Chipper Jones, Shea Stadium, And A Glimpse At Ballparks

Chipper Jones has come to the plate in 45 different Major League Baseball parks.

All across Braves Country, as well as most baseball fans in general, are pretty aware of the story behind Chipper Jones and Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets. Chipper claimed it to be his favorite ballpark to hit in away from home and there was a popular notion that there was nowhere he racked up stats better and enjoyed his biggest personal successes. Ultimately, it culminated with Chipper's last child being named "Shea," because of his fondness of the ballpark, and because "Larry Wayne Jones III" was already used.

Today, in our retrospective tour between the relationship between Chipper Jones and the Mets, we're going to take a little ballpark tour from Chipper's 19-year career, and see just how Shea Stadium stacks up.

*All stats current to 9/6/2012

19, is the total number of home runs that Chipper Jones hit in Shea Stadium in his career. This number is higher than any ballpark that Chipper Jones has ever hit in outside of Atlanta, in one individual ballpark. Of these 19 home runs, four of them broke a tie game, three of them were while behind in the score, with the remaining 12 homers coming while the Braves were already ahead. Humorously, of those 12 home runs while ahead, eight of those were while the Braves were up by just one run, furthering that notion that Chipper Jones was ever-so-good at twisting the metaphorical knife he liked to stab the Mets, and namely their fans with.

Three times at Shea Stadium, Chipper Jones had multi-home run games, with each of those dates being two-homer games. Three, is also the number of home runs that Bobby Jones gave up to Chipper Jones at Shea Stadium, making him "the guy who surrendered the most home runs to Chipper Jones at Shea Stadium."

Fun facts about Chipper Jones at Shea Stadium:

  • Chipper Jones also had 12 steals, with zero caught at Shea Stadium; this mark is also Chipper's highest total in any ballpark away from Atlanta, and considering he attempted no more than eight steals anywhere else, kind of went to show how much he wanted to beat the Mets in other ways as well.
  • Of all the home runs Chipper hit at Shea Stadium, only once did he ever hit a grand slam, though.
  • Twice, in years, Chipper Jones has eclipsed a cumulative 1.300 OPS at Shea Stadium. Once in the 1999 MVP year, and in 2007 when people were beginning to declare Chipper Jones old and crusty at 35-years old.
  • Just five different years out of 19, Chipper Jones didn't bat .300 at Shea Stadium.
  • In six years out of 19, Chipper Jones didn't have more walks than strikeouts.
  • Chipper Jones has never been hit by a pitch at Shea Stadium. Or Citi Field, for that matter.

The ironic thing about the Chipper Jones at Shea Stadium dynamic, is that despite how much personal success Jones enjoyed in Queens, as a team, the Braves weren't nearly as lucky. In Chipper Jones' 13-years of playing games at Shea Stadium, the Braves themselves were an overall 34-42 during that span (.448). The Braves lost out in every season series to the Mets in New York in three of Chipper Jones' first years in the Majors, until they came to a 3-3 stalemate in 1998. It wasn't until the 1999 MVP year did the Braves go 4-2 in New York, and the Braves have their first winning season series at Shea during the Chipper Jones era. In terms of series' standings, Chipper Jones Braves teams went 4-6-3 at Shea Stadium.

But it's somewhat understandable why Shea Stadium holds such sentimental value to Chipper Jones; after all, it's the place where he hit is his first-ever major league home run, on May 9, 1995, against Josias Manzanillo, which was of the ninth-inning, go-ahead variety.

On August 9th, 2007, Chipper Jones crushed a John Maine fastball into deep right center, to give the Braves a 5-2 lead against the Mets that they would narrowly hold onto for the win (THE Willie Harris-robbing-Carlos Delgado game). This was Chipper Jones' last ever home run he would hit in Shea Stadium. Despite winning the batting title in 2008, he was unable to send Shea Stadium off with any home runs, but he did set a career-high in on-base percentage at Shea that year with a .522 OBP in 23 plate appearances.

