Last night Chipper Jones continued his hot start to his 18th major league season by going 2-4 with a double and a single, including three RBI. His second hit was also Jones' 2,500th of his career, adding another stat to his Hall of Fame career.
Jones has been considered one of the best switch-hitters of all time. I agree with this, and think that he is at worst the third best of all time, but could he be even higher? Statistically speaking anyway? Time to find out.
I am matching him up with Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, two of the greatest players in baseball history. We'll be looking at the trio's 162-game averages as well as their career marks in the statistics given. The numbers speak for themselves as far as Jones' career goes.
Without further ado, let's get this started.
Editor's Note: Jones' current 2011 numbers are added to his totals.
Chipper Jones: .306 (career and 162-game average)
Mickey Mantle: .298 (career and 162-game average)
Eddie Murray: .287 (career and 162-game average)
Jones takes our first category, as it is one of the things that puts him in an elite group that we will talk more about as the article goes on.
Murray chimes in at third in this category, being quite a bit lower than I expected that from the other two, but still more than good enough over his 21-year career.
Mantle's average took a bit of a hit his last few years, but Jones has had his struggles coming into this year.
Jones simply takes this one.
Murray: 174 (162 game average), 3,255 (career)
Jones: 178 (162 game average), 2,500 (career)
Mantle: 163 (162 game average), 2,415 (career)
Even though Jones currently holds the 162 game average mark, I gave this to Murray because he is the only of the trio to have at least 3,000 and surpassed it comfortably.
I will admit that Mantle's career numbers and average were a little lower than I expected. They are still good nonetheless.
Mantle: 36 (162 game average), 536 (career)
Jones: 31 (162 game average), 436 (career)
Murray: 27 (162 game average), 504 (career)
Mantle was, and is, the best power-hitting switch hitter of all time, and it may be a title that he holds for a long time. He had prodigious power, easily being one of the best of his day and of all time.
Jones comes in with a good season-by-season number of 31, making him one of the few third basemen to average at least 30 over their career. His homer total in 2011 would have to be poor for it to drop below 30 a season.
Murray topped 500 home runs, though he took until his 20th season to do it. His 162-game average is lower than the other two, but it nothing to scoff at. You could switch up Murray and Jones due to the career total, but I think the 162-game average is what should cause the difference here.
Jones: 107 (162-game average), 1,497 (career)
Murray: 103 (162-game average), 1,917 (career)
Mantle: 102 (162-game average), 1,509 (career)
Jones takes the 162-game average by a pretty good margin. Jones at one time put up eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons, making him one of the players of all time at knocking guys in.
Murray finishes with an average of one more RBI a year than Mantle, leaving him above third in this group for this first time in this article. Murray had six seasons of at least 100 RBIs.
Mantle comes in third, but still averages over 100 RBIs per 162 games, which is an extremely impressive feat. The Yankee put together four 100 RBI seasons.
Jones: 35 (162 game average), 496 (career)
Murray: 30 (162 game average), 560 (career)
Mantle: 23 (162 game average), 344 (career)
Jones takes another one here by a wide margin. Chipper has averaged 30 homers and 30 doubles for every 162-games over his career, not many others can claim that.
Murray comes in with a very good 30 per season, making his homer/double combo equal 57, a very impressive number.
Mantle has a very average number of doubles per season, but when you look at everything else he did in the game, it's very easy to overlook (as it should be).
Mantle: Five (162 game average), 72 (career)
Jones: Three (162 game average), 37 (career)
Murray: Two (162 game average), 35 (career)
Mantle notches his second category, destroying the other two in career triples with an impressive number of 72. Perhaps this is why he lacked some in the doubles category.
Jones and Murray both come in with pedestrian numbers. Neither player is hurt by the numbers, but neither's career is vastly improved because of them.
Jones: 11 (162 game average), 147 (career)
Mantle: 10 (162 game average), 153 (career)
Murray: Six (162 game average), 110 (career)
Surprisingly for me, Jones takes another statistic here by barely edging out Mantle. Jones hasn't been a legit stealing threat in about a decade, but can still sneak one in every once in awhile if you aren't paying attention.
Murray again finds himself at third in this group with a low number of steals. Like the triples though, it doesn't deter the great career he had.
Mantle: 113 (162 game average), 1,676 (career)
Jones: 108 (162 game average), 1,507 (career)
Murray: 87 (162 game average), 1,627 (career)
Mantle comes in as the lead man in this statistic, putting together a very impressive average and career number during his long career with the Yankees.
Jones also put together a stellar career, showing that he also had the talent around him during his career.
Murray was the only one of the trio to not average more runs scored than knocked in, I thought that was interesting. Could it be that he didn't play with as much consistent talent as the others?
Mantle: .421 (162 game average and career)
Jones: .405 (162 game average and career)
Murray: .359 (162 game average and career)
Mantle continues to chase Jones as we continue the article. Mantle's impressive OBP beats Jones' by 16 points.
Jones' OBP is well above average though, and is one of the strengths of his as you look over his career.
Murray comes at over 60 points lower than Mantle, but still above the average over the course of history. Part of him being so far behind the other two was his average as well.
Mantle: .557 (162 game average and career)
Jones: .536 (162 game average and career)
Murray: .476 (162 game average and career)
Mantle takes another stat here with a very impressive career slugging percentage. His 21 point lead over Jones is about as much as I expected, though Jones' is impressive in its own right.
Murray's .476 slugging percentage may end up third between this trio, but it still good enough for 206th among all players.
Full 162 Game Averages for All Three
Jones: .306 BA, 178 hits, 108 runs, 35 2B, three 3B, 31 HR, 107 RBI, 11 SB, .405 OBP, .536 SLG
Mantle: .298 BA, 163 hits, 113 runs, 23 2B, five 3B, 36 HR, 102 RBI, 10 SB, .421 OBP, .557 SLG
Murray: .287 BA, 174 hits, 87 runs, 30 2B, two 2B, 27 HR, 103 RBI, six SB, .359 OBP, .476 SLG
Mantle takes the statistical battle by leading in five of the categories I went over, with Jones chasing him with four, followed by just the single victory for Murray. Jones was the only one of the trio to not finish in third in any category.
So where does this leave Jones?
From a strictly statistical standpoint, I think Jones is the second greatest switch hitter of all time, behind only "The Mick." Jones has put together one of the best careers of all time, and is certainly in the top 50 or so players ever in my opinion.
I enjoyed looking over the stats of three of the most well-respected and thought of players of all time, and each is certainly among the best players to ever lace up a pair of cleats. Time will only tell how good Jones really is, but the way I see it he is undoubtedly a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.
Oh, and for those that like WAR: