A couple of years ago, I wrote a column for my website asking if Chipper Jones was a future Hall of Famer. With news this morning that the Atlanta Braves third baseman will be retiring at the end of the 2012 season, I’m reminded of the flood of responses that came in after my post. Among the things I learned: Jones has been phenomenal for posting a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, and .500 slugging percentage.
Besides a career slash line that currently sits at .304/.402/.533, Jones also has the most seasons by a third baseman of topping .300/.400/.500. In fact, it’s not even close. Of the 29 third basemen who’ve hit those numbers in a season with a minimum 500 plate appearances, just eight of these men have done it twice. Jones has done it six times.
A full list is as follows:
Does this make Jones the greatest third baseman ever? Probably not, as one stat generally doesn’t separate one player above all others. Some context is in order as well. The two men most often suggested as tops among third sackers, Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson, played in less favorable run environments and did far more with their gloves than Jones. Alex Rodriguez played his best years at shortstop. And though Jones may rank above Eddie Mathews or George Brett, it might matter to some that Mathews, like Schmidt and Rodriguez, has 500 home runs and Brett 3,000 hits.
Jones also benefited from peaking during one of the best offensive periods in baseball history. But the thought here is that Jones’ career slash line could be one of the things that helps make him a first ballot Hall of Famer in the summer of 2018. Rightfully so.