This week's Major League Baseball draft is a wonderful moment for aspiring big leaguers around the world. It's an exciting phone call for a player to receive from an owner or general manager that they want you to be part of their team. You're also one step closer to “The Show.”
ESPN recently released its version of the top No. 1 picks in the history of the draft. There were familiar names: Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Harold Baines, Joe Mauer and Bryce Harper. But the name most recognizable to Atlanta Braves fans is Chipper Jones. He was selected as the No. 1 pick in the 1990 draft, and his Hall of Fame career earned him second place on ESPN's list. He was only behind Rodriguez, who despite his involvement with steroids, still produced eye-popping numbers that Chipper couldn't match.
Griffey Jr.'s selection as No. 3 was interesting. He played with flare, hit for average and power and was stellar in the outfield. But to place Chipper above Griffey Jr. says a lot about how baseball experts view Chipper and his career.
Chipper is the greatest switch-hitter the game has seen this side of Mickey Mantle. He finished with a .303 batting average, 468 home runs, 549 doubles and scored 1,619 runs. He was an integral part of the 1995 Braves World Championship team and is in the conversation for greatest Atlanta Brave ever, this side of Hank Aaron. Along with a stellar pitching staff, the face of the Braves during their 14-year run atop the N.L. East Division was Chipper.
Very rarely do No. 1 picks live up to the hype. It's especially tougher in a sport like baseball where not everything is a sure thing. Some players can't adjust to major league pitching and phase out rather quickly. Some pitchers fail to realize that you can't just throw fastballs past every batter or hang a curveball in the middle of the plate.
Chipper produced from the moment he stepped onto the field for the first time as the Braves third baseman. He followed the '95 title by leading the Braves to two more World Series appearances in 1996 and 1999.
Very seldom does a player play his entire career with one team. Even more rare does one player become synonymous with a single name. Chipper is a legend. But when you're drafted No. 1, that's what they expect of you isn't it?