Andruw Jones inexplicably stopped being a productive everyday player at age 29, but was in the majors so young and was so good throughout his twenties that yesterday’s homer was still the 400th of his career.
For most players reaching 400 homers midway through their age-33 season would start talk of whether they can get to 500 or perhaps even 600 by the time they’re done, but in Jones’ case he might be lucky to get to 450.
With that said, he’s now just one of five players in baseball history who’ve hit 400 or more homers while playing center field in at least two-thirds of their games:
Willie Mays 660
Ken Griffey Jr. 630
Mickey Mantle 536
Duke Snider 407
ANDRUW JONES 400
His epic collapse upon turning 30 really complicates the matter, but Jones was clearly on a Hall of Fame path through age 29. Even now he’s a 10-time Gold Glove winner with the fifth-most homers of all time by a center fielder, which certainly looks like the opening line of a Hall of Fame resume.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.