Although a founding member of the Garrett Jones Fan Club, even I have to wonder if we have already seen the apex of his career. His success last year from his callup on July 1 through the balance of the year made a bad season slightly more tolerable. It's easy to root for a 28-year-old guy with a limited track record, particularly when he is hitting 22 home runs in half a season.
But Mr. Jones has since reverted to the form that his MLEs would roughly have predicted for him when he came up and the past month has been particularly bad. Since the All-Star break, Jones is hitting an unsightly .193/.237/.393 for an OPS of .630. In those 156 plate appearances he has 8 home runs and 19 RBIs, so the home run power is still there. One can make a reasonable argument that his .180 BABIP during that time just means he has been very unlucky and things will eventually turn around, but no guarantees.
The past month has been even worse. Since going 4-4 with two home runs in Colorado on July 28, Jones has had just one multi-hit game. In 104 plate appearances and 97 at bats he is hitting .134/.183/.309 for an Aki-like OPS of .492. Again his BABIP of .108 seems incredibly unlucky, but Jones has been a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup and along with Pedro Alvarez being two for his last 27, it's little wonder the Pirates aren't scoring any runs.
For the season GJ is now .248/.307/.419. His .727 OPS is more than .200 below last year's output. His season BABIP of .268 is certainly low, but not epically so. There is a bit of a platoon split, as he certainly hits righties better than lefties, but generally I think the Pirates are going to have to rethink Jones' role going forward.
This is Jones' first full season in the majors, so the Pirates control his rights for a bunch more years. Next year he will be cheap, roughly $450K, but do you want to pencil him in as the everyday first baseman? It's unfortunate that both Steve Pearce and Jeff Clement are hurt right now because I would like to see a lot of them the next six weeks. But, it really does appear that the Pirates starting first baseman next season is a big question mark. Maybe a Jones-Pearce platoon is the right answer. A team like the Pirates needs to maximize its chances. While very few major leaguers are used on a straight platoon any more, maybe it's time to go back to the days of Chuck Tanner when the Bucs platooned at a couple positions on the diamond.
Unfortunately, I think the days of Garrett Jones as an everyday major leaguer may have gone as quickly as they came. He certainly is a useful asset, but the hopes that he would be part of the foundation of the "new" Pirates seems to be quickly going by the wayside. Too bad for all involved.