The Braves didn’t want to shift Chipper to third base, where he’d block Andy Marte, but really had no choice. He couldn’t stay in the lineup in left field, and Mark DeRosa was killing the team with horrible all-around play. Moving Chipper to third improved the defense at two positions and replaced DeRosa’s bat with a good platoon. What it didn’t really do was energize Chipper, who didn’t improve as much as you think.
Chipper as a left fielder, 2004: .242/.395/.453.
Chipper as a third baseman, 2004: .261/.368/.501.
Not all that big of a difference, really, but his best work came after the switch. He was generally mediocre all year, except June, when he was awful, and August, when he was great. Yes, his second-half numbers were much improved as a whole, but that was on account of August. In September, he hit .222. And his post-All-Star numbers weren’t exactly MVP caliber either, .278/.391/.548. It’s mostly the batting average that’s down, though. His career OBP is .401, his career SLG .537. If he could get back to hitting .300 his numbers would look a whole lot better.
Chipper’s health is a concern; if healthy, you have to figure he’ll at least match what he did as a third baseman last season. He was able to stay in the lineup at third base, unlike left field. The sabermetric line is that Chipper’s defense will kill the Braves, but his range factors are pretty solid; I suppose there could be a statistical illusion there but I don’t see where it could come from… Chipper has slowed down a lot in the last three years and doesn’t run much anymore. Last year, he attempted only two stolen bases (he was successful both times).