LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Chipper Jones will no longer have to deal with speculation regarding his future. The Braves third baseman announced on Thursday that he will retire at the conclusion of this season.
Jones came to Spring Training open to the possibility of playing beyond this year. But over the past couple of weeks he felt his body was pushing him toward a decision to retire. He will turn 40 next month and has undergone surgical procedures on both of his knees over the past two years.
The Braves scheduled a Thursday news conference so that Jones could formally discuss his decision.
With this being the final guaranteed season in his contract, there had been a sense that Jones could retire afterward. His decision erases the $9 million option for the 2013 season that would have vested if Jones played in at least 123 games this year.
Jones will retire with the proud distinction of having worn just one uniform during his storied Major League career. He currently leads all active Major Leaguers with 18 years of service with the same club.
Jones’ long tenure as Atlanta’s starting third baseman began in 1995, the same year the Braves won the World Series. The franchise would advance to two of the next four World Series and win 11 of its 14 consecutive division titles with Jones as a key figure in the lineup.
He was the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1999 and has earned seven All-Star selections.
The Braves selected Jones with the first overall selection in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut in 1993. Nineteen years later, he stands as an iconic figure in Atlanta and a likely Hall of Famer.
Jones has hit .304 with 454 homers, 526 doubles, 1,455 walks, a .402 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage.
Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Lou Gehrig are the only other players in Major League history to record a career .300 batting average and at least 450 homers, 500 doubles, 1,400 walks, a .400 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage.
Jones was introduced to the mystique of some of the game’s legends at a young age as his father told him stories about Mickey Mantle. Now as he retires, he stands with Mantle as one of the greatest switch-hitters in history.
Jones and his own boyhood idol, Eddie Murray, are the only switch hitters in Major League history to compile 2,500 hits and 1,500 RBIs. The .364 batting average that netted Jones his lone batting title in 2008 stands as the second-best average ever produced by a switch-hitter, bested only by the .365 mark Mantle produced in 1957.
In addition, Jones is the only switch-hitter in Major League history to post a .300 career average and hit more than 300 homers, and his career batting average ranks second all-time among switch-hitters, behind Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch’s .316. Jones’ home run total ranks third among all switch-hitters, behind Mantle (536) and Murray (504).