Is Chipper Jones a Hall of Famer? Need you even ask?

More than just the people's choice, he'll be Cooperstown's, too. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

More than just the people's choice, he'll be Cooperstown's, too. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

He helped win a World Series as a rookie, and not just as a ride-along — as a starting third baseman who drove in seven runs in his first seven postseason games. He carried a team that was minus Javy Lopez and Andres Galarraga to a division title four years later and was named National League MVP for his heavy lifting. He hit .364 and won a batting title when he was 36.

Yeah, Chipper Jones is a Hall of Famer.

And not just a get-in-on-his-eighth-year-of-eligibility Hall of Famer — a first-ballot lead-pipe cinch.

Steve Phillips, who used to be the Mets’ general manager and used to work for ESPN, said it best a while back: “Chipper Jones is the Derek Jeter of the National League.” It took our man Larry 12 full big-league seasons to play for a team that finished somewhere other than in first place, and a massive reason those Braves kept finishing first was No. 10.

The run of excellence was based on starting pitching, which meant different guys taking a turn every five days, but the everyday constant was Chipper. He was the best hitter, the lineup linchpin. He had to deliver for this team to keep finishing first, and he darn well did, week upon week, summer after blissful summer.

He hit .309 with 110 RBIs at age 24, .327 with 100 RBIs at age 30, .337 with 102 RBIs at age 35. For as much as Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux and John Smoltz meant to the Braves, Chipper meant more. One great pitcher could have a lesser season and the Braves could still win big; if No. 10 tweaked an oblique, the entire club felt it.

If he wasn’t quite the best everyday player in the sport (and there were years when he was close), he was surely the most important everyday player on the most important National League club. Other hitters came and went — David Justice and Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Mark Teixeira, Jeff Francoeur and now Jason Heyward — but none anchored the batting order as resolutely as Chipper.

In the 44 years since the franchise moved South, only one everyday Brave has been better, and the new ballpark sits on a street named for him. Only Hank Aaron can be said to have done so much so well for so long as a baseball player in this city. Dale Murphy was great at his peak, but Murph’s peak lasted six seasons. Chipper’s endured into a second decade.

As is the case with consistent excellence, we got a little bored and started picking nits. Chipper got hurt too much and smiled too seldom and didn’t always play hard. (That last complaint was a sick joke — Chipper Jones always played hard.) Soon we’ll get the chance to watch someone else play third base and bat third in the order, and only in his absence will it hit us.

The guy we’ve been watching all those years was one of the best ever to play the game, and we have been ennobled to see him work. Whenever Chipper Jones chooses to walk away, Cooperstown awaits him five years hence.

176 comments Add your comment

PTC DAWG

June 15th, 2010
1:23 pm

He’s in..no doubt.

meh

June 15th, 2010
1:23 pm

you dag gum right he’s a hall of famer!

Tech Sucks

June 15th, 2010
1:24 pm

Without a doubt, 1st ballot. One of the best 3rd Basemen to ever play the game.

GTWreck

June 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

gt

June 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

Dale Murphy how do you keep him out and on the first round you let Chipper in. They both belong.

AKT163

June 15th, 2010
1:30 pm

Great article Mark, and you’re absolutely right. Chipper Jones is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Know matter how much people want to complain about the amount of injuries he endures or his lack of production, for many years he was the Braves go to guy. Not only will he make it to Cooperstown, but I know we’ll see his number hanging around Turner Field with the other great Braves the organization has seen over the years.

matt

June 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

2nd best switch hitter of all time!

Hankie Aron

June 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

Note to all Chipper Haters—Please read MB’s article 2 or 3 times before you make another disparaging comment about him and remember the reason you make those comments is because he was so great and consistent for so long you don’t know how to handle his mortality. …Thanks Mark

Mike S

June 15th, 2010
1:34 pm

First ballot dead cinch lock..

and what a class the class of 2015 may turn out to be – Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Tom Glavine, Possibly John Smoltz if he announces at the end of this year.

F-105 Thunderchief

June 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

Hold on with the retirement talk there, Tex … he’s done a 180 already. Hopefully, he won’t be hitting that anytime soon.

Jt

June 15th, 2010
1:36 pm

You damn right!! Well said!

I Agree...

June 15th, 2010
1:36 pm

I just hope he doesn’t pull something steping to the podium. Who do you think he will select to introduce him and his induction ceremony? Hank Aaron, one of the big three (Smoltz, Glavine, or Maddux), or a lottery winning Mets fan?

P Rose

June 15th, 2010
1:37 pm

One “stat” you failed to mention – one that won’t show up on a scorecard – the man OWNED the New York Mets.

