Garrett Jones’ lack of patience

Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones dug his left cleat into the fresh dirt scattered around Busch Stadium’s home plate and tapped the end of his bat on the ground. He lifted his head, stared without expression toward the pitcher’s mound and took a casual practice swing. Cardinals’ pitcher Jake Westbrook, oblivious of Jones, focused on the signs of his catcher Tony Cruz. For the fifth straight pitch, Cruz signaled for Westbrook’s trademark sinker. The count was 3-1 and Jones was in the driver’s seat. He cocked the bat menacingly behind his left ear, his powerful fingers loosely gripping his weapon as he awaited the pitch.

Westbrook rotated his hips, lifted his left leg toward his chest, stepped forward and fired his best sinker. The baseball left his hand at 91 MPH and hurtled toward the catcher’s mitt. Jones lifted his right foot slightly, stepped toward the plate and prepared to meet the white leather sphere with his formidable bat. As the ball approached the plate, it suddenly plummeted into the dirt. In an instant, Jones halted his swing and looked on as the ball skipped into Cruz’ big catcher’s glove. Jones flipped his bat toward the Pirates dugout and jogged to first base. One pitch later, Clint Barmes flew out to center field and the inning was over.

This occurred on May 3. It was only Jones’ third walk of the season. He did not reach via base on balls for a fourth time until this past Saturday. He also was intentionally walked on Sunday. In the past 45 days, Jones has one unintentional walk in 98 plate appearances. He has walked unintentionally only four times in 161 total plate appearances on the season.

This is not typical for Jones. Here are his unintentional walk rates during his time with the Pirates.

Season PA uBB%
2009 358 8.94%
2010 654 7.80%
2011 478 9.62%
2012 161 2.48%

Jones has been swinging much more often this season than in the past, at pitches both in the zone and outside it. Anecdotally, I feel like I see him waving at a pitch in the dirt at least once or twice per game. Here are his plate discipline stats (PITCHf/x version) from FanGraphs. (Note: These numbers are current through Saturday’s games.)

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing%
2009 30.4% 65.8% 46.5%
2010 31.2% 66.5% 47.0%
2011 31.9% 66.4% 47.4%
2012 39.9% 69.1% 52.3%
2012 League Average 28.5% 61.5% 44.8%

Jones is currently producing his best batting average and power numbers since his surprisingly dominant arrival in Pittsburgh in 2009. However, his extreme lack of patience has left him with an awful .273 on-base percentage, and is dramatically hurting his overall value at the plate.

2009 358 .293 .372 .567 .274 .396 145
2010 654 .247 .306 .414 .167 .314 93
2011 478 .243 .321 .433 .189 .328 107
2012 161 .253 .273 .461 .208 .312 95
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About Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.
  • Matt Gajtka

    The Toast Man is a great baseball fan and a kind and decent man. I met him in 2007 while working as an intern for the Power and once he found out we were both Pirates fans, we were fast friends. If you get a chance, check out his act! He’ll have you laughing from first pitch to last out with his gregarious personality and outrageous utterings.

  • John DiVito

    I was just thinking yesterday, that you guys would mention this… I like Jones as a bench/platoon player, but you are correct in saying that this is really hurting his value at the plate.

  • John Lease

    Compared to Barmes, he is a study in plate discipline.

    • RandyLinville

      You are right. Furthermore, Randall Simon is a study in plate discipline compared to 2012 Barmes.

  • Mike

    It helps pedro to swing earlier so he’s not guessing as much at the plate and he’s got tremendous pop.

  • john.alcorn

    Jones has a pretty proven track record, I’d chalk it up to a fluke more than anything. With all teh problems we have, Garrett is pretty far down the list with the team’s 2nd best OPS.

  • bucsws2014

    I am constantly surprised when a pitcher has two strikes on Jones and doesn’t throw a breaking ball diving at his right shoe. Seems to me he cannot lay off that pitch. And unfortunately he also cannot hit it.