SABR

The All-Time Atlanta Braves All-Star Team

By Terry W. Sloope

This article was published in the 2010 The National Pastime.

In addition to an All-Time Georgia-born All-Star team, the Magnolia Chapter selected an All-Time Atlanta Braves All-Star team. While acknowledging the talent of any number of players who served the Braves franchise during its time in Milwaukee and Boston, we wanted to restrict this team to players who actually played in Atlanta. We suggested that primary emphasis should be given to the players’ records with Atlanta, but ultimately the voters were free to decide for themselves how much weight to give to overall career records versus Atlanta records and the length of time a player spent in Atlanta. Voting procedures were similar to those used for the All-Time Georgia-born team. The number of members participating in the selection process at any given position varied between 30 and 45. The results are presented and discussed below:
 

First Base

Fred McGriff (with Atlanta 1993–97; 195 points; 35 first-place votes)

McGriff, originally a product of the Yankee farm system, made his major-league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1986 and established himself as a consistent power hitter before being traded to the Padres prior to the 1991 season. Obtained from the Padres in a July 1993 trade, “Crime Dog” helped the Braves capture the NL East flag in four of the five years he was with the team (the Braves were in second place when the player strike ended the 1994 season in August). He hit four home runs in the 1995 postseason, in which Atlanta won their only World Series that fall against Cleveland. Selected to the NL All-Star team three times as a Brave (1994–96), he was named MVP of the 1994 midsummer classic after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The National League went on to win the game 8–7 in ten innings. He later played for the Devil Rays, Cubs, and Dodgers and finished his career with 493 home runs. He received just 21.5 percent of the votes cast by the baseball writers in his first year of eligibility (2010) for the Hall of Fame. Only time will tell if falling just shy of the once magical 500 homer mark will cost him a place in the hallowed hall.

Chris Chambliss (1980–86; 70; 2) won a close contest for the bench spot. Obtained in a trade with the Blue Jays in December 1979, Chambliss was a veteran presence on the Braves NL Western Division–winning team in 1982. He had a solid, if unspectacular, tenure with the Braves, hitting .272 with 80 home runs and a 110 OPS+ rating during his seven seasons with Atlanta.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Orlando Cepeda 1969–1972 61 5
Andres Galarraga 1998, 2000 54 2
Sid Bream 1991–1993 8 0
Dale Murphy (write-in) 1976–1990 5 1
Willie Montanez 1976–1977 4 0
Gerald Perry 1983–1989 4 0

Second Base

Glenn Hubbard (1978–87; 109; 15) was a fan favorite in Atlanta for years. Fans appreciated him for his defensive skill at second base and his tenacious approach to the game, which made up for his relatively small physical stature. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1983 and went 1 for 1 in the NL’s 13–3 loss at Comiskey Park. He signed with Oakland as a free agent in 1988 and played two seasons for the A’s, including his only World Series appearance in 1988. He is currently the Braves’ first-base coach, a position he has held for several seasons.

Mark Lemke (1988–97; 75; 7) narrowly won a spot on the roster as the reserve second baseman. He was another fan favorite who worked hard to maximize his limited physical gifts; his defensive skills compensated for his relatively weak bat. He is most fondly remembered for his spirited play in the 1991 World Series, when he hit .417 with three triples in the Braves’ dramatic, seven-game Series loss to the Minnesota Twins. His manager, Bobby Cox, loved his hard-nosed style of play. He played briefly with the Red Sox at the end of his career before becoming a radio broadcaster in Atlanta.

 

Others Receiving Votes

Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Marcus Giles 2001–2006 72 4
Felix Millan 1966–1972 62 8
Davey Johnson 1973–1975 38 6

Shortstop

Rafael Furcal (2000–5; 142; 14)

In the closest balloting of all, Rafael Furcal was selected as our All-Time Atlanta Braves shortstop over Jeff Blauser, although Blauser actually received more first-place votes. Furcal was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2000. As the Braves’ lead-off hitter, he could bunt, had good speed on the bases, and could occasionally hit the long ball. His on-base percentage with the Braves was good (.348) but certainly not as high as a team would like from its leadoff hitter. As a shortstop he was prone to errors, particularly on easy plays, but he had above-average range and a rifle arm. His only All-Star appearance was in 2003. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent following the 2005 season. A free agent again after the 2008 season, Furcal entered serious negotiations to return to the Braves, but re-signed with the Dodgers instead. That decision infuriated the Braves’ front-office personnel, who believed Furcal and his agent had reneged on a verbal acceptance of the Braves’ contract offer.

