Jones with the Texas Rangers in 2009
|Born: April 23, 1977|
|MLB: August 15, 1996, for the Atlanta Braves|
|NPB: March 29, 2013, for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles|
|MLB: October 3, 2012, for the New York Yankees|
|NPB: October 1, 2014, for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles|
|Runs batted in||1,289|
|Runs batted in||165|
|Career highlights and awards|
Andruw Rudolf Jones (Papiamento pronunciation: ['andruw 'd?onz]; born April 23, 1977) is a Curaçaoan former baseball outfielder and designated hitter who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), most notably for the Atlanta Braves. Jones also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees, and in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Jones was a noted defensive specialist for most of his career and won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for outfielders every year from 1998 through 2007. He had a strong throwing arm in addition to his elite fielding. He was an MLB All-Star five times, and he won both the Hank Aaron Award and a Silver Slugger Award for outfielders in 2005.
Jones made his MLB debut during the 1996 season with the Atlanta Braves. In the 1996 World Series, he became the youngest player ever to hit a home run in the postseason, and just the second player ever to homer in his first two World Series at bats. The following season, Jones finished fifth in voting for Rookie of the Year. From 1998 to 1999, he continued to increase his offensive production, and in 2000, Jones batted .303 with 36 home runs and 104 runs batted in (RBIs), making his first All-Star team. Jones started to draw many comparisons to Willie Mays and was considered one of the top center fielders in baseball. The following season, he again hit over 30 home runs and drove in 104 runs but his average dipped to .251 while his strikeouts increased. Jones improved with All-Star seasons in 2002 and 2003, but in 2004, he failed to hit at least 30 home runs for the first time since 1999 and exceeded 100 strikeouts, which became a regular occurrence thereafter. In 2005, he led the National League (NL) with 51 home runs 128 RBIs, finishing second to Albert Pujols for NL Most Valuable Player. In subsequent seasons, his average continued to dip and his strikeouts increased. After a productive season in 2006, including a career high 129 RBIs, in 2007 Jones had his weakest season to that point, batting just .222. During his time with Atlanta, Jones became one of the youngest players in MLB history to reach 300 career home runs.
After the 2007 season, Jones signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent to a 2-year deal, worth $36.2 million. However, Jones struggled with the Dodgers, batting just .158 with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs. Shortly after the season, Jones was released. Jones concluded his MLB career with brief stints for the Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees, transitioning from a center fielder to designated hitter and a fourth outfielder role. While with the White Sox, Jones hit his 400th career home run.
By the age of 11, Jones was on a youth select team that traveled all the way to Japan to play in a tournament. He could handle any position on the field, but because of his powerful arm, Jones often found himself at catcher or third base. He switched to the outfield a couple of years later.
Stories of Andruw's early accomplishments are the stuff of legend. As a 13-year-old, playing for his father's Royal Scorpions team, he sent a ball screaming over 400 feet (120 m) to the tennis court of a nearby hotel. In the same game, Andruw came up again and hit the hotel. By his early teens, he was competing against adults. He even played on Curaçao's national team in the Latin American Games.
By the time Andruw turned 15, he was the best player on the island. He had yet to be discovered, however, for Curaçao was still well off the beaten path for major league scouts--even though countryman Hensley Meulens had done well in the New York Yankee farm system.
Jones signed with the Atlanta Braves organization as a free agent in 1993 at the age of 16. Jones was promoted to Danville of the Appalachian League after only 27 games with the Braves farm team in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Jones played for Class-A Macon in 1995. In his first at bat, he belted a homer. He finished the season with 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Jones also led the South Atlantic League with 56 steals. His outstanding season was capped off when he was named Minor League Player of the Year.
The Braves brought Jones up to Atlanta on August 15, 1996, when he was just 19 years old. In his first career Major League game, Jones went 1 for 5 with a run batted in and a run scored. In his second game, he went 2 for 5 with a home run and a triple. He had his first multi-homer game against the Reds on August 22. He spent his early time in the majors playing in right field because established center fielders Marquis Grissom and Kenny Lofton were already entrenched in the position. He finished the season batting .217 with 5 home runs and 13 RBIs.
Jones was selected to the Braves' post-season roster in 1996. In the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, Jones batted .222 with a home run and 3 RBIs. The Braves won the Series and advanced to the World Series.
