The list of struggling Orioles in 2010 is nearly as lengthy as their 25-man roster, but few are more noticeable than Adam Jones, the club’s starting center fielder and one of the faces of the franchise.
Jones is a key cog in the Orioles' rebuilding process and after winning his first Gold Glove and appearing in his first All-Star game in 2009 he appeared to be on the path to stardom. However, prior to the month of June, Jones has struggled to recapture the success of last season.
Jones finally emerged from his season-long slump in June to the tune of four home runs and 12 RBI. His batting average for the month, .284, has also risen to near his career average.
Jones has yet to cool off, collecting 12 total bases in the last seven days and delivering a key base hit before Matt Wieters delivered a three-run double on Sunday to give the Orioles an early lead over the Padres, which they would ultimately relinquish.
Unfortunately, much to the dismay of Orioles supporters, Jones' resurgence hasn’t been reflected in the O’s win-loss record. Baltimore is 4-14 through June 21, and things continue to go downhill for the club despite Dave Trembley’s dismissal as manager.
It is no secret that Jones is a free swinger, and opposing pitchers exploited that weakness to perfection through the first two months of the season. However, obvious regression in his power numbers and walk ratio indicated that the streaky center fielder has not been playing up to potential.
One possible reason for Jones' reemergence is sustained plate discipline.
Jones racked up one of the highest percentages of chased balls in the majors to begin the year, and while his numbers have not drastically improved they do indicate increased patience at the plate.
Jones boosted his pitches-per-plate appearance to a solid 4.0 after posting numbers of 3.76 and 3.69 in April and May, respectively. He has also earned more base on balls and raised his base on ball per plate appearance average from .019 in April to .042 in June.
For Jones, slugging percentage is vital, especially as one of the Orioles' main sources of power. His percentage currently sits at .478 for the month of June, but Jones will need to sustain this pace if he wants to repeat or surpass his breakout season last year.
Jones struggled down the stretch last year before an ankle injury ended his season prematurely, but he still maintained a strong statistical season.
This year if Jones falls into a late season slump, it will become the story of his season.