For slash line, at least, Chipper Jones ranks tops for third basemen

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:

Rk   Yrs From To Age  
1 Chipper Jones 6 1998 2008 26-36 Ind. Seasons
2 Alex Rodriguez 2 2005 2007 29-31 Ind. Seasons
3 Miguel Cabrera 2 2006 2007 23-24 Ind. Seasons
4 Jim Thome 2 1995 1996 24-25 Ind. Seasons
5 George Brett 2 1980 1985 27-32 Ind. Seasons
6 Eddie Mathews 2 1953 1961 21-29 Ind. Seasons
7 Al Rosen 2 1953 1954 29-30 Ind. Seasons
8 Harlond Clift 2 1936 1937 23-24 Ind. Seasons
9 David Wright 1 2007 2007 24-24 Ind. Seasons
10 Garrett Atkins 1 2006 2006 26-26 Ind. Seasons
11 Scott Rolen 1 2004 2004 29-29 Ind. Seasons
12 Melvin Mora 1 2004 2004 32-32 Ind. Seasons
13 Ken Caminiti 1 1996 1996 33-33 Ind. Seasons
14 Edgar Martinez 1 1992 1992 29-29 Ind. Seasons
15 Wade Boggs 1 1987 1987 29-29 Ind. Seasons
16 Bill Madlock 1 1976 1976 25-25 Ind. Seasons
17 Joe Torre 1 1971 1971 30-30 Ind. Seasons
18 Tony Perez 1 1970 1970 28-28 Ind. Seasons
19 Dick Allen 1 1967 1967 25-25 Ind. Seasons
20 Ron Santo 1 1966 1966 26-26 Ind. Seasons
21 Ray Boone 1 1956 1956 32-32 Ind. Seasons
22 Whitey Kurowski 1 1947 1947 29-29 Ind. Seasons
23 Bob Elliott 1 1947 1947 30-30 Ind. Seasons
24 Mel Ott 1 1938 1938 29-29 Ind. Seasons
25 Pie Traynor 1 1930 1930 31-31 Ind. Seasons
26 Freddie Lindstrom 1 1930 1930 24-24 Ind. Seasons
27 Woody English 1 1930 1930 24-24 Ind. Seasons
28 Heinie Zimmerman 1 1912 1912 25-25 Ind. Seasons
29 Home Run Baker 1 1912 1912 26-26 Ind. Seasons

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.


Comments

For slash line, at least, Chipper Jones ranks tops for third basemen — 81 Comments

  1. Everybody give a nice welcome to Graham Womack, our last “new” author of the current wave. He’s got a great blog called Baseball Past and Present, which he’s linked to near the top of his post.

  2. I refuse to call Alex Rodriguez a third baseman.

    It is interesting to rank the 3B. I think Schmidt is the unanimous 1, I would rank Mathews 2 but there is debate there, but how would you rank Brett, Boggs and Jones in order?

    • Topper, not that I would ever argue with you about anything, but for the purposes of Grahams’s illustration, A-Rod was a third baseman when he picked up his two years. As was Thome. BTW, at some point, we are going to have to call A-Rod a third baseman-he already has close to 1100 games at the position.

      Welcome Graham

      • I know, I’m not trying to correct him just saying I don’t care what ARod technically qualifies for, he is a SS and Captain no range should have been playing 3rd since 2004.

        Mel Ott is on the list also.

        • I don’t think A-rod would still have the same SS range he had in 2003. Given all of his injuries I am not sure it would be much better than Jeter at this point.

        • Not to argue, but I’ll point this out again about No Range Jeter. Since UZR stats began in 2002, which cover Jeter’s age 28+ years and beyond, he rates as barely above average in range for all his games away from Yankee Stadium. His UZR splits for 2002 and beyond:

          Home: -43.1
          Away: +0.6

          Are there UZR biases for specific positions at specific ballparks? I think that’s quite possible. We would have to get data on all SS play at Yankee Stadium to prove that, really.

          Is TZ a better metric than UZR? I prefer it, mainly because it usually has a lower range of numbers than UZR, which can bounce really high for some outliers. But Sean Smith has said in the past about infielders, and I’m paraphrasing: “Whenever UZR data is available for infielders, it should always be used instead of TZ.”

      • Of course A-rod had already done 3/4/5 twice as a SS. I would guess that that is a lot rarer for a SS, and therefore more impressive. He probably will end up with more games at 3B than at SS, but he will not have as much value at 3B. Ernie Banks may have played more at 1B, but he was much better, and more valuable, at SS.

