Fangraphs rates him as the 2nd best defensive player in baseball history — ahead of Ozzie Smith. Defensive metrics are all over the place, but no rational observer would keep Andruw out of the all-time Top 10. He certainly passed the eye test.
Andruw was also one of the most durable players of his time, playing no less than 153 games in each of his 11 complete seasons with the Braves.
And he wasn’t bad with the bat. He’s fifth on the franchise’s all-time HR list and only 43 major leaguers hit more homers. He had a higher OPS than Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and was never suspected of cheating.
Those are impressive Cooperstown credentials, but will he get in? His career .254 won’t help his cause, but that shouldn’t keep him out. Unreal expectations may be Andruw’s biggest road block to induction.
When (Braves scouting director Paul) Snyder first saw Jones his mind quickly drifted back several decades. “In 1960, I was about 75 miles from Philadelphia and went to see Roberto Clemente play,” he said. “When I saw Andruw, it was like seeing another Clemente. But Andruw’s a much better power hitter. He’s going to strike out like most power guys, but he’s got the most outstanding range and one of the most accurate arms for anyone that plays out there. He’s a beautiful player.”
There were even comparisons to Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
And then he did this.
I’ve never felt more confident as a Braves fan than that night. My team already had the best pitching in baseball. Now it had the game’s next superstar, along with Chipper, Klesko, Javy and Jermaine Dye — none older than 25.
The Braves have won only one World Series game since, and that was the following night. Andruw never won an MVP and was considered an underachiever. How many guys with 10 Gold Gloves and more than 400 homers can say that?
Maybe the game came too easy to Andruw. He didn’t keep him in the best shape, either. Perhaps that explains why he was essentially washed up at age 31.
Even now, you can’t help but think what might have been. Which tells you just how good he was.