Chipper Jones

August 4, 2009 · 3 comments

in MLB

Chipper Jones, the first pick in the 1990 amateur draft and the cornerstone of the Atlanta Braves offense since 1995, has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. During Atlanta's run of eleven straight NL East titles, Chipper picked up two Silver Slugger Awards and a NL MVP award. After starting his career with eight consecutive seasons with 100+ RBI, injuries have hampered Jones over the last five years. So the question remains...is Chipper Jones Hall or no Hall?

Career Statistics (through 2008)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS
2023 7337 1378 2277 449 35 408 1374 138 .310 .408 .548 .956
Awards
  • 1 MVP (1999)
  • 2 Silver Sluggers (1999, 2000)
  • 6 All-Star Selections (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2008)
 

Hall

by Jonathan Brown

I must start with a confession and a disclaimer.  I'm a huge Atlanta Braves fan.  I've had a Chipper Jones poster on my wall since 1995.  I just lied.  I don't really have a Chipper Jones poster anymore (that would be a bit weird), but Chipper is my favorite ballplayer. Fanboy-ism aside, Chipper is a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Here's why...

Let's start by looking at Chipper's unique skill of hitting for power and average from both sides of the plate. Yes, besides being #3 on the all-time switch hitter HR list behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray (ahem, two Hall of Famers) with 408 HR (through 2008 season), Chipper has a career .310 AVG.   In fact, Jones is the only switch hitter in history to compile a career .300+ AVG and 400+ HR.

Historically, third basemen usually hit for average or power. Let's look at other HoF third basemen power numbers starting at the top with Mike Schmidt. Schmidt hit a whopping 548 HR—the most by any third basemen—but only batted a lifetime .267. Behind Schmidt is former Brave Eddie Matthews who hit 512 HR and a batted .270. No other third basemen comes close to those power numbers, except Chipper, whose 408 HR will snugly place him next to those two guys if he can stay healthy. Did I mention Jones has 14 consecutive seasons with 20+ HR? Well, there you go. Taking a peek at SLG (Slugging %), Chipper's .548 tops the current HoF statistical leader for third basemen, Mike Schmidt and his .527.

As far as hitting for average, Chipper's .310 career average puts him in nice company. George Brett had a career .305 AVG while Wade Boggs leads third basemen in the HoF with a .328 AVG. Chipper also adds 2 Silver Slugger awards and a 2008 Batting Title for his .364 AVG  to his list of accolades. If we look at OBP (On-Base %), Chipper has a .408 OBP while the statistical leader in the HoF is Wade Boggs with a .415 OBP.

Perhaps a slightly better measurement to gauge a hitter's effectiveness is OPS (On-Base + Slugging), in which Chipper's .956 OPS blows past the rest of the HoF third basemen. And while we're talking about production, I should mention Chipper's 1,374 RBIs (thanks to 8 consecutive 100+ RBI seasons) sits him between Brooks Robinson's 1,357 and Eddie Matthews' 1,453.

We can't talk about Chipper Jones without mentioning his 1999 NL MVP year. Jones piled the numbers high and wide in 1999 becoming the only player in MLB history to end a season with a .300+ AVG, 40+ HR, 40+ 2B, 100+ RBI, 100+ R, 100+ BB and 20+ SB.   Chipper also holds another unique place in the record books with 14 consecutive games with an extra base hit (tied Paul Waner). Chipper's other notable accolades includes 6 All-Star selections, though we shouldn't put much value into those.

If Chipper remains healthy, he just might end up being the most statistically well-rounded third basemen to ever step foot on the baseball diamond. He hits for average and power (from both sides of the plate) and has put together a very consistent career during a period mired with scandal. If Chipper stays clean and healthy, his numbers will be plenty to make it in the Hall of Fame.

Hall

by Matt Thompson

In an effort to be authentic and offer full disclosure, I am a huge Braves fan.  Growing up I was an Astros fan because my neighbor who lived across the street was the pitching coach for the Astros.  I met Nolan Ryan (nicest guy ever), but from about age 10 on I was a Braves fan.  That was all we could watch in Orlando—TBS and the Braves. So when it was time to decide on a player to kick HoNH off with, Chipper Jones was a great choice.

I told my wife we chose him and she said "he should get into the hall just for having seven bastard kids and nine wives—that is quite an accomplishment."  That is pure Awesome.

On the surface, Chipper appears to be a no brainer. In 2096 games, 417 HR, 1414 RBI, .310 BA, .545 Slugging, and 2350 hits all are impressive numbers.  When you consider he's done this from both sides of the plate, it's even more impressive. However, that is always the argument for a player that is a switch hitter.  "Wow! He hit from both sides of the plate and put up these numbers!"  But if you think about it, why should that gain more traction? Switch hitting is a decision—a decision that should give you an advantage against a pitcher, not an advantage to get into the Hall.  All a switch hitter is doing is improving their chances to have better numbers.  Is it harder?  Yes.  Is it impressive to do the hardest thing in sports from both sides of the plate?  Yes. Is it a skill to point out when getting into the Hall?  I am not sold on that one.

I also don't think his MVP award is something to hang his hat on. In 1999 (the year he won), he had a great year, don't get me wrong.  But the series down the stretch where he owned the Mets really pushed him over the edge.  I am not one to believe that you  win or lose an MVP in September.

I always look for comparisons.  Comparing Jones to the greats of all time, with some pop in the bat, he stacks up:

Player G HR RBI BA SLG
Schmidt 2404 548 1595 .267 .527
Matthews 2391 512 1453 .279 .509

Jones finished in the top 10 for MVP 6 times in 15 years and has 8 consecutive years with 100+ RBIs.  If you project Jones' numbers through 2010 (playing roughly the same number of games as Schmidt and Matthews), he should end up with approximately 450 HR, 1550 RBI, .300+ BA, .530+ Slugging and 2500 hits.

Remember I said "pop in the bat?" Let's look at George Brett and Wade Boggs—two HOFers not known for their power. Excluding HRs, Brett and Boggs had:

Player G BA H 2B R
Brett 2707 .305 3154 665 1583
Boggs 2440 .328 3010 578 1513

Looking at Jones for runs (1419) and doubles (463), he is right on track, just missing the elusive 3,000 hits.

Now, if Chipper Jones is looking for a "father of the year" award or a nice anniversary card from the wife, he might not win.  But an HOFer?  You bet your ass.  And since he's a switch hitter, go ahead and bet both sides of your ass.

Chipper Jones: Hall or No Hall?

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  • http://www.berchman.com Bert Mahoney

    Lots of offense but the defense isnt up to snuff with others in the hall. :-)

    • http://twitter.com/JonathanBrown Jonathan Brown

      True. Chipper's defense definitely doesn't compare to Mike Schmidt or Brooks Robinson, but his defensive play is on par with typical major league 3rd basemen and doesn't detract from his well-roundedness. Having watched him for years, he has one of the best bunt charge/throw skill I've seen in last 10+ years.

  • http://twitter.com/JonathanBrown Jonathan Brown

    True. Chipper's defense definitely doesn't compare to Mike Schmidt or Brooks Robinson, but his defensive play is on par with typical major league 3rd basemen and doesn't detract from his well-roundedness. Having watched him for years, he has one of the best bunt charge/throw skill I've seen in last 10+ years.

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