A simple comparison
All you need to do to know that Chipper Jones is a first-ballot Hall of Famer is compare his career statistics to those of other third basemen enshrined in Cooperstown.
Let's start with traditional stats. His .304 average? In line with George Brett (.305) and George Kell (.306). His .402 on-base percentage? Second to Wade Boggs (.415). His 454 home runs? Only Mike Schmidt (548) and Eddie Mathews (512) have more. His 1,561 RBIs are third to Brett and Schmidt (both 1,595). And Jones stands alone in slugging percentage (.533).
Want to talk advanced stats? Jones' 82.7 wins above replacement trail only Schmidt, Mathews, Boggs and Brett.
Factor in his longevity and the fact that Jones, 39, has never been suspected of PED use, and I don't see any way he's not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
A postseason mainstay
It's hard to see why he wouldn't be. He was the offensive star that powered the Braves during their era of excellence, the big bat for teams that made the playoffs a rite of October through the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. He displayed sustained excellence — not just winning a batting title and an MVP award, but finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting six times. He posted an OPS over 1.000 five times, and his 454 career home runs rank third among switch-hitters, behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. He ranks in the top 40 in home runs, RBIs, walks, extra-base hits and OPS, and he still has one year to add to his numbers.
Book the reservation
The Morning Call
Chipper Jones will retire as one of the greatest switch-hitters of all time, likely getting close to 475 home runs, 1,600-plus RBIs and almost certainly a .300-plus career average. He'll have more home runs than all but two third basemen in history — Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. Neither of them has a .300 career average. Mathews had to wait five years to get into the Hall. Schmidt, who broke most of Mathews' career records for third basemen, went in on his first try.
Jones has all the other credentials — MVP award, batting title, multiple All-Star appearances — to earn a spot on the Cooperstown podium. Plus, he's a "clean" candidate from the steroid era. So, even though some voters assert no one is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Jones can book his reservation for induction weekend 2018.
It might take a few years
Chipper Jones is a great player. He hasn't been a durable player. Because of the injuries that have cost him an average of 40 games over the last eight seasons, he doesn't really have the career totals that will get him 75 percent of the vote his first year on the ballot.
That's a really difficult standard for a hitter to reach without 3,000 hits or 500 home runs. Jones is one of the greatest switch-hitters ever, somehow hitting .304 in his career left-handed and right-handed. His biggest career regret — that 11 trips to the postseason produced only three trips to the World Series and one championship — will work against him. Jones will get my vote the first time on the ballot, but I think he'll need a few years to reach 75 percent.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun