Chipper Jones Retirement: Where He Ranks Among Best Switch-Hitters of All Time
Chipper was one of the best Braves of all time, as well as one of the top third basemen. That only leaves the question of where he ranks among the best switch-hitters in the game.
This article is a power ranking of the 10 best switch-hitters of all time, a list where Chipper has earned a place. The list is strong enough that Hall of Fame members Max Carey and Red Schoendienst failed to make the cut, as well as more modern players like Carlos Beltran, Jorge Posada, Ted Simmons and Reggie Smith.
10. Bernie Williams
Though he isn't likely going to the Hall of Fame, Bernie Williams was a very talented switch-hitter who played a big part in the Yankees winning four World Series rings in a five-year period between 1996 and 2000. Williams was an All-Star five times during his 16-year career, all of which were spent with the Yankees.
During that time Williams was a .297 hitter with 287 homers and 1,257 RBI. He hit above .300 for eight consecutive seasons, which includes his 1998 batting title. He also hit at least 20 homers seven times and drove in more than 100 runs five times.
Williams may not have been the biggest run producer for the Yankees, but he was a key table-setter for a very good team and put up excellent numbers for a long time. While this list only factors in his ability as a hitter, he won four Gold Glove Awards for his center-field defense.
9. Tim Raines
Tim Raines was a great player during the '80s, but his base-running ability isn't being counted for these power rankings since it didn't have anything to do with his abilities as a switch-hitter. The fact that he is fifth all time in steals with 808 takes a bit away from the seven-time All-Star.
Even without the steals Raines was a career .294 hitter who managed to hit above .300 seven times in his 23-year career, including his 1986 National League batting title. His great speed did help him in these rankings, because that along with his plate discipline helped to lead to a great .385 career on-base percentage.
Raines is a borderline Hall of Famer in part because of his steals, but he was more than just a great base runner.
8. Lance Berkman
Though it's highly unlikely that he ends up in the Hall of Fame, Lance Berkman was one of the most feared hitters in the game for almost a decade.
He is the first player on this list who is still active, and though he is aging, he still managed an All-Star season just last year. He could potentially be bumped up another spot or two a year from now if he comes near his 2011 production.
Berkman is a career .296 hitter with 358 homers and 1,193 RBI during his 13-year career. Last season was the fifth time that he hit for an average over .300 and the sixth time that he topped the 30 homer mark. He lead the league in doubles twice and RBI once. While Berkman has made a total of six All-Star teams, he has also finished among the Top 10 in MVP voting six times as well.
Berkman has been a dangerous hitter since his first full season in 2000, and with a career OPS of .954 he has certainly earned a spot on this list already.
7. Frankie Frisch
Though he is sometimes overlooked because he finished his career in 1937, Frankie Frisch is easily among the Top 10 switch-hitters of all time. The Hall of Fame second baseman, who split his career between the Cardinals and Giants, is a former MVP who posted some pretty impressive numbers.
The most impressive number is the career average of .316, and though he never won a batting title, he did hit above .320 eight times. Frisch only hit 105 homers, but as a second baseman during that era, that isn't a bad number. His 1,244 RBI are another impressive number for the man listed at 5'11", 165 pounds.
Frisch was one of the best pure hitters of his era, which is part of why he won four World Series rings during his career.
6. Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray put together a long 21-year career, which saw him earn a spot in the Hall of Fame as well as reach a number of other accomplishments. The first baseman played for five teams, with the bulk of his career coming with Baltimore, where he finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting seven times despite never winning the award.
During that career Murray hit .287 with 504 homers and an impressive 1,917 RBI. Murray may have never won a batting title, and his only home run crown and RBI crown came in the strike-shortened 1981 season, but he was a steady producer. In his career he hit above .300 seven times, with at least 25 homers 12 times and six seasons with 100 or more RBI.
Murray's numbers on the surface look great, and the only reason he isn't ranked higher is despite his 504 career homers, he never topped 33 in a season.
5. George Davis
In spite of being the least-known member of this list, George Davis was a great ballplayer. Davis is only a bit of an unknown to some fans because his 20-year career ended over 100 years ago, in 1909. In spite of playing during that era his total wins above replacement, or WAR, ranks 25th of all time, with his offensive WAR ranking 40th.
Davis hit .295 with 73 homers and 1,440 RBI during his career. He hit above .320 six times and his 135 RBI led the National League in 1897. A closer look into his stats shows that he made the Top 10 in doubles, triples and RBI at least four times each.
On the surface his numbers aren't too impressive for a Hall of Fame player, but considering his era and that he played shortstop they do look better than what they show on the surface.
Considering the WAR is the best way to compare players from different eras, he has earned a spot in the Top 5 switch-hitters of all time.
4. Roberto Alomar
Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar never won any major awards during his career, and the only time he led the league in a major category was for runs scored, and that was just one time. Still, he ranks among the best second basemen and switch-hitters of all time.
Alomar spent time with seven teams during his 17-year career. During that career he hit .300 with 210 homers and 1,134 RBI as a top of the lineup force. Seven times during his career he hit at least .310 and was a 12-time All-Star selection.
Alomar's overall value is actually even better than his ability as a switch-hitter, as he won 10 Gold Glove Awards and two World Series rings in addition to 474 stolen bases. Still his ability at the top of the lineup made him a dangerous hitter for a long time.
3. Pete Rose
Pete Rose may have had some off-field issues, which are keeping him out of the Hall of Fame today, but the fact is that he was among the best hitters in the history of the game.
Since these rankings are only about switch-hitting ability, Rose was given a fair look even though his power kept him from being ranked any higher.
Rose, the all-time career hits leader, won three batting titles and an MVP during his 24-year career. He was a career .303 hitter with a .375 on-base percentage and batted in 1,314 runs. His power wasn't great, as he only managed to hit 160 homers in his long career.
Rose came very close to being ranked one spot higher, but he just wasn't as complete of a hitter as Chipper Jones. The fact that Jones was a middle-of-the-order run producer for his entire career was what gave him that slight edge.
2. Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones beat out Pete Rose for the No. 2 ranking among switch-hitters, though he wasn't particularly close to Mickey Mantle for the top spot. Still, Jones' ability to hit for average and power as well as come up with clutch hits ranks him among the greatest of all time.
Jones is a career .304 hitter who is all but guaranteed to finish with an average above .300, as even if he went just 100 for his next 500, he'd be a .298 hitter. Jones has 454 homers, 1,561 RBI and 2,615 hits in his 18-year career. Jones has been named an All-Star seven times and has won an MVP and a batting title during his career.
Jones is known more for his power than his ability to hit for average, yet his .364 mark in 2008 is the second-best mark ever posted by a switch-hitter. The man that has been the face of the Braves franchise since 1995 has been a once in a generation type of talent for the Braves to grow from their farm system.
1. Mickey Mantle
The one guy who is head and shoulders above Chipper and Pete Rose is Mickey Mantle.
Despite his injuries and the fact that the Yankee star loved to party, he had no real competition for the top spot in these rankings. The Mick won a Triple Crown, three MVP's and four home run titles during his 18-year career, showing his dominance.
Overall, Mantle hit .298 with 536 homers, 1,509 RBI and an OPS mark of .977. Mantle was so good that he was an All-Star in 16 of his 18 seasons, and in the only seasons he missed the All-Star team he never played in more than 108 games.
The only question mark with Mantle is just how good he could have been if knee injuries didn't slow him down toward the end of his career. Still, he is among the handful of greatest players in the history of the game.