BY L.E. MILLER
As the 2016 season got under-way I published an article outlining how I thought that Adam Jones' best season was still in front of him. Pointing positive trends in his advanced fielding stats, and noticing subtle improvements in his plate approach, I looked to 2016 as potentially AJ's best year yet.
A week later it was obvious that Jones had started the year injured. While he never went on the DL, he missed a handful of games and generally struggled through April and into May. The Orioles started hot without him, but after an injury plagued 2015 it was truly a shame for him to not get a fresh start.
Such is baseball.
Rather than be a tragic lost season, Jones has actually ended up putting together one of the best stretches of offensive performance in his career. Entering Sunday's game, from May 1st on Jones has slashed an impressive .290/.325/.487 over 112 games with 26 of his 27 homers coming since his lost April turned the page to May.
In my April article I discussed the possibility of a 40 homerun season from Jones (previous high of 33). 27 in 112 games is certainly a possible 40 HR pace over a full season. This later in the year of course 40 is almost certainly out of the picturet, but setting a career high in the dinger department is still in play. (He would need to hit 7 in the remaining 20 games. Not super likely, but definitely possible.)
Jones continued scuffling in early May, but the May 10-12 series in Minnesota was like a light switch getting turned on. Hitting just .200/.269/.274 going into that series, he would hit two homeruns while collecting a total of 7 hits. Since May 10, he's slashed .299/.333/.509 over the course of sizable sample of 105 games.
To anyone that saw Jones' hot start to 2015 ( .400/.440/.707 in April) as indicative of his capabilities, this is what we were hoping to see. No we didn't think AJ was a .400 hitter, but we definitely saw a man that could be even more productive with just a slight bit more patience at the dish. Jones was still batting .301/.342/.494 on Jun 16th when his bad shoulder sidelined him for eight games in the second half of June. From July on, he'd bat just .249/.281/.478.
This current stretch of success is more impressive. It's nearly twice as long, and while his 2015 stretch was buoyed a good bit by that incredible April, this has been a fairly steady stretch...and he's trending upwards right now.
.275/.318/.463 in May from the Twins series.
.314/.354/.628 in June
.261/.310/.410 in July
.309/.320/.464 in August
.371/.405/.629 in September thus far.
Just in time for a four-way race for the division crown.