As a hitter, Jeff Blauser (1987–97; 140; 20) was better than the typical shortstop and exhibited some power, although he often frustrated fans with his inconsistency at the plate. He was never considered to be a defensive wizard, although his career fielding percentage and range factors were only slightly below league averages. He was named to the NL All-Star teams in 1993 and 1997; he also won the Silver Slugger Award at shortstop in 1997, his last season with the Braves. He signed with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent prior to the 1998 season but suffered through injuries and two nonproductive years before retiring as an active player. He managed briefly in the Braves minor-league system before leaving the game entirely.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Yunel Escobar 2007–2009 38 2
Edgar Renteria 2006–2007 24 4
Rafael Ramirez 1980–1987 13 1
Sonny Jackson 1968–1974 4 0
Denis Menke 1966–1967 4 0

Third Base

Larry “Chipper” Jones (1993, 1995–2010; 172; 32)

A six-time All-Star and 1999 NL MVP, Chipper Jones knocked in 100+ runs nine times, including eight straight seasons (1996–2003). He ranks as one of the best switch-hitters in the history of the game, behind only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Although injuries have affected his productivity late in his career, he managed to win the NL batting title in 2008 with a .364 average and has a .307 lifetime batting average through 2009. In the field, he is an average third baseman at best, with slightly below-average range. Many consider him to be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame once his playing days are over.

Bob Horner (1978–86; 68; 0) finished a distant second in the third-base balloting. Joining the Braves directly out of Arizona State University in June 1978, he went .266–23–63 to win NL Rookie of the Year honors. He typically batted behind Dale Murphy in the Braves’ lineup, and his short, compact stroke was surprisingly powerful. He slugged four home runs in one game on July 6, 1986, driving in six runs, but the Braves lost the game to the Montreal Expos 11–8. Injuries curtailed his career after he spent the 1987 season in Japan and 1988 with the Cardinals.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Eddie Mathews 1966 35 3
Terry Pendleton 1991–1994, 1996 25 1
Darrell Evans 1969–1976, 1989 24 0
Clete Boyer 1967–1971 5 1

Catcher

Javy Lopez (1992–2003; 157; 25) was the Braves’ primary catcher during most of their fourteen consecutive first-place division finishes. In his prime, when he played for the Braves, Lopez was a consistent hitter with good power (OPS = .839; OPS+ = 113). He was a three-time All-Star (1997, 1998, and 2003) and MVP of the NL Championship Series in 1996. In 2003, his last season with Atlanta, he hit .328 with 43 home runs and 109 RBI in just 129 games.

He finished out his career with the Orioles and Red Sox before retiring after the 2006 season.

Brian McCann (2005–9; 135; 7), who is the only member of the All-Time Georgia-born team to also make the All-Time Atlanta Braves All-Star roster, is one of the best hitters of the new generation of catchers. He has a .293 lifetime batting average through the 2009 season and has shown good power, leading all catchers in total home runs from 2006 through 2009. He was named to the NL All-Star team in each of his first four full seasons. He is an average fielder who has some trouble with balls in the dirt, particularly when they are off the plate. He also has been working to improve his throwing.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Joe Torre 1966–1968 24 4
Earl Williams 1970–1972; 1975–1976 4 0
Bruce Benedict 1978–1989 4 0

Outfield

Henry Aaron (1966–74; 176; 33)

Dale Murphy (1976–90; 143; 4)

Andruw Jones (1996–2007; 93; 1)

“The Hammer” Hank Aaron finished first in the outfield balloting, although he was not a unanimous selection. A handful of voters discounted Aaron’s candidacy on the grounds that his best days had passed by the time he moved with the Braves from Milwaukee to Atlanta. After breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record in 1974, Aaron returned to Milwaukee for two seasons as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finished with 755 career home runs. Despite losing his home-run record to Barry Bonds in 2007, fan appreciation and respect for Hank’s accomplishments have grown in recent years due to the controversy surrounding Bonds’ suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs. Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, and he now serves as a vice president in the Braves organization.

