Atlanta Braves All-Time 26-Man Rosterby Alex Kielar January 24, 2022 1 comment
The Atlanta Braves are one of the most historic franchises in American sports history. In fact, they are the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in America, being born as the Boston Red Stockings in 1871. The franchise went through a number of name changes and relocations over its first decade. In 1912, they became known as the Boston Braves after six league titles in the 1870s and three more in the 1890s. The Braves started off slow in the modern era but they won two pennants (1914 and 1948) and one World Series title in 1914.
After losing fan support to the Boston Red Sox, the Braves relocated to Milwaukee in 1953 after 82 years in Boston. They won the World Series in 1957 and the NL Pennant in 1958, before hitting a rough patch and moving to Atlanta in 1966. The Braves were the first NL West Champions in 1969 but lost to the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. They won another division title in 1982, but it was a slow first couple of decades in Atlanta other than that. Then the 1990s came when they won eight division titles, one World Series (1995), and four pennants. Since the turn of the millennium, the Braves have won 11 more division titles and one World Series last year. They won 11 straight division titles from 1995 to 2005.
Make sure to check out all of our other All-Time Rosters.
Joe Torre, C
Before his great managerial career, Torre was a very solid catcher for his first 10 big league seasons (nine with the Braves). He was the runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year in 1961 at the age of 20, after hitting .278 with a 106 OPS+. Torre started to break out more in 1963 with his first All-Star Game of five straight. In those five seasons, the strong defensive catcher earned MVP votes while smashing at least 14 homers and hitting for average. His career-high of homers was 36 in 1966 and his highest MVP finish with the Braves was fifth in 1964.
Freddie Freeman, 1B
A second-round pick in 2007, Freeman has become the face of the Braves over the last 12 years. He was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2011, behind teammate Craig Kimbrel (more on him later). From 2011-2014, the Orange, California native played at least 147 games, including all 162 in 2014, and was an All-Star in 2013 and 2014. Freeman has been named an All-Star three other times, including 2021, and won the MVP in the pandemic shortened 2020 season. Each of the last three seasons he has won a Silver Slugger and he won a Gold Glove in 2018.
Outside of 2020, the current free agent finished in the top 10 of MVP voting five times. Over 12 years, his career slash line sits at .295/.384/.509 with 271 home runs, 941 RBI, and a 138 OPS+. Of course, Freeman finally got the World Series title on his resume in what could have been his final year in Atlanta in 2021.
Marcus Giles, 2B
Ozzie Albies is headed towards taking this spot over someday, but for now, it is the formidable Giles. Although he only played seven seasons in the majors and six with the Braves, the San Diego native was a solid player during that time. A 53rd round pick in the 1996 MLB Draft, Giles exceeded expectations as his .809 OPS with the Braves ranks first among franchise second basemen. As the team’s starting second baseman from 2003-06, he produced a 15.9 fWAR, second to just Chase Utley‘s 16.1 fWAR for second basemen over that time. Giles earned his lone All-Star selection in 2003 and hit a franchise-record 49 doubles. He broke his collarbone a few weeks into the 2004 season and began to decline in 2006 before being designated for assignment.
Eddie Mathews, 3B
This is probably the toughest position to pick, but Mathews gets the slight edge over Chipper Jones based on defense. Mathews holds the franchise record for games played at third base with 2,130 and never had less than a .939 fielding percentage at the position. The left-handed hitter finished third for the Rookie of the Year in 1952 and was runner-up for the NL MVP in 1953 after leading the league with 47 homers and a 171 OPS+. 1953 was his first of 12 All-Star selections (two in each of three seasons) and he was the runner-up for the MVP again in 1956 when he led the league with 46 homers.
Mathews never hit less than 23 homers while with the Braves and led all third baseman with a 94.3 fWAR in his 15 years there. The Braves won two World Series titles while Mathews was there. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
Johnny Logan, SS
Logan was the Braves’ shortstop from 1951 to 1961 and compiled a 33.4 fWAR and a 98 wRC+. The New York native helped the Braves win the World Series in 1957 while he ranked second in the NL with a 20.2 defensive fWAR. Logan was a four-time All-Star and is the only shortstop in franchise history to produce a 5.0 bWAR and he had two 5.0 fWAR seasons.
Dale Murphy, LF
Murphy became the team’s primary center fielder in 1980 and became the only Braves player to win two MVP awards, winning them back-to-back in 1982 and 1983. He also won five straight Gold Gloves from 1982-86 and ranked first among all outfielders in home runs (220) and bWAR (34.7) from 1980-86.
