Surprisingly, Andruw Jones will announce his retirement from the game of baseball very soon, after a seventeen-year major league career.
It’s not surprising because his career came to an abrupt or unexpected end — it’s surprising because, being completely honest, I thought he retired years ago. When I saw the headline that Jones was announcing his retirement, I legitimately thought it was one of those “Today in Baseball History” posts. The last time we saw Jones at the major league level was back in 2012 when he hit a buck ninety-seven with 14 home runs in 94 games for the Yankees. At that point, he was nothing more than a glorified Doug Mirabelli.
But I’m going to choose to remember AJ for his time during his Braves days, when he was one of the best defensive centerfielders of all-time, winning ten Gold Glove awards, all consecutively. Imagine that? Hanley Ramirez can’t even look like a Gold Glove defender at his position for ten minutes, and Andruw Jones was a Gold Glove defender at a premier defensive position for ten YEARS. If there’s a silver lining to being that guy that announces his retirement three years after he played his final game, it’s that, technically, although he wasn’t “retired”, he’s been out of Major League Baseball for three years, which means that he’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in two. Guess who else will be a first-timer on the Hall of Fame ballot in two years? His old pal and former teammate, Chipper Jones.
Braves fans have all the luck when it comes to that shit. They got Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in the same Hall of Fame class in 2014, and now they have the chance to see Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones in the same class four years later. Now, is Andruw a slam dunk case? Far from it. “Hall of Fame worthy” is not a phrase that I would use to describe his post-Atlanta playing days, but you could certainly make a case for enshrinement based on his Braves tenure alone. If he does get in, I’d bet against it being on the first ballot.
Not only do the seasons following his departure from Atlanta not help him out whatsoever, but then you have to factor in that you have a few guys who have a better case for induction in their first year, like Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Scott Rolen. In addition to that, you’ll have Vladimir Guerrero in his second year on the ballot (if he doesn’t go in on his first try), along with a couple of guys in Manny Ramirez and Pudge Rodriguez, who I’m sure will still be lingering on the ballot to clutter things up due to their either suspected or proven PED use. Long story short, it’s not unrealistic to think that he’ll get lost in the shuffle.
Either way, Hall of Fame or not, it was a hell of a run with the Atlanta Braves for Andruw Jones.