Earlier today, we took a look at the best case scenario for the upcoming season for the Miami Marlins new first baseman, Garrett Jones. Even the most optimistic of projections didn’t paint a great picture on what we should expect from Jones in the coming season.
The good news is, as unlikely as it is that Jones turns into a productive player, it’s just as unlikely that he becomes a major flop, as long as the Marlins don’t take too long to pull the plug on giving Jones a facing left-handed pitching.
The main reason for pessimism surrounding Jones has a great deal to do with his struggles against lefties in his career. Here is a look at Jones’ career platoon splits:
The Pirates did an excellent job of keeping Jones out of the lineup when they faced lefties. In fact, Jones’ platoon partner in Pittsburgh was none other than former Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
Manager Mike Redmond is still likely to give Jones a chance to face lefties, despite the numbers pointing out that this is obviously a terrible idea.
“It’s a confidence thing for a player,” Redmond said. “Everybody wants to know that their manager and organization has faith in them. As a former player, that’s big for guys. He’s going to get that opportunity to go out there and play. We signed him to play every day.”
Redmond firmly believes that with more reps against lefties, Jones will have more success in figuring them out. He could be 100% right and can make many around baseball feel stupid for doubting him. That is not likely to be the case though.
There is a reason smarter organizations, like the Pirates, and wiser managers, like Clint Hurdle, have not given Jones more opportunity to face the same handed pitchers. This seems like something that the Marlins will have to learn the hard way.
Another thing to be weary about with Jones is his defense. Metrics have rated Jones to be a well below average first baseman throughout his major league career. Logan Morrison was no sure handed fielder at first either, but with Jones only getting older, his defense should only deteriorate.
With Adeiny Hechavarria struggling defensively, at least according to the metrics, a weak defensive player at third in Casey McGehee, and the Marlins unsure what they’ll get from Rafael Furcal, as he transitions to second base, the Marlins infield defense could be a hot mess in 2014.
And defense is something that the Marlins always try to put atop their priority list for their branded “Marlins Way.” Go figure.
The last reason for pessimism towards Jones in 2014 is the man he is replacing, LoMo. The Marlins opted to go with the guy that has been more “consistent” over the player with more upside. That is something that could come back and bite them in the rear end if Morrison turns out to be better than he was in his time in Miami.
Jones’ high water mark in the projection systems is a 0.3 WAR and a .321 wOBA by ZiPS. Morrison’s worst projection happens to be ZiPS, and it projects him to be about even with Jones’ best projections.
Morrison is also six years younger than Jones and still has some untapped potential that once made him one of the top prospects in baseball.
The worst case scenario that could play out for Jones in the 2014 season would be the Marlins exposing him to left-handed pitching for too long, bringing his overall numbers to a point where he provides negative value to the team on the field. At the same time, in Seattle, Logan Morrison finds a Hanley Ramirez like resurgence and regains the ability to play the game like many projected him to when he was among the top prospects in baseball.
Overall, Jones doesn’t offer the Marlins a ton of upside in the 2014 season, especially if they make the mistake of allowing him to be the everyday first baseman and being exposed to too many left-handed pitchers.
Tune in later for the Marlin Maniac official projection for Garrett Jones’ 2014 season.