Post-Chipper Braves a carnival of change at third

A meeting of noted Braves third basemen breaks out, postgame. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Next year, Chipper Jones should be the last of the 1990s Braves to join baseball’s Hall of Fame. Tempus fugit.

His last-ever game – the 2012 wild-card loss to St. Louis in which he went 1-for-5 and committed a devastating error – was a nightmare. Everything before that was pretty good.

Everything since then has been as unsettled as Ben Affleck’s Facebook status at the corner of the field Jones homesteaded for 18 years. The Braves after Jones have gone through third baseman like they were sunflower seeds.

> All the Braves who have played third base this season

Why, this season third base has not been a position so much as it has been a laboratory, the site of various mad experimentation. Just slap a tomahawk on a lab coat – that should be the new uniform of the Braves’ third baseman.

Granted, the results have been interesting. We learned that Freddie Freeman is far more nimble than anyone suspected. Most athletes of his stature have to go on “Dancing With the Stars” to prove that point. All he had to do was to find a smaller glove and stroll across the diamond. So, consider his dalliance with third base informative if not terribly useful.

And we learned that Brandon Phillips is capable of swallowing hard and moving several steps to his right without his world collapsing. Adding to the resume is never a bad idea for a ballplayer of a certain age and contract status. Consider his shift from second to third the rarest kind of workplace training – it’s actually beneficial.

Phillips is one of six Braves who this season has appeared at third for at least 10 games. The roll call of those who have popped up at that corner for 10 games or more since 2013 stretches 17 names long.

Chris Johnson. Juan Francisco. Ramiro Pena. Paul Janish. Juan Uribe. Hector Olivera.

This is the result of the Great Hector Olivera Gambit so spectacularly blowing up in a firework of failure. He was the answer, obtained at great cost. Then he was the problem. Thus, third became a wound requiring many Band-Aids.

Alberto Callaspo. Adonis Garcia. Pedro Ciriaco. Kelly Johnson. Chase d’Arnaud. Gordon Beckham. Johan Camargo.

OK, you lose one third baseman, briefly it’s hoped, after he hurts himself hopping onto the field before the first pitch. Camargo’s injury this season hints that in addition to the Olivera hangover there may be some kind of gypsy curse spinning the revolving door at third.

Rio Ruiz. Freddie Freeman. Jace Peterson. Brandon Phillips.

It has been rather amazing to witness, this transformation of what was the Braves’ most stable position under Jones’ long tenure to what is now their most volatile one. Seeing how difficult Jones has been to replace should only bolster his Hall of Fame argument.

It would be nice, though, if the Braves could find a degree of constancy there sometime between Jones’ enshrinement and the day he files for Medicare.

Reader Comments 0

14 comments
huyiki
huyiki

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TideDawg
TideDawg

It appears that the reason the Braves don't have a powerhouse lineup is because all of the other teams have developed the heavy hitters and the Braves have only a couple that can get a hit with a runner in scoring position. Every team the Braves play has hitters from top to bottom. Having great pitching is good but if you can't score the best the pitchers can do is pitch a 0-0 tie game.

Coach Howard
Coach Howard

Fredi G wanted to bring in Justin Turner when he was available on a minor league contract, just think....

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

But H00TERS will always own Chipper.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Atlanta has a giant void of leadership (Chairman, President, GM)  and ownership!

BetterDog
BetterDog

Brandon Phillips just might be our third baseman for a while.  He will get his 2,000th hit this year.  I am sure he will play for less to stay on the Braves.  The play Dansby missed the other night Brandon will make.  Both corners are solid.  Brandon Phillips and Freddie are strong on defense.  Clear out all the cobwebs you doubters.  Remember Pendleton and Bream.  Strong defense at the corners is just the start to winning a lot of games.  Dansby looked great last night.  Way to go.  Keep Brandon Phillips at third.  He will make the hard plays that a rookie will not. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@BetterDog No problem with this, at least until a real prospect emerges, and you are right in one understated way, it is "just the start". 

patriotdog
patriotdog

Phillips is beyond serviceable, which was my expectation, at third.

He has made some spectacular plays there, as well as all of the routine ones. Surely Camargo is the future at third, and Phillips' work there gives him time to heal.

Now, if the Two Johns and Snit can bite the bullet and swap Dansby and Ozzie's positions things will settle down while we wait for some of the young pitching....any of the young pitching...to develop.

JohnQ2
JohnQ2

Chipper is a Bum anyway. He had good statistics but when faced with the possibility of being great, he flopped every time.

Chipper Jones=Complete Redneck


30yrAtlBravesFan
30yrAtlBravesFan

Wow!!! Being one of the Greatest Switch hitters of all time and could have played anywhere else including the Yankees where he could have made even more money. So quick to call him a bum!!! I don't recall seeing you faced with all the challenges chipper endorsed. You must be a Yankee!!!

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

@JohnQ2 Damned if I don't agree with you for the most part. Jones would seemingly sit if he had a broken fingernail, making true gamers like Mickey Mantle roll over in his grave. Chipper could have personally made a difference in many of the Braves' post-season failures, but I remember him coming up short again and again during the post-season at-bats that were most important. I don't know if his numbers reflect that, but I was watching, and I do remember.

Mountain6
Mountain6

Can someone tell me what happened to Adonis Garcia? Last heard he had a pretty significant injury (thumb tendon?) but he seems to have fallen out of sight. Still rehabbing? Still on the roster? Thanks.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Mountain6 Adonis had surgery on his ring finger to repair a torn tendon.He is listed on the Braves Injury report as expected to return before the end of August.