Chipper already ranks among the elite of the elite
During a recent airing of MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk”, former Major League reliever Mitch Williams said Chipper Jones will not be a first ballot Hall of Famer if he does not end up with 500 career homers.
Given that Jones would have to play at least two or three more seasons to record the 47 homers that he needs to raise his career total to 500, this is a milestone the 39-year-old third baseman may never reach.
But those who believe Jones needs 500 career homers to gain a first-ballot induction simply do not understand that his body of work (thanks Scott Boras) already puts him in an elite group that is limited to the greatest of the great hitters to ever play the game.
Jones has batted .305 with a .403 on-base percentage and .534 slugging percentage in 2,375 career games. He has totaled 523 doubles, 453 homers and 1,556 RBIs.
This makes Jones one of six players in Major League history to hit .300 with a .400 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, 500 or more doubles, 400 or more homers and 1,500 or more RBIs. The other five are Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Manny Ramirez, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.
Williams and others are entitled to their opinions of what constitutes a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But the fact that Jones fits in this incredible list appears to be proof that he already ranks among the elite of those elite players who have been granted the honor of a first-ballot selection.
Among switch hitters in Major League history, Jones ranks second in batting average and RBIs; third in slugging percentage, doubles and homers; and fourth in on-base percentage. His .936 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) ranks third behind Mickey Mantle (.977) and Lance Berkman (.954).
Among third baseman in Major League history, Jones ranks first in slugging percentage and OPS; third in doubles, homers and RBIs; and fifth in on-base percentage. He needs just 40 more RBIs to pass Mike Schmidt and George Brett and also assume the lead in that category.
Jones is a seven-time All-Star whose career accomplishments include a batting title (2008) and a National League MVP Award (1999). This is his 17th full season with the Braves and within the next couple weeks, he will likely celebrate a 13th postseason berth with the club.
The voters will determine whether Jones is a first ballot Hall of Famer. His credentials indicate that he has surpassed Hank Aaron, Dominique Wilkins and John Smoltz on his way to becoming the most successful professional athlete in Atlanta history.
Speaking of Hall of Fame, former Braves manager Bobby Cox recently revisited Cooperstown with his wife. It was something they planned after going there in July to see his good friend Pat Gillick inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Click here to see some pictures of Cox’s visit. It’s pretty cool to see him holding one of Musial’s old bat. Stan the Man was his favorite player.
Now that the Braves have won a couple games and kept their 4 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings, it’s once again time to debate who manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell will decide to put in their postseason rotation.
Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy are the only locks for the playoff rotation. The other two spots will likely go to Derek Lowe, Mike Minor or Tommy Hanson.
With Hanson, it’s simply a guessing game. While his shoulder has been cooperative lately, time is running out for him to be prepared to make a start in the Division Series. Plus, it was tough to gauge exactly how excited he was after completing his most recent bullpen session Wednesday.
Based on the way he felt yesterday, Hanson might be able to provide some more clarity today. But even if he were to go to Florida early next week to begin throwing in some Instructional League games, it still seems like a long shot for him to be ready for the playoffs.
So it seems like a better bet to see Derek Lowe and Mike Minor in the final two spots of the playoff rotation. Gonzalez said he is not too concerned about the lack of experience Minor, Beachy or any of his other young starters might bring to the postseason.
“You’re not afraid to run them out there,” Gonzalez said. “They seem poised. Sometimes those young guys don’t know any better. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. They don’t even know who some of these (opposing batters) are. They’ve probably seen them on Xbox or PlayStation or something.”
While Beachy and Minor have never pitched in the playoffs, Lowe has thrown the second-most postseason innings (95.1) among all active pitchers. The only current pitcher with more playoff innings is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (139.2).
Lowe will oppose Chris Capuano in tonight’s series opener against the Mets. When Capuano tossed a two-hit shutout on Aug. 26, he seemed to be facing a group of Braves players who were not focused on the game. Some had been forced to return to their Manhattan hotel that afternoon to get their luggage once they found out they would be playing just one game because of Hurricane Irene.
Going to have to guess there will be a little more focus placed on tonight’s matchup against Capuano.