If you look for transactions for Chipper Jones during his career, you will find only one line saying he was drafted by Atlanta Braves on June 4, 1990 as No.1 pick in the 1990 amateur draft and unlike most No.1 picks signed the same day.
22 years later we find Jones being ready to embark on his 19th major league season as a Atlanta Brave. He will add another $13 million to the $155 million plus earned as a major league player through the 2011 season.
He has a $7 million vesting option for the 2013 season. He needs to play in 123 games in 2012 to be guaranteed $9 million for the 2013 season, or play an average of 127 games over the 2011-2012 seasons and he played in 126 games in 2011. He needs to play in 128 games this season to satisfy that stipulation in his contract.
Now that we have examined his contract, it is time to examine his playing career. Jones needs 46 home runs to join the 500 home run club. He hit 18 last season, which matched his 2009 output and his 70 RBI were only one less than he drove in during the 2009 season. He only played in 95 games in 2010 so no reason to compare those stats.
3,000 hits is probably out of the question, since he is 385 hits short of the mark. Jones has not hit 30 home runs in a season since 2004 and has only one 100 RBI season since 2007.
Still he should receive serious Hall of Fame consideration whether he hits 500 home runs or posts 3,000 hits or not.
Jones hit well in the clutch during the 2011 season having hit .337 with runners in scoring position. He hit .500 with a runner on third base and less than two out. He didn’t hit quite so well in that situation with two outs, hitting for a .278 average.
An encouraging statistic for Jones was that he batted .303 after the All Star break, after hitting .259 before the break. He also hit 10 home runs in only 183 plate appearances after the break. Jones had only hit eight home runs in 329 appearances before the break. Hitting .359 in August bodes well for Jones, showing that the August heat didn’t slow him down.
His importance to Braves is conveyed in the fact that he hit .313, hit 13 home runs and drove in 51 runs in games the Braves won. On the other hand he hit .224, hit 5 home runs and drove in 19 runs in games lost by the Braves.
He may not have the range he used to have at third base, but only made 6 errors at third base. He tied with Daniel Descalso for second least errors in the majors, but Descalso had 60 fewer chances. Jones also was second in majors in fielding percentage with a .976 mark which was one point behind Luis Polanco. Jones led the NL in errors in 2009 with 22, so he showed he is still improving.
Base stealing is not his main focus but after being caught stealing 10 times in 19 tries in 2001, he has been caught only 10 times in his last 43 attempts.
Jones will be 40 on April 24, but he still has the skills to play major league baseball at a high level. I can see him playing at least two more seasons and possibly three. If he plays a third season he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame, probably achieving his goals of 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Chipper Jones may never hit 30 home runs or drive in 100 runs again, but he is showing that he is not ready to retire anytime soon.