Dale Murphy won back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 1982–83 and is the all-time Atlanta Braves fan favorite. A modest, gentlemanly individual and devout Mormon, Murphy was the shining star of the franchise in the 1980s, when things were mostly bleak for the Braves. A seven-time All-Star, Murphy led the NL in homers in 1984 and 1985 and finished second in home runs in both of his MVP seasons. Murphy started out as a catcher and briefly tried first base before moving to center field in 1980, where he won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1982 through 1986. He went to the Phillies in 1990 in a midseason trade and played briefly with the Rockies in 1993 before retiring just two home runs shy of 400.

Andruw Jones arrived on the scene late in the 1996 season and made a huge splash when, at the age of 19, he hit two home runs in Game One of the 1996 World Series. Andruw went on to become one of the best center fielders of his generation, winning ten consecutive NL Gold Glove Awards (1998–2007), and often was compared favorably to Willie Mays as one of the best center fielders of all time. A lean and powerful hitter with good speed when he first came up, Andruw’s home-run power quickly manifested itself, but he never developed the consistency at the plate that fans and Braves officials expected of him. After going .303–36–104 in 2000, his batting average dropped significantly in subsequent years, and he became a one-dimensional offensive threat. He signed as a free agent with the Dodgers in 2008 and suffered through an unproductive, injury-filled season. He partially redeemed himself with the Texas Rangers in 2009 and signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox for 2010.

David Justice (1989–96; 48; 0) and Rico Carty (1966–72; 40; 0) are the reserve outfielders. Justice had the unfortunate task of replacing a local idol—Dale Murphy—in right field after Murphy was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990. He did so admirably. Justice was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 1990 and provided the Braves with good, but not consistently great, offensive production throughout his tenure with the team. He is best remembered for his solo home run in Game Six of the 1995 World Series, which produced the only run of the game and clinched Atlanta’s only World Championship. Carty won the NL batting title in 1970 with a .366 average but then suffered a devastating knee injury that cost him the entire 1971 season. It took two more years for him to fully recover, by which time he had moved to the American League, where he served primarily as a designated hitter.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Ralph Garr 1968–1975 14 0
Felipe Alou 1966–1969 13 1
Ron Gant 1987–1993 12 0
Gary Sheffield 2002–2003 8 0
Ryan Klesko 1992–1999 4 0
Otis Nixon 1991–1993, 1999 4 0
Dusty Baker 1968–1975 3 0
J. D. Drew 2004 2 0
Marquis Grissom 1995–1996 2 0
Ken Griffey Sr. 1986–1988 1 0
Kenny Lofton 1997 1 0
Lonnie Smith 1988–1992 1 0

Starting Rotation

Greg Maddux (19932003; 210; 30)

Phil Niekro (1966–83, 1987; 161; 5)

Tom Glavine (1987–2002, 2008; 157; 1)

John Smoltz (1988–99, 2001–8; 138; 1)

Kevin Millwood (1997–2002; 44; 0)

He was not big physically. He did not have an overpowering fastball. But Greg Maddux combined intelligence with unsurpassed consistency and pinpoint control on the mound en route to 355 wins in the major leagues (194 with the Braves). He won four consecutive Cy Young Awards (1992–95) and posted a career ERA of 3.16 (ERA+ = 132) in an age dominated by hitters and the long ball. In 1994 and 1995, he posted incredible league-leading ERAs of 1.56 and 1.63. (ERA+ = 271 and 262, respectively). He also was an excellent fielder, as witnessed by his eighteen Gold Glove Awards; a recent study (Knox 2009) ranked him as the second-best fielding pitcher of all time. Maddux began his career with the Cubs before joining the Braves in 1993; he returned to the Cubs as a free agent in 2004 and finished his career with short stints with the Dodgers and Padres, retiring after the 2008 season. He undoubtedly will be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Phil Niekro won 318 games in the major leagues (268 with the Braves) throwing what many believe to be a “trick” pitch—the knuckleball. Few pitchers in major-league history have been able to exert such control over such a difficult pitch for so long. A five-time All-Star, Niekro won twenty games in a season three times and lost twenty games twice. Although he led the Braves to division championships in 1969 and 1982, his overall record of success is even more remarkable given the dismal state of the Braves during most of the 1970s. He also won five Gold Glove Awards. Leaving Atlanta after the 1983 season, he played briefly with the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Indians, returning to Atlanta for one game in 1987 before retiring. His relatively low career winning percentage (.537) was largely responsible for his belated induction into the Hall of Fame in 1997, four years after he first became eligible.

