What more can be said about Chipper Jones that hasn’t already been said. He was a winner, a leader, and one of the best 3rd basemen of all time. His place in the Hall of Fame has been solidified since the day he retired following Atlanta’s loss in the Wild Card Playoffs last year. His career slash line speaks for itself.
10, 614 Plate appearances, 2,762 hits, 549 Doubles, 468 Homeruns, 1,623 RBI, 1,512 BB, 1,409 K, .303 BA, .401 OBP, .529 Slugging %, and an 81.5 career WAR.
Hall of Fame Caliber? Yes – - Ruthian, Not so much.
After all the research that I’ve done I’ve come to realize that the baseball writers have been particularly tough on third basemen. Only Seven have been elected by the writers since the advent of voting in 1936. Five of which were first ballot Hall of Famers. You may have heard of them and here they are listed by Wins Above Replacement:
- Mike Schmidt 103.0 1st
- Eddie Mathews 91.9 2nd
- Wade Boggs 88.3 3rd
- George Brett 84.0 4th
- (Chipper Jones 81.5) *
- Brooks Robinson 72.77th
- Paul Molitor 72.5 8th
- Pie Traynor 33.8
Wins Above Replacement alone shows Chipper to be more than worthy of induction as a third basemen. I’m glad that his WAR stacks up with those already enshrined but I don’t necessarily think it does Chipper his proper justice. Here is how he ranks all time at the hot corner.
- His 468 career homeruns rank 3rd behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews.
- His 1,623 career RBI rank him first.
- His 1,512 walks rank him third all time, and above anyone elected to the Hall.
- His career .930 OPS ranks ahead of all other 3rd basemen, aside from Edgar Martinez who spent most of his time as a DH.
Not only does he stack up astoundingly well among Hall of Fame 3rd basemen, he was also a switch hitter. To me, that separates him from the group by neck and shoulders.
You can not over stress the value of hitting from both sides. Especially as well as Chipper did. It gives opposing managers headaches, especially when it comes to late inning pitching changes. It drives pitchers crazy too, no matter who they are they never get to pitch at an advantage with the breaking ball. Chipper not only switch hit with power but he did it better than almost anyone in the history of the game.
- Chipper and Mickey Mantle are the only two switch hitters in baseball history to slug over .500 and hit 400 home runs while having an OBP over .400.
- His 1,623 career RBI rank second behind Eddie Murray’s 1,917.
- His 468 Career home runs rank 3rd behind the Mick and Murray respectively.
Statistical comparisons like those are hard to argue against. He was one of the best 3rd basemen and switch hitters ever. Hands down. If you delve into the statistics even further you can see that Chipper was even better than advertised. Some of the more remarkable things about his career come to light when you look at his batting splits.
Most switch hitters are far better when hitting from one side of the plate or the other. Chipper though, was equally prolific from both sides of the plate.
Hitting left handed .303/.405./.541 - – Right handed (29%) .304/.391/.498
Only 106 switch hitter have come the plate over 5,000 times which itself shows how rare good switch hitters are — the only other guy to hit .300 from both sides of the plate – Frankie Frisch who retired over 75 years ago. Amazing.
Chipper’s plate discipline is just as legendary as his hitting abilities. And for good reason. The game of baseball has been trending in the direction of strike outs for quite some time. Punch outs have reached their peak in the entire history of the game. To me, Chipper’s patience is his greatest quality. It makes a pitcher work, it extends rallies, and reduces out percentage.
His patience was so great that he ended his career with more walks than strikeouts. Among active players with more than 250 home runs only Todd Helton and Albert Pujols can join Chipper in that claim. If I were Chipper Jones that statistic would be the crown jewel on a great career and the greatest source of pride in my reflection – - there is one small problem though.
What is that you may ask?
Chipper is part of the most exclusive club in baseball history. Even better than more walks than strikeouts, 3,000 hits, and 500 home runs. Do you know how many guys in the history of the game have come to the plate 9,000 times and ended their careers with a slash line of .300/.400/.500?
Babe Ruth - Ted Williams - Lou Gehrig - Ty Cobb - Stan Musial - Mel Ott - Rogers Hornsby - Tris Speaker - Jimmie Foxx - Manny Ramirez - Frank Thomas - And CHIPPER JONES!
Bravo sir, bravo. Have a drink man. You’ve earned it. It just might be a long time before we see another player like you.