That is a question I wanted to ask the scribe of the latest internet ramble that got my blood boiling. Just to give you an idea, he entitled it “Chipper Jones: Better than Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter?”
Ok, so someone posing the question didn’t really bother me, but his answer (and certainly) the way he arrived at it did. Once again, let’s go through this from beginning to end as I give Jamie Shoemaker what I like to call The Cowherd Treatment.
Why is Chipper Jones still considered a borderline Hall of Fame player?
He isn’t. You will admit that nobody says that in a minute. Wait for it.
You know what; I’m going to say it now. Just going to get it out of the way. You can leave all the nasty comments you want below, but here it is
Drum roll please.
I thought you were just going to say it. You know…get it out of the way. We’re all waiting for what you’re just going to say. We can’t figure it out for ourselves based on what you entitled this travesty. Please, enough suspense! Tell me, damnit!
Chipper Jones was a better overall hitter than Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. He might have been the better overall player cause defensively; they are all about the same as well.
Wait, what? I waited for that? Seriously? You made me go down to the basement, dust off my drum set from the 7th grade, find the missing drum stick that rolled under the treadmill (which it is obvious I never use) get an empty bucket from the other corner to sit on and then do a friggin drumroll for that huge statement of wrong you just laid on me? You even put it in bold.
First off, he was a very good hitter. No arguments. Depending on your version of overall hitter you at least have an debate on your hands. I’m always up for a debate but…
They are not nearly the same defensive player so you are completely and utterly wrong after you unclicked the bold tab.
Are you still reading? Do you think I’m crazy yet?
Stay with me here, we got a lot of stat crunching to do.
Ok, stats are good. At least he used stats to back his views up. He gets credit there.
Let’s dive in.
First off, let me say that, all three players are Hall of Fame caliber. Cal Ripken is already in the Hall, everyone says that Jeter is a sure HOF, but what about Chipper? It’s been, and increasingly the past few years, a big debate. Is Chipper really a Hall of Fame type player?
And let me tell you why.
That’s why we’re all here. Let’s get this party started.
I’m going to give you a chart. It’s full of stats on Chipper, Derek, and Cal. But I threw in a curve ball. The stats for an average Hall of Famer. Thanks to Baseball Reference.com, you can find anything you want.
I’m always up for a good chart. In fact, I’ll probably utilize a couple to prove you wrong. And also, Baseball Reference is awesome. But either type their website out correctly or turn it into a link so your readers can click it. Its just common courtesy for the lazy internet audience. We even do it and most the people who come to our site (and one or two that write for it) can’t even read.
This is not an article to say that Cal and Derek are not Hall of Famers. They are. I believe it and so does the world. I got to see Cal Ripken at an Orioles game one summer. They drove him around the field in a car as a tribute. I had seats right on the fence line, so it was a moment I’ll never forget. I’ve seen Derek play and I’ve seen Chipper play. No, this story isn’t about them not being Hall of Fame players; this story is about Chipper Jones being a first ballot Hall of Fame player.
Of course they are. You aren’t that big of an idiot. First ballot? That’s kind of a stretch from you claiming people think he is a border line HOFer a minute ago.
The reason I chose Derek and Cal to compare to Chipper is simple. They are all three similar players, baseball personalities, and careers. All three have played for their team, their entire career. Do you know how rare that is? Cal Ripken played 21 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles. Chipper has played 17 seasons for the Atlanta Braves and Jeter has played 16 seasons for the Yankees. Let’s be serious, they are going to finish with their respective teams as well. Given this day and age, I’d be inclined to bet they are the last to do so, that is compete on the same team their entire career. It’s just unheard of. Everybody is out for the big bucks. For those three, it wasn’t about the money. All three could have made larger money on the market. (Chipper even reduced his already guaranteed money in the middle of a contract so that the Braves could use the money to keep a star studded pitcher; ahem, Tim Hudson.) Do you know of anyone else that did that?
That was a stupid way to choose how to compare players. You picked 2 shortstops (one known for his power, and one known for his slap-hitting, ninny, inside-out-singles swing) to compare to a 3rd basemen when you were already at baseball-reference.com and could have just used similarity scores to show he is very closely matched to 4 current hall of famers and most likely as many future members depending on steroid voters:
- Jeff Bagwell (887)
- Vladimir Guerrero (846)
- Eddie Mathews (836) *
- Billy Williams (826) *
- Mike Schmidt (824) *
- Frank Thomas (823)
- Gary Sheffield (822)
- Mickey Mantle (822) *
- Dwight Evans (815)
- Jeff Kent (812)
There, I did it for you. It was really easy actually. Just the good old cut and paste tool.
No, it wasn’t about money. It was about winning, family, and friends. It was about what it should be about. Oh well, shall we carry on? Where was I?
