The Braves are one of the most historic organizations in baseball. From Warren Spahn to Chipper Jones the Braves have greats from all different generations. So what would a 25-man roster of the best Braves of all-time look like? Lets take a look.
1. Greg Maddux: One of the best to ever throw a baseball. Maddux never threw hard but was always in command of his pitches. The 4-time Cy Young Award winner pitched for the Braves from 1993-2003, and had 2 seasons in which he finished with a sub 2.00 ERA. It is hard to name a more reliable guy to send out on the mound on any given day than Maddux.
2. Warren Spahn- Spahn’s career really began in 1946 after his milatary service. He played for the Braves up through the 1964 season. He had 13 seasons in which he won at least 20 games. He won his only Cy Young award in 1957 posting a 21-11 record with a 2.69 ERA. Spahn has the most wins in Braves franchise history and this legend deserves a spot at the top of the rotation.
3. Tom Glavine- Glavine pitched for the Braves from 1987-2002. He, along with Maddux, were at the top of one of the best rotations is baseball history. Glavine was another guy that did not overpower a lot of hitters, but his command and change in speeds constantly kept hitters off balance. He won two Cy Young awards with the Braves in 1991 and 1998. He also pitched and won the close out game in the 1995 world series in which the Braves won 1-0.
4. Phil Niekro- Niekro is the last 300 game winner in the rotation. The knuckleballer is probably the best knuckleball pitcher in MLB history to date. Niekro played on some awful Braves teams and still managed to win 318 career games. If he had played on some better teams, he probably would have boasted a much better career record. Either way, his knuckleballs dazzled opposing hitters and he belongs in this starting rotation.
5. John Smoltz- Smoltz was going to end up on this team regardless. The question was whether to put him as a starter or as a relief pitcher. He was chosen as a starter because he spent his best years prior to his injury as a starter. He won the Cy Young award in 1996 with a league leading 24 wins. Another reason he has to be on this list as a starter are his playoff numbers. He has a 15-4 career playoff record with a sub 2.70 ERA. He is one of the best playoff pitchers in history, and may be the first guy on this to give the ball to in a Game 7.
Brian McCann (Catcher)- Even though he left the Braves for the Yankees, McCann is the best Braves catcher in history. McCann came up with the Braves in 2005 and by 2006 he was an All-Star. He made 7 All-Star games in 8 full seasons as a Brave. He also won 5 Silver Sluggers. His numbers have taken a significant dip in the past few years, but when he was a Brave he was one of the best catchers in the league.
Fred McGriff (First Base)- One of the hardest positions to choose, but McGriff was the man during the glory years of the Braves. He came over from the Padres in a trade in 1993, and made an immediate impact by hitting .310 with 19 home runs in 68 games. McGriff also hit 10 post season home runs for the Braves and was the big bat in the middle of the lineup when the Braves won the world series in 1995.
Glen Hubbard (Second Base)- Second base is by far the weakest spot on the team. Glen Hubbard was chosen because of consistency and his glove at second base. He only hit .244 for his career and hit double digit home runs once in his career. In 1983 he made his only All-Star team hitting .263 with 12 home runs.
Eddie Mathews (Third Base)- Mathews is sometimes forgotten as one of the Braves’ greatest players. Mathews is one of the greatest third baseman in history and spent 15 season in the Braves organization. He is a career .271 hitter and hit 512 career home runs. He was the first Brave to ever join the 500 home run club and made 9 All-Star teams.
Rafael Furcal (Shortstop)- Furcal has to be one of the most exciting Braves to make this team. He came up with the Braves in 2000 and won the Rookie of the Year by hitting .295 and stealing 40 bases. He only played 6 seasons with the Braves, but was the prototypical leadoff hitter that every MLB club needs. His only All-Star appearance with the Braves came in 2003 when he hit .292, with 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
Chipper Jones (Left Field)- Obviously Jones was not primarily an outfielder, but he did play left field for a portion of his career, and he had to make way for Eddie Mathews at third base. Jones is one of the most prolific Braves of all time. He is career .303 hitter with 468 home runs. He spent all 19 years of his MLB career with the Braves and is possibly the most beloved Brave of all time. He won the MVP in 1999 with a .319 average and 45 home runs, but this might not even have been his best season. In 2008 at age 36, Jones hit .364 with an unbelievable .470 on base percentage. Chipper is a Braves legend and there is no question he is a starter on this team.
Andruw Jones (center field)- It is safe to say the Braves got the best of Andruw Jones. Jones came up with the Braves in 1996 and played for them through the 2007 season. Jones’ best year came in 2005, when he finished second in MVP voting. He hit 51 home runs and drove in 128 that season. But perhaps the most impressive thing about Jones was his glove. He was an absolute spectacle to watch in the field making spectacular catch after catch. He won 10 straight Gold Gloves while a member of the Braves.
