Longtime Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced that his 18th full season in MLB will be his last and he will retire after the 2012 season. He’s had a notable, productive career. How he fares at 40 should not impact his legacy. So, we can look at his career and ask: should he be in the HOF?
At 2,615 hits and 454 home runs, he won’t reach the certainty milestones (3,000 hits, 500 homers). Though, it’s hard to see how lingering on far past his pomp to hit them would enhance his value.
In an 11-year prime, from 1998 to 2008, he hit .316/.417/.566, averaged 30 home runs and was worth 5.6 or 6.0 WAR per season, according to Baseball Reference and FanGraphs respectively. He did this at a skilled defensive position. Looking at the WAR breakdown by season with the more generous Fangraphs:
7+: 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008
6+: 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002
4+: 1997, 2003, 2006
For historical perspective, were he to retire today he would become just the seventh player to finish with a .300/.400/.500 career batting line, joining Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams with 10,000 plate appearances. Cobb was the only other one who played a crucial defensive position.
If you want winning, he went to the postseason 11 times and won a World Series. If you feel sportswriters should think someone was great because sportswriters thought someone was great, he was the 1999 MVP.
Verdict: First Ballot. No Question.
[Photo via Getty]