Chipper Jones: Greatest Pure Hitter To Play the Game?

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IApril 5, 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - MARCH 01:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves hits during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Champion Stadium on March 1, 2009 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Chipper Jones is one of the most cherished players ever to don the Braves uniform, but is he the greatest pure hitter ever to play the game? If you take a look at his career stats and compare them to other third basemen and switch hitters who have played, there might be an argument to suggest that he is at the top of the list.

Chipper Jones was drafted No. 1 in the 1990 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves. He was a member of the 1995 World Series champions and finished second to Hideo Nomo in the rookie of the year balloting.

He has been a six-time All-Star, National League MVP, and this past year he won his first National League batting title. He has also been a part of 11 Division Championships and three National League Pennants.

He recently signed a three-year extension for $42 million that runs through 2013. At that time, Jones will probably decide to retire. If he continues at his current pace, he will end up with a career total of 524 home runs, 1766 RBI, and a .310 career batting average.

If you look at the third basemen currently in the Hall of Fame, the only one that would best his 524 home runs is Mike Schmidt with 548. Jones would be the overall leader of third basemen in RBI and would rank second only to Wade Boggs' .348 batting average.

Jones is the only player in major league history to have hit over 300 home runs and over a .300 batting average in his career.

In my opinion, the only switch hitter that can be compared to Jones is Mickey Mantle. Mantle had only 12 more home runs than Jones is on pace to hit, with over 250 fewer RBI, and was 12 percentage points lower in batting average.

When talking about switch hitters, last year Jones just missed out on the highest single season record for batting average. Mantle holds the record with a .365 average and Jones won the batting title with a .364 average after flirting with .400 most of the year.

People can say what they want, but when looking at Jones' numbers versus Hall of Famers, he has to be considered the greatest pure hitter ever to have played the game.