The Braves arguably have one of the most historic franchises in all of baseball. With Hall-of-Famers at almost every position, it is very difficult to decide who is the best at each position.
These determinations were made based upon players who had at least three seasons in a Braves uniform, as well as their all-around production. The Parentheses denotes time in Braves organization.
Without further ado, here is the all-time Braves lineup.
Javy Lopez (1992-2003)
Lopez was a career .287 hitter who also displayed some power by tallying 260 home runs. He was the primary man behind the plate during the incredible streak of 14 consecutive NL East winners, and his consistent hitting certainly helped the Braves. He had a 22 WAR (Wins above replacement) as a Brave, and made the All-Star team three times (97, 98, 03). Before his time ended in Atlanta, Lopez finished with his best season yet. He posted a .328 average, and finished with 43 home runs, 89 runs, and 109 RBI, all which were career-highs. Joe Torre and Brian McCann were also considered, but Torre’s inconsistency and McCann’s defense led to Lopez taking the nod.
Fred McGriff (1993-1997)
The “Crime Dog” only spent four and half seasons in the Braves organization, but provided consistent power for them. Finishing just seven home runs shy of 500, McGriff was selected to three All-Star games as a Brave, even taking home MVP of the 1994 All-Star game after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with a mammoth two-run home run. Even though McGriff was known for his power, he finished as a career .284 hitter, and .293 as a Brave. He helped lead the Braves to an NL East crown in four of his five years. He also provided a nice postseason presence, hitting four home runs in the 1995 postseason that finished with the Braves as World Series champions. Andres Galarraga was a consideration, but only played two seasons in the Braves organization. Dale Murphy was also considered since he did start 201 games at first base, but he will find himself a starting spot elsewhere.
Marcus Giles (2001-2006)
This was arguably the toughest position to choose. Marcus Giles, Glen Hubbard, and Mark Lemke could all be considered here. Hubbard and Lemke though, were purely defensive gurus, batting .244 and .246 respectively. Giles batted much better with a .285 average as a Brave. Not only did he post better run, RBI, and home run season totals than both Hubbard and Lemke, but he also was a great defender, even qualifying as the top defensive NL second baseman in multiple seasons, and consistently placed in the top five of WAR. Giles finished the 2003 season, his best in the league, with 101 runs, 21 home runs, 69 RBI, 14 stolen bases, and hit .316 for the year. He broke the Braves record for doubles in a season with 49 doubles, and finished 18th in MVP voting while also making the All-Star team. Though Hubbard and Lemke were fan favorites, Giles has the more complete stats in a shorter period of time.
Rafael Furcal (2000-2005)
Rafael Furcal found himself making an improbable move in 2000 after jumping from “A” ball to the major-league level after an injury to Braves shortstop Walt Weiss. It was quickly seen as a smart move by the Braves as Furcal finished the season as the NL Rookie of the Year with a .295 average and 40 stolen bases. Furcal provided the Braves with consistent production during his six years. Other than the 2001 season when Furcal missed most of the season with a dislocated shoulder, Furcal had at least 95 runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .275 average in each season after that. He developed some power as he aged, hitting for double digit home-runs in his final three seasons as a Brave. Furcal was prone to errors, but his range and arm were amongst the best at the position. He posted an incredible 39.0 WAR, and had many memorable moments such as turning an unassisted triple-play vs. the Cardinals and tying a modern-day MLB record with three triples in a game. His speed and consistency fits very nice leading off for the Braves all-time lineup.
Larry “Chipper” Jones (1993-2012)
Was there any surprise to this pick? Sure, Eddie Matthews may be one of the best to ever man the hot corner, but Jones takes the slight nod. Though Matthews is the only player to play in all three cities that housed the Braves, Jones poses a bigger threat to the lineup, and is the more all-around player. As a top three switch-hitter, Jones was a lifetime .303 hitter, racking up 2,726 hits and 468 home runs. After placing second in the Rookie of the Year award in 1995, Jones went on to make three straight All-Star appearances, with the streak ending in 1999. Oddly enough, 1999 wasn’t a bad year at all for Jones as he came out with the NL MVP award and a Silver Slugger award. He led the Braves to two straight World Series appearances, claiming one championship, and posted eight straight seasons (1996-2003) of 100+ RBI. He was also the last player to record a hit at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the first at Turner Field. The six-time All-Star is considered a first ballot Hall of Famer and will always be one of the best and most favorite Braves players of all time.
