Chipper Jones Knee Injury: If This Ends His Career, Is He a Hall of Famer?

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIMay 16, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves in action against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Chipper Jones reportedly has torn his meniscus. It's a slight tear, but might require surgery.

If this injury means the end of Chipper's career, is he a Hall of Famer? 

Yes, absolutely he is and he gets in on the first ballot.

I believe Chipper is at worst the third-best third baseman to ever play, and it can be argued that he is better than George Brett—which would move him up to second. Mike Schmidt is easily the best third baseman in history.

If Chipper were to retire today, he'd finish with a .305 batting average, a .405 OBP, a .535 slugging percentage, a .939 OPS and an OPS+ of 142.

These incredible numbers would go along with 440 home runs, 1,518 RBI, an MVP and two Silver Sluggers.

He has the third-most home runs ever by a switch-hitter (behind Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle), the most RBI ever by a switch-hitter (he passed Mickey Mantle this season) and is the only switch-hitter to bat over .300 and have over 400 home runs.

Yes, Jones has missed time for injuries over his career (which probably prevented him from reaching the 3,000-hit club), but he still managed to have a fantastic career.

He ranks 53rd all-time in WAR, his .405 OBP has him ranked 45th all-time, his .535 slugging percentage is good for 41st and his .939 OPS is good for 33rd.

Also, when you factor in that Chipper played during baseball's Steroid Era and there was never a hint of him using, that makes what he did even more impressive.

Chipper was easily one of the best overall hitters during his playing time, and he should easily be inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

Last year for the Sports Nickel, I wrote this piece after Jones' knee injury and he still managed to come back for another year. 

Here's hoping that this knee injury is truly minor and Chipper is able to keep playing. He's one of the best guys in baseball and I would hate to see any career ended by injury instead of by the player's choice.

If, however, Chipper is forced to walk away from the game he has given so many great years to, he has put together a baseball résumé more than deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown.