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Chipper Jones might retire next year

Sep 11, 2009, 8:20 AM EDT

Despite having three more seasons on his contract after this one, Chipper Jones may hang it up before then:

“I’m not going to tolerate the numbers I have right now for very
long.  I’m
certainly not going to stick around for a big contract if I’m not
having fun and not producing. I’m not saying I’m retiring at the end of
this year or the end of next year, but if I become an average player,
I’m not sticking around. I’m not going to hamstring the ballclub with the money I’m making, and I’m not going to be happy being a mediocre player. The day I become mediocre on a regular basis, I’m probably going to
ride off into the sunset, because I don’t have fun playing
the game at the level I’m playing at now.”

While it’s possible that this is the standard end-of-disappointing-season venting, it’s worth noting that this is the second time he’s said such a thing in recent weeks. There aren’t a lot of people who would walk away when they are certain to make $14 million a year, but it’s not like Jones is hurting for money and it’s not like he has anything left to prove.

As a guy who has watched Jones’ entire career pretty damn closely, not only do I believe him when he says he could retire after next year, I could totally feature him pulling a Mike Schmidt and retiring in the middle of next season if he feels he’s being a drag on the team. 

  1. Grant - Sep 11, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    Say he puts up roughly the same numbers next year as this year and then quits. Does he make the HoF?

    I’ve always liked the guy, and I hope he would, but he seems to be a borderline case. Black and Gray Ink have him below the “likely” thresholds, while Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards seem to suggest he could do it.

    The man was obviously a fantastic offensive player throughout his career, and even this year he’s been far from even mediocre (119 OPS+). I don’t know what the consensus is on his defense, so I’m going to assume it’s average. His comps on B-R are another group of boderline cases, the only HoFer of whom is Duke Snider, who is a CF. Piazza is another comp, and he was a catcher. Bagwell, a first baseman, will probably get in. Sheffield is iffy.

    I dunno, I say he should get in, and probably will in about year 7 of eligibility. I hope he keeps playing a while, though. He’s still a good player, if a bit brittle.

  2. Michael - Sep 11, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    Chipper may not be having fun, but neither is he a drag on the team. His OBP remains near .400 (it has dipped to .390 recently), which leads the team, and he’s second in runs scored. Injuries are sapping his power, but the more serious problem with the offense is the lack of production from the outfield and first base (especially before we raided the Pirates for McLouth and LaRoche). Why on earth did they take Anderson instead of Abreu or Dunn? Garrett refuses to take walks, which explains why he has scored about 400 fewer runs in his career than Chipper. He gets even more obstinate with the bases loaded and walks about once a year in that situation. Bring on Heyward before Chipper is gone!

  3. Michael - Sep 11, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Chipper will make the Hall and before his 7th year. He’s top-70 in wOBA, will be top-50 in RBIs after next year, and will be top-40 in HRs by the end of this season. He’s top-20 in HRs among those playing the 5 top skill positions (C, SS, 2B, CF, 3B). He’s only the 3rd switch hitter to clear 400 homers (Mantle, Murray, and Chipper) and is tied for the record for consecutive games with an XBH. By the end of the year, he’ll have more wRC than Mike Schmidt, the premier power-hitting 3B of all time. To mention a few things voters care about, he’s also won an MVP, a batting title (at age 36!), and a WS. The dude is in.

  4. Peter Earl - Sep 16, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    Chipper Jones is a sure fire HOF’er and should be a first balloteer. If you put A. Rodriguez back at his natural SS position, what player outshines Jones at 3B in the last 10-15 years? I want to see him come back as a baseball fan, despite the fact that he’s in the same division as my Marlins.

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