Overall, there's no denying Chipper Jones' dominance over Shea Stadium throughout his career. A batting line of .313/.407/.557 (.964 OPS) in 377 plate appearances with the aforementioned 19 home runs, along with 55 RBI is no doubt impressive; but for a career .300/.400/.500+ hitting savant like Chipper Jones, it really shouldn't have come as much of a surprise.

So let's take a look at some of the other ballparks that Chipper Jones has visited throughout his career; at 19 years long, there's quite a good bit of them, with many of them no longer in operation today GOSH YOU'RE SO OLD CHIPPER

Let's start with the introduction of Citi Field, the current home of the Mets, which opened in 2008. And for the sake of comparison, we'll add it onto Chipper's career at Shea Stadium:

G

PA

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Shea Stadium

88

377

101

20

1

19

55

.313

.407

.557

.964

Citi Field

22

91

16

4

0

3

14

.208

.308

.377

.684

Total

110

468

117

24

1

22

69

.292

.388

.523

.911

It's a good thing Chipper's retiring after this year, because maybe it's the age, or maybe it was the first four years of playing in a canyon, but clearly, Chipper Jones hasn't christened Citi Field like he had done such with Shea Stadium. In fact, compounding Chipper's small accumulation of stats from Citi Field into his Shea Stadium numbers, and it makes his overall numbers versus the New York Mets look not quite so demi-godly, but still well above-average to the typical zero-WAR caliber mythical replacement player.

With 505 appearances made at the plate over a span of 121 games, south Florida's Dolphin/Dolphins/Pro Player/Joe Robbie/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium is the place outside of Atlanta where Chipper Jones showed up to most, professionally, with 505 total plate appearances. Granted, it lasted quite a few years longer than Shea Stadium did. Although Chipper's .294/.388/.478 batting line against the Marlins isn't as dazzling as his history against the Mets at Shea, there is no single park outside of Atlanta where Chipper Jones has more extra-base hits. With 24 doubles, four triples along with his second-highest total of 16 home runs, 44 XBH is higher than any one individual ballpark that Chipper has hit at.

It's a good thing that Chipper's so sweet on the home runs and Mets fans and not XBH, otherwise who knows what Shea Jones would be named today.

**Not going to bother adding nine plate-appearances from new Marlins Park, but for what it's worth, Chipper's got two singles and a .222/.222/.222 line there.

If we look at the two ballparks where the Phillies have played throughout Chipper Jones' career, we would see that Chipper has hit well in both, historically. If we play the combination game, and simply look at just the City of Philadelphia as one venue, then we would technically have the home of the team Chipper Jones has tormented harder in their house, than anyone else:

G

PA

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Veterans Stadium

62

272

77

16

2

13

38

.350

.471

.618

1.035

Citizens Bank Park

53

228

59

14

1

11

31

.304

.404

.557

.960

Total

115

500

136

30

3

24

69

.326

.430

.589

1.019

In Philadelphia, Chipper Jones has plagued the Phillies worse than he ever did to the Mets and the Marlins with a higher number of home runs and a far better batting slash line and OPS over a longer-or-equal number of plate appearances. But "Vet Jones" or "Bank Jones" doesn't really sound nearly as catchy.

It's a bit odd, combining Montreal to Washington D.C., considering there are two cities that have pretty much absolutely nothing in common, but hey that's how baseball works sometimes. Regardless, combining the Montreal Expos to the Washington Nationals they are today, Chipper Jones has pretty much had his way with their franchise throughout his entire career as well. Once again exercising the combining game between the three parks the Expos and Nationals have played in, it turns out that Chipper has more total extra-base hits against them than any of the other division rivals. Naturally, his overall batting slash in NatSpos' parks throughout his career is, excellent.

