Last night Chipper Jones played his final All Star Game in the only active ballpark where he had never taken the field; Kauffman Stadium Before the game he was asked to give the team a little speech and while he may not win awards for oratory skills that match those he’s won on the field, the message was clear, This is my last time here and I don’t intend to leave as a loser. You can watch the actual speech here.
During his introduction the fans and his fellow players from both sides gave him a standing ovation worthy of his stature. The fans provided a second dose when he came to the plate and you could see Chipper was moved by the crowd. The night was ended well and the early lead allowed him to relax and enjoy the game. Braves fans on Twitter enjoyed it too. There was however some back and forth about Chipper’s Hall of Fame credentials in the Twitterverse – from the uninformed or jealous I presume – so I thought this would be a great opportunity to put Chipper’s career numbers to date in perspective. As I was putting this together I learned things I didn’t know and am even more impressed with his career than I was before. Rather than babble on about them I’m just going to present them surrounded by those that will be his peers in five years time; Hall of Fame third basemen.
All statistics shown were extracted from the play index page at Baseball-Reference.com
(For the sabermetrically challenged I’ve included a glossary at the end rather than endless links. Definitions from Baseball-Reference.com)
The table shows them sorted on total rWAR which inevitably puts Mike Schmidt at the top but when you look at the overall numbers look closely at those in bold type, they are the leader in that particular statistic. Note That space forced me to omit Frank – Home Run – Baker and Jimmy Collins from the table below. They were both dead ball era third basemen however and their numbers aren’t comparable to the modern era. I respect their Hall of Fame status and urge you to check out their profiles at Baseball-Reference.com
|Name||Mike Schmidt||Eddie Mathews||Wade Boggs||Chipper Jones||Brooks Robinson||Ron Santo||George Brett||George Kell||Pie Traynor||Freddie Lindstrom|
Quickly summing up the chart, Among existing Hall of Fame third sackers Chipper is:
- First in runs scored, slugging and OPS
- Second in RBI (his next two RBI will put him first), OBP and walks. He needs 29 walks to move into first there. He’s had 23 walks this year already so that is within reach as well.
- Third in doubles, home runs and games played. He’ll be second in games played by the end of the year.
A deeper look
As I touched on earlier, every now and then someone will say that Chipper isn’t a first ballot Hall of Fame player or not Hall of Fame caliber at all. Those folks fall into one of three categories; uninformed, blinded by prejudice, or just plain . . . Anyway, looking at his career in comparison to every player who’s every played the game will silence all but the most ill informed or hard headed. The following information should allow you to counter the inaccuracies on those opinion with facts. The third category of naysayers excluded of course, hitting them in the head with a baseball bat might break the bat without getting them to admit they’re wrong.
Names and Numbers
The following gives an in depth look at how Chipper stacks up among hitters with 3000 or more plate appearances and a WAR >59.0
as of today, July 11, 2012. I broke it down by switch hitters, current players and all players, Red indicates a Hall of Fame member.
