Chipper Jones Just Keeps Topping Himself

Chipper Jones has had a fantastic career, but he's never had a more valuable at-bat than his walkoff homer Sunday evening. According to Baseball-Reference's version of win probability, the Braves had just a 14% chance of winning when he stepped to the plate--a figure that quickly became 100% when he smoked the ball deep into the right-center field seats. That's a Win Probability Added (WPA) of +86%, the largest WPA swing that Chipper has ever had.

For some context, that WPA is more than the Brooks Conrad grand slam, and the most by a Braves player since 1997. Here are the Braves' 10 most valuable plays (by WPA) in the Chipper Jones Era (1995-2012):

Rk Date Batter Opp Score Inn RoB Out WPA Result
1 1997-09-15 Fred McGriff SFG down 4-3 b9 1-- 2 +90% HR
2 1996-08-24 Fred McGriff CHC down 5-3 b9 1-3 2 +89% HR
3 2012-09-02 Chipper Jones PHI down 7-5 b9 -23 2 +86% HR
4 2007-09-05 Matt Diaz PHI down 8-6 b9 123 2 +82% 2B
5 2010-05-20 Brooks Conrad CIN down 9-6 b9 123 1 +80% HR
6 1995-09-24 Mike Devereaux MON down 4-3 b10 -23 2 +75% 1B
7 2011-08-15 Freddie Freeman SFG down 4-3 b9 123 2 +74% 1B

2005-09-11 Chipper Jones @WSN down 7-6 t9 1-- 2 +74% HR
9 2005-09-07 Ryan Langerhans NYM down 3-2 b10 123 2 +73% 1B

2010-04-18 Jason Heyward COL down 3-2 b9 123 2 +73% 1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/4/2012.

Fred McGriff sure had a flair for the dramatic, huh? You can see that Chipper's previous high WPA play came in 2005, a 2-run go-ahead homer off of the Nationals' Chad Cordero. That play is the only one on the list that didn't come in Atlanta, which makes sense because it is much easier to have a huge WPA swing in the bottom half of an inning, when one at-bat can result in either a walkoff win or the final out of a loss. Similarly, only the Brooks Conrad slam came with less than 2 outs.

Chipper's homer also tied for the fifth-highest WPA of 2012. The top 10 is after the jump.

Rk Date Batter Tm Opp Score Inn RoB Out WPA Result
1 Jun 8 Ryan Roberts ARI OAK down 8-6 b9 12- 2 +91% HR

May 29 Josh Willingham MIN OAK down 2-0 b9 1-3 2 +91% HR
3 Apr 8 Alex Avila DET BOS down 12-11 b11 1-- 2 +90% HR
4 Apr 14 Todd Helton COL ARI down 7-6 b9 1-- 2 +89% HR
5 Sep 2 Chipper Jones ATL PHI down 7-5 b9 -23 2 +86% HR

Jul 3 Aramis Ramirez MIL MIA down 12-11 b10 -2- 2 +86% HR

May 2 Ian Desmond WSN ARI down 4-3 b9 -2- 2 +86% HR
8 May 8 Rod Barajas PIT WSN down 4-3 b9 --3 2 +85% HR
9 Jun 24 Derek Norris OAK SFG down 2-1 b9 12- 2 +83% HR

Jun 14 Brayan Pena KCR MIL down 3-2 b9 12- 2 +83% 1B/E6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/4/2012.

Again, note that all of these plays came at home, with 2 outs, and all of them were walkoffs. It's also fun to note that the two biggest WPA plays didn't just come against the same team (the A's)--they came against the same pitcher (Brian Fuentes) less than 2 weeks apart.

By the way, the highest WPA play of Chipper Jones' postseason career came in his first playoff game, Game 1 of the 1995 NLDS against the Rockies. He hit a solo, tiebreaking homer off of Curtis Leskanic in the top of the 9th inning that day; the HR was worth +38% WPA. As you know, that postseason ended with the Braves winning their only World Series title since coming to Atlanta.

If Chipper's farewell season continues to go as magically as it has thus far, I'm guessing we'll see him hit another game-winning playoff homer along the way to a career-bookending championship. It'd only be fitting.

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