Chipper Jones

Chipper, the modern version: Still the same hitter he always was, only now it’s for about 110 games a year. Per plate appearance, 2006 was Chipper’s best year since 2001 and the third-best of his career, but he played just those 110 games, one more than in 2005. (Projected to 162 games, Chipper hit at a 38 HR, 127 RBI pace.) His .324 average is probably a little fluky, but he’s still a .300 hitter with power and lots of patience, and the Braves are a lot better when he’s in the lineup.

Chipper’s main problems last year were foot and ankle injuries, then an injury to the ever-popular oblique muscle. They may seem unrelated, but I think it’s what’s called an injury cascade, where one injury changes his style, leading to other injuries. Chipper, early in his career, played through a lot of injuries, and he’s still trying to do this now, but every time he does he hurts something else compensating. He’d be better off if he didn’t do that any more, but it’s hard to ask of him.

Despite the injuries, Chipper ran surprisingly well in 2006; he was 6 of 7 in stolen bases (13 of 15 over the last three seasons) and hit three triples, his most since 2001. He was pretty terrible at third base, making 18 errors with a range factor well below the league, which was more of a problem with Renteria at short than it was with Furcal, who compensated for that. But with the leg injuries the outfield really isn’t a possibility, sorry BP.

Last season, Chipper passed Murphy in a whole bunch of different categories to become the Atlanta career leader. He’s now first on the Atlanta list in runs, hits, total bases, doubles, RBI, walks, extra-base hits, times on base, runs created, and intentional walks; in a few of these he was already there. He is 14 behind Murph in homers and it will be a race with Andruw (who is 29 behind) to see who gets there first; either way, Chipper should wind up with that record as well for obvious reasons. He is 66 hits away from 2000, three RBI and 12 runs from 1200. Chipper will retire as, in my opinion, the second-best hitter in Braves history to Aaron, which is pretty impressive considering he would have to pass Eddie Mathews to get there. Mathews is still ahead on defense.

Chipper Jones Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

41 thoughts on “Chipper Jones”

  1. I’ve said it before, but if you look at the pure numbers, Chipper rates with the greatest offensive 3Bs of all-time.

    When this era’s hitters are fully considered for history, we’ll see how he falls out. Still, you want an Atlanta Hall of Famer? In my mind, he’s one.

  2. The face of the braves the past 10 years or so. He’d be the perfect DH if the Braves were in the American League, but overall what he provides to the team goes beyond the field in most instances.

  3. I’ll give him Murphy, Glavine, and Smoltz. But he’s behind Aaron, Spahn, Niekro, Maddux, and narrowly behind Mathews. Kid Nichols too, maybe, but he’s just so old, the comparisons are too murky.

  4. Peanut had a gem about our buddy Chipper, on a scale of 1-10, what are his chances for the Hall of Fame:

    Talent-wise, Chipper is a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate. He’s one of the greatest switch hitters to ever play the game and has an outside chance to surpass the 500-homer milestone (which obviously no longer means definite enshrinement). But injuries have hurt his chances and will likely plague him throughout the rest of his career.

    For now, my confidence level for Chipper would be somewhere around a 5.

    Idiot.

  5. If Chipper got hit by a bus tomorrow, I think he should get into the HOF. His career is all-peak. Again, I know this era will be a weird one to judge, but compared everyone else, he’s up there. He’s in.

  6. chipper is a no brainer. he has been the backbone of an incredible streak. maddux, smoltz, and glavine had each other to rely on, but in some years during the streak it seemed like chipper was the only offensive threat. hof’ers in order for the braves streak: 1. maddux 2. glavine 3. chipper 4.smoltz 5. andruw. i think all of them will be in cooperstown. they sure deserve it.

  7. The oft-forgotten streak-era Hall of Fame candidate is Fred McGriff. I think he is doomed to treatment comparable to that of Jim Rice or Bert Blyleven, but I would vote for him.

  8. McGriff had the terrible misfortune to be the best middle-of-the-order hitter in the league just before the offensive explosion of 1993. McGriff is a better candidate than McGwire, IMHO. He’s a better candidate than Rice or Evans. He’s better than quite a few enshrinees, especially the lower-tier “Joe Morgan likes us” first basemen.

    And I doubt he’ll go in. It’s just sad.

  9. the other braves website is discussing the possibility of gregor blanco becoming our leadoff hitter. evidently, he played great in the winter leagues. they say he gets on base often,has a good glove, and runs like a cheetah. it will be interesting to see how it shapes up. i am glad the saints are in the playoffs, otherwise, the weeks ahead with the lackluster suckass nba would be horrible. cant wait ’til march. i think the braves will be damn good this season.

  10. Love it Wryn. I’d almost blocked Albie Lopez and Shane Reynolds out of my mind.

    But surely Reitsma had the pictures for a little bit. And also, Mondesi and Kolbb are not shown to have given the Pictures to anyone. What does this mean? Should we be worried?