Chipper HOF

June 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

It’s about time someone paid Chipper the sort of tribute he absolutely deserves and has deserved since the day he first donned a Braves uni. This guy is the classic TEAM player. MVP, Batting Title, Hot Corner stalwart, RBI man… what else can you ask of a career. I’m 60 years old and been a baseball fan all my life and I’ve only seen one guy in my lifetime who I thought was a better All-around Third sacker and that is Mike Schmidt. Chipper, as long as you remain a Brave, I’ll remain your fan!

Tami

June 15th, 2010
1:40 pm

As if this very THOUGHT of Chipper retiring hasn’t made me a tad bit emotional as it is (sorry, guys…guess it’s the woman in me), now I’m almost crying. Don’t worry. I’ll get over the emotion. But, it’ll be a long while before we in Braves’ Country will get over Chipper’s eventual retirement — if ever.

I Agree...

June 15th, 2010
1:40 pm

Mike S — Don’t forget about Bobby! He’ll go in also as a manager. Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Tom Glavin, John Smoltz…all in the same class?? Is it possible and would be unprecedented. I really should not have use that word…it is used way too much already!

UGA Sucks

June 15th, 2010
1:41 pm

He’s definitely a hall of famer. Let’s just hope he gives the hall a chance to take him five years from the end of this season.

nola braves fan

June 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

Well done Bradley. As usual you are able to pen (err type) what true ATL sports fans are feeling. Chipper is my generations HanK Aaron and I was lucky enough to watch him play for my hometown team his entire career.

Whether its this year or next or next, thanks for everything #10.

Tami

June 15th, 2010
1:46 pm

@ I Agree….Tommy retired last year. If he gets in the HOF on the 1st ballot, it’ll be the year before (2014) the rest on your list qualify. Smoltz still hasn’t “officially” retired, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, it makes me chuckle since he’s gainfully employed as a MLB & TBS announcer. I do recall one game he was calling a few weeks back that sort of confirmed for me that he hasn’t officially retired. If he’d go ahead and just make it official now, then he’ll qualify to be a part of the 2015 HOF class as well.

Swhite1115

June 15th, 2010
1:49 pm

Let’s just hope that when that class of 2015 hits the sportswriters don’t all decide that letting that many people in at the same time would be wrong. I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. And, yes, Chipper is a dead lock for the HOF. Those same sportswriters should actually take a second or third look at Murph. He deserves to be there.

Tami

June 15th, 2010
1:50 pm

Tami

June 15th, 2010
1:51 pm

Good news about Chris Resop!

MitchC

June 15th, 2010
1:51 pm

Mark, absolutely he’s a Hall of Famer. 300 plus average, over 400 homers. World Champ, MVP. What else must one say?

I’ll be sad when he retires. He is one of the best players the Braves have ever had.

Mitch

David Granger

June 15th, 2010
1:55 pm

I think you’ve about got it pegged, Mark. Haven’t always liked Chipper, but he’s definitely a HOF’er, no doubt.
Third Base has been a pretty strong position for the Braves through the years, even going back through the Boston/Milwaukee days…and Chipper’s only serious competition for being the best of the lot is Eddie Mathews.

Reid Adair

June 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

You’re 100 percent correct on this one, Mark. Chipper Jones is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Jim Ragan

June 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

Mark, the one great play that sticks in my mind, even to this day, was back during the 1995 Division Series with Colorado at Coors Field. With a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth, with two Rockies on base, Chipper made a spectacular stab of a line drive that was heading down the line near 3rd base, threw out the runner, and kept the score tied heading into the ninth. The Braves then went on to win Game 1 5-4, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Yes, I will definitely look forward to his enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Jim Ragan

June 15th, 2010
1:58 pm

To SWhite115: I agree with you also-Murph deserves his place in Cooperstown also!

I Agree...

June 15th, 2010
1:59 pm

@Tami…sorry about the mix up on Glav. I had read the post by Mike S and just expanded from there. Which I guess is what blogs are supposed to be. Sorry for the error. I like Smoltz, but I still think he should go ahead and announce his retirement.

Dawglasville

June 15th, 2010
2:04 pm

The only gripe I ever had with Chippers was all of the errors at third before he went to the outfield. He was a team guy to go to left. When he came back to third it seems like the glove was muched better. Living 45 years in Atlanta it is hard to believe that so many Braves will be in the Hall soon. It will happen.

