he has just three in 95 PAs is downright sad, especially when one considers that he’s actually swinging the bat less than he was in the last two years. You may counter that while he isn’t walking a lot, he is making good contact. Sure, if you look only at his LD% and HRs, then yes, he’s making magnificent contact when he hits the ball. Unfortunately, with all those extra line drives, Jones has also lifted more infield flies (14.8 percent) and is putting up an unsustainable 15.6 Infield Hit Percentage (IFH%; his career mark is 9.2). Oh, and then there’s the stolen bases. Jones was supposed to be a 20/20 type, but for all that “athletic ability” he’s never mustered a 15 SB season. It’s not that he doesn’t have good wheels, it’s that he isn’t very proficient on the base paths. All the athletic ability in the world can’t make a player smarter, so I see no reason to believe a sudden SB increase is on the way unless manager Buck Showalter lets him run like mad.
Jones is a fun player to watch when he is killing it and the fantasy owners who drafted him are likely unwilling to deal him away while he’s on fire. But just forget that this is Adam Jones for a second. If I asked you whether you wanted to sell-high on a player who is walking less than five percent of the time, rocking a BA over 50 points higher than his career-mark, and experiencing a 100 point ISO spike (despite a batted ball profile with some questionable traits), what would you say?
The true sell-high returns don’t come on the players EVERYONE is expecting to tail off. No my friends, the real returns come when you are able to deal a player who everyone is convinced is in the midst of a breakout. Could Adam Jones hit 25+ HRs, score 100 times, and drive in over 90 while stealing 15 or more? It’s possible, but the ceiling people are envisioning and the fantasy value he possesses are far greater than what I believe his actual production will be.