Just How Good is Chipper Jones?
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 â€“ Just how good a career has he had?Â After all, he has played seventeen seasons for the same team (the Atlanta Braves) and was an All-Star six times.Â But did he really post Hall of Fame numbers during his career?
Bill Jamesâ€™ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.Â It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.Â The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player had.Â 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).Â Only ten of these players have been third basemen.Â 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).Â 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.Â Bold print indicates the player is in the Hall of Fame.Â A CAWS score of 270 is needed to establish obvious HOF numbers for a third baseman.
You will note that Mike Schmidt had the best career numbers of any third baseman with Eddie Mathews a fairly close second.Â But only six of these ten outstanding players are in the Hall of Fame.Â Ron Santo, Darrell Evans and Stan Hack have all been passed over for induction.Â 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.Â 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.Â That means that for his ten best seasons he averaged better than 27 win shares per season.Â That is truly outstanding.Â 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.Â So, we are not talking here about a â€œborderline Hall of Famer.â€Â 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.Â Of course, none of these players have Hall of Fame numbers as defined by the CAWS Career Gauge.
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.Â And there is no question whatsoever about his deserving a spot in the Hall of Fame.Â He definitely belongs.
If anyone would like to get a free e-copy of Professor Hobanâ€™s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not,Â just drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.