Henry “Hank” Aaron (1954-1974)
It’s impossible to leave the “true” home run king off this list. With 755 HR, 3,771 hits, 2,297 RBI, and a lifetime .305 hitter, “Hammerin’ Hank” will always remain one of the best hitters to ever play the game. Aaron was a member of the Braves organization for 20 seasons, and still holds multiple batting records to this day. Aaron is the all-time leader in RBI, total bases (6,856), extra-base hits (1,477), All-Star selections (25), and is tied for the most All-Star games played (24 with Willie Mays and Stan Musial) and most seasons with at least 30 home runs (15 with Alex Rodriguez). He is also in the top five all-time in career hits, runs (2,174), home runs, at-bats (12,364), and games played (3,298). Aaron won his lone World Series in 1957, and would go on to an illustrious career. His number “44” is retired by the Braves and the Brewers organizations, and he was selected as a first ballot Hall-of-Famer in 1982. Though Aaron played all around the field, most of his time came at Right-Field, and he holds down this spot with no one coming close.
Dale Murphy (1976-1990)
Dale Murphy was and still is a household name when it comes to the Braves organization. During the 1980’s, Murphy was the bright spot for the Braves. From 1980-1987, Murphy was selected to the All-Star team and placed top 25 in MVP voting in all but one season. He played all 162 games from 1982-1985, and consistently played 150+ games. Beginning in 1982, Murphy turned it up another notch, hitting for at least .281, 36 HR, 94 runs, 100 RBI, and 10 SB in all but one season, and won back-to-back MVP awards in ‘82 and ‘83 leading the league in RBI and placing second in home runs. He led the league in home runs in 1984 and 1985. His seven All-Stars, two NL MVP’s, five Gold Glove awards, and four Silver Slugger awards led to his number “3” being retired by the Braves. Even though the well-liked Murphy posted great numbers in a rather rough patch for the Braves, he failed to make the Hall-0f-Fame after his 15th and final appearance on the ballot came with only 18.9% of the vote. He still places on this lineup as a set-in-stone piece for the Braves organization. He played most of his career in center field, even playing some catcher and first-base, but also found success at the corner outfield spots. Murphy will man left field so that one of the best to play center field can have that spot.
Andruw Jones (1996-2007)
Andruw Jones burst onto the scene in 1996 as a young 19 year old. Joining the Braves very late into the season, Jones would go on to play in the World Series, showing up in a big way with two home runs in Game 1, becoming the youngest to hit a home run in a World Series. He would then go on to place 5th in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1997. Jones, known for his power, was a .268 hitter for the Braves, but only posted lower than a .250 batting average in his first and last seasons in the Braves organization. His 2005 season was his overall best, finishing 2nd to Albert Pujols in the NL MVP voting. Jones finished that season with a league high 51 home runs and 128 RBI, as well as 95 runs. Jones definitely presented an offensive threat, but his biggest trait was none other than his presence in center field. He saved around 20 runs a year in center field, and posted a 60 WAR in his 11+ seasons as a Brave. His defense was heavily rewarded with ten consecutive Gold Glove awards (1998-2007) as he was always making spectacular plays. His power and defensive prowess fits perfectly in the middle of the Braves lineup.
1. Furcal (SS)
2. Chipper (3B)
3. Aaron (RF)
4. Andruw (CF)
5. Murphy (LF)
6. McGriff (1B)
7. Lopez (C)
9. Giles (2B)
Eddie Matthews (1952-1996)
Odd to call Matthews a bench bat, but he would add a wonderful power bat to the bench with his 493 home runs. Also drew almost 1400 walks. Lethal backup.
David Justice (1989-1996)
His 25 WAR to begin his career, and his ability to adequately replace Dale Murphy in the outfield leaves Justice a spot on this list. Though he was major key in the Braves rise to dominance in the mid 1990’s, his numbers and inconsistent bat could not top the three starting outfielders.
Brian McCann (2005-2013)
McCann is a more than adequate starter on this lineup, but was edged out by Lopez due to the all-around production. McCann’s seven All-Star appearances as a Brave, and his consistent 20 home run seasons place him as a nice fill-in for Lopez and a late inning bat.
Mark Lemke (1988-1997)
Lemke is here for two big reasons: Versatility and Defense. His ability to play multiple positions pegs him as a top option to be the utility man. His defensive range and skill poses a huge fill-in threat for the Braves.
It’s no secret that the Braves organization has had some top-notch hitters over the last 100 years, but it would be a lie to say that the offense garners more respect than the pitching. In the next segment, we will tackle the All-Time Pitchers for the Braves organization.