G

PA

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Olympic Stadium

70

310

86

25

1

8

42

.341

.448

.544

.992

RFK Stadium

22

97

25

6

0

7

17

.284

.351

.591

.941

Nationals Park

35

156

43

10

1

5

21

.314

.385

.511

.896

Total

127

563

154

41

2

20

80

.322

.413

.543

.956

You may have noticed by now that a lot of these comps I've displayed so far are that of the Braves' division rivals. A guy like Chipper Jones is of that old school mentality that recognizes the necessity and importance of taking care of business against the division, before doing so against everyone else. But honestly, you can go ahead and look at his history in everyone else's ballparks, and come to your own conclusion that he's Chipper Jones, and he really has been that good at baseball throughout his entire career, against all comers.

One ballpark in which Chipper Jones' numbers stick out somewhat in, would be Houston's Minute Maid Park. Now most of us are aware of Houston being the closest city to where Larry Wayne Jones, Sr. resides, and it's pretty well known Mr. Larry, Sr. comes to just about every Braves game when they come to play the Astros. It should be no coincidence that Chipper's numbers kind of fly off the page in Houston, under the watchful, and likely critical eye of DAD, to the tune of an absurd .400/.472/.736 line. That's an OPS of 1.208 for those of you too lazy to add, and the highest OPS of any ballpark where Chipper has had at least 100 plate appearances. Additionally, Chipper's nine homers in just 140 at-bats is the highest rate of homers of any park he's played at (Min. 100PA)

If we had to decide on where Chipper Jones' worst place to visit was, look no further than Chicago's Wrigley Field. The Friendly Confines were anything but to Chipper Jones, as in 234 career plate appearances, he only managed to scrape together a .216/.295/.377 line, and for what is a notorious hitter's park, only send 10 homers into the bleachers.

Against the American League, in their ballparks, Chipper Jones apparently likes to stick to his tendencies. Ten miles away from Flushing is apparently close enough for Chipper Jones, and he apparently enjoyed hitting at old Yankee Stadium as much as he did at Shea; in 66 regular-season plate appearances over 14 games, Chipper hit .368/.455/.649 (1.104 OPS) with four home runs. And much like the transition from old to new parks, Chipper hasn't fared so well in his brief cameo at new Yankee Stadium.

Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays is the closest Major League Baseball park to DeLand, Florida, where Chipper Jones was born. If you paid attention, a good number of Braves fans were in attendance when the Braves traveled to St. Pete's earlier this season, and Chipper obviously enjoys entertaining family-and-or-friends, and it shows in his numbers at the Trop: .352/.400/.685 (1.085 OPS) in 60 plate appearances over 13 games with five homers and 11 RBI.

Here's an interesting one, as small of a sample as it may be, but Chipper Jones pretty much single-handedly demolished Minnesota's Metrodome in two separate visits. In 2002, Chipper came to the plate 16 total times, and the Twins were only capable of retiring him four times. Overall, Chipper has made 24 total plate appearances in the Metrodome, and has a slash line that looks like a video game cheat code: .647/.708/.941 (1.650 OPS).

Last, but most certainly not least, for the sake of some analysis, let's take a look at home-sweet-home:

G

PA

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Atlanta-Fulton

152

645

173

32

4

33

115

.308

.387

.555

.942

Turner Field

1110

4625

1219

243

13

226

771

.315

.417

.561

.978

Total

1262

5270

1392

275

17

259

886

.314

.414

.560

.974

This is all my opinion, but if Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was the House of Aaron, then I can't think Turner Field couldn't be anything but the House that Chipper Jones built.

In closing, in 19 seasons, Chipper Jones has stepped to the plate in 43 different Major League Baseball parks outside of the city of Atlanta. Shea Stadium might be Chipper Jones' declared favorite, but history and the numbers prove to us that Philadelphia probably has more reason to loathe Chipper Jones than Mets fans do. From an opposition standpoint, fans of other teams should be ecstatic that a generational talent like Chipper Jones is retiring this season, since he'll no longer be a threat to pummel your team any longer, but for those of us baseball fans that got to see Chipper Jones in Atlanta, or outside of Atlanta, rarely was there ever the possibility of witnessing a player incapable of doing what he does best, no matter where he was.

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