Chipper Jones, 1B

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Jones tests first base | Braves |

Well, well, well. This should be interesting. Yes, Chipper took some ground balls at first base before the game. When he gets back, according to the Southern Sports Report (as reported in JDB’s post, because I’m at work and Fox gives me hives anyway) he will play there at least until LaRoche comes back. I assume Wise would platoon with Marrero or a recalled Mayor of Richmond in left.

This will help his hamstring heal, theoretically. And defensively, he can’t possibly be worse than Hessman, can he?

8 thoughts on “Chipper Jones, 1B”

  1. This certainly seems to make more sense for the offense than playing Hessman at all. However, chipper at 1B seems to me like something of a waste. At 3B his lateral range was his weakness, while his strength was running in hard and making throws on slow rollers. So at 1B there’s more emphasis on his weakness and none on his strength.

  2. It certainly seems like this will be Chipper’s future. I guess if LaRoche wants to stick here he will really have to tear it up when he gets back. It’s too bad Adam wasn’t around last year; he wouldn’t have been much worse than Fick, and his lack of offense wouldn’t have mattered as much with that lineup.

  3. I don’t agree, Colin. I never had a problem with Chipper’s lateral movement. After all, he was a passable shortstop once. I thought that his main problem was that he didn’t have the reaction time of a true third baseman; he was fine on the slower-hit balls but hard ones ate him up. First basemen don’t have to handle as many sharp hits as third basemen.

    LaRoche will probably wind up in Richmond when healthy is my guess. I think he should probably work on his outfielding. As it stands now, the Braves are likely going to have to have either someone who’s hopeless offensively in left or a Klesko type who will stand around in the general vicinity and hope Andruw can get it.

  4. Mac, with all the left handed bats in the league, there are nearly as many hard hit balls towards 1B as there are to 3B. The difference is a 1B merely needs to knock it down and toss to P rather than make a clean play and throw across the diamond, making the plays, both successful and unsuccessful, less memorable but no less frequent. The other difference is a ball by the 1B is much more likely to be a double than is a similar one to 3B.

    I suspect that you are turning cause and effect around. The Braves since Fred McGriff, have had 1Bs with the collective range of a constipated tortise. To make it worse, all of them seemed to believe in guarding the line on every play. If we had a Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly, J.T. Snow … who played further off the bag and was willing to take a second step to either side before waiving at it, I suspect you’d accurate recognize that sharply hit balls are nearly if not as common at 1B than at 3B.

    On to Jones. I don’t think 1B is likely to keep his hammy healthy. While there isn’t the straight line running, he would need to be quick and do a lot of bending and stretching. While I would like to keep his bat in the game, I don’t see 1B as the solution.

    Also, I agree with Colin and disagree with Mac — I thought his lateral movement was poor to attrocious. Yes, he came up as a SS, but was slated to move to LF as early as 1994. In other words, his range was insufficient to replace Jeff Blauser! And after that, he had major knee reconstruction, something which can’t exactly help his lateral movement.

  5. The proposed move to left field wasn’t because of Chipper’s defense, it was because of team needs. Remember, Blauser had one of his best years with the bat in 1993, hitting .305/.401/.436 and carrying the team early in the year, and his defense wasn’t the problem it would be a few years later. And while TP didn’t have a good year, he wasn’t hopeless and only a year removed from his 1991-92 peak. Most importantly, Gant broke his leg.

    The only year Chipper played much shortstop in the majors was in 1996, and his range factor that year was a little better than league. I always thought he was a better shortstop than third baseman.

    Maybe there are more hard-hit balls at first than I thought, but I can’t imagine more than forty percent of ABs are by lefthanded hitters. Also, first basemen don’t have to come in for bunts except in clear sacrifice situations, though that’s not that big of a deal anymore.

  6. This should just happen. It would be interesting to plot Chipper’s 3B defense play-by-play. He never seemed to make the play to his right all that well. Maybe arm strength, maybe fundamentals. His glove side play always seemed alright to me (but I don’t have any reason for saying that other than my own recollection).

    If Chipper goes to 1B, we are back to having power “at least on one corner.” Given the make-up of this team and the system as a whole right now, I think there are more options to find a solid LF than a solid 1B.

    I do agree that 1B is harder than it looks. I remember in an interview with Hank Aaron after his season at 1B that he really wanted to go back to the OF. A lot of starts and stops, back-ups, and cut-offs. The gist of Hank’s comments was basically, “they moved me here to save my legs but I was got more worn out than when I played the OF.”

  7. As you may recall, I called this when Chipper first pulled his hammy. It’s a no-brainer move, like moving Ripken to third some five years after he could no longer play the position he was in. I appreciate that players think they can still play, and view a move on the Defensive Spectrum as the first step to their death, but Chipper and first are here to stay.

  8. I think people really underestimate the defensive importance of first base. On this team, especially with the erratic middle infielders. A good first baseman really improves the entire defense, a la John Olerud when he was with the Mets. Chipper seems to be a mediocre defensive player whatever position he plays, so I wouldn’t expect him to be anything but an ok first baseman. Having said that, I think there is little choice but to move Chipper to first. They need Chipper’s bat in the lineup and it looks doubtful he can last the year in the outfield. LaRoche added some defense at first and he shows some promise at bat, but obviously, there is a limit to how long you can carry a first baseman hitting .250 with little power.

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