In 2004, HGH won its fourth consecutive NL MVP award in a row and just happened to be richly flowing through the body of a 40 year old Barry Bonds, resulting in the infamous slugger forcing his name on to yet another record. He became the oldest player to win an MVP award. His name basically sits at or near the top of every batting record, and many of those records will most likely remain intact for a very long time, including the hallowed HR record. Him surpassing Aaron was a sad day, not just for Braves fans, but for many traditional baseball enthusiasts. So any chance, small or big, for any baseball player with all-natural talent to usurp one of his many records is exciting and worth following; but if that player happens to be Chipper Jones, then every baseball fan in the world should be cheering their tuckus' off and hoping for the possibility. I admit, it is a long shot for him to win it, but if Chipper can muster together one last magical season without spending a lot of time on the DL (which is a long shot in itself) he could become the oldest player to win the MVP award. There isn't a better option to take back one record for baseball from Barry than Chipper himself- one of the last true team players, a natural talent who molded himself after players from another era, an era where even most "superstars" held a great deal of respect for the game. Bonds' artificially enhanced numbers unseated many greats from their more deserved spots and left baseball with a bad taste in its mouth and many marks that may never get erased. Chipper has got a chance to start the slow and enduring process of maybe restoring some order to the record books the natural way: by just plain beating him, no asterisks attached. That's awesome.
One big deterrent to Chipper's campaign one might point to is his inevitable shortage of number of games played compared to other candidates. Other than small aches and pains he has thus far stayed relatively healthy and the scheduled days off have seemed to be paying off. A cataclysmic injury could occur at any time thus destroying his chances, but for now we will cross our fingers and assume that he will stay on relatively the same schedule. Chipper has played in 24 of 35 possible games, including the opening series he missed when he started the season on the DL. I think it is safe to assume that over any 35 game stretch, while staying on the same schedule, he could either add or subtract 3 games he could hypothetically play in. Over the course of an entire season, that would equate to Chipper to playing somewhere between 97 to 125 games. Now we must look at past MVP winners and see if this range is in the realm of possibility to even be considered. The following lists the 8 MVPs with the least amount of games played in a full 162 game season (beginning 1962, disregarding shortened seasons).
Name, Year, OPS/HR/RBI, Games Played
G Brett, 1980, 1.118/24/118, 117
M Mantle, 1962, 1.091/30/89, 123
W Stargell*, 1979, .904/32/82, 126
B Bonds**, 2003, 1.278/25/90, 130
J Hamilton, 2010, 1.044/32/100, 133
J Gonzalez ,1996, 1.011/47/144, 134
E Howard, 1963, .869/28/85, 135
R Henderson, 1990, 1.016/28/61, 136
* Willie Stargell was 39 when he won his MVP award and previously held the record for being the oldest player to win it before artificially added mass and 2004. ** Artificially added mass.
Of all the MVP award winners during this time, only two fall in to Chipper's assumed range but a few more are really close.. Although this predictably represents a very small fraction of the total number of MVP award winners, this does at least offer precedential backing for Chipper's campaign to be considered. I have included OPS/HR/RBI because it would seem to win the award with far less games played one would think a player's numbers would have to be extraordinarily superb to make up for the lack of games played, but the range of stats from these players are actually pretty varied. Many of them would be impossible for Chipper to match, but his end of season stats could feasibly fall somewhere in the range of a few of these players.
He has performed well to this date while posting a .876 OPS along with 5 HRs and 22 RBIs. His numbers could get better or worse as the season progresses but at the rate he is going right now, a projection of 25 HRs and 105 RBIs would not be unreasonable. These numbers do fall in the range of HRs and RBIs of MVP award winners after 1962, although admittedly they are more towards the bottom of the range than the top. So, in conclusion if both his number of games played and reasonably projected stats can at least compete with past MVP award winners, then the record is at least achievable. Obviously, the rest of the league has an immense impact on his chances, as there are many batters who have the skillset to play every day and outperform Chipper stat-wise, but then again, we all know Chipper has the capability and consistency to play out of this world over long stretches.
One beneficial factor that many may consider that sets him apart from the others is the intangible value he brings to his team. And it is HIS team. Not only is his bat is extremely valuable but his leadership and presence sets the tone for the rest of the team and also takes a little pressure off of the younger players. When Chipper gets the opportunity to bat the team has averaged 6.35 runs/game but only 3.82 runs/game when his bat is absent. The Braves are 15-4 when Chipper starts and 6-9 without him. That's a difference of a World Series team and a team fighting for a wildcard berth. That may actually be one of the benefactors of him missing games when it comes to getting MVP votes. If the team continues this trend and manages to win at a ridiculous rate only when he is in the lineup, I believe this would strongly increase his perceived value as it would outline and highlight over a considerable sample size the statistical importance of his presence. His value as both a baseball player and mentor could never be more recognizable than over the last few years, as Braves fans have gotten to see all too well what it's like without his presence on the field. He has been our MVP for a long time and it would be gratifyingly ethereal if we could all witness an accolade be reclaimed by someone who deserves to be canonized in Cooperstown one day.