theArtLab Please don’t let Andruw Jones fall off the Hall of Fame ballot

Please don’t let Andruw Jones fall off the Hall of Fame ballot

Andruw Jones could track down just about any ball during his heyday as baseball’s best center fielder, but he’s not tracking well at all on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot.According to the latest tallies from ballot trackerRyan Thibodaux, Jones’ name has been checked on just 5.1 percent of ballots thus far, making himdangerously close to dropping below the 5percent mark nece sary to remain on the ballot for another year, and orders of magnitude below the 75 percent mark needed for induction to Cooperstown.MORE: SN’s Ryan Fagan explains his HOF ballotGiven Jones’ long stretchas an elitedefensive talent withthe Braves, this is especially sad and perplexing.While nobody including me expected a first-ballot induction (or anything even close to that) Lorenzo Cain Jersey ,it seemed reasonable that the growing understanding of and appreciation for defensive skills would keep Jones in the discu sion for at least a few years.Now, that seems unlikely, which isn’t history’s worst Hall of Fame injustice, but definitely another bitof laughable evidence that the Hall voting system is, shall we say, suboptimal.If Jones does fall short of that 5percent threshold, it certainly won’t be the first time a great player was denied proper Hall of Fame consideration,but it will be a special kind of suboptimal.Sowhy the lack of love for Jones? Well, you could point to his rapid decline after age 30, which is a plenty valid critique, but I have another theory.I think it stems from being overshadowed in the lineup for 12 seasonsby Chipper Jones, who will sail easily into Cooperstown when the votes are announced in a few weeks, and overshadowed in general by the Hall of Fame pitchers: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz though it’s a near certainty that their Hall of Fame numbers wouldn’t be quite so brilliant without Jones patrolling center field.”Andruw has got to save each starter about 10 runs a year,” Maddux once told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.The greatest center fielder that I’ve ever seen is how Smoltz described him during his induction speech.MORE: Why doesn’t Billy Wagner get more Hall of Fame love?Even so, back in the ’90s, the Braves were known for pitching andthat Chipper guy.Andruw was rarely the main talking point, the effects of which I believe we’re seeing now as the 2018 Hall of Fame picture comes into clearer focus. That’s unfortunate because Andruw Jones was just as important to the Braves’ run of succe s.Consider:Jones, a five-time All-Star,won 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1998 to 2007, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Jones’ story was his range.During those 10 Gold Glove seasons, Jones led all NL outfielders in putouts six times. And the gap between Jones and No. 2 was often substantial, peaking at 93 in 1999. During those six seasons (1998-2002 and 2007), Jones led the league in putouts by an average of 40 more than the second-best number.During the same period, Jones led the league in defensive wins above replacement four times (1998, 2000-02)and finished second once (1999). He led all NL center fielders in a sists three times, including in 1998 when he led all outfielders in a sists with 20.And in terms of total zone runs, which measures the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of plays made, Jones led all NL outfielders seven times, including in six straight seasons (1997-2002) and for a career total of 243. That ranks him No. 1 all time among outfielders and No. 2 all time among all positions behind Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. Said another way, when the conversation is defense and you’re second in history only to Brooks Robinson, you’re pretty special.Though defense was obviously Jones’ specialty,he was far, far, far from a glove-only talent.On offense:Jones had 10 straight seasons with at least 25 home runs.Jones had seven seasons of 30 or more homers, including a career-high 51 in 2005.Jones had eight consecutive seasons with at least 90 RBIs.Jones had five seasons with more than 100 RBIs, including a career-high 129 in 2006.If you want to further strengthen Jones’ case, his46.4 WAR during his seven-year peak is higher than the average Hall of Fame center fielder, according toJay Jaffe’s JAWS formula. MORE: Edgar Martinez has a crystal-clear case for CooperstownWhile it’s true that Jones’ timeas a good player basically ended after his age 30 season, hisprime years were more than stellar enough to keep him on the Cooperstown ballot a while longer. As recently as last season, I thought Jones was likely to earn induction from the BBWAA before his 10 years on the ballot expire. I a sumed that as more analytic-minded writers earned voting privileges, Jones’ tallies would gradually rise and reach 75 percent somewhere around Year 8, 9 or 10.I won’t have a vote for eight more years. I’dhoped I’d be among the voters whofinally pushed Jones to induction. Nowit doesn’t look like I’ll have the chance.