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Andruw Jones

Andruw Jones

Position(s):
CF, OF, RF, LF, DH, 1B
Born:
April 23, 1977
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
230 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-15-1996 with ATL
Allstar Selections:
1998 GG, 1999 GG, 2000 GG, 2001 GG, 2002 GG, 2003 GG, 2004 GG, 2005 GG, 2005 Hank A, 2005 ML, 2005 SS, 2006 GG, 2007 GG

 

Biographical Information

Andruw Jones, now with the 2009 Texas Rangers, played 13 major league seasons through 2008, hitting 371 home runs (66th all-time through 2008) and winning 10 Gold Gloves. Jones has won one home run title and was the youngest player in World Series history to hit a home run. Jones is arguably the most talented player born in the Netherlands (after Bert Blyleven) and is clearly the most talented to have been raised in Dutch territory or to play for the Dutch national team. He has made five NL All-Star teams, but never as a starter.

In January 2009 he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had been playing in the Dominican winter league, hitting under .200, and had left the team due to his wife's illness.

Early career

Jones's father Henry Jones was a baseball player in Curacao noted for his speed and he helped teach his son the game. Though several players from Curacao had made it to the higher ranks of baseball (Sherwin Cijntje in AAA and Hensley Meulens in the majors), Jones was not scouted much as a teenager. The Atlanta Braves snatched him for just a $46,000 bonus, much less than his cousin Diegomar Markwell would fetch a couple years later.

Jones debuted professionally with the 1994 GCL Braves (.221/.345/.358 in 27 games) and the Danville Braves (.336/.385/.448 in 36 games). League managers rated him as the #3 prospect in the Gulf Coast League despite his poor statistical showing, behind Sergio Nunez and Scott Elarton and one slot ahead of Vladimir Guerrero. He was rated the #2 prospect in the Appalachian League after teammate Glenn Williams and right ahead of Jaret Wright. Jones would have been second in the Appy League in average had he qualified. Baseball America rated him as the #2 prospect in the Braves organization, between Chipper Jones and Jason Schmidt.

Top prospect

Andruw hit .277/.340/.512 for the 1995 Macon Braves as a 18-year-old in full-season ball. He hit 25 home runs, 41 doubles and 5 triples, scored 104 runs and drove in 100, coaxed 70 walks and stole 56 bases while only being caught 11 times. He led Atlanta farmhands in steals and runs. He tied fellow Dutch native Ralph Milliard for third in the affiliated minors in runs, was 5th in total bases (275) and led in extra-base hits. He led the South Atlantic League in runs, sacrifice flies (9) and steals. He made the league All-Star team in the outfield alongside Vladimir Guerrero and Derrick Gibson and was rated the top prospect in the SAL by league managers, right ahesd of Guerrero.Baseball America rated him as the best batting prospect, best power prospect, best baserunner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player in the SAL and he won their Minor League Player of the Year Award.

Jones simply added to his prospect stock in 1996, leading Braves minor leaguwers in runs (115), total bases (290) and average (.339).Baseball America named him the best batting prospect, most exciting player and best defensive outfielder in the Carolina League. He hit .313/.419/.605 with 65 runs in 66 games for the Durham Bulls, .369/.432/.675 with 39 runs in 38 games for the Greenville Braves and .378/.391/.822 with 11 runs in 12 games for the Richmond Braves, hitting better at each level up the chain. Jones was second in the affiliated minors in runs (after Mike Cameron), tied for 8th in average, tied Derrek Lee and Jerry Brooks for 5th with 34 home runs and led with a .652 slugging percentage, .009 ahead of Lee Stevens. He was rated as the top prospect in both the Carolina League and Southern League. He was again named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, joining Gregg Jefferies as the only two-team winners.

Early MLB career

When Jermaine Dye went down with an injury, Jones was called up to Atlanta, completing his jump from A ball to the majors and becoming the 4th-youngest player in Atlanta history. He debuted as Atlanta's #2 hitter and right fielder. He struck out against Curt Schilling in his first two major league at-bats. Later that game, he got his first hit, singling against Toby Borland to drive in Mike Mordecai with a run. The next day, he tripled and homered against Denny Neagle to prove he belonged. He hit only .211/.265/.443 for the 1996 Braves though the teenager slugged above the NL average.

He became the youngest player to hit a home run in the World Series when, at age 19, he hit one in the first game of the 1996 World Series against Andy Pettitte. Mickey Mantle had been the previous youngest. He added a second homer the next inning off of Brian Boehringer. He became the first player since Gene Tenace to homer in his first two World Series at-bats. He batted .400/.500/.750 with 6 RBI in six games in the Series but Atlanta still lost to New York.

