Orioles outfielder Adam Jones hasn't jumped out to the best start. A high draft pick in most leagues, Jones was thought to be one of the safer options in the outfield. He's hit at least 25 home runs and stolen double-digit bases over the past three seasons. During that period, he's hit between .280 and .287. He was as consistent as they come. But after the first month of the season, things don't look so great. Should Fantasy owners start to worry about Mr. Consistent?
In a word, no. Jones' skill set relies on him swinging early and often. That doesn't often lead to the most desirable peripherals, as his walk rate is typically low, but it's an approach that works for Jones. The main problem with that approach in the early going is that Jones' strikeout rate has jumped from 19.7 percent last year to 23.3 percent. Strikeout rate tends to stabilize after about 150 plate appearances, so we're actually approaching the point where Jones' elevated strikeout rate could last all year.
At the same time, Jones' swinging strike rate is a little lower this year, meaning he's not swinging and missing as much as he did in 2013. That could indicate that he's had a few more called third strikes early in the season. That's speculation on my part, but Jones is swinging slightly less to open the year, which helps the theory. If he can get those issues under control, the average will hop back to its usual territory. If not, he may hit about .265 this year.
That won't kill Jones' value if he can still provide some pop. There's reason to think he'll do so, however. Jones' HR/FB rate sits at a measly 3.2 percent this season. Considering his career rate in the category is 14.8 percent, it seems like he's going to start lofting balls out of the park any day now. His batted ball data supports that idea, as his rates haven't changed all that much. In fact, Jones is actually hitting more fly balls this year.
There's no doubt Jones' first month has been disappointing. But it looks like his issues are due to a prolonged slump, and not a change in his approach or sign of decline. Don't sell low just yet, better days are coming.