Andruw Jones Benefiting From Rangers' Gamble
Andruw Jones' career was not supposed to take this turn.
With the Atlanta Braves, Jones was a perennial All Star. During his 12-year stay with the team, he hit .263 with a .342 OBP and 368 home runs. In 2005, he finished second in the MVP voting, leading the league in home runs (51) and RBI (128).
While Jones was a formidable offensive weapon, he was better known as a star in the outfield. It seemed that Jones was a regular on SportsCenter with another incredible sliding or home-run robbing catch seemingly every night.
He was rewarded with 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1998-2007.
Even though his numbers dipped in 2007 (.222, .311 OBP, 26 HR), the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Jones to a lucrative contract before the 2008 season. But no one expected what happened next.
2008 was far and away Andruw Jones' worst season as a major leaguer. With career low numbers of .158, .256 OBP, .249 SLG, 3 HR, and 14 RBI in 75 games, Jones quickly turned into one of the worst free agent signings in history.
His failure to live up to the expectations of anchoring the Dodgers' lineup resulted in his relegation to the minor leagues and prompted the Dodgers to trade for Manny Ramirez later in the season.
The team released Jones after the season, and it seemed to everyone that his days as a professional baseball player were numbered.
Enter the Texas Rangers.
In February of this year, the Rangers signed Jones to a minor league contract in the hopes that he could produce as a pinch or designated hitter.
Luckily for Jones, Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is one of the best in the game.
And luckily for the Rangers, Jones has taken Jaramillo's teachings to heart.
While not being the Gold Glove outfielder he once was, Jones has had a tremendous rebound this year as an extra outfielder and designated hitter.
Through 19 games and 64 at-bats, Jones has hit .297 with a .439 OBP, .594 SLG, 4 HR, and 16 BB.
He benefited from Josh Hamilton's stay on the disabled list and was able to show that he deserves a regular lineup spot. However, finding regular playing time for Jones will be hard with the Rangers' lineup.
With Hamilton back, the starting outfield spots are pretty much locked up with Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Marlon Byrd getting most of the starts. Even the top backup spot is a battle with David Murphy.
Jones' other regular lineup spot, DH, is rightly Hank Blalock's, who has been healthy and been providing some big hits recently.
Even though it would be nice to see Jones get more playing time, his resurgence has been a feel-good story for baseball this year. The Rangers took a gamble on him and it has paid off for them and will continue to throughout this season.
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