Jones hit .231/.329/.416 for the 1997 Braves for a 93 OPS+ as the youngest player in the 1997 NL. He hit 18 home runs and stole 20 bases (in 31 tries). He finished fifth in 1997 National League Rookie of the Year Award voting, behind Scott Rolen, Livan Hernandez, Matt Morrisand Rich Loiselle. He was 4 for 14 in the playoffs.

In 1998, Jones had a great year on defense. His 413 putouts were the most by a Braves outfielder since Sam Jethroe in 1952 and he had 20 assists, tying for the most among major leagues outfielders in 1998. He batted .271/.321/.515 with 31 home runs and 27 steals (in 31 tries) and became the youngest 20-20 player in MLB history. He was only 6 for 31 in the playoffs. Against the Japanese All-Stars that summer, he was 3 for 18.

Jones hit .275/.365/.483 for the 1999 Braves and had 493 putouts, leading major league outfielders. He hit 26 homers and stole 24 bases while drawing 76 walks and scoring 97 runs. He won his second straight Gold Glove Award. His postseason struggles continued as he was 10 for 54 with one double and no other extra-base hits.

2000-2003: At least 30 home runs per year

Jones produced at a .303/.366/.541 clip in 2000, the only time (through 2007) that he has hit .300 in a major league season. He set career MLB highs (through 2007) in doubles (36) and runs (122) and had his last 20-steal season. He hit 36 home runs. Still fleet afoot, he handled 449 chances in the outfield, leading the majors, but made only two errors. Jones led the 2000 NL in at-bats (656), was 5th in runs, third in hits (199) and tied Richard Hidalgo for 5th in total bases (355). He won his third straight Gold Glove. He made his first All-Star team. In the2000 All-Star Game, he was 1 for 2, driving in Gary Sheffield in the NL's 6-3 loss. Jones was 8th in 2000 NL MVP voting, the first time he had received any votes. In the playoffs, he was 1 for 9 but with a home run, four walks and 3 runs.

In 2001, the 24-year-old hit .251/.312/.461 for a disappointing 94 OPS+. He hit 34 homers, scored 104 and drove in 104. He was third in the 2001 NL in outs (491) but was not among the leaders in any positive category. In the postseason, he was 9 for 29 with 2 home runs. He continued his run of Gold Gloves.

Jones batted .264/.366/.513 in a rebound year in 2002. He hit 35 homers and drew 83 walks, 27 more than he had in 2001. He was 9th in the 2002 NL in circuit clouts and won his fifth Gold Glove. He was 0 for 3 in the 2002 All-Star Game after replacing Vladimir Guerrero in center field. In the 2002 postseason, he hit .316/.381/.368.

Jones hit .277/.318/.513 for the 2003 Braves. He scored 101 runs, drove in 116 and smacked 36 home runs. From April 29 through May 8, he drove in runs in nine straight games, breaking the Braves franchise mark held by [{Eddie Mathews]], Hank Aaron, Mike Lum and Bob Horner. He won another Gold Glove, tied Preston Wilson for 10th in the 2003 NL in homers and was 7th in the league in RBI. He was excellent in the 2003 All-Star Game, with a RBI double against Eddie Guardado and a solo home run off of Mark Mulder but the NL still lost, 7-6. Jones was 1 for 19 in the playoffs.

2004: A break from 30 homers

Jones batted .261/.345/.488 for the 2004 Braves with 85 runs, 91 RBI and 71 walks. He won his 7th Gold Glove but did not finish among the league leaders in anything except strikeouts (147, 8th). He hit .526/.571/.947 in the postseason but Atlanta was still eliminated in one round.

2005-2006: Putting on the power

Jones hit .263/.347/.575 for the 2005 Braves for a 136 OPS+, his best through 2007. He scored 95 runs, hit 51 home runs and drove home 128 runners. He was 5th in the 2005 NL in slugging, 4th in total bases (337) and led in both home runs and RBI. He won his 8th Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger Award and The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year Award. In voting for the 2005 National League Most Valuable Player Award, he was second to Albert Pujols in a close race and got 13 of 32 first-place votes. He homered against Kenny Rogersin the 2005 All-Star Game and later walked against Bob Wickman and scored as the NL lost, 7-5. In the 2005 NLDS2, he hit .471/.526/.824 with 5 runs and 5 RBI in four games, again playing well in an Atlanta loss.

Jones joined the Dutch national team for the 2006 World Baseball Classic but was 0 for 6 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts, being outhit by many players who had never played in the minors, let alone the majors. Against Puerto Rico, he could only draw a Willie Collazo walk in four trips to the plate and hit into a double play in his last at-bat. Against Cuba, he only drew an Adiel Palma walk and had an error on a hit byFrederich Cepeda to give Cuba a couple extra bases. He sat out the final game in favor of Danny Rombley as the Netherlands beat Panama easily.

