clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2014 Marlins Season Review: Garrett Jones

New, comments

The Miami Marlins signed Garrett Jones to a two-year contract, but one year into his deal, the Fish are already concerned thanks to a terrible 2014 season.

Rob Foldy

The Miami Marlins had initially planned to have Garrett Jones serve as the team's first baseman for two years, as Miami had signed the former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. Miami figured that Jones's power would be a good addition to the roster after the 2013 edition of the team struggled mightily to generate home runs. Jones is also a left-handed bat, something that the Marlins were lacking last year.

But there was a reason why the Pirates released Jones instead of paying him arbitration, and that reason became apparent in the 2014 season that he put up for the Marlins. Instead of getting a strong performance from a full-time first baseman, the Marlins pidgeonholed a platoon player in an uncomfortable full-time spot. From the beginning, it seemed Miami was insistent on Jones being the team's full-time first baseman despite his large platoon splits. Manager Mike Redmond ran Jones out 73 times against left-handed pitchers, but much more in the early stages of the season. Jones unsurprisingly did not do well; he hit just .221/.274/.265 (.246 wOBA) against lefties.

But keeping him against lefties early was not the only mistake Miami made. The Fish made an error in judgment in picking up Jones at all. Last year, Jones hit just .233/.289/.419 (.309 wOBA) with mediocre strikeout and walk rates. The Fish should not have expected a player dependent on power to start hitting better after moving to a more difficult home park. Jones did hit 15 home runs and 33 doubles, but those hits did not yield a career average ISO. It turns out that losing home runs thanks in part to his lowest career home run per fly ball (HR/FB) rate cost Jones significant value.

The 2014 season was a lot like a few other bad years Jones put up in the past. The most similar of those seasons was his second year, in 2010, when he hit a very similar .247/.306/.414 (.315 wOBA) that represented a line five percent worse than league average. Jones's mediocrity elsewhere at the plate and on offense makes it so that his batting line suffers without good fortune or 20-plus home runs in a full season. Jones's dependence on power did not fit well with a move to the spacious Marlins Park. There were 23 first basemen with at least 500 plate appearances in 2014, and only four had a worse batting line than Jones. A league average batting line is simply not good enough for this position.

Photo by Rob Foldy, Getty Images

It does not help that Jones contributes nothing else offensively or defensively. He is a below average baserunner over the course of his career, and 2014 was no exception. He is a first baseman, which makes his offense far more important, as his position is more replaceable inherently. And Jones is not a good first baseman either, as he has been below average in terms of the zone-based metrics for his career and looked the part for most of 2014.

All of that adds up to a really negative package. Jones added just league average offense, and at first base, that is unacceptable. He was a poor defensive first baseman, which makes it worse. Overall, the win-based metrics had him as a replacement level player. The Marlins could have held onto a cheaper option or turned to a Quad-A player to provide replacement-level play at first base, but the team instead committed to pay a free agent price that almost no other team would consider to get Jones.

The only bright side so far in 2014 is that it convinced Miami to turn a different direction at first base in 2015. The team is already considering the incorrect move of transitioning Christian Yelich to first base. Miami is also considering acquiring a first baseman or outfielder and passing off Jones, either via a trade or straight to the bench. Either way, it seems the team has learned its lesson about Jones, and it only took one year to figure it out.

Grade: D