In Game 1 of the 1996 World Series on October 20, 1996, Jones was able to demonstrate his talents on the national stage. He connected for two home runs to left field on his first two at bats as the Braves routed the New York Yankees 12-1. Jones became the youngest player ever to homer in the World Series at the age of 19 years, 180 days, breaking Mickey Mantle's record of 20 years, 362 days - on what would have been Mantle's 65th birthday. Jones joined Gene Tenace as the only other player to hit home runs in his first two World Series at bats. Tenace did it in 1972 with the Oakland Athletics.
Jones became the Braves' everyday right fielder in 1997. Jones hit his first home run of the season against Jeff McCurry of the Rockies. Jones had his second multi-homer game against the Cubs on July 22. On August 31, Jones went 3 for 3 with a home run and 5 runs batted in a game against the Boston Red Sox. Jones finished his rookie season with a .231 batting average, 18 home runs, and 70 runs batted in. Jones also showed his speed by stealing 20 bases. He finished 5th in Rookie of the Year voting.
In 1998, he moved to center field nearly full-time, and had a much more encouraging season. He hit his 30th home run of the season against Florida on September 13. He also won his first of ten straight Gold Glove Awards. In the 1998 National League Division Series, Jones went 0 for 9 but did draw 3 walks. The Braves won the series against the Cubs. In the 1998 NLCS against the San Diego Padres, Jones batted .273 with a home run and 2 RBIs. However, The Braves lost the series in 6 games.
Whether he was in the batter's box or gliding under a fly ball to make an easy basket catch, Jones played the game in a very relaxed manner. This temporarily earned him the ire of manager Bobby Cox in June 1998 in an incident in which Cox pulled Jones out of a game, in the midst of an inning, because he felt Jones had lazily allowed a single to drop in center field. Jones went on to hit .271 with 31 home runs and 90 runs batted in and stole 27 bases. Still just 22 years old, Jones had similar numbers in 1999. He had a breakout season with his bat in 2000 with career highs up until that point in batting average (.303), home runs (36), and RBIs (104). He also earned his first All-Star Game appearance. He also led the National League in Plate Appearances (729) and At Bats (656). Jones struggled in the National League Division Series against the Cardinals. He went 1 for 9 with a home run. The Braves lost the series.
However, in 2001, Jones' batting average fell and his strikeouts went up. Jones finished with 34 home runs and 104 RBIs but his average dropped to only .251 and he struck out 142 times. By now, Jones had gained nearly 30 pounds since arriving at the Major Leagues, greatly diminishing his speed on the basepaths (he would not steal more than 11 bases after 2001). He maintained a similar batting performance in 2002, but was still playing superb defense. On September 7, he belted 2 home runs in his last 2 at-bats. In his first 2 at-bats on September 10, he belted 2 more home runs. He became the 11th player in history to homer in 4 straight at-bats. Then on September 25, Jones belted 3 home runs against the Phillies. Jones became the first Braves player to hit 3 home runs in a game since Jeff Blauser did it in 1992. Jones was named to his second All Star team. He ended the season with 35 home runs and 94 RBIs.
In 2003, with the power-hitting Gary Sheffield in the line-up, Jones achieved a new career high-water mark in RBIs, with 116. Jones made his third All Star team and homered in the game. The American League beat the National League, 7-6. In the 2004 season, he took a step backward when he hit fewer than 30 homers and struck out 147 times. During the season, Jones was the subject of trade rumors.
Prior to the 2005 season, Jones increased his workout regimen and followed advice given by Willie Mays to widen his batting stance. The result was his most productive offensive season ever. After Chipper Jones went down with an injury early in 2005, Jones carried the Braves. By the All Star break, Jones was leading the National League in home runs with 27. Jones was named to the All Star team, the fourth of his career. Jones hit his 40th home run of the season on August 23 in a loss against the Cubs. It marked the first time in his career that he hit at least 40 home runs in a season. Jones became the first Braves hitter to hit 40 home runs in a season since Javy Lopez did it in 2003. On September 14, 2005, Jones hit his 300th career home run which went 430 feet (130 m) off Philadelphia Phillies reliever Geoff Geary in a 12-4 Phillies win. The ball landed in the upper deck in left field at Citizens Bank Park. Jones became the first hitter since Alex Rodriguez (57) and Jim Thome (52) to hit at least 50 home runs in a season. Jones also became the 12th player in history to hit 300 home runs before his 30th birthday.
Jones hit a major league-leading 51 home runs, surpassing Hank Aaron's and Eddie Mathews' single-season club record, and winning the Babe Ruth Home Run Award. He also led the National League with a career-high 128 RBI. Jones' torrid hitting in the summer, especially while teammate Chipper Jones was out with an injury, helped carry the Braves to their 14th consecutive division championship. He finished just behind St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Albert Pujols in the 2005 NL MVP vote.
