Once upon a time, the Curacao native was one of the most promising young players in MLB. However, everybody gets older, and that’s true of Jones, this writer, and you.
Where is Jones now? What is the former elite outfielder up to?
It’s time to dive into the life and times of the man with a closet full of Gold Gloves.
Andruw Jones’ MLB Career
Andruw Jones, born in Willemstad, Curaçao, was discovered in the Caribbean when he was still a young teenager. The Atlanta Braves were able to sign him up first and got Jones’ name on a contract when he was only 16.
Jones made his professional baseball debut later in 1993, and he quickly climbed up the minor league ladder. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996, showing how much promise the teenager had.
Jones made his MLB debut in 1996 when he was still only 19. When Jones made his debut with the Braves, Jones was the youngest player in Major League Baseball. However, he struggled to hit for the Atlanta Braves, which was also true in the 1997 season.
Of course, Jones was also still the youngest player in MLB that season as well, and he contributed in the postseason. Jones arguably made his first big splash at the plate in the 1996 World Series, where the Braves lost to the New York Yankees.
Jones, who was 19 years and 180 days old, hit two homers in Game 1 ?? breaking Mickey Mantle’s record as the youngest player to homer in the World Series.
In 1998, Andruw Jones was still a lean, lithe youngster patrolling center field. As a centerfielder, he won his first Gold Glove Award that season. It would be the first of a staggering 10-consecutive Gold Gloves that Jones would win.
The outfield star also should his potential as a hitter for the first time, hitting 31 home runs. In 2000, Jones would become an All-Star for the first time out of five overall appearances.
At the time, Jones would also rack up some stolen bases. As his career progressed, Jones started to get larger, which robbed him of some of his speed. However, Jones’ power grew even further.
The 2005 season was arguably the best of Jones’ career. By this point, he had become an all-out slugger, and he led Major League Baseball with a whopping 51 home runs and led the National League with 128 RBIs. Jones would finish second in the NL MVP vote, losing out to St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.
After a couple more seasons with the Braves, Andruw Jones would sign a two-year free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, Jones left everybody unhappy, purportedly showing up to the team 20 pounds overweight.
The Jones that many considered the best centerfielder of all time was gone. He could only play in 75 games for the Dodgers, posting a .158 batting average and a woeful .505 OPS. After the 2008 season, Jones said he did not want to return to the Dodgers because the fans hadn’t treated him fairly. Surely the Dodgers didn’t mind letting him go.
This began a journeyman end to the career of Jones. He signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, where he only stuck around for a year. Then it was off to the Chicago White Sox for one season. Jones then moved to the New York Yankees.
His last year in MLB was 2012, where he hit 14 homers in 269 plate appearances.
Not wanting to retire, Jones signed a deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, where he spent two seasons before hanging up his cleats for good.
Andruw Jones Now
In a conversation with Baseball America a few years ago, Jones indicated his pride at being one of the first notable Curaçaoan players:
“We?ve got a lot of kids right now from the island, and I am very proud of them.”
We know where Andruw Jones is now, but the question many of us have is where he will be. Namely, will Jones make the Baseball Hall of Fame?
The first time Jones was on the HOF ballot in 2018, he barely got over the threshold to stay on the ballot. However, over time his Hall of Fame supporters have grown. In fact, in 2021, he was on a whopping 33.9 percent of the Hall of Fame ballots. Granted, that leaves him a long way to go.
Over at Baseball-Reference, the Hall of Fame monitor number is at 109, with a likely Hall of Famer considered a 100. His career WAR falls below Jay Jaffe’s JAWS threshold for a centerfielder, but his peak is above average.
That’s the thing about Andruw Jones. He debuted as the youngest player in MLB, and when he was racking up Gold Gloves and becoming a five-time All-Star, he seemed like a surefire Hall of Fame player. He made his last All-Star Game in 2006, though, and his time after he left the Atlanta Braves left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
He had some playoff success, but never won a World Series. He homered in his first at-bat at Class A, but ended his career in Japan. In the field, Andruw Jones was on par with Ken Griffey Jr. (and way better than Ken Griffey Sr.) or Willie Mays, but at the plate, Jones couldn’t keep up.
We may never see the man from the tiny island territory of the Netherlands in the Hall of Fame. Still, we can remember him as the talented outfield dynamo oozing with potential who became a staple of the Braves organization even after he retired.