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Stats corner: Bucs 1B Jones reverts to Triple-A form

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By David Golebiewski
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
 

Garrett Jones is a prime example of a minor league lifer who finally gets a shot in the majors and cashes in on the opportunity. A 14th-round pick in the 1999 draft, Jones was cut by the Braves and had nearly 2,500 place appearances between the Twins' and Pirates' Triple-A affiliates before reaching Pittsburgh in 2009. He hit a career-high 27 home runs last year, third-best on the team.

But Jones has reverted to his Triple-A form. He has hit only 12 homers through Friday's games and has a career-worst .712 on-base-plus-slugging percentage — 60 points below the MLB average for first base, where Jones has spent most of his time this season. Jones' glove work hasn't been much better, costing the Pirates about six runs compared to an average fielder, according to Fangraphs' Ultimate Zone Rating.

Scuffling on both sides of the ball, Jones has been the fifth-worst first baseman in MLB as measured by Wins Above Replacement, an all-encompassing stat comparing a player's offensive, defensive and baserunning value to a Triple-A or waiver-wire-type talent. He has the same WAR as Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds, both of whom have been released this season.

Bucs losing WAR at 1B

Player Team WAR

Paul Konerko White Sox -1.6

Yuniesky Betancourt Brewers -1.4

Jordan Pacheco Rockies -1.0

Todd Helton Rockies -0.9

Juan Francisco Brewers -0.5

Garrett Jones Pirates -0.4

Source: Fangraphs.com

Jones' woes are glaring when you consider the type of production other NL playoff contenders are receiving from their first basemen. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt (5.2 WAR), Cincinnati's Joey Votto (5.1), Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (3.2), L.A.'s Adrian Gonzalez (2.5) and St. Louis' Allen Craig (2.4) rank in the top 10 in WAR among first basemen.

Jones, meanwhile, has the fourth-worst single-season WAR among Pirates first basemen with 300-plus plate appearances during the expansion era (1961-present). The club didn't make the playoffs any year in which they received Jones-like production at first base.

Bad company at 1B

Player Year WAR

Kevin Young 2000 -1.2

Lyle Overbay 2011 -1.0

Dick Stuart 1962 -0.6

Garrett Jones 2013 -0.4

Daryle Ward 2004-05 -0.2

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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