Casting the first ballot for Chipper

Updated: March 25, 2012, 11:47 PM ET
By Buster Olney

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- The topic was milestones and Chipper Jones was asked the other day if there was any number -- any statistical standard -- that he still wanted. He has 454 homers, 2,615 hits, 1,561 runs scored and 1,561 RBIs.

Jones stood up from his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at the Tigers' camp, and he began walking toward the door, carrying two bats.

Over his shoulder, he answered that yeah, he could theoretically stick around and hit the 46 homers he needs to reach 500 for his career. But his tone was dismissive, and he steered the conversation into something he is more interested in now, at age 39: Watching his kids play sports.

We know now that the day before, he had told Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren that he intends to retire after this season. Jones still feels he can be a productive hitter, but he is wary of the questions about his future, and the nagging injuries that have limited him to 221 games in the last two seasons aren't going away.

Assuming that Jones doesn't change his mind, his name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot in December 2017, and he is an easy first-ballot selection. A no-brainer. To not vote for him, in fact, would be inexcusable.