Chipper Jones' Retirement: Ranking 10 Most Clutch Moments of His Career
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With Chipper Jones set to retire at the end of the year, it's a great time to start looking back at a great career which will eventually get him into the Hall of Fame.
Part of having such a great career includes a bunch of clutch performances, and Chipper had a bunch of those.
This article ranks the top 10 clutch moments in Chipper's career, from his numerous game-winning RBI to his postseason heroics.
10. The 2006 World Baseball Classic
Chipper Jones stepped up for his country in the first WBC.
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In 2006, it was the first year of the World Baseball Classic, and because it was a new event, all the stars came out to play.
Guys like Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Alex Rodriguez were among the players playing for their countries.
Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate in his first at-bat and smacked a home run. He finished the WBC going 6-for-17 with a double and a pair of homers. While the numbers don't count toward his career stats and the United States failed to even reach the semifinals, Jones really stepped up for his country on a big stage.
9. Opening Day 1995
Chipper Jones began his career with a big game to start the 1995 season.
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This moment makes the list partly because Chipper Jones came through under pressure and partly as one of my personal favorite moments of his career.
Chipper Jones made his big-league debut at the end of the 1993 season but only received three at-bats as the Braves were in a great pennant chase. He came into spring training in 1994 as the top prospect in the game, but a torn ACL ended his season before the season started.
Jones came into Opening Day 1995 with the pressure of being a top prospect as well as being a prospect who Braves fans waited a whole extra year to see, in addition to the fact that it was the first game back after the 1994 strike. The game wasn't particularly close as the Braves beat the Giants 12-5 in Atlanta, but Jones let Braves fans know he was worth the hype.
Batting third on April 26th Jones went 2-for-5 with three runs and two RBI. The first of his RBI gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning while the second RBI gave the Braves a 9-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth. He also managed to plate a run in the second which gave the Braves a 5-0 lead, though he wasn't given an RBI due to an error.
This may not have been the most memorable clutch performance, but it was to me as the entire fanbase was excited to watch this kid who they were waiting for since he was drafted with the top pick in the 1990 draft.
8. Walk-off Home Run Aginst Robb Nen as a Rookie
This home run was the first of seven walk-off homers in the great career of Chipper Jones.
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In 1995, Chipper Jones was a young rookie for the Braves as they were trying to win their first division championship in the NL East division after playing in the NL West in 1993 and a strike shortened season in 1994.
Robb Nen was in the second year as a closer for the Marlins—a team in its third year of existence.
With the score tied 7-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Nen came into the game and got the first hitter, Jeff Blauser, to fly out to center. Chipper Jones followed Blauser and took a ball on the first pitch before crushing a long home run to right field.
That home run was the sixth of Chipper's career and his first walk-off homer.
7. The 1997 NLDS
Chipper Joones gave the Braves a pair of first inning leads in tight games during the 1997 NLDS.
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The 1997 NLDS is one of two times the Braves swept the Astros in that round even though the series was much tougher than it sounded. In each of those series' it was a clutch performance by Chipper Jones which helped the Braves to advance past a strong Houston team.
Even though Chipper didn't get a hit in the first game, his sacrifice fly in the first inning gave the Braves an early 1-0 lead which proved to be important in their 2-1 victory. Jones batted in three runs in the second game, but it was a 13-3 win.
The third game of the series saw Chipper go 3-for-4, including a solo homer in the top of the first to give the Braves an early lead in a game they ended up winning 4-1.
Jones had a monster series, hitting an even .500 with a homer and two RBI as well as a .583 on-base percentage and .875 slugging percentage. Jones getting the Braves out to two first-inning leads was too tough for the Astros to overcome.
6. Homer off Cliff Lee in September 2011
Chipper Jones gave the Braves an early lead in a must-win game against the Phillies.
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Heading into the final series of the season against the Phillies, the Braves were in the middle of an epic collapse to end their season. On September 26th, the series started in Atlanta with one of Phillies' aces, Cliff Lee, pitching for the Phillies.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Chipper Jones hit a homer to left center. The homer was a big one for the Braves as it gave them an early lead against the rival Phillies in a series where every game was must-win.