  3. I love George Brett, one of my dad’s all-time favorite players, but Chipper ranks tops for me. It’s mostly a stats thing and playing third longer. Boggs is behind both.

  4. Player__________BtRuns__WAR/pos
    Mike Schmidt____576.22 108.3
    Chipper Jones___574.16 82.7
    Eddie Mathews___544.89 98.3
    George Brett____505.01 85.0
    Wade Boggs_______475.41 89.0

  5. OPS+? it’s Mantle (172) Berkman (147) Chipper (141) amongst switch-hitters. Amongst 3B, it’s Schmidt (147) A-Rod (144) Mathews (143) and Jones (141). So, he’s in pretty good company…..

    Subjectively? Schmidt, Mathews, Brett, Boggs, Jones. I don’t really know if Brett deserves to be third, but I believe for the period 1979-1980, an awful lot of people considered him the best player in the American League. I just don’t know if anyone besides Atlanta Braves’ fans believed Chipper to be the best player in the NL (certainly not during Bonds’ career). Boggs sure got on-base an awful lot

  6. Welcome, Graham!

    wWAR has Chipper Jones (121.4) behind Schmidt, Mathews, Boggs, and Brett. Brett is at 140.3 and Frank Baker comes next at 114.4, so he’s pretty comfortably in that #5 spot.

    #5 all time. Hot damn.

    Out of curiosity, by wWAR currently active are the:
    #4 first baseman of all time (Pujols)
    #11 first baseman of all time (Thome)
    #15 first baseman of all time (Helton)
    #9 third baseman of all time (Rolen)
    #3 catcher of all time (Rodriguez)
    #12 catcher of all time (Mauer)
    #11 center fielder of all time (Andruw Jones)
    #13 center fielder of all time (Beltran)
    #36 pitcher of all time (Halladay)
    #15 right fielder of all time (Manny)
    #1 relief pitcher of all time (Rivera)
    #2 shortstop of all time (A-Rod)
    #9 shortstop of all time (Jeter)

  7. My first reaction was no way Chipper ranks ahead of Brett, and while I hold to that opinion, it’s quite close.

    Schmidt
    Robinson
    Matthews
    Brett
    Boggs
    Chipper

    I have Brooks higher than most. I’m not sure B-R’s WAR rating fully captures his value with the glove. Brett, Boggs and Jones are all close, but I won’t put those “bottom” three into the top three.

    • How much more defensive WAR do you want for Robinson, he is getting almost 30 wins now. His offense was just too bad for any amount of defense to put him above Mathews/Boggs/Brett/Jones

    • Mike – like you, I’m not as confident in defensive ratings, but Brooks has the most career dWAR of anyone (27.3) using BBref’s version of WAR. For a comparison, Rudy York has an oWAR of 27.4, Fred Lindstrom of 27.3, John Kruk of 27.2. York had an OPS+ of 123 over 6700 PAs. John Kruk had an OPS+ of 133 over 4600 PAs. Lindstrom, who also played 3B, had a 110 OPS+ over 6100 PAs. And BBref is evaluating Brooks’ defensive career as basically equivalent to any of those guys’ offensive careers.

      I’m not sure how much more value you can add to Brooks’ defense. If you added another 20 dWAR to Brooks total WAR, he would just surpass Boggs (89.1 to 89). That would give Brooks’ defense about the same level of career value as the offensive career of Olerud, or Puckett, or Keith Hernandez, or Nettles. I can’t see wanting to swap Nettles’ offense for Brooks’ defense.

      I know (or at least believe) Brooks is a great defensive player, but I can’t see how his defense is underrated enough by WAR to bump him past those other guys who were much better offensive players and not Jim Ray Hart with the glove.

    • A Short History Of Whom Was Considered TG-TB-OAT (The greatest third baseman of all time):

      In the late 60s/early 70s, (and probably well before that), Pie Traynor was considered TG-TB-OAT. The combination of .320 career BA, many 100+ RBI years, and a rep as a great fielder was hard to resist. Some historically-minded people mentioned Jimmy Collins, or maybe Frank Baker. Most surprising is that Eddie Mathews got a perfuntory mention at best, as in “Oh yeah, he was really good too”. I guess 512 HR didn’t impress them much.

      When Brooks Robinson started accumulating impressive career totals by the early/mid-70s, he was gradually acknowledged as TG-TB-OAT, but still mentioned in tandem with Traynor.

