Chipper Jones: Is the Braves Third Baseman Worthy of Cooperstown?
Is Chipper Jones bound for Cooperstown?
Don't answer just yet—think for a moment. No knee-jerk reactions because he did this or didn't do that.
He is on the DL now, and his season is apparently over. Many think his career is over as well.
Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones has had a fantastic 17 year career (thus far) with the Atlanta Braves. He is one of the now nearly extinct players to have done all their time in the same place.
It was clearly more frequent before Curt Flood raised the curtain on the quasi-slavery that the owners held over the players.
That 17-year tenure is exceptional, but obviously that alone doesn't make one Hall of Fame worthy. Just ask Bernie Williams.
I personally love Jones and think he should be a first ballot walk-in. In fact, I rated him the second best Switch Hitter in the history of baseball. But, I want to remain objective in this article and allow you to decide for yourselves after being shown the facts.
Let us examine his statistics
Only Mickey Mantle, Lance Berkman, and Roy Cullenbine (who?) have a higher career OBP (.405) among switch-hitters than Jones.
Frankie Frisch is the only switch-hitter in the history of MLB to have a higher career BA than Jones at .306. Another year like this one, and he will be forced, like Mickey Mantle, to watch his career average slip below the .300 mark.
He comes in third on the all-time HR list for switch-hitters, trailing only Mantle and fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Murray at 436, 37th among all players.
He trails Murray and Mantle in career RBI at 1491, 52nd on the all-time list.
In hits, he doesn't fair quite as well, ranking 8th among switch-hitters with 2,490.
For you Sabermetic junkies, his WAR of 8o puts him behind only Mickey Mantle among switch-hitters, 36th overall. His career OPS+ of 142 is only eighth among active players.
How about awards?
He was MVP in 1999 when he batted .319 with 45 HR, 110 RBI, and 116 runs scored. He also won two Silver Slugger Awards.
In 2008, he won the National League batting title with an average of .364 and had the highest OBP in the league at .470
He was named to six All-Star teams. In 20 post-season series, he has an average of .288/.411/.459 with 13 HR and 47 RBI.
I was actually surprised that he didn't win more awards than he did, or lead the league in any more categories.
If you apply the yardstick of yesteryear to his numbers, he doesn't quite make the grade. Don't cuss me, just keep reading.
The number 500 used to be a barometer of which, if surpassed, would land you in the Hall of Fame. Of course, that no longer holds water. It didn't mean you had to have 500, but anybody that did was enshrined. His 436 HR is anemic compared to others.
Another number is 1500 RBI. Again, he pulls in a little short.
Total hits required to get in used to be 3000. If you got 3000, they couldn't (or wouldn't) keep you out. Nobody that hit safely 3000 times (and was eligible) was left out. He is well short of that mystic number as well.
In summary, has he done enough to land himself in the Hall of Fame? Forget the fact that he is a switch-hitter—I don't believe they award extra points for that.
He never lead the league in HR, RBI, hits, runs, or anything other than BA, OPS, and OPS+.
The Baseball Writers Association of America needs some criterion developed for admittance. Whether they like a player or not, whether a player snubbed them their entire career or not should have no consequence on their fitness to be admitted into the Hall of Fame.
It is not a place for Altar Boys or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir unless they can play excellent baseball. What goes on outside the white lines should have NO bearing whatsoever on a players report when being evaluated for the Hall of Fame.
So, again I ask you—is Chipper Jones going to be enshrined in Cooperstown?
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