This year, the Baltimore Orioles have been blessed with an explosive offense that leads the league in Slugging Percentage (.441 tied with the Detroit Tigers) and Home Runs (175). The Orioles also boast Top 5 numbers in Extra Base Hits( 426, 2nd in league), Runs (620, 4th in league), RBI’s (596, 4th in league), Batting Average (.266, 4th in league), and Doubles (239, 5th in league). The success this year is due to a group of players that include Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and J.J Hardy. Two of those players in particular, Chris Davis and Adam Jones, have been extremely good in essentially all the categories the Orioles excel in stated previously in the article. While it is great to see the Orioles performing well offensively this year, GM Dan Duquette and the rest of the Orioles organization have to prepare for the future. One of the main players the Orioles want long-term is 3rd baseman Manny Machado understandably due to his success at 3rd base and the home plate, but when it comes to long-term value it is difficult to tell who comes after Machado. 1st baseman Chris Davis and center fielder Adam Jones seem like good candidates for next in line to keep long term but who has the better long-term value, Davis or Jones?
Let’s first look at how both Davis and Jones came to the Orioles organization. On July 30, 2011, the Orioles acquired pitcher Tommy Hunter and first baseman Chris Davis from the Rangers that sent reliever Koji Uehara to Texas. Davis had struggled in Texas, being optioned to Triple-A multiple times in his seasons with the Rangers as well as being left off the postseason roster when the Rangers went on to face the Giants from San Francisco in the World Series. Since being traded to the Orioles however, the 27 year old first baseman has made a living off of his quick bat speed and ability to hit all the spots in a ballpark knocking in 46 home runs so far this year. Davis has burst onto the scene in Baltimore as we can see in his stat line the past two years: .287/79 home runs/280 hits/203 RBI’s. Also keep in mind, there are still 33 games to play this year. “Crush” Davis is on pace to become the Orioles all-time home run leader for the regular season, he currently has 46 and the leader Brady Anderson, has 50.
Adam Jones came to the Orioles on February 8, 2008 in an extremely lopsided trade that sent Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kameron Mickolio, and Tony Butler to Baltimore while SP Erik Bedard was shipped off to Seattle. The Orioles seem to have won in this trade, with Tillman looking for his 15th win on the season and Jones becoming a mainstay in the Oriole’s outfield corps. This year, the 28-year-old from San Diego is ranked 2nd on the team in hits, RBI’s, home runs, batting average (minimum 100 at bats), and runs. Since 2009, Jones has thrived on the Orioles roster with a batting average of .285 while also averaging 24 home runs and 160 hits keeping in mind again that there is still 20% of the 2013 season left to play.
There are many positives to both of these players as stated in the previous paragraphs but there are also a few negatives that Davis and Jones possess. First off, there is a reason why Davis is among the top 5 in the league for home runs, RBI’s, and slugging percentage but suddenly drops off to 25th in hits, he’s is fifth in the league in strikeouts with 156. With Mark Reynolds leaving (204 strikeouts in 2011, 10th most all-time) it seems as if Chris Davis has taken his place and will lead the team strikeouts. Chris also has the 9th highest strikeout percentage with 29.0% meaning that Davis strikes out approximately 3 out of 10 times he comes up to the plate. Jones has a much lower strikeout percentage than Davis (18.3%, 63rd in league) and overall when one looks at it, Jones is a better fielder than Davis.
Looking at the DWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) statistics, Davis averaged about a -.075 while Jones averaged about a -.74. While Jones’ number is lower than Davis’ this statistic favors players in positions like 1st base, it is much harder to earn a good DWAR as an outfielder so if you take that into consideration the small difference between Jones and Davis in DWAR goes very much into Jones’ favor. One of the Orioles biggest assets as a team is their defense; the Orioles lead the league in fielding percentage (.992) as well as total errors (39). The Orioles organization has defensive success as its first priority so the edge goes to Jones on this aspect.
The Orioles would hate to find themselves in the position in which they would have to choose who to part with between the two players but it is in the Orioles best interest to keep Adam Jones as long as possible, he has the better long-term value. You have to look past Davis’ incredible power-batting season he is having this year. Jones is a better fielder considering how important it is to have a center fielder that can field above average rather than a first baseman. Jones has also had 4 quality years with the Orioles and has shown consistency year to year while Davis has only been here 2 years and it will be hard to keep up the year he has been having considering that pitchers will be keying on him and paying more attention to him in the coming years. While the fans will miss the home runs from “Crush” Davis, what they won’t miss will be the Mark Reynolds-esque strikeouts by Davis that he has been producing all year. Jones has been a mainstay in the Orioles outfield for the past five years and has incredible long-term value, slightly more value than “Crush” even with his incredible power numbers this year.