Andruw Jones Powers Rangers Back into First

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 8:  Andruw Jones #25 of the Texas Rangers is greeted by manager Ron Washington (C) and teammates as he returns to the dugout after hitting his second home run of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the third inning at Angel Stadium July 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In the last two games the Rangers offense has posted eight runs in both games against the Angels.  The offensive outburst has put the team back into first place with four games remaining before the All Star break.

A huge part of that offense has been the recent success of Andruw Jones.  Josh Hamilton has returned from injury, Chris Davis was demoted to Triple-A to work out his season-long swing-and-miss kinks, Hank Blalock is now the starting first baseman, and yet it still seems as though Ron Washington is stuck on keeping Jones in the lineup regularly.

Jones is likely the best option right now as the DH. He can play in the outfield and can still be a back-up option at first for Blalock.  With Hamilton's return, Marlon Byrd hitting and fielding well, David Murphy rediscovering his swing, and Nelson Cruz beginning to hit his way out of his recent slump, Jones's time in the outfield could be very limited.

Jones struggled over the last couple months to find a regular hitting rhythm with his playing time being drastically cut down.  His batting average dropped from .344 at the end of April to .239 during the months of May and June.

But Jones has found a little bit of a resurgence so far in July.  In five game against the Rays and Angels he is hitting .318 (7-22).  Jones has launched five home runs, scored six times, and even notched 11 RBI.

Last season as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jones played in only 75 games, batted .158 with 33 hits, 21 runs, three home runs, 14 RBI and no steals.  After 12 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers paid a ton of money to bring Jones out to the West Coast, and got next to nothing in return.  So at the end of the 2008 season the Dodgers released him.  Because of guaranteed money in his contract the Dodgers are still paying Jones nearly $15 million this season.

The Rangers, on the other hand, signed him to a $500,000 base salary with up to $1 million in incentives.  So even if he reaches the full potential of incentives, the Rangers will be paying Jones about 10 percent of what the Dodgers are paying him this season. And yet, he wears Ranger blue and not Dodger blue.

Talk about a bargain.

So far this season Jones has played in only 46 games. He is currently batting .250 (.097 higher than 2008) with 40 hits (nine more than 2008), 29 runs (eight more), 14 home runs (11 more), 34 RBI (20 more) and already three steals.

Put it this way: In 2008 Andruw Jones hit three home runs for the Dodgers, all on the road, so he hit zero in the city of Los Angeles last season.  In the past two days Jones has hit four home runs in the city of Los Angeles, and his three in last night's game was the same amount he hit for the Dodgers in all of 2008. 

And again, he is not wearing Dodger blue—he is wearing Ranger blue.