By Walter Bergeson on May 13, 2014
The Braves are the longest continuously operating franchise in professional sports, dating all the way back to 1871. Over those 144 years, the team has employed some of the greatest players in baseball history. However, this list only ranks players who played in Atlanta, where the Braves called home since 1966. The player's rank is determined only by their time with the Atlanta Braves, not their overall career accomplishments.
Garr is somewhat forgotten due to the fact that his best years came during the early 70's when the Braves weren't very competitive. The "Road Runner" hit .317 over eight seasons with the Braves, only striking out 291 times in over 3,000 AB's. He led the National League in hits and triples in 1974, posting a career high .353 batting average.
It may seem premature to put the 25-year-old Kimbrel on this list already, but the numbers he's put up over his first five years are staggering. He should pass John Smoltz for the franchise saves record in the next few weeks, and his 15.2 career K/9 rate is the highest in baseball history. He's led the National League in saves each of the past three seasons, and his 1.45 career ERA is over 0.75 runs lower than Mariano Rivera's.
If not for Willie Mays, Jones would be the favorite for greatest defensive center fielder in baseball history. "The Curacao Kid" won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves while playing for the Braves, hitting 26 home runs or more in each of those seasons. Selected to five All-Star games, Jones is the only player in franchise history to hit more than 50 homers in a season.
Murphy is one of 12 players in baseball history to win back to back MVP awards. In both 1982 and 1983, Murphy played in all 162 games, hit exactly 36 home runs, led the National League in RBI, stole over 20 bases, made the All-Star team, and won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Over 15 seasons with the Braves, Murphy was selected an All-Star seven times and hit 371 home runs.
The most famous knuckleballer in the history of the game, Niekro played 21 seasons for the Braves, 19 of them coming in Atlanta. He won 266 games while pitching in Atlanta, more than any Braves pitcher since the team moved from Milwaukee. He led the National League in complete games four times, combining for 65 of them between 1977 and 1979.
Maddux was the best pitcher in baseball during the 1990's, and he spent the majority of his prime pitching for the Braves. His .688 winning percentage is a franchise record for pitchers with over 500 innings pitched, and his 1.051 WHIP while with the Braves is an Atlanta record. He won the NL Cy Young Award in each of his first three seasons with the Braves, going 55-18 with a 1.90 ERA over that stretch.
Aaron only played nine seasons in Atlanta and they came during the second half of his career. Still, he put up incredible numbers just about every year he spent in the South. He led the National League in home runs and RBI in 1966, and hit a career high 47 home runs in 1971. "Hammerin' Hank" hit 335 of his 755 career home runs while playing in Atlanta, averaging just under 100 RBI per season over those nine years.
Glavine won 20 games or more five separate times while pitching for the Braves. He was selected to eight All-Star teams over his 17 years in Atlanta, winning four Silver Slugger Awards as well. His one-hit outing in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series was one of the greatest pitching performances in playoff history and it won the Braves their only championship since coming to Atlanta.
Smoltz had one of the most unique careers in the history of the game. He won 155 games, made four All-Star teams, and won a Cy Young Award before sitting out a year to undergo Tommy John surgery. He returned after the surgery as the Braves closer, setting a National League record for saves with 55 in 2002. In 20 seasons with the Braves, he finished with 210 wins, 154 saves, and a franchise record 3,011 strikeouts.
Jones is not only one of the greatest switch-hitters and third basemen in baseball history, he's the only player on this list to spend his entire career with the Braves. He won the National League MVP in 1999 with 45 home runs and a .319 average. At 36, he put up career highs in batting average (.364) and OBP (.470), leading the National League in both categories.
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