Chipper Jones' Best Games Against The Mets

Go ahead, chant "Larry" a few more times.

In honor of the penultimate series between the Mets and their longtime, soon-to-be-retired nemesis, I've gone through all 246 prior regular- and post-season Braves-Mets games to find Chipper Jones' top performances in this one-sided rivalry. The Braves, by the way, are 142-104 (.577) in those 246 games after last night's win.

My main criterion in ranking these games was Win Probability Added (WPA), which gives a nice, easy-to-compare number that takes into account all offensive contributions and the timing of those contributions. This isn't a straight WPA ranking, however; I've also taken into account the importance of the game to each team's playoff hopes and other historical factors that may make a game more or less memorable.

There were a ton of games to choose from; Chipper has reduced the Mets' win expectancy by at least 10% in over 50 games. But here are the top 10:

#1. September 21, 1999 (Braves win 2-1)

Chipper's WPA: +0.331

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

Standings (before): Braves lead NL East by 1 game over the Mets

Solo yicketty in the 1st + solo yicketty in the 8th = Braves win 2-1. This, to me, will always be the game that cemented Chipper's MVP award as well as his status as the Mets' public enemy #1. It didn't hurt that he homered in both of the next two games in the series (also Braves wins). More on Chipper's 1999 exploits vs. the Mets later.

#2. September 5, 2005 (Braves win 4-2)

Chipper's WPA: +0.397

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, R

Standings (before): Braves lead NL East by 5 games; Mets 2.5 games out of the Wild Card

Chipper tied the game at 1 with an RBI double and then smoked a tie-breaking, 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th. The win helped the Braves solidify the last division title of the Streak and sent the Mets further behind the eventual Wild-Card winning Astros. This tied for Chipper's best WPA against the Mets with #6 below.

#3. June 25, 1997 (Braves win 14-7)

Chipper's WPA: +0.294

Chipper's batting line: 3/3, 2 HR, 2 BB, 5 RBI, 4 R

Standings (before): Braves lead NL East by 2.5 games; Mets 1.5 games out of the WC

This is Chipper's most dominant game vs. the Mets in terms of context-neutral stats. The only thing holding this game back in the rankings is that it was a blowout, with the Braves leading 14-3 before the Mets tacked on 4 garbage-time runs. Still, Chipper was the main reason that it was such a blowout, stretching the lead from 5-3 to 10-3 with a solo homer and a grand slam. The Braves won the division going away, while the Mets finished 4 back of the Marlins for the Wild Card.

#4. May 9, 1995 (Braves win 3-2)

Chipper's WPA: +0.320

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, HR, RBI, R

Standings (before): Braves 1.5 games back in NL East, 2.5 ahead of the Mets

This is the only early-season game on the list (thanks to the strike, this was just the Braves' 14th game of the year), but it's on here for good reason. First off, it's Chipper's first career appearance against the Mets. And second off, he hit a game-winning homer in the 9th, the first HR of his career. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to a division rival, huh? Oh, and that homer is still the highest-WPA play of Chipper's career against the Mets. Now all we need is for him to hit another game-winner in his last game against the Mets (during the season's final week).

#5. June 16, 2011 (Braves win 9-8)

Chipper's WPA: +0.348

Chipper's batting line: 3/4, HR, 5 RBI, R

Standings (before): Braves tied for the WC lead, with the Mets 3.5 back

Chipper hit a 3-run homer in the 3rd, an RBI single in the 5th, and another single in the 7th. Even his lone out of the evening drove in a run. The only thing preventing this game from ranking even higher is that Chipper didn't figure in the Braves' 9th-inning comeback (that was a Brooks Conrad yicketty) or their eventual win on a walkoff balk by D.J. Carrasco. Despite a horrible September collapse, the Braves still finished 12 games ahead of the Mets.

#6. August 8, 2007 (Mets win 4-3)

Chipper's WPA: +0.397

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, 2B, 2 RBI, R

Standings (before): Mets lead NL East by 3.5 games over the 2nd-place Braves

This is the only Braves loss on the list--and it was a crushing one--but you certainly can't lay the blame at Chipper's feet. All he did was double in the Braves' first two runs (when the Mets led 1-0) and score the third. He also led off the 9th inning with a single, representing the tying run. Chipper made it to third with no outs; however, Jeff Francouer and Andruw Jones couldn't get him home. The Braves would finish 84-78 and out of the playoffs, but at least they'd have the pleasure of watching the Mets' monumental September collapse.

#7. September 17, 2011 (Braves win 1-0)

Chipper's WPA: +0.335

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, 2B, RBI

Standings (before): Braves lead WC by 3.5 games; Mets eliminated

This game represented one of the Braves' few wins of an otherwise dismal month, and they had Chipper (and Tim Hudson) to thank for it. Chipper had the two biggest WPA plays of the game, his RBI single in the 8th that accounted for the only run and his double leading off the 7th.

#8. September 23, 1999 (Braves win 6-3)

Chipper's WPA: +0.265

Chipper's batting line: 1/2, HR, 2 BB, 3 RBI, R

Standings (before): Braves lead NL East by 3 games over the Mets

Closing out one of the best series I've ever seen, Chipper hit a 3-run bomb with the Braves down 2-1 and was intentionally walked two other times. His WPA was hurt a bit by a strikeout that turned into a double play, but it's fair to say that the Mets probably wished that they had just walked Chipper every time he came up. The Braves, who entered the series just a game up on the Mets, won the division by 6.5 games, then beat the Mets in the NLCS.

#9. NLCS Game 6, October 19, 1999 (Braves win 10-9)

Chipper's WPA: +0.079

Chipper's batting line: 1/3, 2 BB, HBP, 2 SB, R

Standings (before): Braves lead NLCS 3 games to 2

The WPA in this one is relatively modest, but I had to put it on the list because of the context. Throughout this series, the Mets showed their fear of Chipper, walking him multiple times in 4 of the 6 games, including 4 intentional walks. I don't blame them, of course; they certainly got burned enough times during the '99 regular season. Even though Chipper didn't figure much in the outcome, he was on base constantly and even stole two bags. And of course, this was game in which the Braves clinched the pennant on a bases-loaded walk.

#10. September 11, 2002, 1st game (Braves win 8-5)

Chipper's WPA: +0.250

Chipper's batting line: 2/4, 2 HR, BB, 5 RBI, 2 R

Standings (before): Braves lead NL East by 21 games; Mets eliminated

Chipper hit a 3-run bomb to open the scoring in the 3rd, then stretched the lead to 8-2 with a 2-run shot in the 8th. The insurance runs came in handy, as the Mets got to within 8-5 in the 9th before John Smoltz came on to shut the door. This game, taking place in New York on the 1st anniversary of 9/11, was emotional for all involved, but Chipper didn't let that get in the way of his dominance. The Mets would get some revenge by winning the second game of the double-header.

Honorable Mentions:

July 2, 1999 (2 HR, 2 BB, 4 RBI, 3 R, +0.183 WPA in a 16-0 shellacking)
July 10, 1997 (HR, 5 RBI, +0.240 WPA, but the Braves lost 10-7)
July 7, 2003 (2 HR, 4 RBI, +0.203 WPA in a 7-3 win)
June 11, 1996 (2B, 2 BB, SF, +0.292 WPA, scored winning run in 13th inning)
September 18, 2011 (RBI 2B, 3 BB, +0.231 WPA, Braves lose 7-5)
NLCS Game 5, October 17, 1999 (3/6, 2 2B, 2 IBB, -0.001 WPA, Braves fall in 15 innings on Robin Ventura's famous "grand slam single."

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That's quite a body of work already, but there's still time to add a game to the list, with 5 more Braves-Mets games on the schedule this year. I doubt anyone would be surprised if Chipper had another Mets-killing performance up his sleeves.

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