Chipper Jones plans to return next season

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Chipper Jones has mentioned the possibility of retirement in the past, leading some to speculate that he would consider walking away following this season. Well, he told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier today that he has every intention of honoring the final guaranteed year on his contract.

“I’m playing next year,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “I still feel like I can go out there and play a good third base and be a threat, at least, at the plate. I’m having a good defensive year and the [batting] average is on the rise.”

Jones, who turns 40 next April, is owed $13 million next season in the final guaranteed year of his three-year, $42 million contract extension. His contract includes a club option for 2013, though it could automatically vest if he appears in 123 games next season or averages 127 games played between 2011 and 2012. Jones hasn’t ruled out playing in 2013, but will wait until next season to decide.

While Jones has battled the regular bumps and bruises this season and missed three weeks following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the switch-hitting third baseman is batting .275/.347/.466 with 12 homers, 56 RBI and an .813 OPS over 336 plate appearances. In fact, he has homered in each of the past two nights. Compare that to average major league third baseman, who has an ugly .248/.312/.379 batting line and a .691 OPS. He’ll stick around as long as he’s still healthy enough to hit.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.