Why Chipper is the greatest Atlanta Brave of All-Time

Photo courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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The first overall pick by the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft, Chipper would spend his entire career with the Atlanta ball club. Chipper was drafted as a shortstop, after pitcher Todd Van Poppel explicitly said that he would not sign with the Braves….DODGED THAT BULLET.

The career-long Brave (19 years) would go on to be 1999 National League MVP, the 2008 batting champion, a two-time Silver Slugger, an eight-time All-Star (1996-1998, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2011, & 2012), a World Series Champion in 1995, and have his No. 10 retired by the ball club; and last but not least, be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame.

Rookie Season

In his rookie season, Chipper led all MLB rookies in: games played (145), RBI’s (86), games started (123), plate appearances (602), at-bats (524), and runs (87). He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind the Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo. His rookie season culminated in the Braves most recent World Series Championship, which they won in six games over the Cleveland Indians.

Photo courtesy of Cooperstown Cred

Hall of Fame Career

Chipper recorded the final hit in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium as well as the first hit in Turner Field’s short time as the Braves home stadium.

In 1999, Jones became the first ever hitter to finish the season with a batting average over .300 (.319) while also hitting 40+ homeruns (45), doubles (41), and walking more than 100 times (126). He also had over 100 RBI’s (110) & runs scored (116), and stole 25 bases. He wasn’t selected to the NL All-Star team, BUT he was selected as the National League’s Most Valuable Player.

Prior to the 2002 season, Chipper showed just how great of a teammate he is/was when he announced that he was willing to change his primary position from 3rd base to left field, just to make room for newcomer Vinny Castilla. Jones would return to third base in 2004. His blatant willingness to do what was best for the team was on full display again following the 2005 season when he restructured his contract to free up money so that Atlanta could go after elite free agents.

On July 15th, 2006, Chipper passed Hank Aaron on the Braves’ all-time hits list when he recorded his 1,092nd career hit. Not stopping there, the next day he extended his extra-base hit streak to 14 games, which matched the Major League record set in 1927 by Pittsburgh’s Paul Waner.

In 2007 against the Dodgers, Chipper passed all-time great Dale Murphy for first all-time on the Braves homerun list when he hit his 371st & 372nd homerun; the homeruns were hit from both sides of the plate. Chipper would finish the season as the leader in OPS with a 1.029.

In 2008, he hit his 400th career homerun off Ricky Nolasco of the Florida Marlins. That season he also received the most votes of any NL 3rd baseman by fans, managers, & players to start at for the All-Star game. That season at age 36, he became the oldest switch-hitter to win a batting title. He hit .364, which was one point off of the all-time mark of .365 set by Mickey Mantle.

On April 8, 2011, Jones notched his 2,500th base hit in the Braves’ home opener versus the Philadelphia Phillies. Former manager Bobby Cox was in attendance.

Photo courtesy of Cooperstown Cred

2012: His Final Season

In March, the Braves publicly announced that 2012 would be Chipper’s last season in Major League Baseball. In his first game after being activated from the DL, Jones hit a two-run homerun to help the Braves beat the Houston Astros for their first win of the season.

In the clubhouse before the 2012 All-Star game, Chipper delivered a now famous speech stating that he would not be losing his final all-star game. The National League team won 8-0, keeping his promise.

Later that season, he became Major League Baseball’s first switch-hitter with a career that included at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 walks, 1,500 runs, & 1,500 RBI’s.

His career ended in heartbreaking fashion when the Braves lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in what’s now known as the “infield fly rule” game.

Photo courtesy of Baseball Hall of Fame

Post-Playing Days

Unlike other Hall of Fame players like Brett Favre, Chipper continues to be a sounding board for current players & a voice for players & fans alike. He even rescues players when they’re stranded in the snow (looking at you Freddie).

In January of 2018, Chipper Jones was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, & Trevor Hoffman. He’s the second 1st-overall draft pick to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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