Chipper Jones' Milestone Underscores Magnitude of 3,000 Hits
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Larry Wayne Jones has been playing for the Atlanta Braves since 1993. Set to turn 39 on April 24, the man you all know as "Chipper" is in his 18th season with the same club—that alone is noteworthy.
But on Friday, Jones added to his already impressive legacy by collecting a pair of hits to put his career total at 2,500.
Former manager Bobby Cox was in attendance, watching his club rough up the Phillies and starter Cliff Lee—all things considered, the night was just about perfect. Jones agreed, saying afterward, "I couldn't have scripted it better."
Jones became the 93rd member of the 2,500-hit club and is only the ninth switch-hitter to achieve the feat. He's also three RBI away from 1,500, and upon reaching that milestone, Chipper will join Eddie Murray as the only switch-hitters with that kind of production.
But as impressive as the 2,500 hits are, my first thought was of the next plateau.
Chipper Jones has played in nearly 2,300 games while compiling a lifetime .306 batting average. And it took him this long just to get to 2,500. In order to reach the lofty mark of 3,000 hits, he'd have to play three more seasons at his current pace.
In short, his milestone highlights how difficult it really is to get to 3,000.
Jones has hit better than .320 in a season five different times. His best batting year came in 2008 when he led the N.L. with a .364 average. He's eclipsed .300 a total of 10 times.
Where will Chipper rank among third basemen, all-time?
It would be tough to find better numbers. Yes, he's missed some time to injury (perhaps 1,000 at-bats' worth), but even if he was to have those back, he'd likely still be short of the 3,000 mark.
For such an accomplished hitter to still be so far from the historic mark makes me truly appreciate how incredible 3,000 hits really is.
In the modern game's 110-year history, only 27 players have 3,000 or more hits.
None of this is meant to detract from what Chipper has done. The guy has been a dependable fixture in Atlanta. He was Rookie of the Year runner-up, won an MVP, was a six-time All-Star and will almost certainly be a Hall of Fame selection.
Jones is not only one of the game's best switch-hitters, he's also one of the best all-around third baseman in history. As my Bleacher Report colleague Rich Stowe points out in this piece, Chipper will probably be among the all-time top three at the hot corner when all is said and done.
But pondering his greatness and his place in the game naturally leads to thoughts of other records by other greats.
That aside, congratulations to Jones. Here's to one more big year.
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