  11. My own real quick version of the Keltner test for Chipper:

    1. Chipper was never considered the best player in baseball.
    2. Yes, Chipper was the best player on the team from about 1996-99.
    3. Yes, Chipper was considered the best 3B in baseball for several years.
    4. Chipper had huge impacts on several pennant races (especially ’99 and ’01).
    5. Chipper could play regularly past his prime, injuries permitting.
    6. Not the best player ever outside the Hall, and at a crowded position.
    7. Most of his B-R most similar players aren’t in the Hall- but most of them are OFs. Klein, Mize, and Snider are in.
    8. HoF Monitor 128, Standards 50.3- both are above the theoretical HoF averages.
    9. Chipper’s defense is doubtful, but his high walk rate leads folks to slightly underrate his offense.
    10. Again, so many other qualified 3Bs outside the Hall.
    11. One MVP, four more seasons in the top 10 (and two at #11). Pretty damn good, I daresay.
    12. Five All-Star appearances (not including 1999!) That’s a bit below average for the ASG era.
    13. Chipper has been the best player on pennant winners.
    14. No major impact on baseball history.
    15. No serious ethical blots.

    Obviously I’m biased, but I think that’s a pretty good HoF resume.

  12. Was Chipper not arguably the best player in baseball in 1999? There were a few guys who boasted a higher OPS, but they generally played 1B/OH positions. Chipper won an MVP and heavily impacted a pennant race that year.

    I thought McGriff had only a small chance of getting in; however, I wonder if he’d have a shot if someone mounted a major campaign for him? His rep faded as others put up bigger numbers, but a lot of them are now tainted by steroids. He may well look more appealing with guys like McGwire no longer in the picture.

    alas, as we see with Murph and Belle and McGwire, the voters will happily penalize guys with a bad rep but won’t necessarily reward guys for being good. IMO McGriff is a HoFer once you appreciate his career in proper context .

  13. It would be better to compare him to the similar players through 34. Five of the ten (Sheffield, Bagwell, Bernie Williams, Thomas, and Palmeiro) are as yet ineligible. Of the other five, four (Snider, Billy Williams, Schmidt [the only pure 3B on the list] and Reggie) are in, and the fifth, Allen, would certainly be in if he hadn’t been a jackass.

    By definition, if you win the MVP you’re a candidate for best player in baseball.

  14. I did say it was a real quick version. Chipper did win the MVP in 1999, but people like Ken Caminiti won MVPs without being considered the best in baseball for a prolonged period, which is what I think James meant when he made up the Keltner Test. Otherwise, everyone who ever won an MVP would be considered a yes for question #1.

    McGriff deserves consideration, given how dominant he was in Toronto and his first two years in Atlanta, and his ability to play at a better-than-average level for so long (until 2002). I don’t remember ever hearing McGriff suspected of steroid/ supplement use, and he just might get in if McGwire and Palmeiro are kept out- which requires more expertis in mass psychology than I have.

    I think Belle is less penalized for his attitude than the abrupt end of his career. He’s got the same problem as Murphy, a high peak but little surrounding it. Murphy will get in through the Veterans’ Committee, but I don’t think anyone not related to Belle is disappointed that he’s out.

  15. Here’s a quick and dirty Keltner Test for the criminally underrated Fred:

    1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

    Probably not, though he was among the very top hitters in baseball from 1998-94.

    2. Was he the best player on his team?

    From 1988-91, yes. Was the best hitter on the Braves in 1994, but Maddux was the best player.

    3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

    Was arguably the best 1B in baseball from 1988-92

    4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

    Yes, and was a huge part of the last real historic pennant race in 1993.

    5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

    Yes

    6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

    Probably not, though a number of others ahead of him are tainted. If he were on a ballot with other current eligibles I’d rate him at the top, though there are other not-yet-eligibles he’s behind (e.g. Rickey Henderson). I think it’d be close. Mayeb depends on how you rate the defensive and positional and park adjustments for ron Santo. There are others not yet eligible who are better and as yet untainted (see below)

    7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

    Yes.

    8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

    IMO, yes.

    9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

    His defense was weak later in his career, so that takes him down a notch. However, he peaked in a pitchers’ era, and those stats tend to look small in comparison to the (often tainted) numbers posted by later hitters. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t take as much advantage of the hitters era as others have. Played a fair number of years in pitcher friendly or hitter-neutral parks, very little time in hitter-friendly parks.

    He also has had a stellar postseason career, hitting 303/385/532 with 10 HR and 37 RBI in 50 postseason games.