Andruw Jones, CF
Jones is most known for his defense, as he is one of, if not the, best centerfielder of all time. He is one of four players to win 10 straight Gold Gloves and he led all Major Leaguers with a 26.7 defensive bWAR in his first 11 seasons. But he also had the bat, as ranks fourth in franchise history with 368 homers. He set the franchise single-season record with 51 homers in 2005.
Hank Aaron, RF
This is the most obvious player on this list and it’s just a matter of where to put him in the outfield. Since he spent most of his Braves career in right field, he goes here. Aaron ranks fifth among outfielders all-time with a 136.3 fWAR and of course mashed 755 career homers as one of the most feared hitters in major league history.
Chipper Jones, DH
Jones was the cornerstone of the Braves franchise for all 19 of his seasons after they drafted him first overall in 1990. The switch-hitter was an eight-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1995, and MVP winner in the 1999 pennant-winning season. He won the batting title in 2008 with a .364 batting average and led the league with a 1.029 OPS in 2007. Jones finished his career with a .303/.401/.529 slash line and 468 homers.
Warren Spahn, LHP
Spahn spent 20 of his 21 big league seasons with the Braves. The southpaw was one of the best pitchers of the time, all while missing three years to military service at the start of his career. He was an All-Star his first full season in 1947 while leading the league in ERA (2.33), shutouts (7), ERA+ (170), and WHIP (1.136). That was his first of three ERA titles and he was named an All-Star 16 more times. Spahn won his lone Cy Young Award in 1957 and was a top-three finisher four other times, while he also received MVP votes in 15 seasons.
Greg Maddux, RHP
After signing with the Braves after the 1992 season, Maddux became one of the most dominant starters for the remainder of the 90s. He won three straight Cy Young Awards to begin his 11-year tenure, his fourth straight overall. The steroid era didn’t phase him one bit, as he was the ERA, ERA+, FIP, and WHIP leader for all three of those seasons. His 1.56 and 1.63 ERAs in, 1994 and 1995, respectively, were two of the five lowest numbers since the end of the Deadball era. Maddux was an All-Star for six of his 11 seasons and won 10 Gold Gloves. His tenure in Atlanta saw him finish with a 2.95 FIP.
Tom Glavine, LHP
The Braves drafted Glavine in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft where he spent his first 16 seasons and his last in 2008. The southpaw was an eight-time All-Star while in Atlanta, was a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and pitched 22 complete game shutouts. He had four other top-three Cy Young finishes, including three straight from 1991-93 (won in 1991). Glavine also won the 1995 World Series MVP and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Kid Nichols, RHP
Charles “Kid” Nichols spent his first 12 seasons with the Braves and won at least 20 games in each of the first 10. In his rookie year of 1890, he completed all 47 games he started and pitched seven shutouts while holding a 2.98 FIP. Nichols led the Beaneaters to five league championships in his first nine seasons and another in 1893. He won at least 30 games a record seven times, which will never come close to being matched. Over his 12 seasons with the Braves, he had a 107.4 WAR, and his career 140 ERA+ ranks eighth among starters with at least 2,000 innings.
Phil Niekro, RHP
The famous knuckleballer was a Brave for the first 21 of his 24 seasons. Niekro was never a Cy Young winner, but he did finish as a runner-up in 1969, third, fifth, and sixth twice. He won the ERA title in 1967 with a 1.87 ERA and was a five-time All-Star. Niekro went 17-4 with a 3.61 ERA as a 43-year old in 1982.
Craig Kimbrel, RHP (Closer)
One of the greatest relievers of all time, Kimbrel spent his first four full seasons of his career in Atlanta. The Braves drafted him in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He was an All-Star in each of those seasons, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2011, and was top ten in Cy Young voting. Kimbrel led the league in saves in all four seasons as well and posted no higher than a 2.10 ERA and 1.039 WHIP. His 186 saves are a franchise record, while he converted 90.7 percent of save opportunities.
Mike Remlinger, LHP (Setup Man)
Originally a first-round pick by the San Francisco Giants, Remlinger joined the Braves after a five-player trade with the Cincinnati Reds in 1998. He made his lone All-Star Game the final year of his first stint in Atlanta in 2002. In that year, the southpaw recorded a 1.99 ERA over 68 innings in 73 appearances. In the 1999 NL pennant-winning season, Remlinger had a 2.37 ERA and 190 ERA+. He is one of three Braves relievers (Kimbrel, Garber) in history to produce 1.5 bWAR and a 130 ERA+ or better in at least three seasons.
