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.
“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”
That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.
Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.