Saving the day

Todd Jones’ consistency lands him on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

December 03, 2013
2014 Hall of Fame candidate Todd Jones. (Brad Mangin/NBHOF Library)

Todd Jones filled every bullpen role imaginable in his 16-year big league career. But it was as a closer where Jones made marks that still appear on the record books today. 

Now, Jones finds himself on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot. 

Jones, whose 319 career saves rank 16th on the all-time list, debuts on the BBWAA ballot this fall, one of 36 players on the 2014 ballot for the Class of 2014. 

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 8. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2014. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 27 in Cooperstown. 

Born April 24, 1968 in Marietta, Ga., Jones was taken by the Mets in the 41st round of the MLB Draft upon graduating from high school, but opted to attend college. After three years at Jacksonville State University, Jones was selected in the 1989 MLB Draft – this time in the first round by the Houston Astros. 

[Scouting reports on Todd Jones]

Jones worked his way through the Astros system as a starter before the team converted the 6-foot-3 right-hander into a reliever in 1992. By 1993, Jones had made his major league debut – and the next season he ranked third among National League relievers with 72.2 innings in that strike-shortened campaign. 

After winning 12 games and saving 32 more combined in 1995 and 1996, the Astros traded Jones to the Tigers in a nine-player deal prior to the 1997 season. With Detroit, Jones assumed the closer’s role – averaging better than 32 saves a season from 1997-2000. 

“Good set-up men really take the load off everybody,” Jones said, “especially the guy pitching the ninth inning. The ninth-inning pitcher knows he can concentrate on doing his job because he doesn’t have to worry about the seventh and eighth.” 

Jones threw the last official pitch at Tiger Stadium in 1999, striking out the Royals’ Carlos Beltran in the final game at Detroit’s venerable park at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. 

“(The last out at Tiger Stadium) was the highlight of my career,” Jones said. “I just remember grandparents crying at the last game, because (Tiger Stadium) had meant so much to them and the city.” 

The next season, Jones had his best campaign – recording an American League-best 42 saves in 2000 while earning an All-Star Game berth and finishing fifth in the Cy Young Award voting. He was named the AL’s Rolaids Relief Man of the Year that season, and the 42 saves set a record (since broken) for a Tigers’ pitcher. 

Jones was dealt to the Twins at the trading deadline in 2001, beginning a stretch where he pitched for six different teams over five years – mostly as set-up man. But following the 2004 season, Jones signed a one-year contract with the Marlins – and saved 40 games while posting a 2.10 earned-run average as Florida’s closer. 

Jones returned to Detroit in 2006, assuming the closer’s role he had from 1997-2000. He saved 37 games in 2007 and 38 more the following year before losing the closer’s job midway through 2008, when he notched 18 saves. He retired near the end of the 2008 season. 

Jones 235 saves with the Tigers rank No. 1 in franchise history, and his 982 career appearances are good for 17th place on MLB’s all-time list. 

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
1993 25 HOU 1 2 .333 3.13 27 0 8 0 0 2 37.1 28 14 13 4 15 25
1994 26 HOU 5 2 .714 2.72 48 0 20 0 0 5 72.2 52 23 22 3 26 63
1995 27 HOU 6 5 .545 3.07 68 0 40 0 0 15 99.2 89 38 34 8 52 96
1996 28 HOU 6 3 .667 4.40 51 0 37 0 0 17 57.1 61 30 28 5 32 44
1997 29 DET 5 4 .556 3.09 68 0 51 0 0 31 70.0 60 29 24 3 35 70
1998 30 DET 1 4 .200 4.97 65 0 53 0 0 28 63.1 58 38 35 7 36 57
1999 31 DET 4 4 .500 3.80 65 0 62 0 0 30 66.1 64 30 28 7 35 64
2000 32 DET 2 4 .333 3.52 67 0 60 0 0 42 64.0 67 28 25 6 25 67
2001 33 TOT 5 5 .500 4.24 69 0 36 0 0 13 68.0 87 39 32 9 29 54
2001 33 DET 4 5 .444 4.62 45 0 28 0 0 11 48.2 60 31 25 6 22 39
2001 33 MIN 1 0 1.000 3.26 24 0 8 0 0 2 19.1 27 8 7 3 7 15
2002 34 COL 1 4 .200 4.70 79 0 20 0 0 1 82.1 84 43 43 10 28 73
2003 35 TOT 3 5 .375 7.08 59 1 14 0 0 0 68.2 93 58 54 10 31 59
2003 35 COL 1 4 .200 8.24 33 1 7 0 0 0 39.1 61 39 36 8 18 28
2003 35 BOS 2 1 .667 5.52 26 0 7 0 0 0 29.1 32 19 18 2 13 31
2004 36 TOT 11 5 .688 4.15 78 0 16 0 0 2 82.1 84 39 38 7 33 59
2004 36 CIN 8 2 .800 3.79 51 0 10 0 0 1 57.0 49 25 24 4 25 37
2004 36 PHI 3 3 .500 4.97 27 0 6 0 0 1 25.1 35 14 14 3 8 22
2005 37 FLA 1 5 .167 2.10 68 0 55 0 0 40 73.0 61 19 17 2 14 62
2006 38 DET 2 6 .250 3.94 62 0 56 0 0 37 64.0 70 31 28 4 11 28
2007 39 DET 1 4 .200 4.26 63 0 54 0 0 38 61.1 64 29 29 3 23 33
2008 40 DET 4 1 .800 4.97 45 0 37 0 0 18 41.2 50 30 23 5 18 14
16 Yrs 58 63 .479 3.97 982 1 619 0 0 319 1072.0 1072 518 473 93 443 868

 

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum