Could Chipper turn things around like he did in 2006?
When Chipper Jones directed Luis Perdomo’s fastball into the left-center field gap on Thursday night, it appeared that he was destined to record his third hit in three innings. But Padres center fielder Tony Gwynn robbed the Braves third baseman of this rarity with a diving catch that seemed improbable when the ball left the bat.
“When he caught that ball I was thinking as much as last year was my year, this isn’t my year,” Jones said.
Coming off his first career batting title, Jones entered this season knowing that he likely wouldn’t match the career-best .364 batting average that he compiled last year. But at the same time, he didn’t have much reason to believe that he’d enter August’s final weekend with a .281 batting average.
The last time that Jones’ average sat this low outside the month of April was on June 25, 2006, when he exited that day’s game in Tampa hitting .276. One day later at Yankee Stadium, Jones recorded a three-hit game and found himself beginning a tear that would carry him through the end of last season.
During the 423 games Jones played from June 26, 2006 through the end of the 2008 season, he hit .337 with a .436 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage.
It appeared he was on pace to produce similar numbers when on June 9 of this year, he was hitting .335 with a .442 on-base percentage and a .565 slugging percentage. But during the 64 games that have followed, he has hit just .242 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .381 slugging percentage.
Jones was encouraged by his two-hit performance on Thursday night and said that the swing that produced the liner that Gwynn glove would be one that he’d be taking into this weekend’s series in Philadelphia.
Providing Jones even more reason for encouragement should be the fact that he’s hit .345 with eight homers and a 1.138 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in his last 25 games at Citizens Bank Park.
Hanson’s perfect bid: With a win or no-decision during tonight’s game the birthday boy Tommy Hanson will ensure that he’ll produce perfect records during two of his first three months at the Major League level.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last rookie pitcher to record two perfect months with at least four wins was Houston’s Roy Oswalt in 2001.
Because Hanson was celebrating his 23rd birthday on Friday, we’ll provide him the gift of a mulligan while comparing his success to other Major League pitchers since he debuted. Thus we won’t factor in his June 7 big league debut.
In the 13 starts he’s made dating back to June 12, Hanson has posted a 2.68 ERA, which ranks first among the Braves starters and 12th among all Major League pitchers (min. 50 innings) during this span. One of his primary competitors for NL Rookie of the Year honors, J.A. Happ has posted a 2.47 ERA during this stretch.
Javier Vazquez’s 2.75 ERA ranks 14th in the Majors during this span and Jair Jurrjens’ 2.96 mark ranks 19th.