Gene Garber, RHP
Garber joined the Braves in June 1978 after the Philadelphia Phillies traded him for Dick Ruthven. He stayed in Atlanta for 10 years and was a consistent arm in the bullpen. The Pennsylvania native holds the franchise record for relief appearances at 557. In 1982, the right-hander finished seventh for the NL Cy Young Award after posting a 2.34 ERA, 2.87 FIP, and 30 saves in 119 1/3 innings. Garber also struck out Pete Rose on Aug. 1, 1978, to end Charlie Hustle’s NL best 44-game hitting streak.
Greg McMichael, RHP
McMichael started and ended his career with the Braves after they drafted him in the seventh round of the 1988 draft. He was the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1993 after posting a 2.06 ERA, 89 to 29 strikeout to walk rate, and 19 saves in 91 2/3 innings. The University of Tennessee alum posted 21 more saves in the strike-shortened 1994 season. McMichael was a key part of the 1995 championship run, as he recorded a 2.79 ERA over 80 2/3 innings while allowing just a .632 OPS against.
Rick Camp, RHP
Camp spent nine years in the big leagues, all with the Braves, from 1976 to 1985. He had two seasons with sub-2.00 ERAs, in 1980 (1.91) and 1981 (1.78), and also had 22 and 17 saves in those seasons, respectively. Overall, he pitched 548 2/3 innings in relief.
Eric O’Flaherty, LHP
O’Flaherty spent seven seasons with the Braves from 2009 to 2013 and 2016 to 2017. From 2010-12 he ranked fourth among all relievers with an 86.2 percent strand rate. In 2011, he posted a 0.98 ERA in 78 games to become the first pitcher in MLB history to produce a sub-1.00 ERA over at least 70 appearances.
John Smoltz, RHP (Swing Man)
Smoltz pitched for the Braves for his first 20 seasons and was one of the best pitchers in the league for much of that time. He was an eight-time All-Star and won the NL Cy Young in 1996 after going 24-8 and leading the league with 276 strikeouts and a 2.64 FIP. After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2001, he transitioned to the bullpen and set a franchise record with 55 saves in 2002. Smoltz is the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves. He returned to the rotation in 2005 and posted a 3.22 ERA the next three seasons. On top of that, he ranks second in MLB history in postseason wins with 15.
David Justice, OF
If it weren’t for Aaron, Justice would be in the starting lineup. The Braves drafted him in 1985 and he spent his first eight seasons with them. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1990 after hitting 28 homers and a 143 OPS+. His 19.1 fWAR from 1991-95 ranked second among right fielders in the NL, behind Larry Walker. Justice had two top-five MVP finishes and was a three-time All-Star. 1993 was his first All-Star selection and he mashed 40 taters with 120 RBI. He posted a 133 OPS+ in his seven full seasons with the Braves.
Ronald Acuna Jr., OF
Acuna is one of the top players of today’s game. Still just 24 years old, the Venezuelan-born outfielder is on a Hall of Fame track. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2018 after whacking 26 homers and recording a 143 OPS+. In 2019, Acuna nearly had a 40 homer, 40 stolen base season with 41 homers and 37 stolen bases and made his first All-Star Game. He won a Silver Slugger in 2019 and 2020 and was an All-Star again in 2021 before going down with a torn ACL.
Fred McGriff, 1B
Originally drafted by the New York Yankees in 1981, McGriff was sent to the Braves from the San Diego Padres for three players in 1993. The Crime Dog was a three-time All-Star with the Braves and had his seventh straight 30+ homer season in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He recorded a 129 wRC+ over his four and a half seasons in Atlanta. That ranks third among Braves’ first basemen who played at least 500 games at the position.
Rabbit Maranville, SS/2B
Maranville played 23 years in the majors, including 15 with the Braves, from 1912 to 1935. In his first two full seasons in 1913 and 1914, he finished top three in MVP voting. His defense was very respected, as he never had a premiere bat. Maranville would be a solid defensive option off the bench.
Brian McCann, C
It’s pretty close between Torre and McCann for starting catcher, so McCann has to be on the roster. His 43.5 fWAR while with the Braves from 2005-13 and 2019 ranks first among catchers in franchise history and sixth among all players in franchise history. He ranks second to Torre in wRC+ (115) for the franchise and is fourth all-time among catchers with a 232.1 dWAR.
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images