      You’d think that by the early 80’s it was impossible to ignore Mike Schmidt, but it wasn’t until near the very end of his career that he was considered TG-TB-OAT. George Brett was considered the #2 TB-OAT. Wade Boggs was acknowledged as excellent, but not in the same time zone as Schmidt/ Brett/ Brooks, mainly because his defense was considered average (at best).

      By the mid-90s,Schmidt/Brett were clearly #1/#2, and Boggs was finally getting his due. Traynor was falling off the radar. Brooks was Top-5. Mathews was getting his due, and more fans were realizing that Ron Santo was criminally underrated.

      Well, that’s my take, others may remember it differently.

      MY LIST – Top Dozen:
      Schmidt – undubitably
      (Alex Rodriguez, if considered a 3Bman)
      Brett (better peak than Mathews)
      Matthews
      Larry Wayne Jones (never truly awesome,but excellent for a long time)

      Brooks (fielding greatness places him high on the list, but not at the top)
      Boggs (defense underrated)
      Frank Baker (great peak)
      Ron Santo
      Stan Hack (with Santo elected, probably the best non-HOF 3Bman now)

      (if A-Rod not eligible): Jimmy Collins – he was Brooks sixty years before Brooks
      Scott Rolen (seems destined to suffer Santo’s HOF fate)

      • While I have a few small quibbles with your rankings (I would put Mathews ahead of Brett & Boggs & perhaps Baker ahead of Robinson) I do think that your analysis of how third basemen were viewed is pretty much spot on. I started following baseball in the early 60’s and there is absolutely no doubt that Eddie Mathews was viewed far less favorably than he should have. I wonder if he just kind of got lumped together with the slow, white plodding slugger image of the 50’s. Mays, Aaron & Robinson were all terrific athletes and Mantle was the chosen one but then there were guys like Jim Lemon, Hank Sauer and Gus Zernial who were seen as one-deminsional mashers. I think that may have been the case here.

        Bill James also wrote about how Pie Traynor was not really viewed in his own day as one of the greatest either. He really didn’t start being viewed that way until sometime during WWII.

          • I think Eddie is also hurt by the fact that he was rarely the best player on his own team with Aaron and/or Spahn ahead of him.

            Aaron hurts him more than Spahn because Schmidt had Carlton, Boggs had Clemens and Jones had the big 3. Brett is helped the most by the fact he was head-and-shoulders the best player on his team throughout his whole 3B peak.

        • Hartvig, thanks.

          I could see Mathews over Brett, but I think Brett had a better peak. At some points in his career (1979-80, 1985), you could make a reasonable argument that Brett was the best player in MLB. I don’t think you could do that for Mathews. Of course Mathews had Musial/ Mantle/ Mays/ Banks/ Aaron/ F.Robinson to contend with.

          A problem comparing say Brooks with Chipper and Brett, is that while Brooks was a “pure” 3Bman, playing almost all of his career there (2870 of 2900), Chipper and Brett played a lot of games at other positions. This makes offensive comparisons harder.

          It would be interesting to see who was actually regarded as the all-time best third basemen in Pie Traynor’s time of the 20s/30s. There’d probably be several players who are almost totally forgotten nowadays, such as Bill Bradley, Ned Williamson, Larry Gardner, and Hennie Groh.

          • Brett led the league in WAR in 1980 while playing only 117 games. That may be the fewest games ever for leading the league in WAR. He was also an absolute monster during the playoffs.

            Mathews on the other hand had 11 straight top 7 finishes in WAR for position players. He never led the league during those 11 years but he did have a second place finish and five third place finishes.

            I’d probably lean towards Mathews…he does have 13.3 more WAR during a shorter career. And a higher percentage of his WAR comes from playing third.

      • Ronnie Santo was a very good player that accomplished great things. I think George Brett is sometimes forgotten in the greatest 3b debate. George did not like to walk much, his last 5 years he really swung away.

    • Don’t forget, it’s been almost twice as hard for Chipper to earn black ink
      as it was for Mathews. The average number of NL teams in Chipper’s career was 15.7; for Mathews, 8.8.

      • Real good point. The Black ink seems to be the one HOF B-ref standard that modern players have trouble reaching, and this explains a lot of it.

    • It’s tough to lead the league in things when you have a few slugging behemoths (McGwire and Sosa), a high average singles hitter (Tony Gwynn), a few guys (Helton, Walker, Galarraga, etc.) playing in one of the most extreme hitter’s parks ever … and a guy like Bonds (and then Pujols) in the league at the same time as you are. Those guys cover a lot of the black ink during Chipper’s career. After looking through some yearly leader lists it’s more than I would have expected.

