Skeptics Say: Jones' walk rate was 12th worst among qualifying hitters and fourth worst among all outfielders. At the same time, it wasn't as if he was making contact everytime at the plate. He also had the fourth worst strikeout to walk rate among qualifying outfielders. Even leagues that don't carry OBP should take notice. This can impact where Jones hits in the Orioles lineup.
Peer Comparison: CBS has Jones as the 36th best outfielder while Cockcroft thinks he's the 21st best outfielder. What gives? These 15 players:
Martin Prado, Nick Swisher, Howie Kendrick, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Jeff Francoeur, Nick Markakis, Andre Ethier, Corey Hart, Michael Morse, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Young, Lance Berkman, Ben Zobrist, and B.J. Upton.
Personally I lean closer to Cockcroft in the ranking of Jones, but somewhere in the middle. Upton, Zobrist (positional value), Morse, Berkman, Young, Ethier, and Hart (although Ryan Braun isn't helping here) are all better options. This gap in value does show how critical it is to snatch up a player you want a round sooner than you need to (if you want strictly with ESPN rankings as your guide and someone else used CBS Jones would be available much later).
Lineup Outlook: The skeptics spoke about where Jones could hit and it will be a huge issue again in 2012. He spent approximately half of his at-bats in 2011 as the team's number three hitter and was not surprisingly just a touch more likely to hit a home run and drive in a run there than he was in the other spots that he hit. The next place Jones spent the most at-bats last year was the sixth spot in the order. That's where he was hitting at the end of the season when the Orioles were treating each game like it was the playoffs in their attempt to eliminate the Red Sox (a team they absolutely hated after Keving Gregg and David Ortiz got into it back in July).
What They're Saying: CBS Sportsline: #36 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #21 Outfielder & #69 Overall; RotoChamp: #64 Overall
Projection: Jones' HR:FB rate was fairly high last year, but he also did not start 17 games. I think he can sustain the home runs in the 20 to 25 range because he can get some of those at-bats back this season. He also will benefit from one more year of experience in the base stealing and run producing categories.
73 R 23 HR 80 RBI 11 SB .277 AVG .318 OBP .776 OPS