In light of President’s Day, let’s take a look at the greatest Atlanta Braves in team history. It was tough to narrow it down to just four guys and considered the cases for eight different players. However, I eventually narrowed it down to the four that stood out, and here’s who made the Mount Rushmore of Atlanta Braves.
Henry “Hank” Aaron: The easiest choice was Henry “Hank” Aaron. The “Hammer” or “Hammerin Hank” would also have a very strong case to be on the MLB Mount Rushmore with his illustrious career. Aaron leads the Braves in almost every major offensive category, most notably his 733 career home runs. He finished with 755 in all, and many still consider him the all-time home run leader in baseball in wake of the steroid era in which Barry Bonds passed Aaron. That’s a different debate, but there’s no debating Aaron’s place in Braves’ history. Aaron also leads the organization in RBIs, doubles, OPS, slugging, runs and is second in batting average and triples.
Warren Spahn: Spahn also seemed like an obvious choice, as he posted some incredible numbers and is arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball history. Spahn won 363 games – 356 with the Braves – the most in Braves’ history and sixth in baseball history. Spahn won at least 20 games in an incredible 13 seasons. He leads the Braves’ organization with over 5,000 innings pitched which speaks to the longevity of his 21-year career. He ranks third in the organization in strikeouts and the top 10 in WHIP, ERA and opponents’ batting average.
John Smoltz: Here is where it starts to get tougher, and I couldn’t make this list without having one of the big three pitchers from the 90s decade. What separated Smoltz from Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux was his versatility and streaks of domination. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to record at least 200 wins and 150 saves – 210 wins and 154 saves were recorded with the Braves. Those 210 wins rank fifth in team history while the saves and his 3,011 strikeouts rank first. Smoltz’s postseason success (15-4 2.67 ERA) also stand out as a reason that he belongs among the best Atlanta Braves.
Chipper Jones: Jones narrowly edged out Eddie Matthews, Dale Murphy and Maddux. In part because I saw more of his games, but also because he was really good for a long time. Jones ranks ahead of Matthews and Murphy in just about every offensive category with the exception of home runs (Matthews 493, Jones 468). His .401 on-base percentage leads the Braves while he ranks second in runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and OPS – ahead of both Matthews and Murphy in all categories. Jones was also a key contributor in helping the Braves to 14 consecutive division titles.
Some good players just missed my Mount Rushmore of Atlanta Braves, but I felt like these four were the most deserving. Agree or disagree?