Believe it or not, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have the makings of a pretty good lineup and Garrett Jones is a big part of that. He’s not a great batter who you can count on to deliver when your team needs it most, but once October rolls around you seem to find yourself saying, “Hmm, I don’t remember Jones being that good.”
Last year Jones turned what had always been his Achilles’ heel — his batting average — into, well, not his Achilles’ heel. In fact, Jones even managed to bat .289 against right-handed pitchers last year, pushing his career average versus righties up to .279. He’s always struggled against southpaws (.189 last year, career .198), so you need to have a platoon option on your fantasy team’s bench, but if you play the matchups right you can get above average production from Jones at very little expense.
Toss in 25+ homer power and some good RBI chances batting fourth behind Starling Marte (keep an eye on him), Neil Walker, and Andrew McCutchen, and you have the makings of a solid, all-around season.
At a Glance
Strengths: HR, SLG
Neutral: R, RBI, BA, OBP, OPS, K
Best-case scenario: Andre Ethier (LAD)
Likely scenario: Dayan Viciedo (CHW), Cody Ross (ARI), Colby Rasmus (TOR)
Worst-case scenario: Tyler Colvin (COL)
Garrett Jones 2013 Fantasy Projection
Like we said in the intro, Jones tends to sit against left-handed pitchers. That’s going to hurt his overall counting stats. He has a good shot at 85ish RBI batting fourth for Pittsburgh, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain his 17.1% HR/FB rate from last year, up from 11.2% and 11.0% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Plus, PNC Park is dreadfully difficult for power hitters (68 park factor for righties, 81 for lefties). All of that places a lower cap on his RBI potential than most cleanup hitters.
Assuming Jones can once again escape the dregs of a .240 batting average, he should provide good value as a third or fourth outfielder, corner infielder, or all-around bench player in fantasy leagues while remaining a safe, late-round source of power.