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.

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