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.
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.)
|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.