Tom Glavine won two Cy Young Awards with the Braves (1991 and 1998) and was the MVP of the 1995 World Series. A ten-time All-Star (eight times as a Brave), Glavine is another pitcher who was not blessed with overpowering speed but compensated for that deficiency with a very effective change-up and excellent control. His decision to sign as a free agent with the division rival Mets before the 2003 season left a bitter taste in many a Braves fan’s mouth; he pitched five seasons in New York and won his 300th career game in a Mets uniform. Glavine returned to the Braves in 2008 but suffered an arm injury in late May that resulted in his first stint ever on the disabled list and ultimately ended his season. After undergoing two surgeries, he attempted a comeback with the Braves in 2009, but the club unceremoniously released him after a minor-league rehab assignment, before he ever made it back to a major-league mound. He failed to catch on with another team and accepted a front-office position with the Braves prior to the 2010 season. A five-time 20-game winner, he won 305 games over the course of a 22-year career. He is another future Hall of Famer; many Braves fans salivate at the thought of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux entering the Hall of Fame together.

John Smoltz was the dominating fireballer during the Braves’ stretch of 14 consecutive division championships. An eight-time All-Star, Smoltz is one of the few pitchers to make a successful transition from dominating starter to dominating closer. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996 as a starter and the NL Rolaids Relief Award in 2002 as a closer. He was the Braves closer for three-plus seasons (2001–4), saving 154 games. He may be the only pitcher who made a second transition back to dominating starter; he was 47–26 as a starter in his last four seasons with Atlanta. Smoltz signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 2009; he struggled during his brief stint there, however, and was released in midseason. He signed with the Cardinals for the rest of the 2009 season and pitched somewhat better, but he was not re-signed for 2010. Although he expressed a desire to pitch in 2010, he had yet to sign with a club as spring training approached. Most observers believe Smoltz will be the third Hall-of-Famer from the Braves’ pitching staff of the 1990s. If he fails to catch on with another club for 2010 he will become eligible for Hall of Fame consideration one year after Maddux and Glavine become eligible.

Kevin Millwood pitched for Atlanta for just six years (1997–2002), compiling a record of 75–46 (.620). His only appearance in an All-Star game came in 1999. He was sent to the Phillies before the 2003 season for financial reasons and later spent one year in Cleveland before moving on to the Texas Rangers. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 2010 season. Since leaving Atlanta, however, his overall record is just a few games over .500 (80–75).

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Steve Avery 1990–96 18 0
Pat Jarvis 1966–72 16 0
Tim Hudson 2005–9 15 0
Denny Neagle 1996–98 7 0
Tony Cloninger 1966–68 6 0
Russ Ortiz 2003–4 6 0
Rick Mahler 1979–88, 1991 5 0
Ron Reed 1966–75 4 0
Denny Lemaster 1966–67 2 0
Andy Messersmith 1976–77 2 0
Milt Pappas 1968–70 2 0
Pascual Perez 1982–85 2 0
Zane Smith 1984–89 1 0

Bullpen

Gene Garber (1978–87; 118; 13)

Mark Wohlers (1991–99; 92; 5)

Steve Bedrosian (1981–85; 68; 2)

John Rocker (1998–2001; 44; 1)

Rick Camp (1976–78, 1980–85; 40; 0)

Gene Garber earned 141 saves during his ten years (1978–87) with the Braves, including a career-high 30 saves in 1982, when the Braves won the NL West flag. He (along with Larry McWilliams and Dave Campbell) is best remembered for ending Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak in August 1978. He also played with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Kansas City during his career.

