Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chipper Knocks Cover Off of the Ball

This is easily the coolest thing I've read all day.
Jones was taking batting practice at Turner Field on Tuesday morning when he caught one just right and literally knocked the cover off the ball. Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a picture of the ruined baseball while Jones did a little a bit of crowing after his big connection.
"That's what you've got to look forward to this year," he said.
As cool as it is that Chipper pulled off a Roy Hobbs, I seriously doubt that's what we "have to look forward to this year."  Historically, a player's age-39 season has not been particularly kind.  Of the ten qualifying players (at least 502 plate appearances), only seven have finished seven have finished the season above the replacement level.  Here's the list (as measured using Rally WAR):
  1. Gary Gaetti (1998) - 2.7
  2. Graig Nettles (1984) - 2.6
  3. Lave Cross (1905) - 2.2
  4. Wade Boggs (1999) - 1.9
  5. Cal Ripken Jr. (2000) - 1.3
  6. Jimmy Dykes (1936) - 1.1
  7. Jimmy Austin (1919) - 0.3
  8. Bert Campaneris (1981) - <0.1>
  9. Mike Schmidt (1989) - <0.5>
  10. Brooks Robinson (1976) - <1976>
While there are several Hall of Famers on the list, it's not exactly awe inspiring.  Still, it's important to note that Chipper's performance baseline is much higher than every other player on the list.  Assuming that baseline holds steady, it's not crazy to say that he could be a 3.0-3.5 win player in 2011.  Still, that's kind of a big "if".  Chipper is coming off of his second major knee injury (to the same knee), and it remains to be seen whether or not he'll retain his lateral mobility on defense.  If he does, that projection is obtainable.  If not, all bets are off.

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