      I think the lack of black ink is somewhat overrated in times with extreme players (who do one or two things really well) or circumstances (like the addition of Coors Field). Ok, so I think black ink in general is overrated (why do players get 4 points for RBI but only 3 for runs scored, and why 4 points for leading in AVG but zero for leading in OBP?), but hopefully that doesn’t mean people will completely discount the previous statement 😉

      And now I’m going to stop defending Chipper Jones lest some fellow Mets fans find out and make me listen to the first few seconds of Crazy Train nonstop.

      • Right, give me a guy who is good at everything (offensively) for a long time rather than a guy who happens to win a batting title or home run crown by a fluke or through an empty average or all or nothing power.

        Chipper was legit.

        • I agree with everything all 3 of you said. I was just surprised when I looked at his b-ref page. I was just expecting to see more black ink, that’s all.

  8. Certainly belongs in the HOF and probably top 5 all time. This may interest only me, but when I looked at his record I noticed he is currently #40 all time in RBI, yet has only one top 10 listing for the category (a 9th in 2003). For the players currently 30-50, excluding Jones, the median top 10 finishes in RBI is 9 and there are only two players with fewer than 5 top 10’s (Brett with 4 and Baines with 2). Obviously it was easier to finish in the top 10 before expansion, but the 30-50 list includes plenty of contemporaries or near contemporaries (Dawson, Schmidt, McGriff, Bagwell, Kent, Delgado). I don’t know if it means anything, but I found it interesting anyway.

    • With 1,561 RBI and a season high of 111, Chipper is one of 5 guys with 1,400+ RBI but no seasons of 115 or more.

      The others: Ripken (1,695 RBI), Harold Baines (1,621), Fred McGriff (1,550), and Robin Yount (1,406).

    • I think Chipper’s low RBI totals are due to spending most of his career batting third. SABR research shows that the #3 spot hits with runners in scoring position less often than #4 and #5. And that’s probably particularly true in the NL where the #3 spot comes up very soon after the pitcher (post 1st inning).

      http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by

      On top of that, the Braves really didn’t have quality #1 or #2 hitters during Chipper’s prime. They seemed to have new guys in those slots every year and many of them posted low OBP.

      • That, and high walk totals can tend to decrease your RBI. For example, Jim Thome ranks #8 all-time in both HR and walks, but only 26th in RBI (Chipper is 21st all-time in walks).

  9. Chipper definitely belongs in Cooperstown. I think on top of what you’re pointing out, he’ll be a shoe in ’cause his name hasn’t been tainted by steroids in the voters view. I think right now, the voters are dying to induct a few non-roids guys from the ‘steroids era’.

  10. As a Royals fan, I would like to think George is 2nd, but I think fairly it goes Schmidt, Mathews, Brett. And if you throw ARod in there, I think Mathews and Brett move down one. After that Boggs, Baker, Jones and B. Robinson in some order.

    • Could you elaborate why?

      I could see an argument that Chipper falls in a recent class with Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin – that while they are certainly HOFers, they are not high enough up on the all-time lists at their positions to “deserve” the first-ballot honor.

      I see your argument, but disagree. Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin were concensus Top-10 at their position, but Chipper is probably Top-5, Top-6; he’s a notch better than those guys. Are you going to tell me that Chipper Jones is less deserveing of first-ballot honors than:

      Lou Brock
      Kirby Puckett
      Dave Winfield
      Dennis Eckersley
      Paul Molitor

    • I’m sympathetic to the idea that first ballot is somehow perceived as an additional honor, but Chipper (and I’m not a Braves fan, so this isn’t homerism)is clearly one of the best to ever play at his position. He isn’t Babe Ruth, but neither is anyone else. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and if previous generations of writers were foolish enough to make players like DiMaggio wait, that shouldn’t be the standard going forward. There’s no real justification for a no vote. Alomar and Larkin are both good comps, but Chipper is a (small) notch above both, and didn’t carry Alomar’s baggage.

      • I agree with what you wrote, with one correction: that somehow Joe Dimaggio was “snubbed” by not being elected on his first appearance on the HOF ballot.

        This is a common misperception. He retired in 1951, and was elected in 1955; that’s actually _before_ the five-year waiting period (let’s ignore the one vote in 1945, during WWll). The problem was that while the HOF had the five-year waiting period, they didn’t strictly enforce it. Dimaggio also got significant HOF votes in 1953 (44.3%) and 1954 (69.4%). Many other players got votes before the five-year waiting period.

