Friday, April 18, 2008

Looking Chipper

Okay, baseball guys, I have a question for you. A baseball-fan buddy of mine stopped by a little while ago and asked me, "Chipper Jones. Possible Hall of Famer?"

My first instinct was to laugh and say, "No, of course not." But I've frequently argued against the notion of basing Hall votes on who "seems like a Hall of Famer." As Michael Lewis' Moneyball makes clear, statistics are always a far better measurement of greateness than the subjective standard of "seems."

So I looked up the numbers. And I have to admit being surprised. Jones is in his 15th season. Among his lifetime numbers:

.308 average
.404 on-base percentage
390 home runs (including six seasons of 30 or more)
1313 lifetime RBIs (including nine seasons of 100 or more, and another of 96)
428 doubles
1157 walks (I know nobody goes to the Hall on walks, but his BB numbers are huge)

If the voting were today, no, Chipper Jones would not be a plausible Hall of Famer (though a very good player). But it seems to me that if he put in four more solid seasons--say .300, 85 RBI's, 25 HR's, he'd have the kind of career numbers that would make him a plausible candidate. In most of the 2000's he was overshadowed at third base by Scott Rolen, who made numerous All Star games because Cardinals fans are better than Braves fans. That's part of why he doesn't "seem" like a Hall of Famer. But if he had four more fairly typical years at his current pace (which is very possible, since he hit .337 last year at the age of 35) , he'd finish with about 500 homers, nearly 1700 RBI's (which would put him ahead of RBI machines like Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt, Andre Dawson, and Ernie Banks) and a lifetime .300 average.

If all that happens, I think he's got a shot. What do you think?

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