Jones joins elite company in 400-homer club

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

Whether it was home runs or batting average, Chipper Jones was at the “400” mark in 2008.

On June 5 of that year, Jones – the 36-year-old Atlanta Braves third baseman – homered off the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco in the sixth inning.

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The solo blast was Jones’ 400th career home run, putting him into a club with Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray as the only switch hitters with at least 400 homers.

“To be lumped in with those guys is what I’m shooting for,” Jones told the Associated Press following the game.

“This is a step closer but still a long, long way from those guys. They set the bar really high.”

The homer was among four hits Jones had in the game, raising his batting average on the season to .418, the highest batting average in the big leagues through June 5 since Paul O’Neill of the Yankees had a .430 average in 1994.

Jones would increase his average to .421 one day later and was hitting .390 as late as July 4 before finishing with an NL-best .364 average to capture his first batting title.

Jones also led all of baseball with a .470 on-base percentage that year.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was previously the Braves’ third base coach and later managed Jones with the Braves in 2011 and 2012, had intended to pitch around the red-hot Atlanta slugger during the series.

But the opportunity never presented itself.

“He’s locked in,” Gonzalez told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I haven’t seen him that hot for that long.”

Jones retired after the 2012 season with a .303 batting average, a .401 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage, earning eight All-Star Game selections and the 1999 National League Most Valuable Player Award.

He hit 468 home runs, and at the time of his retirement his 1,623 RBI were the most of any player whose primary position was third base.

Jones was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series