You know, there are just some guys that look like ballplayers.
There's that swagger on the field that you just can't really put your finger on. The effortless nature both in the box and on the field. Really, having just the right sock and sleeve combo goes a long way.
Simply, Adam Jones fits that exact mold to a tee.
When Jonesy steps into the box, blows his bubbles and terrifyingly gets ready to hit, that entire persona as a baseball player is unmatched amongst the rest of his Oriole teammates. He glides in the outfield, getting to fly balls and line drives that only a handful of other major leaguers can. We've seen the throws from the outfield. He's a perennial Gold Glove, MVP candidate and the the face of the Baltimore franchise.
So should his hot start come as a surprise? Not really.
After the O's first nine games, Jones leads the team with a .406 average, four home runs, 13 hits and 11 RBI's. In fact, he leads the majors in RBI's (11), and is tied for second with Dodgers' 1B Adrian Gonzalez with 10 runs scored. Jones' combined 11 runs batted in and 10 trips to home plate have accounted for nearly 53% of the Orioles' runs to start the season. Jones has a hit in each of his last six games, and in three of those games, he has at least 2+ hits.
With men in scoring position, Jones is raking, as he's 4-7 with two singles, a double and a homer, as his work with runners on second and third has accounted for 7 of his 11 RBI's.
Yes, the numbers are awesome, but it's what makes Jonesy so good as to why his offensive numbers have erupted early on.
Of his four home runs, two have come from off-speed pitches, and three of his dingers were mistakes on the inner-half of the plate. Mark Buerhle hung a curveball, and Jones tagged it into the left field seats. C.C. Sabathia thought he could sneak a fastball on the inside corner, instead Jones' extremely fast hands turned on 89 MPH pitch and deposited it deep into bleachers. Michael Pineda missed badly with an up-and-in slider and Jones somehow got under it enough to drop it into the O's bullpen. Though, this one being the most impressive, as Jones hammered a well-placed Drew Hutchison fastball to the deepest part of Camden Yards.
Good hitters have the ability to take advantage of mistakes, and make pitchers pay. Great hitters, like Jones, are also uniquely coordinated enough to hit pitcher's pitches and do what Jones did to Hutchison. In this situation, Hutchison was probably hoping Jones wouldn't be looking for a fastball on the outside corner, hoping to sneak a strike past the Orioles' cleanup hitter. If he got to 1-2 on Jones, Hutchison surely would have attempted to get Jones out with a slider down-and-away, but in order for that to succeed, he would have to show Jones that outside fastball.
Jones didn't allow Hutchison to dictate the at-bat however. He saw fastball, reacted, and hit a blast to dead centerfield. That's rare stuff.
Jones has irked the Orioles' fan base for his one fatal flaw, and that's swinging at the down-and-away breaking ball, which for sometime, he has been unable to lay off. So far in 2015, @SimplyAJ10 is already showing more patience. His two strikeouts in nine games equal his two walks, and as crazy it might be, Jones is only 17 more walks off of his 2014 total. You go Jonesy! Raise that OBP every now and then!
Maybe because he plays for the O's, and it seems the national media time and again finds any excuse to dismiss the Orioles as legit contenders (or maybe that's just me), but does it seem that No. 10 doesn't get the attention he so deserves?
Since the start of 2011, only Hunter Pence, Robinson Cano, Alcides Escobar, Adrian Gonzalez and Billy Butler (how?) have played in more games than Jones. In that time, only Nelson Cruz, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion have hit more home runs than Jones. In the past four seasons, there are only seven players with more runs batted in than Mr. Jones. He's finished every season with a batting average of at least .280 since 2010, and though his slugging and on-base numbers aren't up to the lofty expectations of the new generation, Jones' consistent presence on the field and steady power numbers SHOULD have him in the conversation with the best in the baseball.
Do Jones' career playoff numbers depreciate from his actual importance? No, but it seems a number of O's fans hold a grudge towards Jones because of his massive postseason struggles (8-58, 1 HR, 15 K's). But where are the O's without No. 10?
This rapid nine-game start really has been a showcase of what makes Jonesy so good as a baseball player. He's hitting for power, he's played outstanding defense thus far, and as a middle-of-the-order bat, he's driving in runs, Simply put, he's doing his job, and on a 6-year, $85 million contract, he's smashing a hole through what is one of the more team-friendly deals in all of baseball. Though Chris Davis is taking baby steps at the plate, someone has to produce runs in the premium spots of the lineup. Expect Jones to be that guy, yet again, for another 162 games.
It's easy to take for granted the kind of player Jones is, because he is indeed, so consistent. We expect him to reach the 25+ homer plateau. His chasing down of deep fly balls and throwing runners out at the plate has become second nature to our viewing. Though his numbers seem to be at a constant, that doesn't mean they aren't great. Make no mistake, Jones has been the Orioles' biggest catalyst since his first days in Baltimore, as his massive gum-bubbles and swaggerific socks are simply part of what makes him great.
Hmmm...but the home runs and RBI's are pretty great too.