The Braves are the only franchise to win World Series titles in three different cities, having done so in Boston in 1914, Milwaukee in 1957, and Atlanta in 1995. For many years when they were in Boston they were doormats in the NL, which is why so many of the players on this roster (24 of 28) are from the Milwaukee and/or Atlanta days. They are the only team to ever make the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons, having accomplished that from 1991 to 2005. Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron (shown above) hit more home runs as teammates than any other duo in baseball history.
Javy Lopez – C
There’s pretty sparse pickings at the catcher position for the Braves. There are some excellent defensive players: Bruce Benedict, Del Crandall, and Phil Masi. Then there’s some guys who could swing the club: Joe Torre and Brian McCann. But for an overall catcher, Javy Lopez is the best in franchise history. He was a three-time All-Star who hit 43 homers and hit .328 in his best season for the Braves. His 214 homers rank 8th in franchise history behind some pretty famous names.
Fred McGriff – 1B
In a career spent with six teams, McGriff played at least 500 games for three different franchises: Toronto, Tampa Bay, and the Braves. He played more games for Atlanta than any other, averaging 26 homers and 89 RBI in his five seasons with the Braves. For his career, “Crime Dog” hit 493 homers and drove in 100 or more runs eight times.
Glenn Hubbard – 2B
It’s either Hubbard or Mark Lemke, or maybe Brian Giles, who had a very brief career. Hubbard is, by all statistical measurements and also by visual evidence, one of the best defensive second basemen to ever play the position. He may have looked like Zach Galifianakis ina baseball uniform, but if the ball was hit in his vicinity, he got to it. He led National League second basemen in range factor six times.
Eddie Mathews – 3B
We’ll get to Chipper in a moment, but Eddie Mathews was the greatest third baseman in all of baseball in the 1950s and early 1960s. His swing was one of the prettiest in the game and it was copied by many batters. The left-handed slugger hit more than 500 homers, giving this all-time team five players with at least 400.
Rabbit Maranville – SS
Few know how good he was because he played so long ago, but Rabbit was sort of the Ozzie Smith of his time. Despite really mediocre or outright miserable offensive numbers much of his career, Maranville was a star because of his range at shortstop. He received MVP votes several years when he barely hit over .220 and had no power. he didn’t do somersaults like Ozzie, but he did get elected to the Hall of Fame for his defensive brilliance.
Chipper Jones – DH
As he wound up his career in 2012, Jones cemented his status as a future Hall of Famer. The switch-hitter was the one steady variable on the Braves when they won 11 consecutive division titles from 1995-2005. Though he was never a glamorous star, Jones was consistent. From 1996-2003 he hit .290 or higher with at least 20 homers and 100 RBI every season. He won an MVP at the age of 27 and a batting title at 36.
David Justice – LF
Another slugger in this power-packed lineup, Justice hit 305 homers in his 14-year career. The lefty was a winner: between 1991 and 2002 he played in 10 of 11 post-season.
Dale Murphy – CF
The two-time MVP was very good at being good, on and off the field. He didn’t smoke, drink, chew tobacco, or swear. He wouldn’t even undress when there were female reporters in the clubhouse. He’s the sixth member of our starting lineup who hit at least 300 home runs – he hit 398.
Hank Aaron – RF
In this lineup where would you bat Hank Aaron? We’ll put “The Hammer” third, since he’s the best pure hitter on the team. Put Chipper Jones at leadoff (career OBP over .400), follow him with Dale Murphy, then place Mathews in the cleanup spot after Aaron. In the fifth spot is Fred McGriff, followed by Javy Lopez (#6), David Justice (#7), Rabbit Maranville (#8), and Glenn Hubbard ninth. That’s power from slots 1-7, pretty scary!
Warren Spahn – SP
The best left-handed pitcher in baseball history. Don’t argue that it’s Sandy Koufax, his career was too short for the title. Don’t tell us it’s Lefty Grove – he was great, but he didn’t dominate like Spahn did. Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson can claim the second and third spots, but Warren was the very best there was from the southpaw side.
Greg Maddux – SP
The best pitcher of his generation. Note the emphasis on pitcher. While other pitchers threw the ball past hitters, Mad Dog carved them up with precision. Maddux has four of the top league and era adjusted single-season ERA’s of all-time. He and Spahn create arguably the best lefty/righty duo of any all-time team.
Tom Glavine – SP
Not a bad pitching rotation, eh? Glavine didn’t overpower hitters, he nibbled the corners as well as any pitcher in baseball history on his way to more than 300 victories. He was superb in the post-season too.