        Read this sentence twice: after 1936, and before 1962, there were NO first ballot HOFers. That’s right, these players were not elected on the first ballot:

        Cy Young
        Tris Speaker
        Rogers Hornsby
        Eddie Collins
        Pete Alexander
        Mel Ott
        Nap Lajoie
        Jimmy Foxx
        Charlie Gehringer
        Paul Waner
        Lefty Grove
        Mickey Cochrane
        Carl Hubbell

        It kind of makes you wonder how useful the phrase “first ballot HOFer” really is, right?

        I think that all of the players that I just listed above are more “deserving” of the HOF, than the five I listed at the bottom of #38.

        • In the early days of HOF voting a large backlog of deserving players developed and writers were anxious to clear it before they voted for more recently retired players. Only so many players could be voted in each year.

          • Yes, and if they had strictly enforced the five-year waiting period, the HOF would’ve had a much more orderly and efficient process of clearing out that backlog, mainly by not spreading the votes around to so many different players.

            It wasn’t a well organized system; at first the writers weren’t really sure who was eligible, and for how long.

          • To piggyback on what Lawrence said, in the early years of voting, there wasn’t a set Hall of Fame ballot. Everyone was eligible. It was an admirable idea in theory, though it made for some voting-related chaos with more than 100 players regularly receiving votes in a year in contrast to the 25-30 players who get at least one vote now.

      • Mike L @42, I am a Braves fan, but share a similar view of Chipper that most do on this thread. He should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, certainly if Alomar and Larkin were. I think a lot of people say “fist ballot HOFer” when they are really meaning “inner circle HOFer”; the latter Chipper Jones certainly is not.

  11. #31/ John A.,

    The early George Costanza (c. 1990-91) was actually modeled after Woody Allen, at least that’s what Jason Alexander has said.

  12. #39/Ed,

    Brett vs. Mathews is like Kaline versus Clemente – they’re so evenly matched in total value that you can make great arguments for either one, depending on what you want to emphasize to make your point.

    Power? walks? batting average? throwing arm? shape of career? durability? They’re different for each player, but do not settle the argument in and of themselves.

  13. Chipper’s reputation has gone from “excellent player” to “all-time great” in part because his career arc has been unusual. His career WAR through age 33 was 75th best since 1901 for career WAR through that age. That was excellent, HOF-level; indeed his WAR through age 33 was exactly the same as HOFer Lou Boudreau’s through the same age. But his WAR for age 34 and after shows him at another level or two up: 14th highest WAR for age 34 and after since 1901 and a decent final year should move him to 13th. Truly one of the greatest later careers ever, and luckily it’s occurred after steroids testing began or no one would believe it was un-aided. His best single season WAR was 7.9, achieved at age 35. That was the 8th highest WAR for a 35 year old in history — the others in the top 9: Ruth, Lajoie, Speaker, Honus Wagner, Bonds, Mays, Aaron and Ted Williams.

    That 7.9 peak year is also a reminder that Chipper never had the one truly transcendant WAR season that you usually see from guys with his career WAR level. Chipper is currrently at 82.7 careeer WAR. Only one other hitter, Frank Thomas (career WAR 75.6), with a career WAR over 75 since 1901 never had a season with a WAR of 8 or more.

    • Good points. I mentioned recently that Roy Halladay may become the first pitcher to reach 80 career WAR with no 8-WAR seasons. Now we find that Chipper is the 2nd modern hitter to reach 80 WAR without an 8-WAR season, joining SS/3B George Davis.

  14. My final list for greatest 3B, after much consternation:

    1. Schmidt
    2. Jones-the triple slash line is just too impressive, and he outWARs Brett.
    3. Mathews-Mathews outWAR’ed Chipper, but Chipper is a more complete player, and I think Chipper’s D is underrated and better than Mathews’.
    4. Brett-Brett’s peak isn’t necessarily way better than Chipper’s. He and Brett both have 8 5+ WAR seasons. Chipper has seven seasons of a 150+ OPS+, Brett only 4.
    5. Boggs
    6. Robinson

    Jones, Mathews, and Brett are very, very close calls to me.

    • I would say yes. If Walker had been healthier, maybe he’d be above Jones. As it is, he’ll have to settle for #1 among the “Larry Robert Kenneth” contingent.

    • To get technical,there’s also Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra and Napoleon “Larry” Lajoie.

      So I’d rate Larry Wayne Jones ahead of Walker and Doby, but (arguably – I know about the WAR) behind Berra, and definitely behind Lajoie.

