In every league, there will be disagreements when it comes to the Hall of Fame, but nobody gets it more consistently wrong than Major League Baseball. Why people do and do not get voted in is often decided for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball by some curmudgeon who still watches tapes on his VCR. I say this in the most disrespectful way possible; it is an embarrassment to the entire sport. Baseball needs to weed out many of these buffoons who are gatekeeping the most prestigious honor in the game for no other reason than to make themselves feel important.
One of those deserving players that is currently locked out is former Braves centerfielder Andruw Jones. The problem with Jones’ case is everybody remembers how he ended his career and not how he started it when he burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced 19-year-old taking the league by storm. There are plenty of reasons Jones should be in the Hall of Fame, and ESPN lined up some pretty good ones in their article titled: These former MLB players deserve more love from Hall of Fame voters.
1. He just might be the greatest outfielder ever
I don’t even think this is a debate. Prime Andruw Jones was the best outfielder ever to grace this planet. Even other elite centerfielders, like Willie Mays, can’t compare to what Jones was able to do on the diamond. The advanced statistics agree, too. Jones leads all outfielders in defensive runs saved by a wide margin. I also have to remind you: almost all of those came in just ten years.
2. He enjoyed a brilliant peak, and it wasn’t short
Jones played 11 full seasons for the Braves, from 1997 to 2007, and over that span, he produced 60.9 WAR. The only position players across baseball to generate more were Alex Rodriguez (85.7) and Barry Bonds (79.1), the two best players of their generation (albeit clouded by connections to performance-enhancing drugs).
Jones won a Gold Glove in 10 of those seasons (1998-07), in which he hit a total of 345 home runs. Only three players hit more homers in their Gold Glove seasons, and they are all first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Essentially, for ten years, Jones was the best all-around player in baseball that wasn’t on performance-enhancing drugs. If you can be the best player, or even one of them, in your sport for an entire decade, you undoubtedly should be in the Hall of Fame.
3. He is as responsible for the Braves’ division dynasty as anybody
This is something that actually surprised me a bit. Being a die-hard Braves fan in my youth, I always knew Jones was one of the best players on the team, but he sort of took a back seat to the likes of Chipper Jones and the Braves rotation. However, the WAR totals suggest otherwise.
— Paul Hembekides
That’s pretty incredible, especially when you consider that Andruw Jones didn’t arrive until 1996, and he didn’t play a full season until 1997. By most metrics, he was the best player on The Team of The 90s.
The fall-off for Andruw Jones was painful to watch. Once he turned 30 and departed Atlanta, he had trouble staying in shape, and his offense also fell off a cliff. He hit just .158 with the Dodgers and was released after one season. Jones did bounce back a little with the White Sox and Yankees after that, but he was still a shell of his former self. It’s unfortunate too because if he had just strung together a few more decent seasons, he would have eclipsed 500 homers and might have gotten into the Hall on his first ballot. Round numbers in baseball are often given far too much weight. For a decade, Andruw Jones was one of the best players in the game. It’s well past time to induct him into the Hall of Fame.