Vic Willis – SP
Tall and slender, Willis was the best of the Braves’ pitchers during the Deadball Era when they were in Boston. The right-hander won 25 games as a rookie and then followed that up with 27 in his second season. He won 20 games eight times in his 13-year Hall of Fame career. Once Maddux and Glavine go into the Hall of Fame, all five of the starting pitchers on this team will be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Phil Niekro – SP
After you face the wicked hard stuff of Spahn, the genius of Maddux, the precision of Glavine, and the overhand dropball of Willis, try hitting the fluttering knuckleball of Niekro, the fourth 300-game winner on this staff.
John Smoltz – RP
He could also be in the rotation, but given how deep it already is, we have chosen to use Smoltz as the closer. He filled that role for four seasons after winning 157 games and a Cy Young Award as a starter. The hard-throwing righty saved 55 games in his first full season as a closer, and followed it up with 89 more the next two seasons. Then he went back to the starting rotation and led the NL in wins in 2006 at the age of 39. He was still striking out nearly a batter an inning at the age of 42 in his last season.
Gene Garber – RP
A peculiar delivery helped Garber become one of the most effective relief pitchers in the 1970s and 1980s, when he pitched primarily for the Braves and Phillies. Garber’s 141 saves were a franchise record until Smoltz broke it.
Mark Wohlers – RP
He was a strikeout specialist who had three really good seasons for Atlanta in the 1990s. He’s the only Braves pitcher to pitch in as many as 70 games in a season twice.
Mike Stanton – RP
The southpaw was the epitome of the LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy), pitching 19 years and appearing in more than 1,100 games. But he often faced a tough hitter in a tight spot, and usually he retired him. He played in the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons for four different teams.
John Rocker – RP
This team would be boring without someone like Rocker, a hothead with a missile attached to his left shoulder. when he wasn’t offending nearly everyone with his mouth, Rocker was a very good pitcher out of the bullpen, striking out 11.7 batters per nine innings and saving 88 games in six seasons. With all of the great arms on this staff, Rocker won’t see much action on the mound, but he’ll worth having around for his outrageous behavior.
Joe Torre – C/3B/1B
A great player to have on this roster, as he can back up Lopez, Mathews, and McGriff. Torre was a five-time All-Star with the Braves, won an MVP Award with the Cardinals, and managed the Braves to the post-season. Then he had a pretty good career as a manager of the Yankees, too. He wasn’t a shabby catcher, he won a Gold Glove in 1965.
Joe Adcock – 1B
Even with all of the firepower in the starting lineup on this team, Adcock would be one of the strongest men on the roster. He hit some of the longest home runs in nearly every ballpark in the National League during his career. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to platoon Adcock with McGriff at first base.
Mark Lemke – 2B
Part of several Braves teams that went to the post-season, Lemke was a a sound fundamental player. Should Dan Uggla stick with Atlanta long enough, he could surpass Lemke as the second baseman here.
Rafael Furcal – SS
The Dominican spent six seasons at short for the Braves, utilizing great speed in the field. Hit .284 and averaged 31 stolen bases per season for Atlanta.
Bob Elliott – 3B
Was a very good player in the mold of Ron Santo and Darrell Evans later – a third baseman who could field,. hit for power, drive in runs, and draw walks. Known as “Mr. Team,” Elliott won one MVP and earned MVP votes in seven seasons.
Wally Berger – CF
Berger was a career .300 hitter who led the league in homers and RBi in 1935 for the Braves. Though his career ended rather early (he hurt his shoulder when he was 33 and his career was essentially over), Berger made a great splash – he still owns the NL record for most homers by a rookie with 38.
Andruw Jones – CF
Like Berger, Jones was a center fielder, and an excellent one. His fielding stats indicate that he was probably the best defensive center fielder since Richie Ashburn and Willie Mays. Jones hit like a superstar in his 20s, but fell off in his 30s, though he was still a valuable player. Rates close to the top 20 all-time at his position.
Rico Carty – LF/1B/DH
Had the designated hitter existed in the 1960s, Carty would have fit that role perfectly. As it was the right-handed line-drive hitter was a fine offensive weapon, hitting .322 through the age of 30 even though he missed an entire season when he contracted tuberculosis and another due to injuries suffered in winter ball. He had a difficult time cracking the outfield with the Braves, but in his 30s he still held a job in the big leagues as a professional hitter, finishing his career at the age of 39 as a DH in the American League and with a .299 average and .369 OBP for his 15 seasons.
Chris Chambliss – 1B
Chambliss had a solid 17-year career with the Indians, Yankees, and Atlanta (he played one game more for the Braves than he did in New York). He was good with the glove and he hit for good average from the left side of the plate.
Bobby Cox – MGR
Enters the Hall of Fame in 2014 on the strength of his 29-year career, 25 of them with the Braves in two stints. He won a record 14 consecutive division titles and guided the Braves to 100 wins six times. He won just the one World Series title, and his teams were bounced from the postseason prematurely a few too many times, but his record still stacks up with the just about any manager in history.