I remember something about “I’m going to give you a chart. It’s full of stats on Chipper, Derek, and Cal.”
That’s your chart?!? That is FULL of stats? Ha, amateur.
The chart above gives you the key stat categories. I was going to spill it all out on paper, but you guys can read charts, right?
I went further and placed a point system with it.
Highest Number – 4
Lowest Number – 1
You get how it works. I did this for every category except seasons. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t change anything.
Totals came out to:
Chipper Jones – 31
Cal Ripken Jr – 23
Derek Jeter – 23
Hall of Fame – 15
Chipper is also the second best switch hitter of all time, statistically speaking. He’s the only switch hitter with over a .300 average. Do you know how hard that is to do for that many seasons?
You put a lot of work into your one chart comparing three different players and a fictional player in 7 categories. I don’t care about the Jeter portion of this argument and I am going to leave him out because this is an Orioles blog. I will go directly after your blasphemy that Larry is better than Cal however. I see your chart, and I raise you 4!
Now, let me explain what I did and why it is better. I compared head to head Cal vs Chipper in career numbers. And yes, per year Chipper is better in a few categories but it seems you only included the ones that make your argument stronger. And while I hate using batting average on its own as a stat, I think that paired with the rest that I used it can be looked at as a plus in Chippers favor. And breaking it down by yearly average, which he did, is fine but there is no reason to discount longevity when considering Hall of Fame status, in fact it should factor in some. Ripken has more career hits, doubles, extra base hits, RBI, and total bases. Yeah, he had a longer career but that is a bonus in his favor, not a minus.
But more importantly I broke things down compared to other players at their position. Do you hold relief pitchers to the same standards as you hold a starter statistically? Of course not, that is ridiculous. So why compare, what was until he came along a defense first position (shortstop), to what has always been an offense first position (third base)?
In my chartapalooza, I compare Ripken’s rank among all shortstops who have played the game and you clearly see he is one of the best offensive players the position has seen. He ranks #1 in shortstops ever in HR, RBI, XBH and is second in 2B and Total Bases. He is also 5th in hits. That is 6 major categories that he ranks top 5 in. Add that he is 8th in walks and that makes 7 where he is top 10. 25th in batting average, also not too shabby. Chipper was a really good offensive third baseman and is top ten in every one of those categories except hits where he ranks 11th, but is only top 5 in 3. But you also have to factor in that Jones did much of this in an era that was much more offensively skewed.
Where you lose your battle, easily, is when you say they are similar defensively. I think we can all agree that Cal was not as good defensively at the hot corner as he was at SS, but even in his parts of 8 seasons at third, he still put up better defensive numbers than Chipper. But again, we should compare them to other shortstops and 3rd baseman. I compared Cal to the guy that many say is the best defensive SS ever, Ozzie Smith. The numbers here are a lot closer than most would think. Fielding percentages are nearly identical, though Ozzie had more chances. The biggest difference where The Wizard of Oz has the obvious leg up is in Runs Above Replacement. This is where some smart people figure out how many net runs defensively the player is worth. Ozzie put up a plus 239 over his career coming out to 15.4 per season. Thats pretty good. Cal put up a plus 176 for his games at short, or 12.3 per year. That is also pretty good. Then I compared Chipper to the best defensive third baseman, Brooks Robinson. Not even close, but most glaring is Chipper’s negative 17 Runs Above Replacement over his career. By the way, in his time at 3rd, Cal was a plus 5 with a superior fielding percentage.
Wins over replacement for both of them is impressive. Cal was in the top 10 in the league in WAR over his career 7 times, including being #1 in 1983, 1984 and 1991. For his career he ranks 38th ever in WAR with a 89.9. Jones ranked in the top 10 four different times, 1998, 1999, 2007 and 2008 and has a career WAR of 80.1 ranking 56th. So there is a big big argument in favor of Mr. Ripken.
There is also the awards comparison. Rookie of the Year? 1-0 in favor of Cal. MVP? 2-1 in favor of Cal. Silver Slugger? 8-2 in favor of Cal. Cal is also one of ten players in the history of the majors to record 3,000 hits and 300 homers in a career. 1 in 10. Ever.
There is one other thing about Cal’s resume that I think I am forgetting. And I’m not even going to mention it. Everyone knows what it is but it isn’t even needed in this fight. I’m letting the stats speak for themselves. If you want to say they are similar hitters, I’ll give you that but you have to admit that compared to others at their positions, Cal set a standard for his by breaking records, easily. And Chipper almost lived up to standards set before him, which is still damn impressive. Defensively I have proven how ridiculous it is to compare the two let alone say “defensively; they are all about the same as well.”
So tell me.
Why is he the Borderline Hall of Famer?
Because they use more things than your little chart to decide worthiness. But thanks for trying.