We identified Andruw Jones as a fantasy baseball sleeper two months before the 2009 season.
Coming off the season that Jones had in 2008, it’s hard to imagine him as anything but a sleeper. At age 32, it was questionable that he would even make a major league roster after his disastrous 2007 season with the Dodgers where he hit .158 with 3 homeruns and reported to camp 40 pounds overweight. This, just three seasons away from a year when Jones hit 51 home runs!
Jones was so bad that the Dodgers released him and paid him $15 million to hit the road! At age 32, he seemed washed up, perhaps a victim of too much success too early that left him unmotivated to continue to excel.
Still a Power Threat
The Texas Rangers picked up the 5-time all-star for just $500,000. Surprisingly, Jones made the squad and in 82 games, Jones hit 17 home runs with 43 RBI and stole 5 bases. His batting average was still low at .214, but his power numbers were there.
While Jones shortened his swing in 2009, he still is primarily a fly ball hitter with 48% of his at bats resulting in fly balls. He continues to be a consistent whiffer as well with 25% of his at bats resulting in K’s. Thanks to 44 walks, his OBP was a respectable .323 so pitchers still fear his power.
Jones is certainly not the ball hawk he once was. In fact, the Rangers rarely let him see the field. Of his 74 starts, 55 were at designated hitter. It’s hard to imagine that Jones, with 10 lifetime gold gloves, is washed up as an outfielder. Put those 10 gold gloves in perspective; only two outfielders have more and their names are Mays and Clemente (12 each).
Andruw Jones — The Early Years
Andruw Jones is the most famous baseball player to ever come from the tiny island of Curacao.
His father was known as the best player on the island in the 60′s and 70′s and had a scout ever ventured there, he likely would have become a major leaguer. Unfortunately, the scouts never came and he ended up working (fittingly) in a tissue factory.
At age 11, Jones was on an elite travel team that competed as far away as Japan. At age 13, he began playing on his father’s team, the Royal Scorpions. Jones was not a lean kid; he was muscular and solid at a young age. He hit a 400+ foot homerun at age 13! By age 15, the younger Jones had replaced his father as the best player in Curacao.
Braves’ scout Paul Snyder scouted Jones at a tournament in Puerto Rico later that year. During the showcase tournament, he was timed at 6.7 in the 60. Snyder urged the Braves to sign Jones on his 16th birthday. He received a signing bonus of $46,000 and quickly worked his way through the Braves system.
After injuries to David Justice and Jermaine Dye, the Braves called Jones up to the Bigs in 1995 at age 18. Jones has gone on to hit 388 career homeruns, mostly in the Atlanta uniform.
Keeping Up with the Jones
Andruw Jones registered as a free agent on November 9, 2009. With a lot of other outfielders on the market, Jones has to be considered a high risk pickup. But, he is likely the free agent with the most upside potential that will come at a cheap price.
Jones remains a good fit for Texas so don’t be surprised if he ends up back in a Ranger uniform. Another possibility is for Jones to become a fourth outfielder in Minnesota.
Of course, Jones would love to go somewhere where he’d be able to earn a starting job, but that seems unlikely. He is likely going to fill the fourth outfielder role somewhere.
Track Andruw Jones during the off-season to see where he ends up and make your decision on Jones at that time for the 2010 fantasy baseball draft. As a fourth outfielder, he may get a chance to give you a 20+ homerun season, but as a fifth outfielder, it’s unlikely he’s going to help you very much.