Cameron's article tried to suss out part of Jones' value: his potential. This was done by making a:
a list of all player seasons from the last 10 years where the hitter was 25 or younger, swung at 50% or more of the pitches they were thrown, and posted an ISO of at least .150 (to eliminate the middle infielders and catchers who are simply in the sport for their glovework). This group is essentially a collection of athletic players who got to the show based on their physical skills, but showed a significant lack of polish early in their career.This produced 24 players who are rather interesting with respect to their future performance. So 14 of the 24 players listed are useful regulars or better. Nine star level players are in the group, including Matt Kemp and Adrian Beltre. Five good players come in the next tier, which includes Hunter Pence. Nick Faleris has actually compared the Pence deal to what the Orioles should expect for Jones if he is dealt to a team who sees him as a center fielder. The tradeoff being Pence's average for Jones' center field. That trade involved Pence and cash to the Phillies for Jonathan Singleton (top 25/50 1B prospect), Jared Cosart (top 100 pitching prospect), Domingo Santana (raw power OF), and Josh Zeid (maybe middle reliever). That deal is similar to what has been mentioned on the Depot as a potential trade framework of a top 25, 50, and 100 prospects for Jones. I would say that Jones currently skirts the role player/good player level. With respect to the Braves package, I would call both Jurrjens and Prado are role players.
I do find Cameron's method a bit crude, but it is a useful exercise. The idea is to look over the entire cloud of possibilities and recognize that the tools Adam Jones flashes are tools that may take time to package together. Torii Hunter didn't learn how to take a walk until he was 27. Dale Murphy doubled his walk rate at age 26. This made me wonder what exactly is a decent projection for Adam Jones over the next three years (his two years of arbitration and one free agent year, which would be a good idea for an extension).
I used selected all players from 1961 to 2008 who by the end of the age 25 year had at least 1500 plate appearances, an on base percentage less than .330, an isolated slugging greater than .140, a batting average greater than .260, and an OPS+ less than 110. This results in the following list of players: Tony Horton, Rich Gedman, Tim Wallach, Dale Murphy, Larry Parrish, Lance Parrish, George Hendrick, Rocco Baldelli, Cliff Floyd, Juan Samuel, Carlos Lee, J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew, Juan Encarnacion, Zoilo Versalles, Aramis Ramirez, and Juan Uribe. Due to the special circumstances surrounding Horton's and Baldelli's health, I removed them from the list as an outlier. Adam Jones, according to batting runs, would rank 10th out of 17 on this list. Batting runs does not consider position, so it is a good representation of the worth of a bat outside of any context. Jones, of course, would be worth more when his bat is combined with a glove that can cover center field. Using rWAR, Jones is the second highest rated player in this group.
What I am interested in for each player is how his batting average, walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power changed from his 25 and under years to his 26-28 years. Those differences may then be able to inform us as to what we could expect from Adam Jones. The follow are how certain metrics change from those two data sets for each individual in those data sets:
On Base Percentage = 4.7 +/- 10.8 %What is interesting is that as a group, there was basically improvement across the board. This included marginal improvements for on base percentage and isolated power, but also a substantial improvement in walk rate. Adam Jones is likely to improve and is pretty much certain not to walk any less. It also is informative that although walk rate improve drastically, it does not greatly improve on base percentage. This illustrates how poorly this group earns walks during their under 26 years.
Isolated Power = 6.9 +/- 24.2 %
Batting Average = 1.1 +/- 10.9 %
Walk Rate = 26.5 +/- 26.9 %
Strikeout Rate = -0.7 +/- 19.3 %
What do the future Adam Jones' lines look like? The following are three lines. The first line is if Jones meets the 85th percentile for each metric, the second is if he hits the 50th percentile for each, and the final is if he hits the 15th percentile for each. I am unsure how linked the metrics are, so obviously these lines do not mean Jones has a 15% chance to be great or a 15% chance to be unplayable. The range of performance is likely to be far narrower around the 50th percentile line here.
85th: 308/369/520; 18 WAR; ~80MMAs you can see, Jones profiles as a solid center fielder over the next three years and that has a lot of worth. The key to Jones becoming a superstar involves one of two paths. The Aramis Ramirez path is thought of as the more likely one and that is to experience a massive improvement in making not only contact, but meaningful contact with the baseball. He increased his batting average by 17% with a 50% increase in his ISO, decreased his strikeouts by 36%, and also manage to eek up his meager walk rate by 31%. The second path is the Dale Murphy path, which is to drastically improve your walk rate (47%). Carlos Lee actually managed to up his 71%. To boil it down, Jones needs to see a significant increase in making meaningful contact and either increase contact in general or improve his ability to earn walks. The paths are not common, but certainly are not rare. At worst, Jones is someone over the next three years is a marginal all star.
50th: 278/334/451; 11 WAR; ~50MM
15th: 248/300/382; 4.5 WAR; ~21MM
Now, if you are the Orioles and thinking of an extension, then you would likely look to offer something in the neighborhood of a three years for 40MM deal or a four years for 55MM. That would cover two years of arbitration and one or two of free agency.
If you are the Orioles looking to trade Jones...then you are certainly asking for more than Jurrjens and Prado.
A final note: this of course is a statistical exercise using an informed selection process to predict performance and should be treated as such.