With Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and Chipper Jones voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Walhalla of baseball adds four great players. But most important, from a Curaçao/ Dutch point of view is the fact that Andruw Jones stayed on the ballot.
The outfielder who broke into the Majors with the Atlanta Braves and also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago White Sox, the New York Yankees and the Rakuten Golden Eagles (NPB), was arguably (one of) the best defensive outfielder(s) the game has ever known. But during his 17-year MLB career, the Curaçao Kid only topped the .300 mark once. Most of the time his batting average hovered between .251 and .277. Especially in his years after the Braves, his batting average dropped significantly. In his final year in the Majors, it even dropped below .200.
Nevertheless, his bat was feared for his power. Even in his last year, he still managed to hit fourteen dingers. In a time where batting still seems much more important than defense, one will have a hard time to stay on a ballot. Recently, Jason Foster wrote a plea not to let Jones drop from the HOF ballot. In this plea, Foster refers to Greg Maddux who once said: “Andruw has got to save each starter about 10 runs a year.” This indicates what a good defensive player he was.
Just a number of facts that prove Andruw Jones was a very fine defensive player:
Jones, a five-time All-Star, won 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1998 to 2007.
During those 10 Gold Glove seasons, Jones led all NL outfielders in putouts six times. And the gap between Jones and No. 2 was often substantial, peaking at 93 in 1999. During those six seasons (1998-2002 and 2007), Jones led the league in putouts by an average of 40 more than the second-best number.
During the same period, Jones led the league in defensive wins above replacement four times (1998, 2000-02) and finished second once (1999). He led all NL center fielders in assists three times, including in 1998 when he led all outfielders in assists with 20.
All of this ranks him No. 1 all-time among outfielders and No. 2 all-time among all positions behind Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.
With the exposure of several HOF ballots by baseball writers, it became clear Andruw Jones would not be inducted into Cooperstown this year. But with the little votes he received, it wasn’t even sure if he would stay on the ballot. Luckily he could extend his stay for another year as he collected 31 votes (7.3%), where 5% is needed to stay on the ballot.
According to Jason Foster, the growing appreciation of defensive skills should keep Jones on the HOF ballot for at least a few more years. Perhaps, baseball writers will start to realize, Andruw is HOF worthy in the coming nine years (if he can stay on the ballot that long).