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Navigator

June 15th, 2010
2:07 pm

Why do people think he’s in, average to questionable defense at third. He did hit over 400 home runs, but never showed up in the post season, and had one MVP season. Dale Murphy (who’s career was cut short to injuries) hit 398 home runs, was a great defensive center fielder, and was a two time MVP. He’s not even considered for the Hall. Again, make a case for his career against all the other players that had similar stats.

FromtheBARstool

June 15th, 2010
2:14 pm

Of course he is a 1st vote HoFer. Did you see all the Hooter’s chicks her Scored on/with?

Joey

June 15th, 2010
2:15 pm

Mark, you’re the first to ask that question . . .

Ryder

June 15th, 2010
2:21 pm

Navigator, if it was all about stats, then wouldn’t Fred McGriff be a HOF? The whole “500 HRs or 300 wins” argument no longer holds water. If stats mattered, no way Ozzie Smith would even come close to the HOF.

Dale Murphy may have had two MVPs, but he was never a winner. Chipper Jones has been consistent his entire career and throughout that time Atlanta has been either in the postseason or competing for playoff contention.

MattyB

June 15th, 2010
2:24 pm

MB,
Couldn’t agree with you more!
MB

FromtheBARstool

June 15th, 2010
2:28 pm

Until Pete Rose is in the HoF for being the best baseball player then You can put Mark B in for all I care.

Cleveland

June 15th, 2010
2:30 pm

I can’t believe all of the Larry Jones homer fans. How about the fact that he doesn’t have 3000 hits or 500 home runs? How can all of you guys think that because the powers to be made him the face of the franchise it is an automatic qualifier for the Hall of Fame? Outside of Atlanta he is not that bid of a deal.

In the early years of his career he was carried by lots of people from the pitching staff, to David Justice to Andres Galarraga to Fred McGriff. When it was time for him to carry people like Andrew Jones and others he spent as much time hurt as he did in the lineup. This article is truly the writings of a person who grew up watching the Braves and is a Larry Jones fan not the writings of a true journalist.

stevie zero

June 15th, 2010
2:34 pm

navigator. someone should slap you with your own idiocy. career stats and accolades are enough. not to mention ranks among switch hitters. and murph’s considered every year. his avg wasnt there, i guess. go back to sleep

GIVE ME A BREAK

June 15th, 2010
2:34 pm

Too much attention.

stevie zero

June 15th, 2010
2:36 pm

cleveland. see above

stevie zero

June 15th, 2010
2:37 pm

how many hall of famers dont have 500 homers or 3000 hits? plenty. how did you people get computers?

phil

June 15th, 2010
2:40 pm

Well said MB. It seems like yesterday he was breaking in. Chipper represents what being a Brave is all about, professional, even keeled, steady (and for him at a high level). We’ll miss him when it is over. There are only two Braves I have to see hit when the game is on – J Hey and Chipper. Let’s hope we get at least ont more year.

Bill

June 15th, 2010
2:42 pm

Damn great player and will be missed. We all get old but why so fast?

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 15th, 2010
2:48 pm

Dale Murphy may have had two MVPs, but he was never a winner.

Murphy seldom had quality talent playing with him. There are several Hall of Famers who didn’t play on winners (Ernie Banks comes to mind). The HOF is about individuals, not teams. Murphy’s numbers are borderline but I’d put him in because he often didn’t have a good supporting cast and he got his numbers without chemicals and before the trend to bandbox ballparks. He was a true 5 tool player.

Of course Chipper will go in. That’s not even anything to argue about.

Roy Hobbs

June 15th, 2010
2:49 pm

Great blog. Thank you for your kind words for Chipper, and the reminder of how great it is to watch our baseball Hero’s go to work each day.

And how painful it is to watch them grow old before our eyes.

Ted Striker

June 15th, 2010
2:50 pm

When Jones is gone — the last strike era player — I’ll start caring about the Braves again.
Yeah, yeah, Jones had a torn ACL in ‘94-95 but the bottom line is had he not been injured, he’d have been on strike.

And I got nothing — zero, zilch, nada, nothing — for those baseball guys who were bigger than the game that year. And that’s every single one of them.

spider

June 15th, 2010
3:01 pm

chipper has been a very good players, but a hall of famer???

James Stephenson

June 15th, 2010
3:01 pm

And to think, we all Van Poppel a huge thanks for making Chipper our draft pick that year.

HOF?

June 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

Does not have 3000 hits, Does not have 500 HR’s, Does not have a gold glove, Has one batting title. He might be a HOF not a lock for sure.

E

June 15th, 2010
3:08 pm

Hellllllllllllllllllllllllllllll No Not a Hall of Famer!