Mark Wohlers was a hard-throwing right-hander with the Braves for nine seasons and served as the club’s closer from 1995 through 1997. He developed sudden, serious control problems in 1998, which limited him to 20 innings that season. He was traded to Cincinnati in April 1999 and later played one season each for the Yankees and Indians, but he never again regained his dominating form. He retired after the 2002 season.

Steve Bedrosian was primarily a relief pitcher with the Braves during his first four years in the major leagues (1981–84), including numerous appearances as the club’s closer. The Braves turned him into a starting pitcher in 1985, and he finished the season with a 7–15 record and 3.83 ERA for a woefully bad ball club. Traded to Philadelphia after the 1985 season, Bedrosian went back to the bullpen and saved 103 ballgames for the Phillies in his three-plus seasons there. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1987 and made his only All-Star appearance that year. He returned to Atlanta in 1993 after stints in San Francisco and Minnesota and pitched for three more years, mostly in middle relief, before retiring.

John Rocker had a brief (1998–2001) but eventful tenure with the Braves. An intense, left-handed fireballer, he saved 83 games for the Braves, but his career began to unravel after the 1999 season, when he made a series of ill-advised, offensive remarks about New York City and its diverse population. Suspended for the first two weeks of the 2000 season, Rocker began to lose his effectiveness, and he was traded to the Indians in June 2001. His final major-league appearance was with Tampa Bay in 2003. A popular sport magazine later revealed that he had tested positive for human-growth hormone (HGH) in 2000.

Rick Camp played nine seasons in the major leagues, all with the Braves, and was used as both a starter and reliever. Overall, he posted a 56–49 record with a 3.37 ERA (ERA+ = 115). He is fondly remembered for hitting a home run (the only one of his career) in the bottom of the 18th inning on July 4 (actually, the early morning of July 5), 1985, which extended the game against the Mets another inning. The game ended at 3:30 a.m., when the Mets won in the 19th. He is the only retired member of this All-Atlanta Braves team who played his entire career with the Braves.

Others Receiving Votes Years with Atlanta Total Points First-Place Votes
Hoyt Wilhelm 1969–71 37 3
Mike Remlinger 1999–2002, 2006 36 0
Cecil Upshaw 1966–69, 1971–73 34 1
John Smoltz1 1988-99, 2001-8 31 3
Greg McMichael 1993–96, 2000 25 1
Bruce Sutter 1985–86, 1988 20 1
Kerry Lightenberg 1997–98, 2000–2 16 0
Kent Mercker 1989–95, 2003 15 0
Al Hrabosky 1980–82 11 0
Alejandro Pena 1991–92, 1995 9 0
Mike Stanton 1989–95 5 0
Juan Berenguer 1991–92 4 0
Tom House 1971–75 4 0
Jim Nash 1970–72 4 0
Claude Raymond 1967–69 4 0
Bob Wickman 2006–7 4 0
Max Leon 1973–78 3 0
Jeff Reardon 1992 3 0
Terry Forster 1983–85 2 0
Paul Assenmacher 1986–89 2 0
Jay Howell 1993 1 0

Manager

Bobby Cox (1978–81; 1990–2010; 35)

Bobby Cox, who has served two different stints as Braves manager, beat out Joe Torre2 (two first-place votes) quite easily as the All-Time Braves manager. Through 2009, Cox had led the Braves to five NL pennants (and 14 consecutive division flags) and one World Championship. Cox has a reputation as a players’ manager; he insists on a professional clubhouse and approach to the game and, at the same time, unfailingly supports his players in his dealings with the press, saving any criticism of their performance for closed-door conversations with the players themselves. Late in the 2009 season, he announced that 2010 would be his final year as Braves manager. He is a cinch for future induction into the Hall of Fame.

