This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 21st, Garrett Jones, Pirates Sell Star Outfielder

Just two former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have a transaction of note from 1935.

The Transaction

On this date in 1935, the Pirates sold outfielder Babe Herman to the Cincinnati Reds. Herman was acquired over the winter in a five-player deal with the Chicago Cubs. He was 32 years old at the time and coming off of a season in which he batted .304/.353/.488 in 123 games. He had averaged 95 RBIs per year over his first nine seasons in the majors, so the Pirates thought they were acquiring a bat that would help them improve on a 74-76 season. However, Herman hit .235/.271/.358 in 26 games with the Pirates. He lost his starting job and was being used as a pinch-hitter prior to his sale to Cincinnati. With the Reds in 1935, he hit .335/.396/.516 in 92 games. He was still productive the following season, put up an .806 OPS in 119 games, but he had just 54 games remaining in his big league career, and most of those came during the 1945 season after he spent the previous 7 1/2 years in the minors. Herman put up 39.4 career WAR in 13 seasons, but his time with the Pirates was worth -0.6 WAR.

The Players

Garrett Jones, OF/1B for the 2009-13 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in December of 2008. Jones had played ten seasons of pro ball already at that point, but he had just 31 games of Major League experience, all coming with the 2007 Twins. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 1999. They released him after three seasons of playing in short-season ball, topping out in the Appalachian League. Jones was known for his power in later years, but he hit just six homers in three years with the Braves. Along with a low average/walk rate and zero speed (he went 1-for-7 in steals with Atlanta), Jones didn’t offer much, so his release wasn’t surprising, but it turned out to be a big mistake. He hit .241 in the Gulf Coast League in 1999 at 18 years old, finishing with a .620 OPS in 46 games. Playing for Danville of the Appalachian League in 2000, he had a .174 average and a .495 OPS in 40 games, while failing to connect on a single homer. Back with Danville in 2001, he improved to a .289 average, 14 extra-base hits and a .756 OPS, but it came with a 9:58 BB/SO ratio in 40 games. Jones signed with the Minnesota Twins and went right to Low-A ball, where he hit just .202 with 11 walks, ten homers and a .611 OPS in 83 games for Quad Cities of the Midwest League. That year he hit four homers in one game, then just six more in his other 82 contests.

Despite those numbers in 2002, he moved up to High-A and put up better stats in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League with Fort Myers, where he hit .220 with 12 doubles, 18 homers and 67 RBIs in 117 games, while seeing a 78 point jump in his OPS. Jones started 2004 back in Fort Myers and had somewhat similar results (.649 OPS vs .688 in 2003) through 19 games, then got a promotion to Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League and everything clicked for him at 23 years old. He hit .311 with 33 doubles, 30 homers and 92 RBIs in 122 games, putting up a .949 OPS. He spent all of 2005 in Triple-A with Rochester of the International League, where he .244 with 71 runs, 22 doubles, 24 homers, 72 RBIs and a .741 OPS in 134 games. Jones was sent to the Arizona Fall League that year and he hit .289 with nine homers and a 1.017 OPS in 25 games. In 2006, his average dropped to .238 for Rochester, but he drew more walks and hit 32 doubles and 21 homers, while driving in 92 runs. He finished with a .733 OPS, eight points off of the previous year’s total. He played winter ball in Venezuela dutring the 2006-07 off-season and hit .281 with eight homers and an .850 OPS in 40 games. Jones got an early season promotion to the majors in 2007, though it was just a four-game stint. He returned for two weeks in July, then came back to stay in mid-August. He hit .208 with two homers in 31 games for the Twins, while putting up a .280 average and an .807 OPS in 107 games for Rochester.

Jones spent all of 2008 back in Rochester, where he hit .279 with 82 runs, 33 doubles, 23 homers and 92 RBIs in 138 games, but the Twins cut ties at the end of the year. After coming to the Pirates, he began the year in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, batting .307 with 18 doubles, 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 72 games, before getting called up to the majors on July 1st. Jones went on a home run tear the rest of the way, connecting for a team-leading 21 homers in just 82 games. He ended up with a .293 average, 21 doubles, 44 RBIs and a .938 OPS, which led to a seventh place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2010, he led the team with 21 homers and 86 RBIs. He batted .247 with 64 runs, 34 doubles, 54 walks and a .720 OPS in 158 games, with 106 starts at first base. He hit .243 with 51 runs, 30 doubles, 16 homers and 58 RBIs in 148 games in 2011. He started 109 games that year, and batted 478 times total, after accumulating 654 plate appearances in 2010. Jones got back on track in 2012, batting .274 in 145 games, with 68 runs, 28 doubles, 27 homers, 86 RBIs and an .832 OPS, which was the second best mark of his career. His numbers and playing time fell off in 2013, which would mark the end of his time with the Pirates. He batted .233/.289/.419 in 144 games, with 15 homers and 51 RBIs that season.