Jones hit .262/.363/.531 with the 2006 Braves, scoring 107 runs, hitting 41 home runs, driving in 129 and drawing 82 walks. He did not play in the 2006 All-Star Game, though he was selected. He won his 9th Gold Glove in a row. He tied Carlos Beltran for fifth in the 2006 NL in homers and was 4th in the league in RBI.

He was the 4th-youngest player to 300 homers, hitting his 300th at age 28, only a day younger than Ken Griffey Jr. and younger than Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx.

2007-2008: Decline

Jones hit only .222/.311/.413 for the 2007 Braves for a 88 OPS+, the lowest since he had been a rookie, despite being one of the ten highest-paid players in the 2007 NL. He won his 10th Gold Glove. After that season, he signed a 2-year, $36.2 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jones began 2008 even worse, only batting .165/.273/.271 in his first 43 games with just two homers and 7 RBI. He then had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

He ended up 2008 with a .158/.256/.249 batting line and only 3 home runs in 209 at-bats. Jones was not put on the Dutch roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

2009-: Comeback attempt

Jones was a non-roster invitee with the Texas Rangers for 2009, winning the last roster spot at the end of spring training. While he did not recapture his past stardom, he was at least a useful player, demonstrating a bit of his past power with 17 long balls in 82 games, although he hardly played in the outfield. He hit .214/.323/.459 in 281 at-bats. After the season, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox and was back playing the outfield in 2010, logging 62 games in right field, and a few in both center field and left field. Power remained the best part of his game, with 19 homers in 278 at-bats, but he was also able to draw 45 walks, turning a .230 batting average into a decent .341 on-base percentage.

Jones signed on as a free agent with the New York Yankees before the 2011 season. The Yanks planned to use him as a back-up at all three outfield spots and to give him some playing time at DH as well.

Gold Glove criticism and defense

He started at 170 pounds but is at 210 pounds in 2006, and his true playing weight is likely higher. The increase in playing weight has clearly affected his defensive statistics, but this has not yet been reflected in voting for the Gold Glove Award, as he won his 10th consecutive award in 2007. Several of Jones' Gold Gloves have come with great criticism including his 1999 award which he received after posting a 10 error season in which his fielding percentage of .981 left him below the league average. In 2006, Jones won his coveted 9th Gold Glove despite recording only 4 outfield assists. On the other hand, he had a whopping 493 putouts in 1999 and fielded .995 in 2006.

Career Analysis

For many years, the most similar player to Jones, according to the similarity scores method, was Ruben Sierra. Most of the other players in the top ten were not Hall of Famers. However, when Jones hit 51 home runs in 2005, things changed. The most similar player at age 29 to Jones was Frank Robinson, and most of the others in the top ten were in the Hall of Fame. After an unimpressive 2006, Robinson still was #1, with four other Hall of Famers on the list. Even after a terrible 2008, Jones still has four Hall of Famers on his list, with others who may get in.

In spite of that, his career averages - .259/.339/.489 - aren't particularly high for a Hall of Famer, and most players will see those stats begin to decline as they age. On the other hand, he has already gotten 1,500+ hits, 340+ home runs and 1,000+ RBI before the age of 30, so he could end up with counting stats much more impressive than his averages.

Through 2007, Jones was 6th in Braves franchise history in games played (1,761), 8th in at-bats (6,408), 7th in runs (1,045), 8th in hits (1,683), 5th in total bases (3,185), 4th in doubles (330), 5th in home runs (368), 5th in RBI (1,117), 6th in walks (717), 2nd in strikeouts (1,394, behind Dale Murphy), second in times hit by pitch (83, behind Tommy Tucker), third in sacrifice flies (62),

Notable Achievements

  • 1995 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Macon Braves, South Atlantic League
  • 1995 MVP South Atlantic League Macon Braves
  • 1996 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Durham Bulls, Carolina League, Greenville Braves, Southern League & Richmond Braves, International League
  • 1997 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 5-time NL All-Star (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2006)
  • 10-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1998-2007)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2005)
  • NL At Bats Leader (2000)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (2005)
  • NL RBI Leader (2005)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (1998-2007)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1998, 2000-2003, 2005 & 2006)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2005 & 2006)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2005)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 & 2006)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2000, 2001, 2003 & 2006)

Sources

  • 2007 Braves Media Guide
  • 1995-1998 Baseball Almanacs
  • Sportsline.com
  • BR Bullpen

]Related Sites

  • Andruw Jones on mlb.com

 

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