A fast-rising Adam Jones was fifth in the outfield balloting for the American League when results were last released Monday, and MLB tweeted today that he's been gaining on Toronto's Melky Cabrera and Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, both of whom were ahead of him and one of whom will likely occupy a third starting spot with Angels' Mike Trout and Blue Jays' Jose Bautista.
Whether the three-time All-Star will get his fourth nod in the Midsummer Classic — let alone start in it — has dominated the local discourse for days. Michael Phelps tweeted out his support for Jones this afternoon, and the team has put on a week-long promotional blitz to put Jones in the starting lineup.
Jones might not ultimately be able to close the gap and join the starting lineup of the All-Star Game on July 15 in Minnesota, but on today's final day of voting, Orioles fans who have exhausted their 35 votes can rest easy knowing that whether he’s named to the team as a starter, reserve, or not at all, he’s having a career year.
His .307/.330/.510 slash line with 16 home runs and 50 RBI is impressive enough. But the easiest indicator of that is the all-knowing wins above replacement. Only four American League players — Trout, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, Bautista, and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler — have higher WAR than Jones’ 3.6 mark through the season. That puts him on pace for a WAR around 5, which would be far and away his best career mark.
In Jones’ last two All-Star seasons, 2012 and 2013, he managed 4.3 WAR and 4.2 WAR for the entire season, respectively.
Of course, life isn’t fair or logical, and counting stats count too. A stickler could say that his 19 home runs and 67 RBIs at the break last year were better, or that his 20 bombs before the All-Star break in 2012 make this candidacy look a bit weaker. But that particular stickler would be misinformed.
He's also competing with some of the best outfielders in the game. Bautista has been one of the best power hitters in baseball over the last five years and has the fantasy baseball bump going for him. Trout is the closest thing to Baseball Jesus we’ll ever see, so no one is unseating either of them.
There are plenty of other worthy candidates, including Cleveland’s Michael Brantley and Oakland’s Coco Crisp. But Jones is getting snubbed on some roster projections. FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal didn’t include Jones (or Zach Britton) on his team. Four of ESPN.com’s five writers had Jones in the squad, but not Jayson Stark, who instead had Alex Gordon and Houston star George Springer on the team.
Those snubs could only help Jones’ cause. Each one drums up more fan support for his candidacy as voting closes, and brings more attention to what’s shaping up to be a career year. But again, even if he’s not named to the team Sunday night — and he could surely be part of the fan vote if he isn’t — that’s not to say the Orioles don’t have an All-Star patrolling center field at Camden Yards.