DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 04: Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Todd Jones throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game Four of the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Tigers at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Hey, we've got something other than a player number or year today! Huzzah! We're going to talk about one of Houston's draft picks, but it's not a player you might immediately recognize as a Houston Astro. That'd be Todd Jones, who was taken No. 27 overall by your Astros in 1989.
Jones can technically be called an All-Star, since he did make the American League team back in 2000, a year in which he finished fifth in the Cy Young voting. Jones was pretty good that season, posting a 3.52 ERA and a 3.48 FIP with 9.42 K/9 rate and 3.52 walks per nine.
Oh, he did have 42 saves that season, leading the league. And, while his ERA doesn't look impressive, this was in 2000, which may have been the Year of the Steroids or whatever you want to call it. That season was one of the biggest offensive seasons of the last era. That's why Jones' ERA+ was a more impressive 136.
But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's still plenty of interesting stuff to mine from Jones before then. After being drafted in 1989, Jones spent five seasons in the minors before making his MLB debut. He was a starting pitcher in his first two seasons, including 1990, when as a 22-year old, he walked 109 and struck out 106 in 152 innings for Osceola in the Florida State League.
Control problems plagued Jones for pretty much his entire minor league career, as he finished with a walk rate of 6.2 for his career down there. Can you imagine if a pitcher with those kinds of stats was promoted and promoted before taking a spot for the big league team now? TCB would go crazy!
Jones dramatically cut down on his walks in his first two seasons with Houston, before they cropped back up again in 1995 and 1996. Houston had moved him at least part-time into the closer's role by that point, but seeing his ERA jump to 4.40 may have been too much to handle and Jones was part of a huge trade that winter.
Houston traded Jones, Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter and Orlando Miller to Detroit for Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski and Daryl Ward. The remarkable thing about that trade is all the players involved were major leaguers in some form or fashion. Brocail, Jones and Miller seemed to play about 80 combined seasons pitching in relief. I miss huge swaps like this.
In Detroit, Jones started racking up saves aplenty, but after 2000, he never really had big-time save totals again. Until he was traded again and again and signing as a free agent again and again, ending up in Florida in 2005, where he posted his second 40 save season with a much, much lower ERA.
All in all, Jones pitched 16 years in the majors, saved 319 games with a career ERA of 3.97 with eight different teams. For the 27th overall pick, I'd say that's a pretty good career. Interestingly enough, the 23-24-25 picks that season were Mo Vaughn, Alan Zinter and Chuck Knoblauch. Zinter is only relevant because of that brief stint in Houston when he debuted in the majors at Age 34 in 2002, hitting a pinch-hit home run in his sixth game.