Chipper Jones’ Days As A Fantasy Baseball Starter Are Over

Third base is not as deep of a position as it once was, there’s just no arguing that fact.  One of the reasons is that the players who once starred at the position are just no longer able to produce up to par.  Take Chipper Jones for instance…

Well, the truth of the matter is Jones can still produce, even at 37-years old (he turns 38 in April).  He’s not the player he once was, no question, but his ability to stay on the field is the biggest problem surrounding him.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at his production from 2009:

488 At Bats
.264 Batting Average (129 Hits)
18 Home Runs
71 RBI
80 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.388 On Base Percentage
.430 Slugging Percentage
.291 Batting Average on Balls in Play

There’s a lot of negative to note:

  • It’s the first time he was below 20 HR ever
  • It was his lowest average since he hit .248 in 2004

I could say it was his lowest RBI total, which is true, but he had 72 in ’05 and 75 in ’08 (sandwiching years of 86 and 102), so it’s not like he’s been an elite run producer in some time (outside of that one season).

It’s easy to explain the loss of power.  While he’s never been a big fly ball hitter (since 2002 his career mark is 36.4% and he was at 34.8% in ’09), he has always been able to post an above average HR/FB:

  • 2004 – 20.3%
  • 2005 – 19.6%
  • 2006 – 19.1%
  • 2007 – 17.6%
  • 2008 – 17.5%

While that has been steadily declining, would anyone have expected the big drop to 12.8% last season?  I have a hard time believing it, even at his age, so a rebound to 20+ home runs certainly could happen.

As for the average, again, there is reason to believe that there’s a rebound coming.  He has a career BABIP of .321.  Since 2001 he’s only been under that mark four times:

  • 2003 – .319 (close enough)
  • 2004 – .251
  • 2005 – .302 (still nothing to complain about)
  • 2009 – .291

I’m not about to suggest expecting getting to his career mark, but even if he were to return to his 2005 number, he would have hit .273 last season.  Considering his strikeout rate was the highest it had been since 2004 (18.2% last season), there’s more fuel for the fire of a better average.

It all totals to the following projection:

.281 (118-420), 17 HR, 75 RBI, 70 R, 4 SB, .281 BABIP, .393 OBP, .471 SLG

I know, I just went through a whole big spiel about him reaching 20 HR, then project him at 17.  The only reason is the number of at bats.  Since 2004 he’s had over 450 AB just three times so, at hit age, it’s tough to project him staying healthy for the entire year.  If he were, with the projection I have, he would easily eclipse 20 HR.

The injury risk hanging over him is a huge negative, making him more of a bench option in shallower leagues (though one with tremendous upside potential) and a corner infielder in deeper formats.

What about you?  What are your thoughts for Jones in 2010?  Would you draft him as your starting 3B?

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Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

5 comments

  1. Nope. Maybe as a starting CI if I ignored the position and concentrated on other areas of my team.

  2. TY says:

    I’m not taking this guy at ALL, been on my DO NOT DRAFT list for about 3 years now. I am not taking a guy who’s been hurt more than he’s played for years… I dont care what kind of potential #’s he could put up. Why take chipper inthe 17th round when i could take a low tier closer? Or maybe take a guy like Reimold who might be a 20/20 .300 guy this year? I’ll pass, please retire chipper…

  3. Zach says:

    You certainly have to discount him due to injury concerns. However, Chipper is far from done. I see him having a few more very high average seasons although I’ll concede we won’t see 25-30 homers again. I’d compare this season to 2004 when a lot of people though he was done. He’s in too good of shape and is too smart of a hitter to have such a sudden loss of skill.

  4. TY says:

    He’s got the skill, and he is talented, but he’s also going to be 38, lets be realistic, if chipper plays 120 games (which is about his max i’d say) you’re gonna have to have a replacement for him for the other 42 games… which the overall statline might be nice, but I just wouldn’t want to deal with that, and 120 games is a max, he might only play 80, or 60….

    This guy has had major back issues, most of his reasons for sitting…. i dont particularly like 28 yr olds with back issues…. let alone 38 year olds.

    Plus who wants to look at their 3B slot or corner IF slot and have chipper jones sitting there?

  5. BLAZE says:

    If I miss out on the big boys and get stuck with Mike Young on down then i might grab Chipper for insurance. If i get Arod, Longoria, Zimmerman etc then i wont even think about Larry Jones.

    But i’ll be doing whatever it takes to keep myself out of that situation.

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