Before the 2008 season, Adam Jones took a player picture for Yahoo! Sports and, probably to no fault of his own, was caught with his eyes closed; half blinking, half looking like he sniffed the photographer’s lingering fart. Four years later, whether it’s due to this picture or his under the radar stats, people are still “sleeping” on Jones. He’s so under the radar, in fact, that when he was traveling with the Orioles to Canada in 2010 to play the Blue Jays, he was detained by immigration officials because they had mistaken him for NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones, who has a criminal record and isn’t allowed into Canada (in a related story, Miguel Cabrera won’t be traveling to Toronto with the Detroit Tigers this year due to a DUI). Sleepy’s reputation, or lack thereof, has his ADP anywhere from 70-90, which is better than last year (140 ADP in ’11), but is still too low and something you should take advantage of.
Jones, much like his NL counterpart, Hunter Pence, has been the model of consistency. Over the past three years, he’s been good for 75, 20, 75, 10, .280. He actually improved in homeruns (25), RBI (83), and stolen bases (12) in 2011. He’s still only 26 years old and entering the prime of his career, which would suggest that his power numbers could still improve, nudging him north of 30 homers and 90 RBI.
Many fantasy experts and baseball scouts, though, think that this is what Jones is: an above average fielder, but offensively just a number three fantasy outfielder. Their reasoning? His lack of walks. In 624 career games, Sleepy only has 117 free passes. Those of you keeping score at home, Jose Bautista had more than that in 149 games last season. His lack of patience is worrisome (career .319 OBP) especially since you’d like to see Jones on first base more often because it would likely mean more steal opportunities. But as Jones matures as a hitter, his vision should improve, and in the coming seasons, an uptick in BB wouldn’t be terribly surprising.
Going back to his 70-90 ADP, Jones is being drafted behind outfield greats such as Alex Gordon, Bossman Junior Upton, and Shin-Soo Choo. Fantasy players have short memories, or they’re tantalized by the promise of upside. Gordon has produced one (count it: one) productive season since joining the league back in 2007. Upton who is a buoy in stolen bases is an anchor in batting average. And Choo, Mr. Mandatory Military himself, only has two positive years to his credit, and is coming of an injury plagued season. Jones, while not in the realm of players like Andrew McCutchen or Pence yet, is a slight cut above the players who are being drafted around him.
If your league is undervaluing Jones, be sure you take advantage of his “sleepy” reputation.