Gil Pound: Pound for Vote Andruw 2024

Jan. 23—The Baseball Hall of Fame is set to announce its Class of 2024 this evening.

Projections show that one deserving former Atlanta Brave is going to come up just short of the game's highest honor again.

Centerfield phenom Andruw Jones is on the ballot for the eighth time and is tracking to finish below the necessary 75% voter threshold that would grant him baseball immortality. Ask the thousands upon thousands of households who watched Jones and the Braves on TBS, they'd say those voters leaving him off their ballots are wrong.

The word that first comes to mind when thinking about Jones' playing is "smooth." He moved through the outfield at a glide as he made show-stopping plays. Think you got a blooper down for a hit in shallow center? Not with Andruw on patrol. Gapper into deep right-center? That's just one dive and full extension away from hearing the ball land in his glove. Going deep off the centerfield wall? Andruw's there making an over-the-shoulder catch, all while leaping into the air, planting his two feet on the wall, and coming back down to earth with feline agility.

You couldn't put him on teaching tape. He was too flashy for that. Flashy not in the sense of being a show-off, but rather his ability to play defense with style and flair.

The case for Andruw is easy. He's one of only four players in Major League Baseball history with 10 Gold Gloves and 400 home runs. The other three? Just guys named Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Schmidt — all first-ballot Hall of Famers. Only six outfielders in MLB history have 10 or more Gold Gloves to their names. Jones is one. Mays and Roberto Clemente have 12 apiece. Jones, Griffey Jr., Al Kaline and Ichiro Suzuki all have 10.

A native of Curaçao, Jones held the Braves' franchise record for home runs in a single season (51) from 2005 until last year. I'd say that's a pretty big record to own within an organization that has had Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy don a uniform.

The '05 campaign was Andruw's best. He smacked that record for homers and totaled a career-high 128 RBI. It was then that he finished second behind Albert Pujols for NL MVP, and it was also one of five times he played in the All-Star Game.

Still don't think he deserves a seat at the table? Just ask Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. They'll tell you how valuable Jones was to their success while they were on the mound for Atlanta.

The most-stated case against Jones is longevity, or lack of it. He fell off after he hit 30 years old, which is something I'm sure those voters that are keeping him off the ballot can relate to.

I'm hopeful that projections are wrong and Andruw won't be sent back to the dugout with that dreaded two-strike low and outside breaking ball again. His voting percentages have been increasing over the years, but the clock is ticking. He'll be on the ballot only two more times if he doesn't make it in 2024. Maybe this is an opportunity for the centerfielder to make just one more improbable play.