Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 Marlins of all-time. For comparison’s sake, we are using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric as a measuring device. The top 100 WAR ratings are being featured. Today’s Marlin, Todd Jones, earned 3.0 while with Florida.
Jones, born on April 24th, 1968, was a 6’3”, 200 lb. right-handed throwing left-handed hitting pitcher from Marietta, Georgia. The Houston Astros chose him in the first round of the 1989 amateur draft with the 27th overall selection. Also chosen in that round were Ben McDonald, Frank Thomas, Cal Eldred, Mo Vaughn, Chuck Knoblauch, and future Marlin Charles Johnson.
Before joining the Marlins in 2005 as a closer, Jones played 12 major league seasons. After four seasons with the Astros (194 games, 18-12, 39 saves, 3.27 ERA, 1.330 WHIP, 228 K’s in 267 innings), he joined the Detroit Tigers (265 games, 12-16, 131 saves, 3.82 ERA, 1.441 WHIP, 258 strikeouts in 263.2 innings) for four seasons. He earned his first all-star selection in 2000 while with the team, led the AL with 42 saves, and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
Jones played the first four months of the 2001 season in Detroit (45 games, 4-5, 11 saves, 4.62 ERA, 1.685 WHIP, 39 K’s in 48.2 innings) before the Tigers traded him to the Minnesota Twins for Mark Redman. After going 1-0 with two saves over 24 appearances in the Twin Cities, with a 1.759 WHIP and a 3.26 ERA, he was awarded free agency prior to the 2002 campaign.
In the three seasons between his time with the Twins and his signing with the Marlins, Jones played for the Colorado Rockies (112 games, 2-8, one save, 5.84 ERA, 1.570 WHIP, 101 strikeouts in 121.2 innings), the Boston Red Sox (26 games, 2-1, 5.52 ERA, 1.534 WHIP, 31 K’s in 29.1 innings), the Cincinnati Reds (51 games, 8-2, one save, 3.79 ERA, 1.298 WHIP, 37 K’s in 57 innings), and the Philadelphia Phillies (27 games, 3-3, one save, 4.97 ERA, 1.697 WHIP, 22 whiffs in 25.1 innings). Prior to the 2005 campaign, he signed with the Marlins for one year and $1,100,000.
Jones joined the Marlins with the intent that he would be used as a middle reliever or maybe a setup man. An injury to incumbent closer Guillermo Mota forced him into his more familiar role as a closer. In 68 games that season, Jones posted 40 saves in 45 opportunities for the Marlins, good for fourth in the National League. Although he posted a substandard 1-5 record, his ERA was 2.10 and he only allowed 7.5 hits per nine innings, finishing with a career best 1.027 WHIP. In his limited time with Florida, he managed to set the Marlins record for consecutive saves converted, with 27. Opposing batters only managed an OPS of .559 for the season.
After getting pressed into the closer role, Jones earned his first save of the season on April 29th, pitching the final 1.2 innings, striking out two batters, and allowing zero runs (although he did put four baserunners on). On June 11th, in his 11th save of the campaign, Jones struck out each of the three batters he faced in closing down the Texas Rangers by a 6-5 final score. On July 6th, Jones pitched a perfect 10th and 11th inning, striking out three Brewers in an eventual 5-4 victory over Milwaukee. Jones earned his 22nd save of the season on August 4th, relieving AJ Burnett with two outs and two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning, then getting out of the mess and through a perfect ninth. He earned his 27th save on August 19th, preserving Burnett’s 12 victory of the season by striking out each of the three Dodgers faced in a 3-0 Marlins’ win against Los Angeles. Jones logged his 36th save of the season on September 10th, inheriting two runners in the eighth then pitching a scoreless ninth in a 7-6 win against the Phillies.
Jones went back to the Detroit Tigers for three seasons to close out his career, retiring at the age of 40 after the 2008 season. He is also a member of the 300 save club, with 319 for his career. After not receiving a single vote for the Hall of Fame in 2014, he was taken off the ballot.