It isn't easy to find a switch-hitting third baseman who's willing to play through injuries and change positions for the good of the team. This is why the Atlanta Braves jumped all over their chance to take Chipper Jones with the first pick of the 1990 draft. In turn, Chipper has played a large part in the Braves' 14 consecutive division titles including a 1995 World Series victory.
Chipper could retire tomorrow and he would still be, without a doubt, one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game. But after 15 seasons, in which Mr. Jones has totaled over 1,300 RBI, nearly 400 homers, and a career .309 batting average, he is actually playing better than ever.
If Jones hadn't missed that exciting '94 season due to a knee injury, those numbers may be a little more impressive, and he might be playing shortstop. Imagine that.
Chipper still has at least five more good seasons in him, and if he keeps playing like he is now, there's no telling what his final stat sheet will look like. But with Jones, it's always been more about playing the game the way it's supposed to be played.
No one ever hears him complaining about money, the media, or getting thrown out in left field in the middle of his career. He just does what he's supposed to, and he usually does it better than most.
Lenny Dykstra once said, "I think Chipper Jones is not human. I think he's been created by Ted Turner and some scientists," which I think paints a pretty clear picture of Chipper. If Ted Turner were to team up with some scientists to create the perfect baseball player, I imagine he would be a lot like Chipper Jones. He is a calm, consistent, switch hitting Hall of Famer who is willing and able to play almost any position on the field with a smile on his face.
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