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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Grantland: Keri: Chipper’s Brave Look at Baseball Mortality

Oof…don’t have time to read this as another geetar-wrenching Robert Reich instro just popped.

He’s adding to a surefire Hall of Fame résumé, a first-ballot one at that. A .304/.402/.533 career line, 35th all-time in Wins Above Replacement among position players, one MVP award, and six top-10 finishes, yet he still lacks the fame and acclaim showered on contemporaries like Derek Jeter, despite Chipper’s superior numbers.

There’s sadness as he counts down the final games of his career, but also acceptance, even optimism.

“I think that I’m really ready to do something else. I’ve played professional baseball for 23 years, and I’ve got four boys at home. I’ve never been on a spring break or summer vacation or anything like that. I never would have envisioned myself playing at 40 when I was 18 years old, but I’m thankful that I’m still able to play and still able to play at a relatively high level. I’ll give it all I’ve got this one final year, then start the next chapter in my life.”

Chipper grabs a fresh Braves hat. As he pulls the navy blue brim over his brow, memories of the Chipper Jones who ran roughshod over the league for more than a decade come flooding back. If the Braves falter, he’s got just 20 weeks left in his major league career. The signature “A” on his cap staring back at you, it looks more like 20 more years.

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2012 at 06:29 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 10, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4128071)
chipper did hit a grand slam off pedro on july 5, 1997 in the third inning. so the story has some legs. he walked the first time on a 3-1 count so he could have swung as described. but he homered on a 1-1 pitch not 3-2. but not bad overall. i give chipper a b plus since the story suggests or the reader just assumes it was much later in the game and of course the 3-2 is wrong. but that's a minor point.
   2. George Brett Barberie Posted: May 10, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4128078)
These are traits that would prove invaluable for a manager, but Chipper has no such plans after his playing career's done. Still, former teammate and current Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton sees a future coach, at least.

"He can look at swings of other players and show you insight on what they're doing right and wrong," explains Pendleton. "He looks at pitchers and tells you what they're doing, what they're going to do. He has a knack for knowing when things should happen, when they might happen, and why they might happen. He'll let a guy do his thing, do his thing, then finally say, 'Hey, you know if you tried this, this might work better for you than what you're doing.' Me, as a hitting coach, I would sometimes just sit back and listen to him do that. Because as a coach you can tell a player something 20 times, nothing. He says it once, and the player will say, 'hmmm!'"


Sounds like Pendleton's not much of a coach...
   3. DA Baracus Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4128085)
Sounds like Pendleton's not much of a coach...


He was a terrible hitting coach in the last few years of Cox's tenure, and he was nearly completely immune from criticism by fans because of his hero status in his playing days. Dropping him from that position was a wise move by Fredi.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4128097)
Hey, welcome back, Harveys. It's great to have you around again. No one else here has the capability to compare current players to Andy Pafko.
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4128108)
"Why, that hematoma on Valverde's leg is the biggest I've seen in the majors since Andy Pafko's."
   6. BDC Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4128129)
Pafko, hell, he's alive and can post something himself if he wants. I want to hear how Chipper compares to Bob Elliott and Bill "Swish" Nicholson. More analysis, Harv!
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4128137)
I’ll give it all I’ve got this one final year, then start the next chapter in my life.”


Has Chipper previously announced that this was unquestionably his final year? It seems like he's hinted at it (and not just this year, but previously years), but I don't recall seeing such a definitive statement before.
   8. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: May 10, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4128197)
He announced during spring training that this would be his final season.
   9. Sweatpants Posted: May 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4128215)
Happy to see you posting again, Harveys.
He was a terrible hitting coach in the last few years of Cox's tenure, and he was nearly completely immune from criticism by fans because of his hero status in his playing days.
What did he do that was horrible? All that I know about Pendleton as a hitting coach is that he never presided over a below-average offense and that a frustrated Jeff Francoeur sought out Rudy Jaramillo for help. Francoeur seems generally bad at accepting the blame for anything, so I never held that against Pendleton very much.
   10. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4128226)
No one else here has the capability to compare current players to Andy Pafko.

Or was almost old enough to witness Jamie Moyer's debut. Welcome back, indeed.
   11. DA Baracus Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4128231)
What did he do that was horrible?


