Chipper Jones To Retire After 2012

After more than 17 years as a fixture in Atlanta Braves baseball, Chipper Jones has announced that he will retire as a player after the 2012 season. His $7 million club option for next year would have vested at $9 million with 123 games played this summer, but apparently enough is enough.

Jones, 40 next month, has been ravaged by (mostly) knee injuries that have limited him to fewer than 135 games in six of the last seven years. He hasn’t stopped hitting despite the physical problems though, producing a .345 wOBA and a 119 wRC+ in 512 plate appearances just last season. Chipper’s last otherworldly year was 2008, when he hit a monster .364/.470/.574 with 22 homers in 534 plate appearances, good enough for a .446 wOBA, a 175 wRC+, and 7.5 WAR. Somehow he only finished 12th in the MVP voting.

A career .304/.402/.533 hitter, Jones is almost certain to retire as just the seventh player in baseball history with a .300/.400/.500+ batting line (min. 10,000 PA). Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams are the others. He also figures to retire with more career walks (1,455) than strikeouts (1,358). Chipper went to seven All-Star Games, won one MVP (1999, but probably deserved another one or two somewhere along the line), and was an offensive force when the Braves won the 1995 World Series. He’s the only switch-hitter in baseball history with a .300 lifetime average and 300+ homers. With 87.5 career wins above replacement to his credit, he’s been the 35th most valuable position player in baseball history. He’s a slam dunk, first-ballot Hall of Famer. No doubt about it.

While Hank Aaron is clearly the best player in franchise history, Jones is the greatest player the team has had since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. He’s second to Aaron in basically every significant offensive category in the team’s history, including SLG (.533), OPS (.935), hits (2,615), doubles (526), RBI (561), runs scored (1,561), and total bases (4,579). His 454 career homers are third most in team history behind Aaron and Eddie Mathews. The first overall pick in the 1990 amateur draft and four times a top-four player on Baseball America’s annual Top 100 Prospects List, Jones is also in the conversation for the best top pick in draft history (along with Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.).

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but Jones has finally decided to end his historically great career. He was able to do so on his own terms, which is not something many players get to do. Even great ones. He’ll also retire having never playing for a team other than the Braves, and it’s very rare to see great players stay with one team for their entire career during the age of free agency. The Braves are losing a great player and an icon, but the fans will be able to give Chipper a proper send-off later this season now that he’s has announced his decision.



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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.



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dbake005
Member
dbake005

One of the best of all time, and one of the biggest folk-hero types in the south. Every kid in the south, at some point, probably wanted to be Chipper Jones. And when you think about it, who the hell can blame them?

JimNYC
Guest
JimNYC

It was only three or four years ago that I started hearing about him as a truly “great” player… yeah, he won an MVP for the Braves, but so did Terry Pendleton. I never thought of him as as big a part of those great Braves teams as David Justice, Fred McGriff, or Ryan Klesko.

In retrospect, his career numbers are mighty impressive, but while he was playing, he was like a less-well-known version of Brian Giles — putting up outstanding numbers without anybody really noticing.

It’ll be interesting to see whether his numbers can trump his anonymity when HOF ballot comes up.

cream
Guest
cream

As the article says, he’s a slam-dunk 1st ballot guy. While he was never flashy or attracted attention like an A-rod, he’s not cloaked in anonymity.

I’m not sure where you were, but Chipper’s always gotten his due in the Southeast.

steven
Guest
steven

He no doubt deserves to be a first ballot hall of famer, but if he hadn’t won that MVP? I don’t know that he would be.

TK
Guest
TK

“less-well-known version of Brian Giles”

I’m not going to feed the troll.

JimNYC
Guest
JimNYC

TK: I’ll admit; I’ve seen Chipper Jones play a grand total of twice in my life (in the ’96 WS and again in the ’99 WS). I’m exclusively an American League fan, so the goings on over in the senior circuit tend to not get picked up by me, and my exposure to National League players tends to be entirely based on writings in the national media.

Sosa and McGwire and Bonds got a lot of play in the national media. There was a time when there were two different “Brian Giles is underrated” stories every week. Everybody talked about Pujols. But I can’t remember a single story about Chipper Jones in the New York Times or ESPN.com until about five years ago. The guy was completely invisible.

Again, this is coming from a guy who’s strictly an American League fan. I’ve watched or listened on the radio to at least 70% of the games played by the Yankees since the late ’80’s; I haven’t seen a single non-World Series National League game on television since 1988 (I was a huge Nolan Ryan fan and tried to catch his starts; after he moved to the Rangers I never saw another National League game again). So my perspective might be a little different from others.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I assume that “JimNYC” is a Yankees fan, because any Mets fan would have been extremely aware of Chipper for the past two decades. A “less well known version of Brian Giles”… laughably bad.

argh
Guest

Chipper was absolutely one of the most popular people in the league in the late 90’s and early 2000’s (and was a year in/year out allstar) until the roided up players starting taking over the league. His resurgence really started again after 2006. He was pretty invisible in the mid 2000’s before that.

Steven
Guest
Steven

Quick search of NYTimes archive. From 1990 to 2007, he appeared in 840. It looks like about 600 of those are in articles that aren’t just league roundup recap.

bstar
Guest
bstar

Wow, JimNYC, just wow. Do you really live in that much of a totally-enveloped Yankees bubble for everything that Chipper Jones has done to the Mets to somehow escape your vision? He named his son Shea due to his prowess at that particular ballpark, for God’s sake.

John Thacker
Guest
John Thacker

“But I can’t remember a single story about Chipper Jones in the New York Times or ESPN.com until about five years ago. The guy was completely invisible.”

If this were true (and it’s not) then this would be the greatest case for NYT and ESPN having regional Northeastern bias, and bias against the South, in the context of sports.

Saul Steinberg’s New Yorker cover come to life.

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