The Braves went on to lose this game 4-2 despite leading by two runs heading into the fourth inning and getting a solid start from rookie pitcher Randall Delgado. Although the Braves failed to capitalize on their lead, it was an important home run from Chipper in a clutch situation.
5. Homer off Billy Wagner in the 2001 NLDS
A late homer off All-Star closer Billy Wagner helped the Braves win the 2001 NLDS.
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The Braves may have swept the Astros in the 2001 NLDS, but the series was a bit tougher than it sounds. The Astros were in every game of the series, and it could have easily had a different result if not for Chipper Jones.
In the first game, the Braves were down 3-2 heading into the top of the eighth. The Astros removed Wade Miller, who pitched very well for seven innings, for Michael Jackson to start that inning. The Braves were able to add one run while getting two more runners on, while Jackson was only able to get one out.
The Astros pulled Jackson to bring in star closer Billy Wagner to face Chipper. Jones hit the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer to give the Braves a 6-3 lead as they went on to win the game 7-4.
Jones didn't get a hit in two at-bats in the next game but added a two-run homer to give the Braves some late insurance in the third game.
4. The 1996 NLCS
Chipper Jones helped the Braves come from trailing three games to one in the 1996 NLCS to win the series.
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The Braves came into the 1996 postseason trying to defend their 1995 World Series title.
The Braves were able to win the next three games to advance to the World Series as Chipper Jones had a big impact on the series.
Jones hit .440 with four RBI in the series including going 4-for-11 with three RBI in the final three games. Though he wasn't the only player who contributed to this great comeback, Chipper Jones played a big part in it.
3. Game 4 of the 2003 NLDS
Chipper Jones hit a pair of homers in Game 4 of the 2003 NLDS to keep the Braves alive in an elimination game.
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In the 2003, NLDS the Braves trailed the Cubs 2-1 in a best of five series. This meant that the Braves needed to win in Chicago in the fourth game just to take the series back to Atlanta for a fifth game. The Braves were able to win that fourth game, due to the heroics of Chipper Jones.
Chipper went 2-for-3 with a pair of homers and four RBI along with a pair of walks in a road victory in an elimination game.The first of those two homers came with one on and one out in the fifth inning, giving the Braves a 3-1 lead. The other came with one runner on and two out in the top of the eighth, giving the Braves a 6-2 lead.
That second homer actually ended up being the game-winner as the Cubs scored a pair of runs to make it a 6-4 game. Although the Braves dropped the fifth game of the series and went home, the heroics of Chipper Jones to extend the series shouldn't be forgotten.
2. September 1999 Series Against Mets
Chipper Jones play in this series against the Mets helped to lock up the division for the Braves and the MVP for Chipper.
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In 1999, the Braves were battling the Mets for the division title. They led the Mets by one game heading into a three-game series in Atlanta that started on September 21st. The display that Chipper Jones put on during this series not only helped the Braves sweep the Mets and win the NL East, but it also helped to lock up the MVP for Chipper.
Jones went 2-for-4 with two homers in the first game of the series, a 2-1 win where those home runs were the only runs the Braves scored. In the second game, he went 1-for-3 with a homer and two RBI, as the Braves won 5-2. The third game saw him go 1-for-2 with a homer and three RBI along with two intentional walks, as the Braves won 6-3.
The Braves outscored the Mets 13-6 during the sweep as Jones went a ridiculous 4-for-9 with four homers and seven RBI as he scored five runs.
1. The Entire 1995 Postseason
Chipper Jones had a big postseason in 1995, helping the Braves win the World Series.
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In 1995, Chipper Jones was a 23-year-old rookie. He followed up a season where he ended up as the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year Award by having a monster postseason, leading the Braves to a World Series victory. That World Series went on to become the only one the Braves won during their streak of 14-consecutive division titles.
Jones started the postseason by hitting .389 with two homers and four RBI in a four-game NLDS victory over the Rockies. Jones followed that up by hitting .438 with a homer and three RBI in a sweep of the Reds in the NLCS. In the six-game World Series victory over the Indians, Jones hit .286 with an RBI.
Jones played a major part in the World Series victory, and this 14-game stretch where he hit .364 with three homers and eight RBI was the biggest clutch moment in his career.