We are nearly half way into the month of May, and the Seattle Mariners are 20-18. That’s right, a winning record at this point in the season for the first time since 2003.
There are several reasons the Mariners have been successful as of late – outstanding pitching from unlikely sources (Chris Young and Roenis Elias) and timely hitting have been major contributors, but youthful confidence has become a trend in the Mariner lineup as well.
Mike Zunino has come out of the gates very strong thus far and shown a glimpse of some surprising power early, racking up 6 home runs. However, it is James Jones who really jumps off the page when you watch the games.
Jones has played in just 10 games thus far, and has had some early success. So naturally, let’s over-examine the small sample of numbers and make ridiculously bold predictions, shall we?
In his first 10 games, Jones has posted a .391 batting average with 3 doubles, 6 runs scored and a stolen base. And he just landed a fourth double off of David Price as I was typing that sentence. Needless to say, the kid is hot.
Since replacing the injured Michael Saunders in the lead off role, Jones has wowed all who have seen him play with his ability to slap and sprint. His success has somewhat diminished what Saunders had going during his hot hitting.
This will most definitely give manager Lloyd McClendon a difficult decision to make once Saunders returns healthy.
But these are the problems you want to have.
The ability of Jones isn’t merely limited to the plate appearances, mind you. He has been touted as the “best outfield arm in the organization” as well.
Jones spent some time on the pitching mound along with his time in the outfield throughout high school and even at Long Island University. He hit 95 mph on the radar gun at one point.
When you combine his arm strength with his speed you are sure to see some fireworks – and he hasn’t refrained from dazzling on a few diving catches either.
All of the early success – and the last name – bring up vague memories of a purposely-forgotten treasure the Mariners once had. Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones began his career in the Mariners organization, and before rising to stardom was traded to the O’s for lefty-letdown, Erik Bedard.
Two arm surgeries and three lousy seasons later, Bedard was pawned off to Boston and Adam Jones was becoming an icon in Baltimore. It is a memory Mariner fans don’t like to dwell on.
However, James Jones could be that balm to soothe the sting that Adam left.
Obviously it is incredibly early to compare James to the all star center fielder that Adam has blossomed into. But when you take a peek at the numbers, the idea gains some sanity.
In his first stint with the Mariners, Adam Jones played in 32 games. He batted .216 with 4 doubles, 1 home run, 3 stolen bases, 6 runs scored and 8 RBI’s.
Now, when you consider James Jones’ numbers – .391 BA with 4* doubles, o home runs. 1 stolen base. 6 runs scored and 0 RBI’s, there is no reason to believe that James won’t top – if not annihilate – Adam’s early statistics.
The biggest difference is the power. James is more of a slap-and-sprint type of hitter while Adam has hit 30+ home runs the past two seasons. But don’t sleep on James, who had 14 home runs in his 2012 season in the minors.
The kid has pop, and keep in mind – Adam didn’t top 9 bombs until his fourth season in the bigs.
Is it early to make these predictions? Of course.
But are they attainable? I believe they are.