That is the only way I know how to start this entry. I like Adam Jones a lot. Yes, I was against the contract he signed but strictly from a financial responsibility angle. I was happy to have him sign long term and after the rest of the contracts started falling his may prove to be a good if not great deal in retrospect.
But as much as I like him he is an extremely frustrating player to watch. I recently (and it seems like a bad version of Groundhog Day sometimes) watched him strike out on 3 consecutive swing and misses where the pitcher threw zero pitches inside the strike zone. In fact, none were close. Amazingly, doing a little bit of quick research for this entry I found out that pitchers don’t watch any game tape at all because guys still throw him strikes. Last season 46% of the pitches he saw were actually inside the strike zone. The league average is 45% so he saw MORE strikes than the average hitter. That is even more ridiculous than one of his swings on a 1-2 slider that bounces a foot outside of the zone for strike 3. Pitchers are catching on a bit this year, so far he has only seen a pitch in the zone on 42.9% of pitches.
The great thing about baseball is that there are tons of stats to analyze and they will tell you just about anything you want to know about a player. So let’s break it down a bit more with Mr. Jones…
First, here is a little explanation of Plate Discipline statistics that when applied to the Orioles are overall depressing and laughable. Now that we are a little familiar with what these are let’s see how Mr. Jones stacks up…
- Let’s start with O-Swing% which shows the percentage of times a batter swings at a pitch that is thrown outside of the strike zone – In 2013 his O-Swing% was 43.7 and so far this season he is at 39.2%. The league average here is 30%.
- Now Z-Swing% or how much he swings at balls inside the strike zone. In 2013, 77.6% and so far this year it is 75.2%. League average is 65%.
- And Swing% is simply the total of how often a batter swings. 2013, 58.2% and this year is 55.7%. League average is 46%.
- O-Contact% is where it starts to get interesting. This stat measures the % that a player makes contact with those pitches that are outside of the zone that he swung at for some reason. In 2013, Jones made contact 63.7% of the time when he chased balls out of the zone and this year he is right around the same, 63.8%. That seems high but league average is actually 68%.
- Z-Contact% is the same as O-Contact% except only takes into account pitches that are swung at inside the strike zone. In 2013, Jonesy was at 83.2% and this season is putting up 84.4%. League average here is 88%.
- Contact% is the total % of pitches a batter makes contact with when swinging regardless of inside or outside the zone. Last season he was 74.9% and to this point in 2014 he is at 76.6%. League average is 81%.
- SwStr% is the % of total pitches that a player swings and misses on. 2013, Jones was at 14.3% and this season is so far down to 12.9%. League average here is 8.5%.
What does all of this mean? Well, Jones swings a lot (duh). Almost 10% more than average on balls outside of the zone. On those ball outside of the zone he makes contact bout 4-5% less than the average player. Somehow his BABIP is inexplicably above average despite these stats. Those of you who think it is because he is a good “bad ball hitter” (first of all, I hate you…not really, I love you all) you are wrong. Here is some good reading showing that you are wrong and that “bad ball hitters” only seem that way because they swing at a ton of bad balls, not because they actually do well with that approach.
Given that Jones has made it clear over and over that he doesn’t need to take walks or be more patient makes these stats even harder to stomach. I’m not saying he needs to be Joey Votto or Shin-Soo Choo but being more selective could be a game changer for the Orioles and specifically Jones. Just think of how good he could be if he swung a little less at balls outside the zone, he could be pretty scary. Until then, I’ll be thinking “what if”
See you at the yard,