Is it better to be lucky or good? Annual injuries aside, Chipper Jones was both of these things in 2008 as he batted over .400 for the first two-and-a-half months of the season. How was he lucky? He was second in the majors with a .388 BABIP, which was 65 points higher than his career average. How was he good? His 17.0 percent BB% was the highest mark of his career since 1999 while his 13.9 percent K% was his lowest since 2000.
Ahh, but those injuries. Last year he missed time due to the following ailments: back spasms, quadriceps, eye, left hamstring, stomach virus, allergies, knee, back and shoulder. It was the fourth time in five years that Jones failed to reach 500 at-bats in a season.
Injuries and age have robbed him of his speed and some of his power. No longer is Jones a threat to steal 20 bases or hit 35 home runs. But three of his top five seasons for AVG have come since 2006, including last year’s monster .364 season. This combination makes Jones one of the tougher players to properly value in a fantasy draft.
In 2006, Jones was the 43rd-best fantasy hitter, according to the RotoTimes Player Rater. In 2007 he was the 15th best. Yet due to injury concerns, Jones had an ADP in the mid-60s last year, meaning he was a sixth-round pick in a standard 12-team mixed league.
Both the Bill James and the Marcel projection for Jones show similar results. They both expect him to match last year’s production in HR, RBI and R but suffer a 45-50 point drop in AVG. Those two forecast systems are projecting Jones to be roughly the fantasy player he was in 2006.
So, if Jones was a sixth-round pick one year after delivering second-round production, where will he fall after a season in which he delivered fourth-round value? It’s hard to imagine Jones being drafted earlier in 2009 than he was in 2008 in competitive leagues. If it is the eighth round and Jones is still available, you have to consider pulling the trigger. Just make sure to draft a competent backup on the late rounds because you know you will be playing him more than most reserves.