So far the Tigers have been one of the most shocking teams in the league this season, getting off to a 9-5 start and seeing multiple guys step up that many did not see being huge pieces of this roster. The MVP so far of this team has definitely been Jacoby Jones.
Jones on the young season is slashing .333/.391/.786 giving him an OPS of 1.177 and a wRC+ of 220. Jacoby Jones is leading the AL in slugging percentage, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ so far in the young season which is crazy to think as Jacoby Jones was one of the worst hitters in 2018.
While obviously Jacoby Jones is not going to continue to put up Barry Bonds like numbers, but how is he hitting so well? It all starts with what seemed like an overnight change back in early May of 2019 when the Tigers were playing the Philadelphia Phillies.
In this link, you can see that Jacoby Jones changed his stance and ever since then has been hitting. In early May of 2019, Dan Dickerson mentioned how hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was working on Jacoby’s swing “Tigers working with JaCoby on a new stance. Trying to get the hands a little bit lower. Get him to the ball a little bit quicker.” One player that Jacoby Jones swing was modified to was Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is ironic as Ahmed isn’t known for his hitting, however, it has worked for Jones.
Ever since that swing adjustment, Jacoby Jones has been hitting the ball super well. From May 1st to when Jacoby Jones went on the IL with back spasms, which was July 4th, Jacoby Jones slashed .276/.342/.511 with a 119 wRC+. Jones’s exit velocity from 2018 increased 3 mph and his hard-hit rate increased a whopping 12%.
Now going into 2020, Jones hasn’t missed a beat putting up the numbers I mentioned above. A big reason why I talked about his past is that he already has a history of his success. He also now hasn’t stopped hitting the ball hard. On Baseball Savant, Jones is in the 82nd percentile for exit velocity, 90th percentile for hard-hit rate, and 93rd percentile for barrel %. His chase rate has also significantly dropped, as it’s 25% from 29 in 2019 and 35 in 2018.
Ever since Jones’s swing adjustment, we’ve seen a whole different player and someone that has the potential to be an all-star, 5 tool center fielder for the next few seasons with the Tigers. The biggest question for Jones now is will he be able to stay healthy? Jones season pretty much came to an end after July as he only had 83 PA’s the rest of the season. Jones has a brief history of injuries as lately as 2 days ago when he had to come out of the game after apparently tweaking something in his first at-bat. If Jones can stay healthy and even hit to a shell of how he is now, the Tigers have themselves a long term center fielder.