Hank Aaron (Right Field)- This was the easiest decision to make. Aaron might be the best player to every play. He has the most RBIs in MLB history with 2,297 and has the second most home runs with 755. He won the MVP in 1957, hitting .328 with 44 home runs. He is a career .305 hitter and made a ridiculous 21 All-Star teams. We can go on and on about Aaron, but he is the best player to put on the Braves uniform. Period.
1. Rafael Furcal (6)
2. Chipper Jones (7)
3. Hank Aaron (9)
4. Eddie Mathews (5)
5. Fred McGriff (3)
6. Andruw Jones (8)
7. Brian McCann (2)
8. Glenn Hubbard (4)
9. Greg Maddux (1)
Javy Lopez (Catcher)- Every team has to have a backup catcher, and this one just happens to be one of the best Braves anyways. He spent 10 seasons as the catcher for the Braves and made 3 All-Star teams. His best year came in 2003 when he hit .328 with 43 home runs. He won the Silver Slugger that season and finished 5th in the MVP voting.
Dale Murphy (outfield)- Murphy was the hardest person to leave out of the starting lineup, but the outfield is crowded with talent. Murhpy is a two-time MVP for the Braves and played in the organization when the team was terrible. However, he stuck through it and gave his all every night. It shows in his 4 straight seasons without missing a single a game from 1982-1985. Dale Murphy probably deserves a starting spot on this team, unfortunately there is just nowhere to put him.
David Justice- Justice won the Rookie of the Year with the Braves in the 1990 season. He finished 3rd in the MVP voting in 1993, hitting 40 home runs and driving in 120. He was instrumental in the Braves’ 1995 championship season. He is not a Braves legend, but he definitely deserves a spot on this roster as a reserve.
Terry Pendleton- Pendleton did not hit for a lot of power, but he was one of the most consistent and reliable hitters in Braves history. In his first season with the Braves in 1991 he won the MVP, and was a huge part of the Braves’ worst to first team. Pendleton would be a wonderful option off the bench to get a base hit when needed.
Freddie Freeman- Freeman is just beginning his career as a Brave, but I already think he deserves a spot on this team. He is in the midst of his 5th full season as a Brave and inked an 8 year extension last year. He will be the face of the Braves for many years to come, and very well could be the starter on this team if he continues to improve.
Andres Galarraga- Galarraga is on this team for one reason: to provide power. He only played two seasons with the Braves, but they were two great ones. He was an All-Star in both seasons and hit 72 homers with 221 RBIs over the two seasons. The Big Cat was one of the most feared hitters in the game when he was with Atlanta.
Craig Kimbrel (closer)- Kimbrel came up for part of the 2010 season and was 4-0 with a .44 ERA. The next season the Braves made him the closer and he was terrific. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2011 with 46 saves and a 2.10 ERA. He only got better from there, as Kimbrel made the All-Star team the next 3 years while never posting an ERA above 2.00 for the season. He is no doubt the best closer in Braves history (sorry Smoltzy), and it is sad that we do not get to see him pitch anymore.
Jonny Venters (set up)- Venters makes the team in part because him and Kimbrel combined to make one of the most deadly set up/closer combinations. For the two seasons they were together, opposing teams could basically throw in the towel if the Braves had the lead going into the eighth. Unfortunately, Venters career was cut short due to numberous arm injuries. In his 3 seasons as a Braves, Venters was 15-10 with a 2.23 ERA. He’s trying to make a comeback after his third Tommy John Surgery.
Mark Wohlers (middle relief)- Wohlers was a Braves relief pitcher for 9 seasons. He threw hard and spent some time as the Braves closer. He was an integral part to the Braves’ 1995 championship season posting a 7-3 record with a 2.09 ERA with 25 saves. In his 9 seasons with the Braves he was 31-22 with a 3.73 ERA.
Gene Garber (middle relief)- Garber spent 10 seasons with the Braves pitching in all sorts of situations. He saved 141 games for the Braves and had a 3.34 ERA with the organizations. His best season came in 1982 when he saved a career high 30 games.
Rick Camp (long relief)- Camp spent 10 years in the Braves organization. He was a starter, a relief pitcher and even closed some games. He is a perfect guy to put in their for long relief situations. In his 9 seasons he was 56-49 with a 3.37 ERA.
Tim Hudson- Hudson is sort of the 6th starter on the team. Hudson spent 10 seasons with the Braves organization. He went 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA in those 10 seasons. Hudson’s best season with the Braves was in 2010, in which he finished 4th in the Cy Young voting and made the all-star team. He won 17 games and posted a 2.83 ERA that season. He sneaks in as the last player to make the roster.