Jones started the season by hitting a home run off a pitch from Derek Lowe. Jones finished the game by going 2 for 4 with a home run, 4 runs batted in, a strikeout, and a base on balls. The Braves won the game, 11-10. From April 16 through April 19, Jones homered in 4 consecutive games. During that stretch, he batted .438 with 5 home runs and 8 runs batted in. Jones finished the month of April with a .281 average, 8 home runs and 23 runs batted in (RBI).
Jones matched his career high with 6 runs batted in on July 18 against the Cardinals. He also went 5 for 5 with 2 home runs. On August 29, in a game against the Giants, Jones drove in 3 runs, which gave him his 1000th career RBI. On September 26, in a game against the New York Mets, Jones hit his 40th home run of the season. He became the first hitter in Atlanta's history to have consecutive seasons of at least 40 homers. Jones finished the 2006 season with 41 home runs and 129 RBIs. Jones also became more selective at the plate (82 walks, as compared to 64 the prior season), which helped him score 107 runs during 2006, an increase of 12 over the prior year and his most in a single season since 2000. He won his ninth consecutive Gold Glove award. The Braves finished with a 79-83 record and missed the postseason for the first time since 1990.
Coming into the last year of his contract with the Braves, many fans and sports analysts alike felt that 2007 would be the last year in which Jones would be a Brave, mostly because of his potential value on the market that the Braves would not be able to afford. Jones, however, had an unexpectedly poor start to the season, striking out 51 times in 41 games and carrying a batting average in the low .200s for the majority of April and May.
On April 30, Jones hit a three-run walk-off home run against the Philadelphia Phillies. On May 28, Jones hit his 350th career homer off Chris Capuano. After the All-Star break, Jones continued to have productive power numbers; however, his batting average remained poor. He was honored with a Fielding Bible Award as the best fielding center fielder in MLB. Jones finished the 2007 season with 26 home runs and 94 RBIs. On the downside, Jones hit only .222 and struck out 138 times.
On October 2, the Braves announced they would not be bringing Jones back for the 2008 season.
On December 5, 2007, Jones agreed to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, worth $36.2 million. After showing up out of shape and over 20 pounds overweight, he continued to struggle, hitting below .200 for most of the season. Additionally, he had only 10 hits in 116 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Due to his lack of production, Jones was dropped to eighth in the Dodger line-up. This was the first time since 1998 that Jones had hit eighth in any line-up.
Jones was put on the disabled list for the first time in his entire career on May 25, 2008. He had knee surgery after injuring his knee during batting practice earlier that day. On July 27, 2008, the Dodgers manager Joe Torre benched Jones and said that he would only be used as a spot starter in the future. At that time, Jones had a .166 batting average, two home runs and 12 RBIs combined with 68 strikeouts in 187 at-bats.
On September 13, 2008, Jones was put on the 60-day disabled list, and removed from the playoff roster, putting an end to his season with the Dodgers. Jones finished the season with a .158 batting average, just three home runs, and 14 RBI. Jones stated that he did not wish to return to the Dodgers in 2009, saying that the Los Angeles fans did not give him a fair chance.
During the 2009 off-season, the Dodgers reached an agreement with Jones to trade or release him before spring training in exchange for a deferral of some of the remaining money due on his contract. On January 15, 2009, Jones was officially released by the Dodgers.
On February 8, 2009, Jones signed a one-year minor league contract with the Texas Rangers; the deal paid him $500,000 for making the major league team, and offered $1 million in incentives. Jones reportedly turned down a similar offer from the New York Yankees to compete for their center field job and expressed an interest in staying with the Rangers even though he would likely not be a starter. He earned the Rangers' final roster spot.
He was originally intended to be a pinch-hitter for the Rangers, but found a starting outfield role due to an injury to Josh Hamilton. Jones would go 3 for 5 in his Rangers debut with a RBI and 2 runs scored. In his next game, Jones went 2 for 3 and scored 2 runs. He also hit his first home run as a member of the Rangers in the seventh inning off of Danys Báez. By the end of April, Jones was batting .344 with 3 home runs and 6 runs batted in.
Jones was also faced with an opportunity to play against his old club, the Dodgers. Jones played 2 games against them on June 13 and 14, homering in each game. On July 4, Jones went 2 for 5 with a home run and 4 runs batted in against the Rays. On July 8, in a game against the Angels, Jones hit 3 home runs and drove in 4 runs in an 8-1 win. It was his second career 3-homer game. Jones had a chance to hit his fourth home run of the game in his final 2 at-bats, but he popped out and struck out. "I was thinking about it. I tried. I just didn't get it done," Jones said. "I'm just happy we won." Jones ultimately hit only .214 for the season, but did have 17 home runs in 82 games.
