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The Debate: Chip Shot or Long Shot?
Joe Sheehan
August 23, 2010
On Aug. 10 Chipper Jones, 38, tore his left ACL, an injury that ended his season. The Braves third baseman, a six-time All-Star, says he will try to come back next spring. But if he doesn't play another big league game, is he a lock for the Hall of Fame?
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August 23, 2010

The Debate: Chip Shot Or Long Shot?

On Aug. 10 Chipper Jones, 38, tore his left ACL, an injury that ended his season. The Braves third baseman, a six-time All-Star, says he will try to come back next spring. But if he doesn't play another big league game, is he a lock for the Hall of Fame?

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Start Bronzing The Plaque!

Braves fans should be able to start making plans to visit Cooperstown in the first July that Chipper's eligible. Jones was the best third baseman of his era, a fantastic offensive player who hit for average and power, drew plenty of walks and even stole 15 to 20 bases per season at his peak. He won the NL MVP award in 1999 and finished in the top 10 five other times. During an era in which the postseason has become a crucial legacy builder, Jones, in 92 games (a representative sample), batted .288, with a .411 on-base-percentage and a .459 slugging mark, tremendous numbers against top-tier playoff pitching. His career .306 BA, 2,490 hits and 436 home runs would qualify him were he an outfielder; as a third baseman, he's well above the established standard at a position underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. Among switch-hitters, only Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504) have more homers than Chipper. Jones has the stats, the hardware and the memories made. Right, Mets fans?

Not So Fast!

In Hall of Fame voting there is usually one contrary idiot who tries to keep a player from entering on the first ballot. Here's some ammunition for that idiot (and Mets fans).

1) Dearth of batting-category titles. For each player, the website baseball-reference.com has four "Hall of Fame Statistics" tests. One of them is labeled "Black Ink" and is a reflection of how many times a player has led the league in a major category. Chipper has one such title, a batting crown in 2008 (a splendid .364, at age 36). So his score is 4. The average Hall of Famer's is 27.

2) Less than classic Fall Classics. In 69 at bats in three World Series: a .273 average, a single home run and six RBIs.

3) Defensive deficiencies. As a third baseman Chipper's career total zone total fielding runs average (the number of runs a player is worth above or below average based on the number of plays made) is -18. By contrast his contemporary and the active leader at the position, Scott Rolen, boasts a +145.

Satisfied, idiots and Mets fans?

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