The Pirates let Jones go after the 2013 season. He signed with the Miami Marlins for 2014 and hit .246 with 59 runs, 33 doubles, 15 homers, 53 RBIs and a .720 OPS in 146 games. He was traded to the New York Yankees in the off-season and he hit .215 with five homers and a .618 OPS in 57 games in 2015, in what turned out to be his final season in the majors. In 2016, he went to Japan for his final two seasons of pro ball. He had an .821 OPS, 25 doubles and 28 homers in 135 games in 2016, then batted .275, with an .897 OPS in 57 games in 2017. With the Pirates, he was a .256 hitter in 677 games, with 269 runs, 139 doubles, 100 homers and 325 RBIs. In eight big league seasons, Jones hit .251 with 347 runs, 178 doubles, 122 homers and 400 RBIs. In his 19-year pro career, he hit 336 homers. Despite the rough start with stolen bases in the minors, he went 28-for-38 in steals in the majors. His career WAR stands at 3.6, but he put up negative numbers in all three seasons outside of Pittsburgh, where he had 5.0 WAR.

Spencer Adams, middle infielder for the 1923 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1921 at 23 years old, playing for Tremonton of the Northern Utah League. It was a Class-D league (lowest level) that lasted just one season before folding. Adams dominated at the plate, hitting .432 with 28 extra-base hits in 40 games. The next year, he moved to Seattle of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, which was a big jump in competition, as Double-A was the highest level of the minors at the time. He batted .256 with 26 extra-base hits in 123 games, playing most of his time at second base. The Pirates would acquire Adams in December of 1922 from Seattle, in exchange for outfielder Ray Rohwer and pitcher Sheriff Blake. Adams saw very little time for the Pirates at the start of 1923, getting just two starts and a total of ten at-bats over the first two months. In July, he got five starts in a row at second base, collecting a hit in each game. He later got five starts at shortstop in late August and early September. He batted .250 for the 1923 Pirates in 25 games, scoring 11 runs and collecting six RBIs. On December 12, 1923, the Pirates traded Adams, along with pitchers Earl Kunz and George Boehler, to the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, in exchange for pitcher Ray Kremer. There was also cash sent to the Oaks in the deal, one which netted the Pirates 143 wins from Kremer.

Adams batted .273 with 53 extra-base hits (42 were doubles) in 200 games (yes, 200) with Oakland in 1924. He reappeared in the majors in 1925, playing for the Washington Senators. He hit .273/.333/.382 in 66 plate appearances over 39 games, helping them to the World Series, where he met his former team. Pittsburgh took the series in seven games, as Adams got into two of those contests off of the bench, going 0-for-1 at the plate. The next year he was purchased by the New York Yankees and returned to the World Series, again on the losing side. He hit .120 that season, getting 28 plate appearances in 28 games played. Adams moved on to the St Louis Browns for 1927, having what would not only be his best season in the majors, it would also be his last. He hit .266 with 32 runs, 14 extra-base hits 29 RBIs and .665 OPS in 88 games, splitting his time between second base and third base. He played for Milwaukee of the American Association in 1928, where he hit .272 with 26 extra-base hits in 133 games. Adams played another three seasons with Class-A Nashville of the Southern Association before retiring, while also seeing time with the Mobile/Knoxville team during his final season (1931). He hit .247 with nine doubles and 11 homers in 74 games in 1929. That was the only year in pro ball that he reached double digits in homers. In 1930, he batted .302 with 18 doubles and nine homers in 71 games. His complete stats are unavailable for 1931, but he’s credited with a .249 average in 56 games. In his Major League career, which spanned 180 games and 451 plate appearances, he failed to hit a home run. He batted .256 with 38 RBIs and 61 runs scored in four big league seasons. He started just 26 games in his first three seasons, then made 66 starts in his final year.