Monday, May 31, 2010

What’s Chipper going to do?

There was a little bit of Chipper Jones retirement talk this off-season, and his batting average and power numbers have probably not done enough to silence it. Chip is doing a lot of the talking himself, saying he may give it up if he didn’t see some improvement from the end of 2009. He told a radio station in Miami this week that he has 4 kids and a wife, and things like retirement were certainly on his mind.

While he is still a threat in the 3-hole and draws many walks due to pitchers pitching around him, I think the lack of run production is bothering him. I don’t think he feels like he is contributing what he should be and the OBP may not be enough. How low has Chip sunk since the end of last year?

Here are his 2010 numbers heading into the weekend:

.227 AVG – 2 HR – 15 RBI - .387 OBP - .348 SLG

The real drop off from the Chipper we know is the AVG and SLG due to the lack of power. Will he ever get it back? Well, we know now that he has several nagging injuries that aren’t likely to ever go away during his playing days.

If you go back to August 16th of last year, his final 138 at bats of the 2009 season produced the following numbers:

.173 AVG - 3 HR - 18 RBI

That’s an even .200 AVG with 5 HR and 33 RBI in his last 270 at bats, or about half a season. The walks are still there, even last August/September, but the lack of power and run production is astounding. The .348 slugging this season ranks Chipper 146th in all MLB, only 34 spots ahead of the last-place guy, Gordon Beckham (.239). He is also just behind homer-less Nyjer Morgan of the Nationals (.358).

I’m not saying the Braves don’t need him in the lineup anymore. I’m not saying he needs to be moved from the 3-hole. It just looks like from what Chip has been saying since he started to decline at the end of last summer (he was hitting .304-15-54 on August 15th), that this may be it for the 1990 #1 overall pick out of The Bolles School.

However, a big second half and a playoff birth may inspire him to come back in 2011 for a going-away tour. The $13 million he is owed would help make that decision a little easier…

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