Scouting Report: Chipper Jones

Latest in a series of weekly scouting reports provided to by the network of former scouts, players, coaches and executives at the Baseline Group. See below for past reports.

Team: Atlanta Braves

Position: Third base

DOB: 4/24/72

Height/Weight: 76/210

Bats/Throws: S/R

• Elite

Categorization Scale

Elite: top player at his position (Alex Rodriguez, George Brett, Mike Schmidt)

Premium: top five at his position (Wade Boggs)

Good: top 10 at his position; occasional All-Star

Average: everyday position player

Key role: part-time or platoon player

Jones has been an elite player for the past decade -- a consistent force in the middle of the Braves' line-up and a Gold Glove caliber defender. He has finished in the top 25 of the National League MVP vote in 11 of his 13 full seasons. Though a strained leg muscle has slowed Jones down recently, he's having the best year of his career.

He ranks ninth in career Adjusted OPS+ (the sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage, adjusted for the batter's era and ballpark, with 100 being average), which puts the future Hall of Famer in good company:

Active Adjusted OPS+ leaders (minimum 3,000 plate appearances)

1. Albert Pujols: 168

2. Frank Thomas: 157

3. Manny Ramirez: 154

4. Lance Berkman: 149

5. Jim Thome: 149

6. Alex Rodriguez: 148

7. Jason Giambi: 147

8. Vladimir Guerrero: 147

9. Chipper Jones: 145

10. Todd Helton: 142

Jones' National League rankings:

• 1st in Batting Average (.420)

• 1st in On-Base Percentage (.506)

• 8th in Runs (44)

• 3rd in Total Bases (149)

• 9th in Home Runs (15)

• 1st in Adjusted OPS+ (212)

There are three reasons for Jones' success this year and on an ongoing basis:

1. Mechanics. Chipper has a good start to his swing, which means he is short to the ball. In other words, he has a more direct path to the contact point. The opposite would be a loop, where the batter gets underneath from the start of his swing and has a more indirect, and usually more inconsistent, path to the ball. Being short to the ball enables Jones to hit the ball to all parts of the field and wait longer before committing to swinging. He thus gets a better read on each pitch.

2. Experience. Chipper's experience helps him in ways that are difficult to measure. He knows the game, knows particular situations and has a good command on the pitchers he faces. That gives him an advantage in individual match-ups.

3. Good fortune. It's a good time to be a major leaguer with the talent of a Chipper Jones because of the poor state of pitching. Most teams struggle to develop and field strong pitching staffs (despite the vast resources available to them), as witnessed by the fact that the following were among a host of mediocre starters who got Opening Day nods this year: Odalis Perez (Washington), Jeremy Guthrie (Baltimore), Gil Meche (Kansas City), Livan Hernandez (Minnesota) and Ian Snell (Pittsburgh).

• Clutch performer

• Power from both sides of the plate (.566 slugging as a lefty and .508 as a righty for his career)

• Plus defender, capable of playing third base, left field and first base

• Great instincts on the bases

• Can hit to all fields, which makes him more difficult to defend

• Large hitting zone, which enables him to take advantage of more mistake pitches

• Injuries have been a problem with Jones since 2003. After playing in 153 games that season, he's tallied 137, 109, 110 and 134 since. He's missed just six games this year, but he's been struggling with a leg strain.

• No longer has great speed and isn't much of a base stealing threat. He had 97 steals in his first six seasons, but has only 39 over the past eight seasons, including this year.

• Defensively he's lost a step from his range.

Chipper has some of the best angles to the ground balls of any third baseman. He's able to move right or left better than moving forward and backward, which is okay since as a third baseman most balls are hit to his left or right. Chipper reads the first hop as well as anyone in the game, and he's able to anticipate based on the start of a hitter's swing.

Jones' career rankings among active players:

• 14th in Games (1,954)

• 9th in Batting Average (.310)

• 9th in On-Base Percentage (.407)

• 11th in Slugging Percentage (.550)

• 13th in Runs (1,340)

• 11th in Home Runs (401)

• 12th in RBIs (1,340)

• 6th in Walks (1,191)

Max Scherzer

Greg Maddux

Lance Berkman

Micah Owings

Josh Hamilton

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