Chipper Jones is the eighth oldest player in baseball this season. The seven older players are mainly middle relievers (like Jose Contreras) and bench players (like Jason Giambi). Some might even be older than they claim, but for Jones, you have to wonder if hes younger than what is actually listed on his birth certificate.
You just dont see starting position players do what Jones is doing at 40 years old. And you certainly dont see starting third basemen do what Jones is doing at 40 years old.
Earlier this year everyone predicted what Jones would do in his final season. The expectations had to be realistic, particularly for a player who hit a combined .268 in his previous three seasons.
It was almost polite to assume a lifetime .300-hitter could maybe reach the .275 mark with his average. You would have hoped the energy and adrenaline of being in his final season would push Jones to put up decent numbers.
But no one could have expected this. You could argue that Jones is an MVP candidate -- not just for the Braves, but for the NL. He wont win it, but he better get some votes.
There were signs in spring training Jones might have trouble making it through May. His bat speed looked slow, and some in the organization worried if he could even keep his spot in the lineup. Jones even got hurt on the very day he announced he was going to hang it up at the end of the year. That caused him to start the season on the disabled list.
But remember that home run in Houston in the fifth game of the season, which single-handily ended the 0-4 start? Remember Jones home run to win the wild game against Philadelphia in early May, when Atlanta had trailed Roy Halladay and the Phillies 6-0 early in the game?
And I bet you will never forget Thursday night, when Jones hit two home runs on the night the team gave away his bobblehead. It was pretty special.
Hes just not supposed to be doing this. Players who are 40 dont hit .315, and players who play third base certainly dont play at this level -- at this age. Look at the careers of Wade Boggs, George Brett, Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt -- regarded, with Jones, as the best third basemen of all time.
Boggs played until he was 41, but he extended his career by also playing first base and being a designated hitter. He was 38 the final year he played regularly at third base. Brett played until he was 40, but he had long left third base. His final year as a starter at third was when he was 33 years old. Robinson played in only 24 games his final season, when he was 40 years old. And Schmidt was 39 in his final year, but he barely finished that season.
Jones is thriving. Hes playing like hes 30, instead of 40. And hes done so well that people are asking him if hes certain he wants to retire.
Theres no doubt Jones can still hit. Heck, hell probably be able to get into a batting cage 10 years from now, when hes 50, and make you think he could hit big league pitching. Hes just that good of a pure hitter.
But Jones has said over and over his body is giving out, and I believe him when he says how tough it has been to make it through this season. Something tells me he probably cant wait to get this over with -- not because hes not enjoying it, but because its just so tough physically for him to do what he is doing.
Jones is like a kid who is trying to get in as much playtime before summer vacation is over and he goes back to school. Hes like we all were as kids when we played outside late into the summer afternoon. We could hear our mom telling us to come in, but we wanted to hit the baseball just a little while longer. We just didnt want to stop.
Who knows how these final two months will go for Jones and his team, but it certainly has been fun watching a 40-year-old kid who sure seems like he just doesnt want to stop.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.