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Andruw Jones is not in Cooperstown just yet for this one reason: He fell of a cliff after leaving the Atlanta Braves.
The Willemstad, Curaçao native first came on the scene as a 19-year-old with the 1996 Braves. He famously hit home runs in his first two World Series at-bats for the defending champions. Though Atlanta lost the 1996 Fall Classic to the New York Yankees, Jones was a perennial Gold Glove recipient and a regular NL All-Star in the Braves outfield for over the next decade-plus.
While defensive metrics absolutely help his hall-of-fame candidacy, his undeniable fall from grace is why he has not gotten in and may not get in before his 10 years on the ballot runs its course.
Atlanta Braves: Why Andruw Jones has not gotten into the hall of fame
It is really simple. Jones went from being a great player in Atlanta to a terrible player elsewhere. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers during his age-31 season in 2008. Jones slashed .158/.256/.249 in his utterly atrocious 75-game run with the Boys in Blue. He never hit above .250 in his final six seasons and never had a 20-home run season outside of a Braves uniform.
Jones ended up with 10 Gold Gloves, five NL All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger in 2005 when he led the National League with 51 home runs and 128 runs batted in. His 434 career home runs make up for the fact he only had 1,933 career base hits and a career .254 batting average. Simply put, he did not take care of himself physically in his 20s and it caught up to him in his 30s big time.
Ultimately, Jones is a Hall of Very Good candidate with a shot to get in at some point. Had he have had two more good years in Braves uniform this would be a moot point, as he would already have a plaque in Cooperstown with the likes of his Atlanta teammates Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, as well as skipper Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz.
And this is where it gets kind of sad. Jones should have his No. 25 jersey retired by the Braves organization. Unfortunately, it is still in circulation with former top outfield prospect Cristian Pache currently occupying it. People cannot forget the one time he dogged it in front of Cox and was pulled from the game. Fences have been mended, but that has hurt his overall Braves legacy.
Jones is on the ballot for the fifth time, but the Braves must rally to get in him before it is too late.