June 19, 2018

Just How Good is Chipper Jones?

July 8, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

As Chipper Jones seems to be heading towards retirement at the end of the 2010 season, it would appear to be a good point at which to ask – Just how good a career has he had?  After all, he has played seventeen seasons for the same team (the Atlanta Braves) and was an All-Star six times.  But did he really post Hall of Fame numbers during his career?

Bill James’ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.  It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.  The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player had.  And a player has to have played at least ten seasons to be considered.

According to the CAWS Gauge, as of the end of the 2009 season, only ninety-seven (97) position players (not pitchers) in the modern era have put together obvious HOF numbers during their playing careers (since 1920).  Only ten of these players have been third basemen.  Of theses ten, Chipper Jones is in 5th place.

Here are the ten third basemen who have put together obvious HOF numbers during their careers (since 1920).  The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS score.  Bold print indicates the player is in the Hall of Fame.  A CAWS score of 270 is needed to establish obvious HOF numbers for a third baseman.

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
1. Mike Schmidt 1972-1989 467 338 370
2. Eddie Mathews
1952-1968 450
3. George Brett 1973-1993 432 296 330
4. Wade Boggs
1982-1999 394 291 317
5. Chipper Jones
1993- 369 271 296
6. Ron Santo 1960-1974 324 275 287
7. Frank Baker
1908-1922 301 280 285
8. Darrell Evans 1969-1989 363 253 281
9. Brooks Robinson
1955-1977 356 247 274
10. Stan Hack 1932-1947 316 256 271

You will note that Mike Schmidt had the best career numbers of any third baseman with Eddie Mathews a fairly close second.  But only six of these ten outstanding players are in the Hall of Fame.  Ron Santo, Darrell Evans and Stan Hack have all been passed over for induction.  Ron Santo is certainly among the top two or three position players who have been passed over but who truly belong in the Hall of Fame.

Perhaps I should add that Alex Rodriguez is presently playing third base and certainly has HOF numbers.  He is not listed here because he has played more games at shortstop and is still considered a shortstop for comparison purposes.

Note that Chipper has a core value of 271.  That means that for his ten best seasons he averaged better than 27 win shares per season.  That is truly outstanding.  To appreciate how good that really is consider that in 2009, only six American Leaguers and seven National Leaguers had 27 or more win shares.  So, we are not talking here about a “borderline Hall of Famer.”  Chipper Jones is the real deal.

In case you are wondering where some other well-known third basemen stand in relation to these top performers, here are a few other names.  Of course, none of these players have Hall of Fame numbers as defined by the CAWS Career Gauge.

Sal Bando 283 251 259
Jimmy Collins 274 242 250
Graig Nettles 321 224 248
Ken Boyer 279 235 246
Scott Rolen
273 234 244
Pie Traynor
274 228 240
Ron Cey 280 222 237
Buddy Bell 301 210 233
Robin Ventura 272 217 231
Ed Yost 267 215 228
George Kell
229 192 201
Fred Lindstrom
193 182 190

Note that on this list there are four third basemen who are in the Hall of Fame but who do not have HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge: Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, George Kell and Fred Lindstrom.

So, Chipper Jones emerges as having the #5 best career among third basemen since 1920.  And there is no question whatsoever about his deserving a spot in the Hall of Fame.  He definitely belongs.

If anyone would like to get a free e-copy of Professor Hoban’s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not,  just drop a note to mike_hoban@msn.com.


3 Responses to “Just How Good is Chipper Jones?”
  1. Al Featherston says:

    Appreciate the comments about Chipper’s Hall of Fame chances.

    One point I’d like to see made is that Chipper has the highest career OPS (.942) of any third baseman in baseball history.

    I realize that OPS is not the be-all and end-all, but it’s a significant accomplishment.

    BTW Chipper has just dropped from second to third in career OPS-plus (he’s always been behind Scmidt at 147 … his last two years have dropped him to 142 … just below Matthews at 143.

  2. I am a life-long baseball fan. At 30 years-old, I have not seen as many players as some, but I would like to think I know a Hall of Famer when I see him, and Chipper is a no-doubter to me.

    With the Braves shown on TBS throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, I became a Braves fan very quickly.

    A month or so ago I was watching a Braves game (cannot remember which broadcast) and the announcers were discussing whether or not Chipper was a first ballot Hall of Famer.

    On a side note – Although I do enjoy stats, I do not claim to be a sabermetrician, nor would I ever want to be (just my style). It would be useful to us non-sabermetricain to include a description of each stat used, or a direct link to a definition of each stat.

    Both announcers came to the conclusion that he was not! I was astonished… Did they just discover Chipper Jones this year? I’m pretty sure Chipper was a HUGE part of 12 out 14 years of the Braves consecutive playoff appearance streak.


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