    10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

    He’s not eligible, of course; however, there are some others also not eligible at his position who are better. Ignoring McGwire and Palmeiro, bagwell is a better contemporary full-time 1B; Frank Thomas is a much better hitter, though he has half of his career games at DH. Edgar Martinez is a better hitter, but was almost an almost full-time SH. Fred likely is ahead of Edgar and behind Bagwell and Thomas as untainted contemporaries go.

    11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

    Never won, and was never close. Came 4th in 1993, depite only playing on a contender for half a season. Had seven years in the top 5 in OPS, leading his league in 1990, so I guess those would be “MVP type” seasons, even if he didn’t place well.

    12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?

    Was a five-time all-star, which seems low. Did face some tough competition, though, and

    13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

    I don’t know about “likely”, but they could be legitimate contenders.

    14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

    Led both leagues in home runs. That’s his only novelty, I guess.

    15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

    No reason not to believe he did. He’s never been implicated in the steroid scandals as have other big hitters, and by all accounts was a quiet, well-liked teammate.

  16. Your point re: Belle’s abrupt career end is a good one. I liked the comparison recently made, maybe in the AJC, regarding Murphy’s HoF vote totals vs. those for Jim rice. rice was a little bit of a better hitter (128 OPS+ to 121 for Murph), but if you factor in defense (rice’s 500+ games at DH vs. Murph’s gold gloves) and Murph’s extra MVP I think Murph should be ahead or at least even to rice in vote totals. Character hasn’t bumped Murph up at all. (I suspect most of Murph’s problem is his career BA.)

  17. To completely change the subject for a minute, I read this on the Braves MLB website (when Mark Bowman was discussing if the Braves have a chance at Andruw. Now, I know it is Mark Bowman, but it scared me anyway.)

    “With that being said, John Smoltz will also be a free agent at the end of the 2007 season, and for the first time ever, I’ve gotten the feeling that he might have gained comfort with the possibility of ending his career elsewhere.

    “With Smoltz’s salary off the books, there would obviously be some more money available to give to Jones.”

    Thoughts?

  18. I wrote at length on the subject last year:

    Murphy and Rice – Braves Journal

    Summarizing some of the main points from that piece: Rice’s statistics depend on Fenway; Murph’s do on the Launching Pad, to a somewhat lesser degree. Anyway, Murphy in his best years was at least as good of a hitter as Rice in his best (because he walked more) but Rice’s career stats look better because he played better and longer past his prime. In their prime years, taking defense into account, there is no doubt that Murphy was the better player. None at all.

  19. In addition, I reread most of the pieces I wrote, and I’m firmly convinced now that the best candidate, on paper, of the group is Dave Parker. Now, the problem with him is all the stuff that’s not on paper, and when you take that into account Dawson moves to the forefront. On the other hand, Dawson’s the only one of the bunch with a substandard walk rate, which means that though he shows up with five Hall of Famers among his similar players, he really wasn’t as good as those guys. This is the sort of thing that has kept all these guys out — they’re all competing against each other, and nobody really stands out.

  20. Additional Dawson comment: If you use the “Neutralize Stats” function at B-R on Dawson, his numbers become much more interesting — 2960 hits, 471 HR. A lot of that is because he lost nearly 60 games of his best season to the 1981 strike, but most of it was because the run context of his best years — Montreal in a pitcher’s era — is so low.

  21. I have to disagree about Albert Belle’s candidacy. I think the abrupt end of his career provided cover for the voters, but the real reason his vote totals are so low is because he was a jerk. He easily had a HOF-worthy run as a peak player from 1994-98. The games lost in ’94 and ’95 hurt him more than most, because he was durable and terrifying back then.

    Very few people would celebrate Albert Belle’s induction, and neither would I (although I’d pay to see his induction ceremony speech). But if Ralph Kiner belongs in the HOF (and I think he does), then so does Belle.

  22. Belle’s career is really short for a Hall of Fame candidate — 1539 games, only nine and a half seasons’ worth, over ten years and two part-seasons. His most-similar player is Juan Gonzalez, followed by five active players, but the real test is the two guys after him — Dick Allen, who is out, and Hank Greenberg, who is in.

  23. A huge portion of Belle’s career is peak, though, certainly moreso than Gonzalez (who might be similar, but wasn’t as good). Of the other two, Allen had comparable rate stats, but had many more gaps in performance. Greenberg was better, but his appearance on the comp list is due to his war service anyway.

    I believe that if Belle had had Kirby Puckett’s personality (and had managed to keep his true nature hidden, as Puckett did), then the dominant narrative would be that his hip injury was a tragedy, that all he missed was the “counting stat” years anyway, that he’d put an indelible stamp on the game, and he’d be in.

    But you can’t put a stamp on the game if the writers don’t want to talk about you, you don’t want to talk about you, and nobody is compelled to take up your cause to talk about you.

  24. Although I’m not trying to defend his behavior, I was always fascinated with Albert Belle from the first time I saw him play for LSU against UGA in Athens. With an aluminum bat, he hit one of those laser-beam homers that got over the left-field fence at Foley Field before he got out of the batter’s box. I mean, he crushed it. After Bo Jackson, that’s probably the hardest hit ball I’d ever seen.

    After I moved to NYC, I must’ve seen him hit 10 HRs @ Yankee Stadium, including one that bounced off the facing of the upper deck that sounded like a car wreck. A few years later, I had business trips on consecutive years to Chicago & saw him him 3 more HRs in 2 games with the ChiSox. The guy was a machine.

    Before the Barry Bonds phenomenon that we now endure, Belle always struck me as this modern Ty Cobb kinda guy. Nobody liked him—not fans, not players, certainly not sportswriters—and he seems to have earned his reputation, but I’ll be damned if he wasn’t amazing to watch hit.

    Here’s a very weird website: http://www.albertbelle.net

  25. #25, yeah I saw that too. It scares me to think the Braves might be dumb enough to let Smoltz retire somewhere else, with the way he is pitching, so they might have a small chance with a looser budget to give Andruw Jones 18-20 million a year for five-seven years. That is 25% of the budget at the current payroll. Just stupid.

    Why not unload Andruw Jones’ 13.5 million? That makes more sense.

    Either way, Bowman says “might” and “possibility”. That is just wiggle room. The Braves shouldn’t let Smoltz leave.

  26. Random thoughts at a random time:

    As noted, the pictures ancestry must first pass through Belliard (and I think Ozzie Guillen). I’m also fairly sure Horacio Ramirez, Jason Shiell (and his wife) and Chris Reitsma had copies, while Travis Smith probably had only fragments.

    Blanco’s offensive profile scares me- decent average, lots of walks, less power than a watch battery. Such players tend to lose the walks in the majors because pitchers see that the hitter can’t hurt them. And CFs like Blanco can’t really afford that kind of pattern the way that middle infielders can.

    Given the choice of giving Andruw $18 million/ year and letting Smoltz go, or giving Smoltz $10 million and letting Andruw go, I have to choose the former. Smoltzie is 40 this May. He will be in Cooperstown before Andruw retires or even declines sharply. Giving up on Andruw, who will be smoking the ball more many years to come, for one or two more years of a declining Smoltz is foolish.

  27. Maybe I’m just sentimental. I don’t want Smoltz in a Yankee uniform the last two or three years of his career. A good pitcher pitching his entire career for the same team is pretty rare.

    And so what if he is 40? That means nothing as long as he pitches good. And he’s hardly declining.

    To me, giving Andruw Jones a Vernon Wells type of contract is what’s really foolish. Even Mark Bowman in that same piece said he thinks Andruw Jones would be a big risk for the last two or three years of a seven year contract.

  28. Those were kindof my thoughts too, Dan. What it really boils down to, in my opinion, is would having Smoltz for another 1-2 years (possibly 3?) be better for the team than 3-4 years of a good Andruw then a few years of a hurt Andruw taking up a ton of payroll for a few more years. I’d take Smoltz, I think.

  29. (1) What kind of sicko does a website for Albert Belle after he is retired? This guy needs a life.

    (2) Chipper is an HOF’er, but it’s easy to lose sight of how good Eddie Mathews was (also my favorite player the Braves first year in Atlanta, which I know dates me). He was a great defensive third baseman and, during the fifties, a dominant hitter in a much less hitter-friendly era. If Mathews played today, I think he would put up numbers much closer to Chippers.

    (3) I can’t see throwing huge money after Andruw even if they let Smoltz go if the payroll isn’t going to increase substantially. There is no reason to think Smoltz will decline precipitously overnight since power pitchers seem to be able to retain their ability longer–and Smoltz has really learned how to pitch in recent years. But it’s still a risk counting on a guy in his forties to be the ace of the staff.

    (4)As for Smoltz finishing in another uniform, Aaron and Ruth both did that (and Joe Montana for that matter), so I don’t think that should really be a consideration.

  30. If Mathews played today, I think he would put up numbers much closer to Chippers

    They are exceptionally close as hitters – Mathews has an adjusted OPS+ of 143, Chipper is currently at 142 – although, Chipper has not yet had his decline phase, so his are likely to go down.

    If you use b-r’s “Neutralize stats” option, here’s what you get:
    Chipper: 296/392/526
    Mathews: 281/387/527

    It doesn’t get much closer than that – 5 points of OBP and 1 point of SLG.

    Throw in both Mathews’ defensive rep at 3B and Chipper’s time on the OF along with Chipper’s decline phase, and I think it’ll be pretty hard for Chipper to top Mathews for his career, unless he does it via longevity. mathews was done by age 36, though before that age 36 season he never missed more than 28 games in a season. chipper can likely play a few years more than that.

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