Consistency from year to year can often be overlooked in fantasy baseball because often times we want the flair for the dramatic, the opportunity to own a player for his big breakout season. So sometimes we will forego the opportunity of making the “safe” pick of drafting a player that is easier to predict and we “know” what to expect from him because we want the upside for more instead. Over the last four seasons, one of the most consistent and reliable fantasy outfielders has been Adam Jones of the Orioles. There’s been some fluctuation in his RBI and runs scored due to his spot changing in the batting order, but for the most part he has been much the same player from year to year from 2011-14. Take a look:
- 2011 – .280/.319/.466 with 25 HR, 83 RBI, 68 R, 12 SB, 4.7 BB%, 18.3 K%
- 2012 – .287/.334/.505 with 32 HR, 82 RBI, 103 R, 16 SB, 4.9 BB%, 18.1 K%
- 2013 – .285/.318/.493 with 33 HR, 108 RBI, 100 R, 14 SB, 3.6 BB%, 19.7 K%
- 2014 – .281/.311/.469 with 29 HR, 96 RBI, 88 R, 7 SB, 2.8 BB%, 19.5 K%
Jones has missed 11 games this season due to various minor injuries to his ankle, shoulder, and toe, but with 2 HR off Max Scherzer on the day right before the All-Star break, Jones is now hitting .281/.326/.490 with 14 HR, 43 RBI, 43 R, and 3 SB, which puts him near pace to have another season that is pretty consistent with the past four seasons. However, there is one big difference in his performance so far that in the end could allow him to break the some of this consistent production in a positive way. That difference is that this season he is striking out at a career low rate of 14.5%.
Jones has always been a free swinger who doesn’t really enjoy taking walks, and this season he is sporting a career high swing rate by offering at a whopping 60.2% of pitches, which is much higher than his 55.9% career rate. However, he has been able to make contact on more of those swings with a career best 11.4% swinging strike rate. His career swinging strike rate is 13.5%, which isn’t too much higher than his current 2015 rate, but it’s still a noticeable enough difference and appears to be the primary factor to the decline in his strikeout rate.
The drop in his strikeouts is significant because in theory he should see an uptick in his batting average if all other things in his batted ball profile are mostly constant. Jones’ BABIP over the last several seasons is something that has also been consistent with marks of .304, .313, .314, and .311, but this season it is down to a very uncharacteristic .292. His hard hit rate is the only thing that would really suggest a decline in his BABIP as it is at 30.4%, which is the lowest it’s been since 2011, but that’s not too far off from his career mark of 31.9%.
So if Jones can get his BABIP back up to a level that he is used to giving, paired with the decrease in strikeouts, that could lead to his first .300 AVG season of his career. If he is unable to achieve so, then at the very least he should end the season once again in very familiar territory that is consistent with what he’s been known to do. That wouldn’t be a terrible thing, but definitely not overly exciting and it would leave the fantasy baseball community jonesing for more.
Let’s take a look at the rest of Sunday’s action as we enter the All-Star break.