Chipper Jones sadly goes out with a whimper

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Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones just wrapped up one of the better final seasons in major league history, hitting .287/.377/.455 with 14 homers and 62 RBI at age 40.

Unfortunately, the all-too-brief postseason wasn’t nearly as kind. Jones botched a double-play ball, contributing to a three-run fourth inning, and went 1-for-5 at the plate as the Braves lost 6-3 to the Cardinals on Friday.

For Chipper, it has to be a painful way to end his career. He was up as the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, yet he grounded out on the first pitch he saw from Marc Rzepczynski. He did get one more chance in the ninth, and he was able to reach on an infield single after fighting off some quality fastballs from closer Jason Motte. He was stranded from there and then walked off the field as Braves fans started hurling trash again.

Of course, this was hardly all on Chipper. Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons also made key errors. Outside of catcher David Ross and maybe Freddie Freeman, no Brave had an outstanding game.

Still, as great as Chipper Jones’ career was — and he ranks as one of the game’s three best switch-hitters of all-time — he bares some responsibility for the Braves’ playoff struggles over the last decade. If tonight’s one-gamer counts as a “series,” then Chipper was on the losing side of the last six postseason series in which he played. His last great postseason series was the 2001 NLDS against the Astros, when he hit two homers in a three-game sweep. In 25  postseason games since, he hit .219 with three homers and 12 RBI in 96 at-bats.

Jones shouldn’t head into retirement with many regrets, but there can be no doubt that he’d love to have that one throw and the seventh-inning at-bat back tonight.

Bradley wins last arbitration case of the year, teams beat players 7-5 overall

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PHOENIX (AP) Arizona reliever Archie Bradley won the final salary arbitration case of the year, leaving teams with a 7-5 advantage over players.

Bradley, a 27-year right-hander, was given a raise from $1.83 million to $4.1 million on Friday by arbitrators Andrew Strongin, Steven Wolf and Jules Bloch. The Diamondbacks had argued for $3,625,000.

Bradley was 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 65 relief appearances and one start last year. He struck out 87 and walked 36 in 71 2/3 innings.

Teams won six of the first seven decisions, and players won four of the last five. Teams have had a winning record in four of the last six years; the exceptions were a 12-10 margin for players in 2018 and a 6-4 advantage last year, the first consecutive winning years for the players since 1989-90.

A relatively small percentage of players went to hearings among the 162 who were eligible after teams offered contracts on Dec. 2. Just 20 players exchanged proposed salaries with their clubs on Jan. 10 and nearly half of them wound up with agreements.

Clubs defeated Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto, Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios, Milwaukee closer Josh Hader, Atlanta reliever Shane Greene and Colorado catcher Tony Wolters.

Winning players included Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez, Houston infielder Aledmys Diaz, Miami first baseman Jesus Aguilar and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin.

Phillies reliever Hector Neris agreed Thursday night to a $4.6 million, one-year deal, avoiding a hearing. His deal includes a $7 million team option for 2021 with no buyout. Neris can earn an additional $1.2 million this year in performance bonuses for games finished: $50,000 each for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35; $100,000 apiece for 40, 45 and 50; and $200,000 each for 55, 60 and 63.

Neris was Philadelphia’s most reliable reliever last year, leading the team with a career-high 28 saves in 34 chances. He had a 2.93 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings, earning $1.8 million.

He is 67 for 83 in save opportunities in his career.

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