Having a below average offense isn't an indicator of a hitting coach's ability, it's an indicator of a lack of talent on a team. I can't recall any young player that Pendleton actually developed as a hitter or any veteran crediting him with helping them turn things around. And before you say McCann, like Chipper he goes to his dad for help and advice, so he doesn't count. So the two best hitters on the team and a guy who needed a hitting coach more than anybody (Francoeur) went elsewhere for help. That's pretty telling.
   12. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4128234)
Hey, Harveys' back! Woo!
   13. toratoratora Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4128247)
Hooray-now Harvey's can tell us which of the Billy Hamilton's was/is the fastest
   14. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4128252)
Unless he hits about .200 the rest of the way, he should finish over .300 for career BA. And if he's hitting that badly he probably wouldn't get enough at bats. Staying above .400 for a career OBP might come down to the wire though...

   15. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4128272)
Harveys!

This is now an even better place.
   16. Sweatpants Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4128275)
Having a below average offense isn't an indicator of a hitting coach's ability, it's an indicator of a lack of talent on a team. I can't recall any young player that Pendleton actually developed as a hitter or any veteran crediting him with helping them turn things around. And before you say McCann, like Chipper he goes to his dad for help and advice, so he doesn't count. So the two best hitters on the team and a guy who needed a hitting coach more than anybody (Francoeur) went elsewhere for help. That's pretty telling.
Plenty of guys have done surprisingly well under Pendleton. Johnny Estrada, Yunel Escobar, Martin Prado - I don't know of any who credited Pendleton specifically, but it's not like all of those guys were considered supremely talented hitters. Now that Pendleton's no longer the hitting coach, has McCann started working with Walker and Fletcher? I never took McCann's working with his father as any kind of indictment of the hitting coach (be it Pendleton or Parrish).

The only clear blight I saw on Pendleton's record was that Francoeur went elsewhere for help, and it wouldn't be inconsistent with his other actions for Francoeur to assume that the hitting coach, rather than Francoeur himself, must be at fault for his problems.
   17. DA Baracus Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4128287)
Estrada had an outlier year followed by a normal year. I'm not giving any coach credit for an outlier year if they were on the staff when they fell to back earth the next season. By that I mean if a guy had a career year on a new team or staff but there was a coaching change or he changed teams the following season, I can buy an argument that the coaching had something to do with the career year. I disagree that Escobar did "surprisingly well" when you consider his resume, Escobar is anything but an overachiever. I'll see your Prado and raise you Kelly Johnson.

I'll grant that perhaps terrible was too harsh a term, so I'll rephrase that I don't see anything that Pendleton did in the end of his tenure as hitting coach to refute as #2 said that he's "not much of a coach."
   18. Sweatpants Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4128374)
Kelly Johnson is a fair point. I remember being annoyed that the team was harping on his strikeouts and urging him to be more aggressive despite the fact that his patience helped him get a .375 OBP.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 10, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4128454)
. . . he still lacks the fame and acclaim showered on contemporaries like Derek Jeter

Probably a result of his team tanking in the postseason so often.
   20. Tippecanoe Posted: May 10, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4128479)
Jones' teams are 10-10 in playoff series in his career, so "tanking" might be a bit over the top.
   21. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4128505)
Jones' teams are 10-10 in playoff series in his career, so "tanking" might be a bit over the top.


It's Chipper's fault that his teams didn't have Mo Rivera at the end of games.
   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4128506)
Well, one World Series championship in all those postseason appearances seems like under performing by the Cox-era Braves. If Jones had 5 rings, he'd be more famous, but it's not like he has a lot to complain about.
   23. Tippecanoe Posted: May 10, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4128512)
Braves "underperform" -- Yes. "Tank" -- No.
   24. zachtoma Posted: May 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4128552)
Kelly Johnson is a fair point. I remember being annoyed that the team was harping on his strikeouts and urging him to be more aggressive despite the fact that his patience helped him get a .375 OBP.


I've been watching some Blue Jays games recently. I'm starting to like that team because they have the middle infield that the Braves, by all rights, should still have: Escobar and Johnson, I miss both.
   25. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 10, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4128587)
Well, one World Series championship in all those postseason appearances seems like under performing by the Cox-era Braves. If Jones had 5 rings, he'd be more famous, but it's not like he has a lot to complain about.


Probably should have won in 1996 and 1998. Otherwise, meh. Flip one at bat in the 1996 WS and the Braves are rightfully considered the equal of the Yankees of that era.
   26. Eric L Posted: May 10, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4128601)
Seeing a post from Harvey has made my day.
   27. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 10, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4128651)
Could be a bot.
   28. zachtoma Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:07 PM (#4128877)
Holy crap Sam's #25 made me look at the Braves' franchise encyclopedia and apparently the team leader in bWAR last year was... with a total of 3.2 (!)... Eric O'Flaherty (!!!)
   29. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4128882)
The biggest indicator that pendleton wasn't as bad a hitting coach as people thought might be the nose dive the offense took last year after he was removed.

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