I meant to do a “Greatest Atlanta Braves” last offseason but I didn’t get around to it. This series is going to be irregular, depending upon time, but I hope to finish it before the season begins.
The rule is that a player must have spent a significant amount of time with the Atlanta Braves, but is judged by his total contribution to the Braves franchise. Therefore, Eddie Matthews doesn’t make the list, because he played only one year in Atlanta. However, Joe Torre, who played three years in Atlanta after six in Milwaukee, makes it and is judged on what he did in all nine seasons. This is arbitrary.
Most of the hitters included are judged largely upon their offensive contribution because it’s hard to judge on defense. There are a few players who were primarily glove men. My choices and ranking are, again, arbitrary, and based upon a combination of “career” (with the team) and peak value. I did work pretty hard on determining who is on the list. Some who were left off:
Brian Jordan: The last cut. Jordan had three years with the Braves in his first stint with the team, and he was good two of them and ordinary the third. This stint probably would have left him short of my arbitrary cutoffs for playing time. He moves ahead on games with his play the last two years but was so bad I can’t reward him for it.
John Rocker: Maybe should go on the list ahead of a couple of low-grade starting pitchers, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. If he’d had one more season with the club I probably would have had to include him.
Rafael Ramirez: Compares favorably as a hitter to several players I included, but those were all good fielders and he was not.
Bruce Benedict: Jordan was the last cut, but Benedict was the hardest. He simply didn’t hit well enough in any year except 1983. I may yet change my mind and put him in.
Mike Lum: Ten players have played 1000 or more games in Atlanta. Nine are on the list, and Lum is the exception. He was an outfielder, mostly a corner outfielder, who had only two seasons of OPS+ higher than the league.