Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jones's phenomenal June: turning point or aberration?

If you've heard anything about Adam Jones this year, besides a few random non-baseball things, it's probably that he's not having a very good season at the plate. Jones struggled mightily in April and May, failing to post on-base percentages over .303 while also hitting a combined five home runs in the two months.

Then June came and Jones surprisingly started to crush the ball. In 26 games and 100 at bats in the month, Jones hit .320/.352/.600 with eight homers and 21 runs batted in. To go along with that impressive home run total, Jones hit 20 singles and four doubles. He also added two stolen bases and wasn't caught stealing. Still, despite the hot streak, Jones walked just four times and struck out 24 times.

Because of his June hitting, Jones is currently batting .274/.300/.453 with 13 home runs. Unfortunately, unless he starts to walk more, that may just be the kind of hitter Jones is: a guy who won't get on base a ton because he doesn't walk but does have some power. That seems a little insulting considering the month Jones just had, but it's just not possible to say that he's turned the corner yet. His awesome month can basically be attributed to two things: a high BABIP (.353) and improved power (.280 ISO). Jones has a career .316 BABIP and .157 ISO, so he's likely to return to the norm in both areas.

One of the interesting things about Jones's hitting this past month is that not only did he actually hit the ball harder in May (23.3% line-drive percentage) than in June (17.3%), but he actually struck out more too (24.0% in June to 16.3% in May). He walked slightly more in June (3.8% to 2.8%), and by slightly more I mean one more walk. Still, considering that Jones has only walked nine times this season, that's an accomplishment.

It would be ideal if Jones rounded into a complete hitter, possibly one who could hit in the middle of the lineup. He possesses a ton of power, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get on base more often by working the count and drawing walks. Right now, his BB% is lower than Miguel Tejada's (2.8% to 3.1%), which isn't very good unless you're racking up a ton of hits like Jones did in June.

So it's unlikely that Jones will be able to sustain his hot streak much longer. Unless he stops chasing pitches outside the zone and starts to walk more, he'll never be much more than a sixth or seventh hitter who doesn't get on base much but will still swing for the fences no matter the count. If that sounds harsh, it's only because Jones has the talent to be an offensive force for years to come. Here's to hoping that he reaches that potential.

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