First Base - Garrett Jones
Garrett Jones was a late bloomer, who didn’t debut until his age-26 season, but didn’t graduate his rookie status until his age-28 campaign. Jones was drafted in the 14th round of the 1999 draft by the Atlanta Braves. After three unimpressive years in rookie ball, the Braves released him, who was then signed by the Twins in May of 2002. Jones toiled in the Twins system, but did make his debut in 2007, but only had 84 plate appearances. Jones was released at the end of the 2008 season, and that’s when the Pirates picked him up.
In his age-28 season, Jones made a great first impression, batting .293/.372/.567 with a .393 wOBA, and 142 wRC+. The first baseman/outfielder hit 21 home runs in just 358 plate appearances, while showing off great plate discipline. He walked in 11.2% of his plate appearances while only going down on strike three 21.2% of the time.
Jones finished the year seventh in National League Rookie of the Year voting, and arguably the best hitting rookie seasons in the franchise’s history. Among Pirate rookies with at least 300 PAs since the Rookie of the Year award became a thing, Jones’ 2009 season ranks first in wRC+, OPS, wOBA, slugging percentage, and isolated slugging percentage. The only notable offensive statistics that his 2009 rookie campaign doesn’t rank first in is batting average (11th), on-base percentage (7th), and home run total (3rd).
Although Jones never reached the heights of his rookie season again, he was still a productive overall batter during his time in black and gold. Jones ended his Pirates tenure with a .256/.318/.462 triple-slash, .336 wOBA, and 111 wRC+. His isolated slugging percentage clocked in at over .200 at .206, while managing a solid 8.4% walk rate. Jones spent most of his time at first base, where he graded out as a negative defender with -24 defensive runs saved and a -6.8 UZR/150. Though he held his own in the outfield where he had +2 DRS and -2.2 UZR/150.
After his time with the Pirates, Jones played a season with the Miami Marlins as their primary first baseman and briefly played for the New York Yankees in 2015. He then headed to Japan where he spent the 2016 and 2017 season before retiring.