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Can Braves win without Chipper? So far, they haven't

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
Chipper's last start was May 18th, when he was hit by a B.J. Upton one-hopper (Getty Images)

Chipper Jones isn't the Braves' leading hitter. He doesn't lead them in slugging percentage or OPS. He doesn't lead them in home runs or RBI.

They just don't win without him.

In fact, the numbers are shocking. The Braves are 21-8 in games Chipper has played -- and 5-13 in games he hasn't. They've lost nine of the last 11 games he has missed -- while going 16-7 over the same span in games he has played.

They score 5.7 runs a game with him in the lineup -- and 3.4 runs a game without him.

He shouldn't be that important, but apparently he is.

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Or maybe it's just another statistical oddity. We'll find out now, with Jones on the disabled list for at least the next two weeks.

"You never want to depend on one guy, but Chipper is who he is, and we're going to miss him when he's not in there," Braves outfielder Michael Bourn told Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "After this year, you're going to have to get used to it, because he's not going to be here."

Good point. Jones has already said he's going to retire at the end of the season. The Braves had better figure out how to win without him.

They might. This might just be a statistical oddity.

In fact, I'd bet that it is.

The numbers show that the Braves had a winning record in Chipper-less games each of the last three years, and in fact had a better record without him (23-13) than with him (66-60) last year.

They won without him then. They can win without him now.

At least, I think they can.
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