      Larry Bowa, Larry Parish, and Larry Dierker get honorable mention. If we include non-players,there’s HOFer Larry McPhail.

      • Hmmm…looks like Larry was Lajoie’s middle name so I’m not sure he counts. But there’s also Lawrence Patrick Gillick, another HOFer.

        And how about Larry Yount – Robin’s brother – as the “worst” Larry? Got hurt warming up in his only major league “appearance”.

        • No, actually “Larry” was a nickname for Lajoie; I see no middle name listed.

          I think there are many “Larry’s”, like myself, who would be worse than Larry Yount, since we never came close to playing in MLB.

  15. Mathews is 10 WAR ahead of Jones if one just looks at offense (they’re virtually identical in terms of plate appearances). Even if Jones was underrated in terms of defense, it’s hard to see how he could close that gap. On top of that, Mathew’s played 93% of his games at 3rd vs. “only” 82% for Jones. Based on those factors, I’d have to put Mathews ahead of Jones.

      • Yeah, I’m fine with that, Ed. I thought A LOT about those two. It really hurts that I never saw Mathews play. I just think Chipper stands out more for his accomplishments, for example the triple slash line feat(he’s still going to have to OBP ~ a .360 to maintain that .400 mark). I kind of agree just a little with the feelings at the time of Mathews…that he sort of “blends in” with all the other sluggers of the 50s-60s and doesn’t stand out as much as Chipper does, even with Larry Wayne playing through the steroid era. For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lot of high HR & RBI totals in 1950-70 despite offense slowing down overall by the mid 60s. Perhaps there were just a glut of HOF hitters in that era; that seems to be at least part of it. Chipper did win an MVP, although Mathews did outWAR everyone in the 1953 NL. Unfortunately, when the Dodgers’ catcher puts up similar power numbers in fewer PA, you get Roy Campanella as MVP.

        I’m still torn and may change my mind on this one. I certainly look the Braves homer I claimed I wouldn’t be on this issue, don’t I?

    • My favorite Eddie Mathews factlet: In 1959, he batted in the #2 hole all year. I don’t know what his attitude was towards Fred Haney’s unconventional move, but I’ll tell ya this: he didn’t waste many ABs hitting behind the runner for “productive outs.”

      Mathews in ’59 had what must surely be one of the most productive seasons ever by a #2 hitter, slashing .306/.390/.593 with a 167 OPS+, with 118 Runs and 114 RBI (by a #2 man?!?), and leading the majors with 46 HRs.

      • Other Mathews fun facts:
        In the Harvey Haddix game, after the Braves had their first baserunner (Felix Mantilla) in the bottom of the 13th, Eddie Mathews bunted him to 2nd base (and went on to lead the league in HRs)

        Was the manager of the Atlanta Braves while his former teammate hit HR #715

        Was on the first cover of Sports Illustrated.

  16. Since this will be Chipper’s last season, he will safely finish with a >.500 SLG. But, what would it take to knock him below .300/.400

    Last year he had 512 PAs with 455 ABs, if he posts the exact same year again he will finish at .303/.399/.529

    With 455 ABs he would have to hit .211 to lower his BA to .299, but his OBP would drop to .399 if he posted a .346 OBP or lower.

    I wonder if he would pull a John Kruk and just retire as soon as his average hit .300?

  17. Chipper also has exactly 1561 runs scored and RBIs. He twice posted seasons with 87 runs scored and 86 RBIs, so there is a chance (Better odds than Lloyd Christmas dating Mary Swanson) he finishes with the same in each category.

    Chipper’s slash line definitely benefits from his era, it would be interesting to define the effective “.300/.400/.500” line for each season. Using the neutralized seasons on each player page (4.42 R/G), number of .300/.400/.500 seasons:
    5 Jones (plus a .308/.399/.538 season)
    4 Mathews
    3 Brett
    3 Santo
    2 HR Baker
    1 Schmidt
    1 Boggs
    0 B Robinson

  18. A few years back no one could imagine the elder Jones would end up with more WAR than the other Jones, even knowing Andruw wasn’t going to add another 10 WAR just in defense.

    Young Andruw Rudolph had 58 WAR after his age 29 season. Chipper had about the same but was a half-decade older.

  19. Curious factoid about Jones which has no bearing on his HOF merits. After he led the NL in batting in 2008 with a .364 BA it dropped 100 points to .264 in 2009. That is the largest one-year drop for a NL batting champ. Three ALers have more: Norm Cash (118 points), George Sisler (115 points) and Julio Franco (107 points).

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