Adam Jones turned in arguably his worst performance of the season during a 4-2, 18-inning victory over Seattle on September 18. Taking the collar, the Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder went 0-7 with three strikeouts.
Still, despite his poor showing in the Emerald City, Jones has been the driving force in the O’s resurgence and has to be included on the short list of candidates for American League MVP.
Jones is a long short. At the moment, Angels center fielder Mike Trout, Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera appear to have distanced themselves from the field with whomever finishes the strongest likely to take home the honor.
Jones is still in the race and can start to close the gap with a torrent of production down the stretch of the campaign while helping Baltimore reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
Starting all 148 games, Jones is batting .285 with 29 home runs and 75 RBI. He’s scored 90 runs, swiped 19 bases and boasts an .837 OPS.
In center, he’s registered a .981 field percentage and paces all AL center fielders with 401 putouts. He's 81 clear of Cleveland’s Michael Brantley, and his seven assists trail only Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton.
Along with Trout, Hamilton Jones is the only AL center fielder to sit in the top five of batting average, runs, home runs, RBI, OPS and WAR. He’s third in round trippers, fourth in runs, OPS and RBI and fifth in WAR and batting average.
On September 7 against the New York Yankees, Jones broke a 6-6 tie by leading off the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run in what would eventually end in a 10-6 Baltimore victory. It was his MLB leading 18th game-tying or game-winning home run.
Jones isn’t padding his stats against inferior competition. He’s hitting .300 with three home runs, seven RBI and 14 runs against the Yankees. He has four home runs versus the White Sox, his second most against any team. Against Oakland he’s batting .306 with six RBI, seven runs and an .831 OPS.
It’s unlikely that Jones will be named MVP. Then again, it was even more unlikely that the O’s would be a playoff contender in late September.