Chipper Jones

Offensively, Chipper’s 2003 was basically similar to his 2002. His walks were down slightly, but within his historical range, his strikeouts basically the same, his homers up by one, his doubles down by two. A few singles didn’t fall, so he went from .327 to .305, but that’s about it and is within random variation. Chipper’s problem is that since moving to the outfield he’s gone from a guy who averaged 38 homers a year from 1998-2001 to one who’s hit 26 and 27 the last two seasons. Everything else is basically the same, but ten homers is a lot. He seems to go through prolonged slumps where he isn’t hitting homers. A move back to the third spot in the order seems to be the plan and might help.

Defensively, he was a disaster. In 2002, he eventually battled left field to a draw, playing basically league-average defense most of the year. In 2003, his range factor slipped to 1.48 in a league with a 1.91 RF, even with the addition of Russ Ortiz and a number of other fly ball pitchers, and his errors were up as well. He doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing out there.

If jerking him around (third base, left field, third base, outfield…) weren’t a concern, the best move that the Braves could make would be to shift Chipper back to third and let Marrero and Matthews share left. I don’t think that’s a solution, but I have to bring it up. At least that way the Braves would be bad defensively at only one spot instead of two. And though Chipper was never a good third baseman, he wasn’t as bad as he was in the outfield.

Chipper Jones Statistics –

5 thoughts on “Chipper Jones”

  1. Are you sure? I mean, Chipper’s never going to turn into a good fielder, but if he’s going to be bad, I’d rather have him be bad at a less important defensive position.

  2. My main point is that all the third base candidates have lousy gloves, worse than Chipper’s generally was. If he shifted back to third (which I don’t advocate for the reasons stated) they could get a good left fielder out there. They might even get more offense, though none of these guys is really a good hitter.

  3. FWIW, Mitchel Lichtman’s UZR has Chipper at just one run below average these last couple of years.

    I can’t check the year-to-year breakdown, so you might still have a point about him being worse off.

  4. I’m working off of range factors and the BP defensive metric. The former has him basically average in 2002 and terrible last year; BP thinks he was good in 2002 and bad last year.

  5. The various metrics seem to indicate that Chipper slipped last year after a solid 2002, but — WARNING: Anecdotal evidence alert! — watching 100-plus Braves games a year tells me Chipper just doesn’t look comfortable out there (and hasn’t from the beginning).

    Maybe it’s the prolonged periods of standing around, I don’t know, but he takes bad angles to balls in the gap and routinely over- and under-throws the cut-off man.

    If I was Chipper, I’d hope LaRoche is a flop and time finally catches up with Julio Franco, so Chipper can move to first base by next season.

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