Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is a four-time Gold Glove winner, but he had a rough year in the field last season. He’s now playing deeper in the hopes that it will improve his fielding.
Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones has won four Gold Gloves, so it would make sense to think he knows what he’s doing out there already. But if you look at his defensive metrics from last season, things were pretty rough.
Without a doubt, last season was one of the worst season Jones has had in center field during his career. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) was a career-worst -10.1, his range rating was a quite low -10.3, and his defensive runs saved (DRS) was at -10, a four-year low.
Jones and the Orioles organization is quite aware of this, and even these stats specifically, as they’ve talked to Jones about it, and recommended he start playing deeper in center field to remedy the problem.
More from Baltimore Orioles
- What other Baltimore Orioles Offseason Storylines will you be interested in seeing?
- Baltimore Orioles to Face Numerous Playoff Contenders Down the Stretch
- Baltimore Orioles Showing Encouraging Signs During Recent Wins
- The Baltimore Orioles and the Expanded September Roster
- Orioles Josh Rogers Expectations in his Major League Debut
Jones doesn’t totally buy all the data, but he’ll do anything for a win, as he said:
“Data tells you a story, and if you want it to tell you that story, it’ll tell you that story. I can 100 percent combat their claims and all that stuff, but then I’d be throwing people under the bus and that’s not my style. I just said, ‘All right, whatever can make this team better, whatever I can do to help, I don’t care.’ I’ll sacrifice anything in this game besides my decency and my spirit to win a game. That’s one thing about me, I’ve always been a guy who will do anything just for that ‘W’ that night. That’s how I am right now.”
Jones has been making the adjustment so far this season. According to MLB Statcast, Jones has been lining up an average of 17 feet deeper in center field this season than he did last season.
Playing deeper is something that has worked for other center fielders in the majors, including Dexter Fowler, whose defensive metrics have been trending noticeably upwards over the past few years.
During his 2014 season with the Houston Astros, Fowler had a -21.8 UZR and -20 defensive runs saved. In 2015, the UZR rose to -1.7 and the defensive runs saved rose to -12. The 2016 season saw even more improvements, as Fowler’s UZR rose to 1.0 and his defensive runs saved rose to one.
Jones is starting to learn what all these defensive metrics mean, and it’s making sense for him, as he said:
“I think they were able to break down the numbers and let me know what certain balls, if they landed — I finally got to understand what defensive runs saved is. But say you allow a double. From a double, it only takes one single to score. If you play back, you take away the doubles and they don’t mind if you allow three singles for them to score. I’m not the brightest person in the world, but I understand that logic. It takes away a little bit of my feel, but I still add my feel.”
We’ll see as the year goes on if this adjustment for Jones turns things back around for him, as having that Gold Glove-caliber play in center field is a major boost for the Baltimore Orioles.