Chipper Jones: 6 Reasons Jones Is a First-Ballot Hall of Famer
He has cemented himself as perhaps the best switch hitter since Mickey Mantle and has a World Series title, an MVP Award and 14 consecutive division titles to boot.
Let's take a look back at the five best years in the career of Larry Wayne Jones, Jr.
Career Slash Line
When you think about a player with nearly 8,500 at-bats and 2,354 games played, numbers like that are more than impressive.
Further, Chipper has played (almost) his entire career at the hot corner, which no one would claim is easy on the body.
For him to have produced such high numbers for as long as he has is truly remarkable.
World Series, MVP, Batting Title
Chipper broke on to the scene in 1995 as he had an incredible rookie campaign that culminated in the World Series Championship.
Four years later, he was clearly the best hitter in the league, winning the 1999 NL MVP going away.
Even in the twilight of his career, Chipper managed to lead the league in hitting posting an absurd .364 average in 2008.
The importance of these three feats cannot be overstated. Chipper is a team player, yet has the abilities to carry the load when the situation calls for it.
Best Switch Hitter Since Mickey Mantle?
If you ask me, Chipper is the second-best switch hitter of all-time (counting power as well as average) behind the mythical Mickey Mantle.
The only other man that can perhaps challenge Chipper for this honor is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.
Not taking anything away from Murray, but the fact that he played first base allowed him to produce more in the latter half of his career.
If Chipper played a less physically demanding position, he'd likely have better numbers across the board than the Oriole great.
Even with Chipper playing the hot corner, he still outpaces Murray's batting average by 18 points, his on base percentage by 44 points and has two things Murray doesn't: an MVP and a batting title.
Oh, and not to mention that Chipper Jones has the highest career batting average of any switch hitter since Franklin Roosevelt was in the Oval Office.
In the prime of his career, few National League hitters were better than Chipper.
From 1996-2003, he averaged 32 home runs, 107 RBI and a slash line of .313/.410/.551.
Even more impressive is that, during that eight year span, he averaged 157 games a year. Only two seasons out of those eight did he walk less than 90 times.
Durable, reliable, power and average—Jones was clearly one of the best hitters in his prime.
Forever an Atlanta Brave
One of the best things about Chipper's career is that he has been, and will always be, an Atlanta Brave.
There's something to be said for a kid who comes up in a farm system, stays with that team and eventually plays two decades of Hall of Fame ball for them.
When he retires, he will go down as one of the best and most beloved Braves of all time.
Steroids Were Never a Concern
Steroids never entered the conversation when talking about Chipper Jones.
He hit 30 home runs six times, knocked in 100 RBI nine times and has more than 500 doubles—and not one of those hits is in question.
During a time when players were modifying their bodies to get a cheap edge, Chipper did not.
He will forever be remembered as one of the best overall players of the now infamous "Steroid Era."
Honorable Mention: The Nickname
"Chipper" is one of those nicknames that will live on in baseball lore for eternity.
Anytime anyone talking baseball says "Chipper," people know exactly who they're talking about.