All-Time Atlanta Braves All-Star Lineup and Roster – Career Statistics with Atlanta
Starting

 

Lineup

Pos AB H R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Rafael Furcal SS 3258 924 554 38 292 189 .284 .348 .409 .756 95
Chipper Jones 3B 7825 2406 1458 426 1445 142 .307 .406 .541 .947 143
Hank Aaron LF 4548 1334 818 335 897 91 .293 .378 .567 .945 160
Fred McGriff 1B 2388 700 383 130 446 23 .293 .369 .516 .885 128
Dale Murphy RF 7098 1901 1103 371 1143 160 .268 .351 .478 .829 125
Andruw Jones CF 6408 1683 1045 368 1117 138 .263 .342 .497 .839 113
Javy Lopez C 4003 1148 508 214 694 8 .287 .337 .502 .839 113
Glenn Hubbard 2B 4016 983 498 64 403 32 .245 .328 .351 .680 85
Bench                        
Chris Chambliss 1B 2668 727 319 80 366 21 .272 .345 .422 .767 110
Mark Lemke 2B 3139 778 339 32 263 11 .248 .319 .327 .646 72
Jeff Blauser SS 3961 1060 601 109 461 61 .268 .355 .415 .770 106
Bob Horner 3B 3571 994 545 215 652 14 .278 .339 .508 .847 128
David Justice OF 2858 786 475 160 522 33 .275 .374 .499 .873 132
Rico Carty OF 2018 637 276 77 328 9 .316 .393 .484 .877 140
Brian McCann C 2123 623 263 91 389 12 .290 .360 .500 .850 121
Starting Rotation Games GS CG W L PCT IP WHIP ERA ERA+
Greg Maddux 363 363 61 194 88 .688 2526.2 1.051 2.63 163
Phil Niekro 689 594 226 266 227 .540 4532.2 1.23 3.20 120
Tom Glavine 518 518 52 244 147 .624 3408.0 1.296 3.41 121
John Smoltz 708 466 53 210 147 .588 3395.0 1.170 3.26 127
Kevin Millwood 168 160 6 75 46 .620 1004.1 1.216 3.73 117
Bullpen Games GS W L SAVES WHIP ERA ERA+
Gene Garber 557 0 53 73 141 1.276 3.34 117
Mark Wohlers 388 0 31 22 112 1.385 3.73 112
Steve Bedrosian 350 46 40 45 41 1.302 3.26 119
John Rocker 210 0 8 12 83 1.326 2.63 169
Rick Camp 414 65 56 49 57 1.386 3.37 115

As I did for the All-Time Georgia-born team, I created a hypothetical lineup from the winners at each position (see accompanying table). This lineup would be Earl Weaver’s delight; it would generate plenty of runs via the long ball. Furcal is a good leadoff hitter with speed, although his on-base percentage is not as high as we might like. Chipper Jones in the second spot provides a combination of good contact and a good eye with very good power. He and Furcal also are both switch-hitters, which increases their value. Aaron, McGriff, Murphy, and Andruw Jones provide huge bats in the middle of the order, although Murphy and Jones certainly could be free swingers. Javy Lopez is a solid bat with power behind Jones. Glenn Hubbard in the eighth spot is the lineup’s only real weakness, although he is not an automatic out.

Overall, team speed is mediocre at best. Furcal is a threat to steal at the top of the lineup. Early in their careers, Dale Murphy and Andruw Jones had good speed on the bases for big men. Murphy’s stolen-base output dropped off significantly by the time he was 30, however. Andruw’s proclivity to steal a base diminished as he became heavier and turned into the one-dimensional offensive threat discussed earlier. There is little speed on the bench.

The starting outfield would be very good defensively. Murphy and Andruw Jones, in addition to being able to track down most fly balls hit their way, had excellent throwing abilities. Hank Aaron, despite winning three Gold Glove awards, never got the recognition he deserved for his defense in right-field, probably because he made everything look so easy. With the exception of the starting pitching and Hubbard at second base, the infield defense is average at best. Furcal has good range and a strong arm but is prone to make errors. Chipper Jones and McGriff are only average at the corners. Hubbard had an excellent defensive reputation. Javy Lopez is adequate, but hardly outstanding, behind the plate. The starting pitchers provide strong defense on the mound overall. Maddux, Glavine, and Niekro had excellent reputations as fielders, and John Smoltz was a good defensive player as well. Millwood is only average as a fielder, however.

The starting pitching on this team is excellent. Three pitchers—Maddux, Niekro and Glavine—won over 300 games each over the course of their careers, and Smoltz has won over 200 games. Collectively they won seven Cy Young Awards, all but one—Maddux in 1992—with the Braves. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz were the linchpins in the Braves’ unprecedented string of division championships beginning in 1991. The bullpen is adequate if not outstanding. There are four viable options—Garber, Wohlers, Bedrosian, and Rocker—at the closer spot, and Bedrosian and Camp are available as long relievers and spot starters. One weakness in the pitching staff might be the lack of left-handers. The starting rotation and the bullpen each include only one southpaw.

Home-grown players dominate the All-Time Atlanta Braves team. Twenty of the 25 players on the team, including seven of the eight starting-position players and three of the starting pitchers, are products of the Braves’ scouting and farm system. The exceptions are McGriff, Chambliss, Maddux, Smoltz, and Garber, although Smoltz was with the Braves by the time he made his major-league debut. The other four were well established by the time they came to Atlanta.

Almost two-thirds (15) of the players on the team are players from the past 20 years, most of whom contributed significantly to the Braves’ stretch of division pennants. Chambliss, Horner, Hubbard, Murphy, Bedrosian, Camp, and Garber represent the Braves of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Only Aaron, Carty, and Niekro go back to the days when the Braves first moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

Magnolia SABR’s All-Time Atlanta Braves All-Star Team is impressive. It includes two current Hall of Famers (Aaron and Niekro) and a manager and at least three players (probably four) who will be admitted to the Hall in the future.3 Cox, Maddux, and Glavine are sure bets, as is Smoltz in all probability. Many people think Chipper Jones has already established his Hall of Fame credentials, and Fred McGriff will be an interesting but tough call. There is no doubt Dale Murphy would be in the Hall of Fame if the voting were limited to Atlanta fans, but he has failed to garner significant support among the BBWAA voters since he became eligible. Andruw Jones, had he not crashed and burned at the ripe old age of 31, might have been on his way to a Hall of Fame career as well. The rest of the roster provides capable support. I’m sure any manager, not to mention Bobby Cox, would be eager to lead this team into action.

TERRY W. SLOOPE has served as the Magnolia Chapter’s regional chair for more than ten years. He has been working on a biographical project about Cartersville’s Rudy York for longer than that.

Sources

Briley, Ron. “Russ Ortiz.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Cava, Peter J. “Kenny Lofton.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Evers, John L. “David Justice.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: The Free Press, 2001.

Klapisch, Bob, and Pete Van Wieren. The Braves: An Illustrated History of America’s Team. Atlanta, Ga.: Turner Publishing Inc., 1995.

Knox, John A. “The 100 Top-Fielding MLB Pitchers, Circa 1900–2008.” The Baseball Research Journal 38, no. 1 (2009): 49–58.

Mondore, Scot E. “Andres Galarraga.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Olmsted, Frank J. “Deion Sanders.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

——. “Fred McGriff.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

——. “Gary Sheffield.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Pietrusza, David, Mathew Silverman, and Michael Gershman, eds. Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia. Kingston, N.Y.: Total Sports Illustrated, 2000.

Riley, James A. “Andruw Jones.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

——. “Javy Lopez.” In Latino and African American Athletes Today: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. David L. Porter. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Stanton, Tom. Hank Aaron and the Home Run That Changed America. New York: William Morrow, 2004.

www.baseball-reference.com.

  • 1. Election of starting pitchers was held first. John Smoltz was included as a starter and finished in the top five. He also was included on the ballot as a reliever, and the voters were advised that if he received more points as a reliever, he would be included on the team at that position instead (assuming he finished as one of the top five relievers, which he did not).
  • 2. Several voters, presumably in jest, identified Ted Turner as their second choice for All-Time Braves manager. Since this is intended to be a somewhat serious article and not a script for a bad television sitcom, I refuse to formally record those votes!
  • 3. It is interesting to note that four other Hall of Famers who did not make the team roster also received votes: Orlando Cepeda, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Bruce Sutter all spent time with Atlanta near the end of their careers; Eddie Mathews, of course, spent most of his career with the Braves franchise but spent just one year in Atlanta.
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