Chipper Jones Nearing the End of Career?
The Atlanta Braves are in third place in the NL East eight games behind the first place Phillies. They still have a chance to win the division but time is running out on them with only 21 games left in the 2009 season.
A key ingredient to their offense in Chipper Jones has hit only .232 since the All Star break. At the time when they need him to produce the most Jones has hit .107 in September with three hits in his last 28 at bats.
He hit .322 in April and March and .312 in May but hit .247 in June and August sandwiching in a .284 month in July.
After he won the batting title last season with a .364 mark he seemed to be ready to have a great 2009 season. Instead he is hitting 97 points lower this season at .267.
If he plays in 14 of the 21 games remaining in the Braves schedule he will have played in the most games since 2003 when he played in 153 games.
Most players would like to have the .389 OBP that Jones has posted this season but when compared to the .470 OBP of last season it is a huge dropoff. His slugging percentage in 2008 was .574 but has fell to .436 this season.
His 1.044 OPS of 2008 has fallen to .824 this season. Jones has hit at least 20 homers every season since his first full season in 1995 but has only 16 this season.
From 1996-2003 he had 100 runs batted in for eight straight seasons. In the last six seasons including 2009 he has had 100 runs batted in only in the 2007 season when drove in 102 runs.
His .925 fielding percentage is the worst of his career in a season at third base. His 27 errors lead all major league third basemen this season. He has made his 27 errors in 268 chances while he committed 13 errors in 312 chances last season for a .958 fielding percentage.
Jones has indicated he is ready to walk away from baseball rather than compile numbers like he has this season. Still he is likely to play at least one more season to make certain this wasn’t just one bad year and that he hopes to have a better season in 2010.
Next season will be the first season in the new three year contract for Jones paying him $13 million each year of a three year contract totaling $42 million when figuring in the $3 million signing bonus.
The Braves have a club option in 2013 of $7 million which could be increased if Jones meets number of games played stipulations.
His chances of reaching the Hall of Fame would be lessened by an early retirement since he has only 2,391 hits. His 424 home runs and 1,438 runs batted in are close to Hall of Fame worthy.
However if he were to play through the 2013 season that would give him four more seasons to add to his totals and insure his being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Surprisingly Jones has been voted onto only six NL All Star teams but did win the 1999 NL MVP award.
Baseball-reference.com lists Duke Snider as the only Hall of Famer who has numbers similar to Jones.
Jones will be 38 next April. Next season could very well be the last season for Jones but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him play another two or three seasons if his numbers are closer to the numbers expected of a possible Hall of Famer.
He has no reason to play financially since he will have earned $130 million at the end of this season. If he plays till the end of the contract assuming he plays the $7 million option season of 2013 he will have earned $176 million.