How Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones Stacks Up to Hall of Fame 3rd Basemen
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is nearing the end of his career, one that likely has him headed to Cooperstown. Though he's probably not a first-ballot candidate, he certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame.
(The only requirement for Hall of Fame third basemen is that they played in the Major Leagues, as it's not really possible to compare Chipper to former Negro League stars like Ray Dandridge.)
Chipper Jones is a far better third baseman than the following Hall of Famers...
Ron Santo is a very questionable inclusion to the Hall of Fame.
In fact he actually didn't get in during his 15-year stint on the writer's ballot. He didn't reach the Hall of Fame until 2012, some 38 years after he played his final game.
During his 15-year career with the Cubs and White Sox he hit .277 with 342 homers and 1,331 RBI's. Though he was a nine-time All-Star, he never led the league in any significant categories, won an MVP award or even reached the postseason.
Chipper Jones is a career .304 hitter with 454 homers and 1,561 RBI's. He's also won an MVP, a batting title and a World Series ring during his career.
He's beaten Santo in all major categories, won bigger awards and has consistently reached the postseason, where he has produced at a high level.
George Kell is another solid, but not great, player who failed to be voted into the Hall of Fame by the writers, but was enshrined by the Veteran's Committee. Like Santo his numbers were good but not great, making him a borderline Hall of Famer.
Over his 15-year career Kell hit .306 with 78 homers and 870 RBI's. He never won a major award, though he did win a batting title and twice led the league in doubles.
He was a 10-time All-Star, due in part to his excellent defense.
He also never reached the postseason.
Kell had limited power and speed, and his best offensive attribute was his ability to hit for batting average. His batting average is the only place where he posts a better career number than Chipper, but there is little difference between .306 and .304.
The only place where Kell edges Chipper is with the glove, but Chipper's long history of being a middle-of-the-order run producer makes him a much better player than Kell.
Home Run Baker
Home Run Baker is a tough guy to really compare to modern players because he played his final game in 1922. He played most of his games during the "deadball" era, so his numbers won't look particularly impressive. Baker also needed the Veteran's Committee to get him into the Hall.
In his career, Baker hit .307 with 96 homers and 987 RBI's in 13 seasons. Baker had a four-year stretch where he led the league in homers each year and twice led the league in RBI's. In his career he was in the top 10 in homers nine times and in batting average six times. However, there were fewer teams and players back then.
Chipper Jones obviously has better numbers, but that's due to the era he played. The best way to compare these two is in wins above replacement (WAR). Over his career Chipper had a WAR of 82.7, with an 84.9 offensive WAR. Baker's WAR was 63.7, with his offensive WAR being 60.2.
Jimmy Collins is another tough guy to compare with Chipper Jones, as Collins played his final game in 1908.
Collins actually played with the Braves for six seasons when they were the Boston Beaneaters. Like everyone else listed here, it took the Veteran's Committee to get him into the Hall of Fame.
During his 14-year career, Collins hit .294 with 65 homers and 983 RBI's. His biggest accomplishment was leading the National League in homers in 1898. He was also a very good defender, and potentially the best in the league according to defensive WAR numbers.
The only way to compare players who played 100 years apart is by their WAR. Collins 53.0 mark, including a 40.9 offensive WAR really don't begin to stack him up to Chipper Jones.
Freddie Lindstrom played in the National League for 13 years, mostly with the Giants, from 1924 to 1936.
He was a strong player, though like everyone else listed so far he needed the Veteran's Committee to put him in the Hall.
Lindstrom hit .311 with 103 homers and 779 RBI's. Though he was a solid player and a good defensive player at the hot corner, he was never really a star, minus a three-year period where he hit at least .319 and 14 homers in each season.
Lindstrom was a very valuable player, but not great beyond that three-year stint. Chipper Jones' big production over a long period of time clearly makes him a better player than Lindstrom.
Pie Traynor is the first player listed here to be voted into the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers. The Pirates great spent his entire 17-year career with them between 1920 and 1937.
While Traynor had little power, hitting just 58 career homers, he did manage to post a .320 batting average and 1,273 RBI's.
Like Chipper, he did win one World Series ring, but never led the league in a major category, nor did he ever win an MVP Award.
Even tough Traynor had the better career-batting average, it is Chipper with the batting title and MVP Award. It's also Chipper that has the much better power numbers. Traynor was a very good player, but he wasn't the type of hitter capable of striking fear into the heart of a pitcher.
Paul Molitor is the second player here to have been voted into the Hall by the writers. He is also the only player on this list who played at the same time as Chipper, as he finished up his career with Minnesota in 1998.
Molitor had a 21-year career spent mostly with Milwaukee, where he hit .306 with 234 homers, 1,094 RBI's and 504 stolen bases. While Molitor never won a major award, he did lead the American league in hits three times and in doubles once. He won a World Series ring with the Blue Jays in 1993.
Molitor had a great career, though his defense was so weak that by the middle of his career he was moved to designated hitter. He only played 791 games in his career at third base out of the 2,683 games he played in his career. That fact, along with Chipper having a major advantage in power numbers, is why Chipper is far better than Molitor.