Jones will hang up his cleats after what will have been 18 full seasons in the major leagues, and while we don't know what the longtime Braves third baseman's numbers will look like after the '12 season, we can start to look at them now and get a better idea of where he stands.
Jones played most of his career in the gargantuan shadows of artificially inflated superstars during the height of the Steroid Era. That, of course, can go two ways for Jones. His name has never been mentioned in connection with performance-enhancing drugs, so that may help his case with some voters. Others, though, may look at his numbers and dismiss them saying that we couldn't say for certain that no one was clean during the '90s.
Regardless, there's no denying the impressiveness of those figures. Jones enters this season as a career .304 hitter. Unless he sees a pretty sharp dropoff from that, he should finish his career as a .300 hitter. Neither Brooks Robinson nor Mike Schmidt — both Hall of Fame third basemen — can say that.
Jones also enters the season with 454 home runs, which is already more than every Hall of Fame third baseman not named Schmidt or Eddie Matthews. Even so, Jones has a better slugging percentage than Schmidt. Jones' on-base percentage, .402 entering this season, is also better than every third baseman in Cooperstown than some guy named Wade Boggs.
If you're looking for one issue on Jones' resume, it would have to be the defense. He's never won a Gold Glove. To put that in perspective, Boggs won a pair, Schmidt won 10 and Robinson took home an insane 16 Gold Gloves. So there's that.
It's tough to argue that Jones is a Hall of Famer. He was arguably the best at his position for the majority of his career (save for maybe Cal Ripken Jr.), an argument backed up by his seven All-Star Game nods and 1999 NL MVP award. The only real question, though, is when Jones will make it Cooperstown.
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