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Happy 39th Chipper Jones

Happy Birthday greetings are surely in order for future Hall of Famer and Face of the Braves franchise since 1995 Chipper Jones. I’ve been a Braves fan since my return from Europe in 1991 and while I knopw Chipper wasn’t with the team until 95 I have a hard time picturing it without him There are few players who have stamped their face on a franchise and made it theirs. You can name them as well as I: Jeter, Bagwell and Biggio, Ripkin, Pujols – at least for now – and Chipper.I wasn’t planning a big post about this but yesterday while watching the Braves beat the Giants I replied ta the following tweet:

Chipper Jones is a huge sissy. Enormous game today for the #Braves vs perhaps the NL’s best pitcher, and his knee is too sore to play? Weak.”

Now I know as well as you that’s ridiculous and Chipper doesn’t need me to defend him. Still I replied with something to the effect that Chipper certainly wasn’t weak. He eventually came back with this jewel;

“You must have been a lot more impressed with all these hangnails and earaches over the years. Hugely unreliable player.”

I know I shouldn’t have replied to him again but I did. I told him any player with 2500 hits, 1500 RBI, a batting title and an MVP year was far from unreliable. He was obviously either uninformed or traumatized by a Chipper Jones walk off home run at some point.

“And could’ve had 3,500 hits easily if he didn’t have the fortitude of my grandmother.”

That’s obviously incorrect, the only three players with more than 3500 hits all played at least 21 years. So I ran some comparisons on www.baseball-reference.com and provided him comparison against all players since 95, infielders since 95 and similar numbers to make my point.  He had no facts except one and he threw that back.

“Hasn’t played 150 games since ’03. If that gets you excited, then good for you.”

Clearly this guy was a Chipper hater but I replied again showing a comparison to infielders who played during that time (Chipper’s at or near the top in every category ) and suggested that he give me some proof of his assertion. I heard nothing more after that.

This morning when I remembered Chipper’s birthday I decided to look again at numbers from 2003 to 2010 and see if there was any rationale for the gentleman’s position. The numbers showed a lot more than I remembered and completely squashed any real argument. They were so eye opening for me I thought I’d share some of those to reminds us why we should celebrate his birthday.

The tweeter had suggested that anything less than 150 games a year (1200 over eight years) was a sign of unreliability. Since 2003 602 players have played at least 10 games in the field (no pitchers or designated hitters included thus not 750+) and there were 199 instances of 150 game or greater individual years.The table shows 150 game or more seasons from 2003 through 2010 by player age.  The numbers for Omar Vizquel and Derek Jeter are quite remarkable.

Player Age 1 yr 2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs 6 yrs 7 yrs
any age 199 104 64 39 21 8 2*
31 + 64 24 10 4 0 1 0
32 + 48 16 7 1
33 + 38 13 4 1
34 + 29 9 3
35 + 15 7 1
36 + 11 5
37 + 3 3**
38 + 5 1***

* Derek Jeter    ** Omar Vizquel, Luis Gonzales, Craig Biggio ***Omar Vizquel

Clearly 150 games a year gets harder as you get older. Besides a single 150 game year doesn’t make you reliable, reliability is more about consistent performance over time; knowing what to expect. An average is better suited for looking at a player’s consistency. There were only nine players who averaged 150 games a year (1200 over eight years) between 2003 and 2010. Twenty players averaged 140 or more (1120 over eight years), 34 averaged 130 games/year (1040 over eight) and 44 averaged 125 a season (Chipper averaged 126). That would be Chipper’s peer group in this comparison.

Looking at Chipper compared to his peers over that period should tell us how reliable he’s been. His peers would be however need to pass other criteria. During that time Chipper’s slash line was .301/.406/.525/.932 and regularly played the field. So his pees then should have played at least 75% of their time at a field position -non-DH or pitching  and be relatively close to that slash line I mentioned. Without going into extreme calculations – and because I’m lazy – I included player who were within roughly 10% of that line over the same period or .270.366/.475/.840. Here are the results.

Player OBP BA SLG OPS From To Age
Albert Pujols .433 .334 .635 1.067 2003 2010 23-30
Todd Helton .427 .317 .512 .939 2003 2010 29-36
Manny Ramirez .412 .309 .572 .984 2003 2010 31-38
Chipper Jones .406 .301 .525 .932 2003 2010 31-38
Alex Rodriguez .394 .297 .564 .958 2003 2010 27-34
Matt Holliday .388 .317 .543 .931 2004 2010 24-30
David Wright .383 .305 .516 .899 2004 2010 21-27
Chase Utley .380 .293 .514 .894 2003 2010 24-31
Derrek Lee .379 .294 .520 .899 2003 2010 27-34
Mark Teixeira .377 .286 .536 .913 2003 2010 23-30
Jason Bay .374 .278 .508 .882 2003 2010 24-31
Carlos Beltran .369 .281 .509 .878 2003 2010 26-33
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/24/2011.

 

You can see that Chipper is fourth in OBP, fifth in OPS, fifth in BA and sixth slugging. That’s pretty good company by any standard. So my friend’s argument is…well he doesn’t have one really. There are a few other things you may or may not know.

Since 1940 there have been six third basemen inducted into The Hall of Fame. They are listed below along with Chippers numbers as of this morning.

chipperhofbirthday

Last week Tim Kurkjian said on Baseball tonight that Chipper was one of the top five third basemen of all time. Good call Tim. Good Call.

Happy Birthday Chipper

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Tags: Chipper Jones Hall Of Fame

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