One of the worst things a person can call a professional athlete is overrated. Either they aren't worth the accolades they are receiving, the money they are earning, their spot on the team, or all of the above. It's also a difficult argument to prove.
It's also difficult to call a player, who by most is considered to be a future Hall of Famer, overrated.
So it is with great satisfaction as a New York Mets fan that I declare Chipper Jones to be the most overrated player in the game today.
Before I get hateful messages, comments, and death threats from Braves fans everywhere, give me a chance to explain my position. Who knows, you may even end up agreeing with me.
Let's break it down.
The first argument any Braves fan or Chipper supporter is going to argue is that Jones is destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown.
I agree, Chipper Jones will one day make it to the Hall of Fame. Jones was a great player at one time. From 1995 to 2003, Jones hit 20 or more homers in each of those years, drove in 100 runs eight times, hit .300 and scored 100 runs seven times, had 90 or more walks and a .400 plus on-base percentage six times, and collected at least 180 hits five times. He also was selected to five All-Star teams and won the NL MVP award in 1999, when he almost single-handedly kept the Mets from winning the division.
If Jones had ended his career after the 2003 season, he still would have been a future Hall of Famer. He was a great player from 1995-2003, but since then he has declined and is nothing more than a one-trick pony now.
Another argument from the Chipper lovers is that Jones is a great hitter.
Correction, Braves fans: Chipper Jones is great contact hitter. He is a good overall hitter but not great anymore.
Jones' .364 batting average in 2008 was a career-high and led the National League. It was his third straight season batting over .320. That's impressive.
Jones did, however, hit only 24 doubles, less than Bobby Crosby, Marlon Byrd, and Bengie Molina. His 22 home runs were less than Marcus Thames, Melvin Mora, and Ty Wigginton. Chipper's 47 extra-base hits was good for 104th in the majors, or 10 less than Milton Bradley, who did it in one less game and 25 fewer at-bats. His 75 RBI in 2008 were three less than Mark Teixeira had for the Braves before he was traded to the Angels.
In fact, Jones has only posted one 100-RBI season since 2004 (102 RBI in 2007). From 2004-2008, Chipper has averaged just under 26 homers and 87 RBI, numbers that are solid but not great. Great would be averaging 32 homers and 107 RBI, or in other words, the numbers Jones averaged from 1996-2003.
I know what you Braves fans are thinking after reading my thoughts on Chipper Jones being a great hitter. You're thinking, "Chipper only played in 128 games last season, if you project those totals over 162 games..."
If that's what you're thinking, just stop right there because that argument holds absolutely no water.
That would be like a person who makes $50,000 dollars per year going into a Bentley dealership and telling the sales person, "I only made $50,000 dollars last year, but if you project that over my life span, I can afford this Bentley". Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
The fact that Jones only played 128 games in 2008 helps prove my point. In fact, he hasn't played more than 137 games since, you guessed it, 2003.
A truly great player is a guy his team counts on day in and day out. You don't have to be Cal Ripken to be considered a great player, but great players don't consistently miss 35-55 games per season. It's much easier to put up impressive numbers when you don't have to go through the grind of 162 games.
Not to mention, when Jones started sitting out games due to nagging injuries in 2007 while the Braves were battling to keep pace in the NL East, his own teammate criticized his heart. Remember when John Smoltz said, "You can't worry about who's in the lineup and who isn't. You can't worry about that stuff anymore". And then Smoltz added, "I certainly appreciate the effort of the guys on the field busting it."
No one who watches baseball at all, not even the most die-hard Braves fan or Chipper groupie, could argue that Jones is a good defensive player.
Jones was a poor fielding shortstop when he first came up in 1993. Consequently, he was moved to third base the next season. Even during Jones' great years, he was a below average fielding third baseman at best. After the 2001 season, his defense was so poor that the Braves moved him to left field and played two washed up players, Ken Caminiti and Vinny Castilla, at third.
Jones proved to be a terrible outfielder whose limited range was hidden by the great defense and field coverage of Andruw Jones. He lasted only two seasons as the Braves left fielder before moving back to third base in 2004.
Since then Jones' defense has steadily declined, and he's basically a DH playing at third base.
From 1995-2003, Chipper Jones was a great player, and arguably one of the best hitters in the entire sport. Since then, however, Jones has become a DH disguised as a third baseman, a number three hitter with less impressive power numbers than Ty Wigginton, and a "team leader" who can't stay on the field and has his heart questioned by a teammate.
Does that sound "great" to you?
Five years after he retires, Jones will almost definitely get into the Hall of Fame. He was once a great player, but now he is nothing more than a solid player at best. The fact that so many people still consider him great is ridiculous. He has become the most overrated player in baseball. Period.
Then again, I could just be a bitter Mets fan.