On November 25, 2009, Jones signed a $500,000 deal for 2010 with up to an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. Unlike what he had done with the Braves and Dodgers in previous seasons, Jones showed up to camp in shape, a full 30 pounds under his previous weight. On April 23, 2010, Jones hit two home runs on his 33rd birthday, including a walk-off to help the White Sox win 7-6 over the Seattle Mariners. On July 11, he hit his 400th career home run.
On January 20, 2011, Jones and the New York Yankees agreed to a contract for the 2011 season for $2 million, with an additional $1.2 million in performance bonuses. In his first Yankees at-bat on April 5, 2011, Jones hit a home run over the left field wall at Yankee Stadium off the Minnesota Twins' Brian Duensing.
Jones finished the season with a .247 average, 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. He became a free agent after the World Series.
Jones re-signed with the Yankees for the 2012 season on December 30, 2011. With a one-year deal worth $2 million. He was slated to be a backup. However, due to Brett Gardner's DL stint, Jones received more starts than anticipated. Jones played very well in the first half of the season hitting 12 home runs in his first 62 games, including three over the course of a double header in Boston, but in August and September he hit only .139 with two home runs over his final 32 games.
On December 7, 2012, Jones agreed to a one-year, ¥300 million (approximately US$3.5 million) contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League. He finished the regular season with 26 home runs in 478 at-bats. He scored 81 runs, had 94 RBI, 116 base hits and 105 walks in 143 games, helping Eagles to clinch their first Pacific League Championship. His steady performance continued in post-season, including two home runs in the 2013 Pacific League Climax Series and one in the 2013 Japan Series respectively, which played a key role in the Eagles' Japan Series win. After the season, Jones re-signed with Rakuten for the 2014 season, agreeing to a one-year contract worth ¥400 million (approximately US$3.8 million). In his two years with Rakuten, Jones hit 50 home runs and played primarily at designated hitter, however he played 48 games at first base, far more than the eight he played in his career before coming to Japan.
Since playing in Japan, Jones attempted comebacks in both the 2015 and 2016 MLB seasons. He officially retired from baseball in February 2016 and was hired by the Braves as a special assistant later that month.
As at end of the 2012 season, Jones owned a career .254 average, with 434 home runs, and 1,289 runs batted in. He currently ranks at 40 on the career home run list. However, Jones' weakness has been hitting against the breaking ball and hitting for good average. Only once in his career has Jones batted .300 or better (he batted .303 in 2000), and since 2007 - the year he turned 30 - he has hit just .214.
Jones was also known for his speed early in his career. In fact, his speed earned him the last playoff spot on the Braves' roster in 1996. Jones stole 20+ bases from 1997 to 2000. However, his speed declined as he hit for more power. Jones has not stolen at least 10 bases since he stole 11 in 2001. This could also be attributed to a noticeable weight gain.
Jones also owned the lowest batting average (since broken by Jose Bautista in 2010), slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and runs scored in a season for a hitter that belted 50+ home runs in a season. Jones hit 51 in 2005 but batted just .263, with a .575 slugging, .347 on base, and 95 runs scored.
From 1998 to 2007, Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves. His 10 Gold Gloves for an outfielder ranks him in a tie for second with Al Kaline, Ichiro Suzuki, and Ken Griffey Jr. for most Gold Gloves won by an outfielder. Jones is also one of five center fielders to record at least 400 putouts in a season six times. The others are Willie Mays, Richie Ashburn, Kirby Puckett, and Max Carey.
Being born in Curaçao allowed Jones to be eligible for the Netherlands national baseball team during their participation in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006. Jones would later join the team again for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Two years later, in 2015, Jones was selected to play with the National Dutch team as a first baseman for the 2015 Premier 12. He later announced that those were his final games as a player.
Jones was married to Nicole Derick. They are the parents of one son, Druw, and one daughter, Madison. He also had a son with Mélissa Vaillancourt, Joshua (born 2005).
Early on the morning of Christmas Day, 2012, Jones was arrested for battery after police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call between him and his wife Nicole in suburban Atlanta. He was released on $2,400 bond late that morning. Nicole Jones filed for divorce in early January 2013 and the two went to court over custody of their son.
Before Saturday's game, Jones received the Babe Ruth Award for leading the major with 51 homers in 2005.(subscription required)