Andruw Rudolf Jones (born April 23, 1977) is a Curaçaoan professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter.
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 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.
He played 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.
Jones also had an elite arm in addition to fielding. He appeared in the All-Star Game five times, and he won both the Hank Aaron Award and a Silver Slugger Award for outfielders in 2005. In 2002, he was the inaugural National League (NL) All-Star Final Vote winner. While primarily a center fielder throughout his career, Jones transitioned to designated hitter and fourth outfielder role for the Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees.
Jones made his debut during the 1996 season with the Atlanta Braves. In the 1996 World Series, Jones 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 batted .231 with 18 home runs and finished 5th in voting for Rookie of the Year. In 1998, Jones batted .271 with 31 home runs. In 1999, he batted .275 with 26 home runs, 84 RBIs. Jones batted .303 with 36 home runs and 104 runs batted in (RBIs) in 2000, making his first All-Star team.
Jones started to draw many comparisons to Willie Mays and was considered the best center fielder in baseball outside of Ken Griffey Jr. The following season, Jones again blasted over 30 home runs and drove in 104 runs but his average dipped to .251 while his strikeouts increased. Jones played better in 2002 and 2003 and made the All-Star team in both seasons. However, Jones struggled in 2004 and failed to hit at least 30 home runs for the first time since 1999. His strikeouts begun to exceed 100 regularly. However, in 2005, he led the league with 51 home runs and also led the NL with 128 RBIs. He finished 2nd to Albert Pujols for National League MVP. Critics argued his batting average being low was the main reason he finished 2nd. His average continued to dip and strikeouts raised. In 2006, Jones batted .262 with 41 home runs and 129 RBI. In 2007, in his last season with the Braves, Jones had the worst season of his career.
Having gained weight and alleged as being lazy, friction emerged on Jones and his future status with Atlanta. During his time with Atlanta, Jones became one of the youngest in MLB history to reach 300 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 by the Dodgers. Since then, Jones has played for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees. While with the White Sox, Jones belted his 400th career home run.
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