The Atlanta Braves have a rich history of all-time great players to choose from. Our own “Warlord of Mars” John Carter was tasked with putting together a list of the all-time greatest player at each position for the franchise. The stipulation, he had to base his logic on the players’ time with the team and not the sum of their entire careers.
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Atlanta Braves Best Catcher – Javy LopezEmbed from Getty Images
This one was tough. Javy Lopez and Brian McCann both had long productive careers with Atlanta. Javy Lopez had a 114 OPS+ during his 12 seasons with the team and Brian McCann had a 115 OPS+ over 10 years with them. However, I think it’s important to remember that Javy Lopez was the catcher during the Braves MLB leading 3.55 ERA during the 1995-2003 seasons and went to the World Series back to back during the glory-filled 1995-96 seasons.
Atlanta Braves Best 1B – Freddie FreemanEmbed from Getty Images
I think Freddie Freeman is the obvious choice here because of his 11 seasons with the Atlanta Braves and a 138 OPS+ over those years including a World Series win in 2021. Notable 1B for the Atlanta Braves are Joe Adcock and Fred McGriff. Adcock had 239 homer runs in 10 seasons for the Braves. McGriff spent four years with the Braves and helped lead them to the World Series twice.
Atlanta Braves Best 2B – Ozzie AlbiesEmbed from Getty Images
Ozzie Albies has spent his entire seven-year career with Atlanta. During those 7 years, he has acquired a 106 OPS+, 2 Silver Sluggers, two All-Star appearances, and came 13th in MVP voting in 2021. His runner-up, Marcus Giles, amassed an All-Star appearance and an MVP award in 2003 over 6 years with Atlanta but fell off due to injury.
Atlanta Braves Best SS – Johnny LoganEmbed from Getty Images
Johnny Logan had an extensive 11-year career with the good guys. He was an elite defender. So much so that he was in the MVP voting six of his 11 seasons with Atlanta despite his below-average 96 OPS+. He had a 33.2 WAR in his 11 seasons. His runner-up, Rabbit Maranville, had 15 seasons with the team. He was very similar to Johnny Logan, including the low OPS+ yet elite defense. However, Rabbit Maranville only had a 30.5 WAR in his 15 seasons.
Atlanta Braves Best 3B – Eddie MatthewsEmbed from Getty Images
This was the toughest decision. Eddie Matthews had 15 seasons with the Atlanta Braves and 12 All-Star appearances in those 15 seasons. Chipper Jones had 19 seasons with Atlanta (his whole career) and eight All-Star appearances. Eddie Matthews had a 94.0 WAR compared to Chipper Jones’ 85.3 WAR. The thing that gave Eddie Matthews the edge was his two World Series wins, whereas Chipper Jones only has one.
Atlanta Braves Best LF – Rico Carty
Rico Carty played the team for 8 years. Over that span, he had a 23.2 WAR. Rico Carty had a .317 BA and a 143 OPS+ in his time with Atlanta. He won a batting title while in Atlanta with an average of .366 in 1970. Ron Gant played in Atlanta for seven years and had a 19 WAR. He had two All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger award. However, while he looked about as impressive as Rico Carty did for his Atlanta career, he had a 115 OPS+ in Atlanta and one less year giving Rico Carty the LF spot.
Atlanta Braves Best RF – Hank AaronEmbed from Getty Images
Here is the most obvious choice. There is no doubt Hank Aaron is the Brave’s starting RF. Hank Aaron had 24 All-Star awards with Atlanta, contributed to a World Series in 1957, won an MVP, and had three Gold Glove awards and two batting titles while recording his all-time career league-leading stats in Atlanta. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron leads the MLB in all-time TB with 6856, RBI with 2297, and is 2nd in all-time home runs with 755.
He also had a 159 OPS+ and a 142.5 WAR in his 21-year career in Atlanta. His runner-up is David Justice. In David Justice’s eight-year career in Atlanta, he had a 132 OPS+ and a 24.3 WAR. Justice had a very solid career in Atlanta but Hank Aaron built a Hall Of Fame career in Atlanta for 21 years.
Atlanta Braves Best CF – Andruw JonesEmbed from Getty Images
Andruw Jones played with Atlanta for 12 seasons. Jones received 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards in those years, an achievement accomplished by only three other major leaguer outfielders in MLB history. He had a 61.0 WAR and a 114 OPS+ in Atlanta. He also had five All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, and a Silver Slugger with the squad. In 2005, he hit a league-leading 51 home runs and 128 RBI.
His runner-up, Dale Murphy, who was in Center Field from 1980-1986, had 6 All-Star appearances, two back-to-back MVPs, five Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers, 35.7 WAR, and 125 OPS+ during his 80-86 seasons in Center Field. However, Andruw Jones spent way more time in Center Field and almost doubled Dale Murphy’s WAR. Making Jones the greatest.
Atlanta Braves Best SP – Warren SpahnEmbed from Getty Images
Warren Spahn spent 20 of his 22 years with Atlanta. Over that time, he had a 91.8 WAR and a 120 ERA+. He had 17 All-Star appearances, a World Series win, three ERA titles, and a Cy Young award in Atlanta, as well as a Hall of Fame career. Spahn led the MLB in innings pitched for four different seasons. He also led the MLB in strikeouts for four straight seasons plus nine league-leading seasons in complete games.
His runner-up, Greg Maddux, had 11 seasons with the team, the reason why he was not the starter. However, in those 11 years, he had 10 Gold Gloves, three straight Cy Youngs, six All-Star appearances, four ERA titles, a 163 ERA+, and a 66.2 WAR. But in all, it’s tough to make up for the nine seasons Greg Maddux didn’t have compared to Warren Spahn.
Atlanta Braves Best CP – Craig KimbrelEmbed from Getty Images
Craig Kimbrel had four All-Star appearances in his five seasons and acquired 186 saves. That is the most saves team history. He had a 1.43 ERA in five years with Atlanta and a 266 ERA+. Meaning he was 166 percent better than the average MLB pitcher. He had a 14.8 SO/9, a Rookie of the Year Award, and led the MLB in saves for four straight years.
He was such a good closer that even in a fraction of the innings of most starting pitchers, he still had four seasons where he was at least top nine in Cy Young voting. He was the obvious closer and didn’t require me to put a runner-up.