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August 7, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Adam Jones revisited

A year ago at this time, the debate was raging as to whether the Mariners should insert raw rookie Adam Jones into the starting lineup at the expense of any one of a number of regulars. In fact, in the history of this blog, Jones and the debates that swirl around him have generated more site traffic than any other player with less than a full season to his credit.
Well, Jones has just finished his first season in the big leagues. He has a broken foot and is almost certainly done for the season.
His final batting line?
A .279 average, .320 on-base percentage and .405 slugging percentage. He hit seven home runs and drove in 50 runs. His .725 OPS ranked 13th out of 17 major leaguers with at least 400 plate appearances at the centerfield position. Same with his home runs totals. In other words, he hasn’t set the world on fire with his bat yet, much as we’ve seen — albeit in fewer at-bats — from Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien over here in Seattle.
Playing the kids, as we’ve mentioned, requires patience and isn’t always the quick ticket to the playoffs.
But wait. There is a second component to what Jones does, given how he plays centerfield. His defense, naturally, has to be taken into account. The author of this very interesting Reds blog has crunched more numbers than I can fit in my brain at one time and come up with a system for ranking the overall contributions of every player. Calls it “Total Value Measures”. He’s adjusted it for positions as well, a centerfielder being more valuable than a first baseman defensively and such.
The numbers only run up to about two weeks ago but you get a fair indication of what Jones accomplished in his first season for the O’s. By that measure, Jones is the seventh best CF in the AL. So, right in the middle. But overall, in the majors, he rated 10th best.
That’s right in the top third. Not bad for a first season. So, while Jones did not threaten Joe DiMaggio on any scale, as some projections (taking artistic liberties here) might have had you thinking a year ago, he did indeed show signs of that promise projected for him. Hopefully, he recovers quickly and can put in a full season next year. Ditto on the guy the M’s received in a trade for him.

The top Mariners on the list?
Adrian Beltre rates as the sixth highest all-around player in the AL. The third-best third baseman.
Ichiro comes in as the sixth best CF in the AL. Overall, he’s the 21st highest rated player in the league.
Jose Lopez is next on the overall list at No. 60 and ranks 8th at his position in the AL.
There are plenty of Mariners at the bottom of the list:
Second-worst overall in the AL is Jose Vidro. Guess we know why nobody called the Mariners to trade for him
Ninth-worst is Yuniesky Betancourt. Just a notch below the 10th worst, Kenji Johjima. Balentien is right up there with the worst right fielders in the league, but we won’t count him because he hasn’t played enough.
But you can see why things have gone the way they have in Seattle this season.
For pitchers, both starters and relievers, Felix Hernandez is No. 5 overall in the league. Cliff Lee leads Roy Halladay by a hair at the top of the AL — which is key for me as I have a Cy Young Award vote this year and had them Nos. 1 and 2 on my list (won’t tell you what order yet).
The system being used here is a combination of runs above replacement level pitching that the hurler is worth, as well as his performance independant of fielders.
Carlos Silva comes in next, way, way down the list at No. 38. Followed by Jarrod Washburn at No. 46. Erik Bedard ranks only 57th.
This adjusts for park factors, league differences, etc. My feeling is the number of innings pitched has a lot to do with it as well since Bedard is not up there with Silva or Washburn in that regard.



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