COMMENTARY | It's hard to defend a man who is hitting .135 in the month of August and recently broke an 0-for-19 streak at the plate.
It's no secret that Garrett Jones is on pace to set career lows in batting average, home runs, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage. His seven errors in the field aren't a staggering amount but are still tied for fourth-most on the team.
Jones' poor play as of late is only adding fuel to the fire for fans clamoring for an addition to the team, given that Gaby Sanchez isn't exactly filling in admirably, either. The man many fans affectionately call "G.I. Jones" is finding himself with fewer and fewer supporters these days as the Pirates continue on their pennant chase without much help from their first baseman/right fielder.
The stats never lie. Jones has only seven hits in 52 at-bats this month, even if one of them was an absolute bomb Aug. 23 that landed in McCovey Cove in San Francisco. He broke out of the slump, sure. But his blast was just another reminder to fans of just the kind of power and ability Jones has hidden this season. It was another reminder of what he's capable of, and what fans are missing.
But therein lies the question: Why are fans so down on Jones? His career statistics don't show a drastically different picture. Sure, Jones is having a down year. But it's not like this is a guy who went from hitting above .300 to below the Mendoza line.
The man has a career .256 batting average, not terribly higher than his current mark of .239. Sure, he blasted 27 home runs last year and showed a pop in his bat not seen before. But that is definitely more the exception than the rule; before last season, Jones had never hit more than 21 home runs and, in fact, averages only about 19 dingers a season.
It's not like this guy was ever anything more than he is: A player who never received regular playing time until he was 28 year old, a guy who spent many seasons toiling in the minors with a career .259 batting average there, and a guy who seemingly never fully realized his power potential.
Jones deserves criticism for his play on the field. But he's not the sole reason the Pirates are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. He's just one piece of a much larger puzzle. And, in reality, what did fans expect? A career-year for a 32-year-old player whose best years are undoubtedly behind him?
Jared Stonesifer has covered the Pittsburgh Pirates for MLB.com on a freelance basis since 2010. He lives in Pittsburgh.
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