|Switch Hitters||Close to||All Active||Close to||All||Close to|
|Rbat WAR Runs batting)||2nd||Mickey Mantle||5th||Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome||23rd||2 behind Rickey Henderson, 34 behind Thome, 36 behind Jeff Bagwell|
|rWAR (positiion player)||2nd||Mantle||3rd||A-Rod, Pujols||30th||4 behind Brett,5.6 behind Nap Lajoi, 5.7 behind Al Kaline|
|Batting Wins||2nd||Mantle||5th||Pujols, Manny, Thome, A-Rod||26th||1.02 behind Carl Yazstremski, 1.07 behind Willie McCovey, 2.31 behind A-Rod|
|Batting Runs||2nd||Mantle||5th||Manny, Pujols, Thome, A-Rod||22nd||35 behind A-Rod,36 behind Bagwell|
|Isolated Power (ISO)||2nd||Mantle||5th||Albert Pujols, Jim Thome. Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones||26th||.001 behind Mel Ott, .005 behind Andruw Jones. .010 behind Eddie Mathews|
|Batting Average||2nd||Frankie Frisch||4th||Pujols, Derek Jeter, Manny||39th||Tied with Ott, .001 behind Brett & Hank Aaron,.002 behind Paul Molitor|
|RBI||2nd||Eddie Murray||4th||A-Rod,Manny, Thome||28th||I behind Schmidt, 2 behind Brett, 15 behind Goose Goslin, 42 behind Ernie Banks|
|OBP||2nd||Mantle||T3rd Thome||Pujols, Manny||T-25th Thome||.002 behind Paul Waner & Charlie Gehringer|
|Slugging||2nd||Mantle||5th||Pujols, Manny, A-Rod, Thome||25th||.001 behind Ott, .002 behind Al Simmons. .005 behind Frank Robinson|
|OPS||2nd||Mantle||5th||Pujols, Manny, Thome, A-Rod||22nd||.006 behind Shoeless Joe Jackson &.007 Behind Willie Mays|
|OPS+||2nd||Mantle||5th||Pujols, Manny, Thome, A-Rod||33rd||1 behind Eddie Collins, 2 behind Matthews and A-Rod, 4 behind Sam Crawford, 5 behind McCovey, Schmidt, Edgar Martinez & Thome|
|Doubles||3rd||Pete Rose, Murray||2nd||Manny, Pujols, A-Rod, Thome||25th||3 behind Simmons, 4 behind Dave Winfield, 5 behind Rogers Hornsby|
|Home Runs||3rd||Mantle, Murray||4th||Pujpls. Thome, Manny||25th||5 behind Winfield,15 behind Stan Musial|
|Walks||3rd||Mantle, Rose||2nd||Thome||16th||21 behind Collins,29 behind Schmidt, 30 behindLou Gehrig|
|Runs||4th||Rose, Mantle, Murray||3rd||A-Rod, Jeter||32nd||38 behind Kaline, 41 behind Waner & Murray, 46 behind Robin Yount|
|Hits||5th||Rose, Murray,Frisch, Roberto Alomar||3rd||Jeter, A-Rod||45th||41 behind Billy Williams, 51 behind Lou Gehrig, 54 behind Roberto Alomar|
WAR: Wins Above Replacement for position players. A single number that represents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement (think AAA or AAAA player) would add.
Bbat or WAR Runs Batting: The number of runs better or worse than average the player was as a hitter.
Batting Wins: A calculated number that estimates a player’s total contribution to a team’s wins with his bat. Developed by Gary Gillette, Pete Palmer and others
Batting Runs : A calculated number that estimates a player’s total contribution to a team’s runs. Developed by Gary Gillette, Pete Palmer and others
Isolated Power (ISO): Is calculated by subtracting hits from total bases then dividing that by At Bats
OPS: On-base plus slugging percentages
OPS+ : To get OPS+ you divide player OPS by league OPS, player SLG by league SLG add those together, subtract 1 and multiply the result by 100 (to get a percentage)
That’s A Wrap
The other evening someone asked me who was better Chipper or Brett. I said that while Brett was a better contact hitter I felt Chipper was the better all around player. Looking at the eras they played in and the numbers produced, I’m more convinced than ever Chipper is the right choice. Brett finished in 1993 and while Chipper played in 93 his career really started in 95. In the two decades that followed the game changed considerably. Brett was the best hitter of his time and he would certainly have hit well in any era; hand eye coordination and the ability to see things ordinary hitters don’t is a gift that would have kept him at the top of his game. Brett was a doubles machine. In 800 or so fewer games than Wade Boggs the closest comparison as a contact hitter to Brett hit about 90 more doubles. The current active leader in Chipper’s Era (1995-2012) is Todd Helton with 567. Helton is lot like Brett as he is considered by his peers one of the best pure hitters in the game and he too once challenged the .400 batting average mark but fell short. Because Helton so closely – in my opinion anyway – resembles Brett at the plate, he’s predictive of Brett’s output during the Chipper era. In that time there’s no doubt that Chipper has been the better all around performer.
I hope you enjoyed last night’s spanking of the AL and Chipper’s seeing eye single. I’m looking forward to October when the Braves have home field advantage in the World Series. It would add to the legend if Chipper were to get a Ring and make that happen with a walk off home run. I’m sure he won’t mind who hits that home run as long as we’re yelling BRAVES WIN and acting like kids at Christmas time when it ends.