Lump Doug Jones in the same category as Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and Kansas City submariner Dan Quisenberry as fireman who possessed great control. Most fireman aren’t like the above trio, who paint the strike zone like Picasso frescos a canvas–they typically grip the ball hard and fire it with accuracy thrown to the wind. Jones was a strike-thrower who excelled out of the pen, indicated by his 303 career saves (20th on the all-time list).
Doug wasn’t the type of player that made good at the Major League level quickly. Drafted by the Brewers in ’78, Doug failed to impress when the Brew Crew gave him his first look at the Major League level in 1982. He spent the next few years down in the bushes and returned to the highest level in 1986 with the lowly Cleveland Indians as a 29-year-old. Doug pitched adequately for the Indians in ’86 and ’87 but had his breakout year in 1988 when he was named to the first of five All-Star teams. That year Doug nailed down 37 saves for the Tribe.
In 1989, Jones flashed his great accuracy with an average of just 0.160 walks per inning of work. The mustachioed fireman also closed down 32 saves. But his highest saves total was right around the corner. In 1990, the year Bobby Thigpen was leading closers in saves, Doug notched 43 saves of his own and made his third straight All-Star appearance. When he lost his touch in 1991, the Indians allowed him to walk via free agency and he resurrected his career in Houston.
Doug led the National League with 70 games finished in 1992 for the Astros. Houston was a young team a few years away from building a winner and Doug was the anchor of the pitching staff. Not only did he lead the club with 36 saves and a 1.85 ERA, but he also notched the most victories. He represented the Astros in the All-Star game but when his numbers slid in 1993, the Astros traded their marksman closer to the Phillies for their wild man closer Mitch Williams.
The Phillies enjoyed the strikes Doug threw in 1994, as Doug walked just six batters all season–stark contrast to the man he replaced. But at the age of 37, the Phillies didn’t bother locking Doug up and let him sign with the Orioles via free agency. Doug struggled out of the Orioles bullpen and when his struggled continued with the Cubs the next season, Chicago released him. Nearing 40, it looked like Doug’s career was over, but the Brewers gave him another chance and he showed that he wasn’t quite done.
Sharp as a cat’s claw in 1997, the 40-year-old Jones saved 36 games for the Brew Crew while posting an amazing 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After a rough ’98 season, Doug joined the Oakland A’s for the final run in his career in 1999. Doug was used in 70 games that season and saved ten. The A’s went to the postseason in 2000 and he ended his career with two scoreless appearances in the Division Series.
W 69/L 79/PCT .466/ERA 3.30/G 846/SV 303/IP 1,128/H 1,155/BB 247/SO 909