There are two lines of thought here. Will Jones be elected into the Hall of Fame, and should he be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Voters change over the years. So, their criteria changes on who deserves to be elected, or what they are looking at changes over time. However, it is important to look at how a player compares to his peers as far as how voters have voted in the past.
Baseball Reference does a solid job of looking at candidates at a very high level, using metrics like the black ink, gray ink, Hall of Fame Monitor, Hall of Fame Standards, and JAWS. These metrics are by no means exact, but they do help us get an idea if a player is at least capable of garnering the votes needed to be elected.
First, let’s look at Andruw Jones’ career offensive numbers, because a lot of these HoF metrics are purely based on offense (spoiler alert, Andruw is more than just a bat).
Jones has a career slash line of .254/.337/.823 which equates to a 111 wRC+ over 2196 games. Voters love counting stats, so we should look at those too. Andruw Jones had 434 HRs, 1204 runs, 1289 RBI, 1933 hits, and 152 stolen bases.
Andruw Jones’ offensive numbers are very solid, but how do they stack up with other Hall of Famers?
First, let’s look at the black ink test. Again this is very high level. This test was developed by the great Bill James which gives a point value based on if a player led the league a particular category with his bat, hence “black ink” since when a player leads the league it is in bold font.
A side note is that more recent players have a disadvantage with this test because there are more teams since the league expanded, so there are more players in the league.
With this in mind, Andruw Jones has ten black ink points, where the average HoFer has 27.
The gray ink test is similar but factors top ten placement in the league leader boards. In this test Jones has 47 points while the average HoFer has 144.
So far, the offensive tests do not look very convincing. However, the Hall of Fame Monitor test does show some hope for Jones. This test focusing more on how likely a player is to get in versus how deserving. It is similar to wRC+ in where 100 is average. Meaning a player with 100 is the baseline on likely getting into the HoF. For Reference, Fred McGriff had a 100 in this category.
This test is less focuses on leading any particular category, but gives points based accomplishments like hitting over .300 for a season, winning MVP, having more than 200 hits in a season, winning Gold Gloves, defensive position difficulty, and more (highly recommend reading up on this test in this link).
Andruw Jones scores a 109 on this scale. With his 10 Gold Gloves, it is not hard to see why. By this test, it shows that he has a legitimate chance of eventually getting voted in.
If we move onto the Hall of Fame Standards test, this focuses on career counting stats. For example, one point for each one-hundred-fifty hits above fifteen-hundred.
The downfall to this test is that it heavily focuses on offense with only giving defensive value based on the player’s primary position. This hurts Andruw Jones because he not only played CF, but he was elite in doing so. Jones scores a 34 when the average HoFer scores a 50.
As can be seen, in the past voters loved offense, and Gold Glove and position was really the only defense considered. Fortunately, it appears that voters are starting to come to the realization that defense can be measured beyond Gold Gloves and positional value.
Defense matters, and Andruw Jones was king
With Andruw Jones, he did have some seasons where he was elite with the bat, but then others where he was not. His bread and butter was his defense.
If we look at defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR), no outfielder compares to Andruw Jones. He had 4 seasons in which he led the league, and nine in which he was top ten. dWAR is a counting stat, meaning to be able to lead this category, you have to be on the field earning it. It is not like batting average where you can manipulate it by playing less games.
Now, dWAR factors in positional difficulty, and positions like SS and Catcher hold more weight. This is why you will see most all-time dWAR leaders play in the infield. However, this makes what Andruw Jones did that much more impressive.
Playing in CF he has a career dWAR of 24.4 which ranks him 22nd all-time among all MLB players regardless of position. If we dig deeper, it gets even more impressive. Andruw Jones leads all outfielders in career dWAR, and it is not particularly close.
As mentioned, Jones is 22nd among all players. To find the next player that was primarily an outfielder, you have to go all the way down the list to 61st on this list Paul Blair and his 18.8 dWAR.
Because his defense, we can look at Andruw Jones as much closer to a fringe HoFer than just his bat would imply when looking at HoF tests that weigh heavily on offense.
If we look at career WAR Andruw Jones ranks 11th among Center Fielders with 62.7 bWAR. The average CFer in the HoF has a bWAR of 71.6. If we look at fWAR, in which typically values defense and base running more, Jones has an even better 67.0.
If we look at his 7-year peak, Jones actually did better than the average CFer with a 46.4 bWAR when the average CFer in the Hall had a 44.7 bWAR 7-year peak.
The Jaffe WAR Score system (JAWS), which aims to shy away from traditional stats and dig into the sabermetrics side of statistics shows Andruw Jones being a fringe candidate as well. Again, this is due to defense. JAWS looks at players already in the HoF by position and compares a potential candidate.
Jones has JAWS score of 54.6, whereas the average CFer in the Hall has a 58.1. As can be seen, if Jones gets in, he will be below average on most of these scoring systems. However, he is close and voters are starting to vote for him.
So, will voters vote for Andruw Jones?
Voters have shown that they are strategic in how they vote. When a player gets closer to their maximum ten-year mark on the ballot, they tend to get more and more votes as the deadline draws near. Some voters seem to be more understanding that defense goes beyond Gold Gloves.
Jones has been on the ballot since 2018 and his results were 7.3 percent, 7.5, 19.4, 33.9, and finally 41.4 percent in 2022.
Trend analysis shows him trending up as the years pass. With 75.0 percent needed to get enshrined, odds are he won’t make it in 2023. However, if he continues to average a 6.82 percent raise in votes every year he could pass the 75.0 percent in his tenth year with a 75.5.