“He has the best stuff, the best repertoire of pitches that I’ve seen on any one single pitcher,” Chipper Jones said about Stephen Strasburg Friday, as reported by Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Who are we to question him?

I mean, none of us has ever faced Jones’ teammates Greg Maddux, John Smoltz or Tom Glavine. Neither has Jones, but he has seen enough of each to compare them to Strasburg.

Jones batted against Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Randy Johnson and possibly the greatest of them all, Roger Clemens.

Don’t conclude that Jones has said that Strasburg is or can be greater than any of the above-mentioned future Hall of Famers: He said Strasburg “…has the best stuff, the best repertoire of pitches…”

Maddux and Glavine relied on their assortment of pitches.

Smoltz, Santana, Johnson and Clemens had unbelievable fastballs that they complemented with either cutters, curves or split-fingered fastballs. Their two pitches made them more effective than Strasburg’s repertoire might ever make him.

Jones is an old man by baseball standards. He is hanging on, which is, in some ways, admirable. This season, despite injuries, he is batting .307 with five home runs in 101 at-bats.

One question is, how would Chipper Jones at his peak—which is when he observed Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine—have ranked Strasburg?

At the age of 23, Strasburg has started 26 major league games. He has pitched 145 innings.

It is impossible to know what kind of a career Strasburg will have. In 2010, he tore his ulnar collateral ligament, which resulted in Tommy John surgery.

A long time ago, there was a pitcher named Karl Spooner that had as good a fastball as anyone had ever seen—or at least it seemed that way to opposing batters in Spooner’s first two starts.

Karl Spooner made his major league debut  on Sept. 22, 1954, shutting out the soon-to-be World Champion New York Giants.

The Brooklyn Dodgers‘ young left-hander struck out 15 Giants to set the strikeout record for a major league pitching debut, which J.R. Richard equaled a few years later.

In his next and final start of the 1954 season, Spooner shut out the Pirates, striking out 12, to set the record of 27 strikeouts by a pitcher in his first two games.

Brooklyn fans shouted, “Spooner should have come up sooner.”

Pitching at Fort Worth in June 1954, Spooner had hurt his knee while playing pepper. He eventually needed surgery.

He changed his motion because of the bad knee, and he was finished at the age of 24.

Chipper Jones isn’t alone in his evaluation of Strasburg. We can only hope that the Nationals ace fulfills his potential.

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