Monday, September 2, 2019

All-Time Teams: Braves

Major League Baseball is celebrating 150 years of professional baseball. All 30 franchises have over two decades of history and so I'm creating an All-Time Team series. Every day in September, The Collector will list the best players by position in every MLB team's history. 

Today we'll look at the All-Time Team for the Atlanta Braves.

Manager: Bobby Cox  
Home: Fulton County Stadium


  

Leading off for the Braves.. the Designated Hitter.. Rico Carty

Rico Carty has more experience as a designated hitter than anyone on the Braves All-Time team. The reason he's leading off is less obvious. His .388 career OBP is sixth in Braves history; only one player ahead of him is on this roster. Carty was a terrific hitter when healthy, batting .317 over his eight years in Milwaukee/Atlanta. Unfortunately he averaged just 103 games per year in his Braves tenure. In his lone All-Star season of 1970, Carty led the majors with a .366 BA and .454 OBP.





Batting second for Atlanta.. the First Baseman.. Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman is already one of the most productive hitters in Braves history - and he won't turn 30 until next Thursday. The four-time All-Star is nearly halfway to 3,000 hits and has already set career highs in home runs and RBI with four weeks left in the season. As you'll see with the next few names in this lineup, production past age 30 is what separates Hall of Famers from the "Hall of Very Good". Time will tell which side Freeman falls on, but he's sure trending in the right direction.




Batting third.. the Shortstop.. Chipper Jones

The first overall pick in the 1990 draft, Chipper Jones began his career at shortstop - where he'll play for the All-Time Braves. A lifetime .303 hitter, Jones won a batting title at age 36 with a career-high .364 average. He won the NL MVP in 1999, setting career highs with 45 home runs, 125 walks, and a 1.074 OPS+. Chipper's 1619 career runs scored and 1623 career RBI are both second all-time among third basemen.





Batting fourth.. the Right Fielder.. Hank Aaron  

Every baseball fan knows Henry Aaron as the (former) all-time home run king. Not every baseball fan knows that Aaron remains the all-time leader in total bases and runs batted in. The 25-time All-Star(!) has just one NL MVP award on his mantel, along with two batting titles and three Gold Gloves. "Hammerin' Hank" only led the league in WAR once, but his career total of 143 is fifth all-time. When Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982 (his first year of eligibility) nine BBWAA voters did not vote for him.




Batting fifth.. the Third Baseman.. Eddie Mathews
 
Very few players could bump Chipper Jones off of third base. Eddie Mathews is one of the few. Arguably the second-greatest third baseman of all-time, Mathews slugged 40 or more home runs four times and totaled 512 over his 17-year career. As a 21 year-old, Eddie led the NL in home runs and OPS+, finishing second to Roy Campanella in NL MVP voting. Mathews retired on top in 1968, winning a World Series with the Detroit Tigers.





Batting sixth.. the Center Fielder.. Andruw Jones

Just 19 when he hit two home runs in the 1996 World Series, Andruw Jones was on a Hall of Fame track throughout his twenties. The "Curacao Kid" combined legendary defense (ten Gold Gloves in his first eleven seasons) with prodigious power (seven seasons of 30+ home runs, including 51 in 2005.) His thirties were a disaster, yet Jones still has 434 career home runs, a WAR of 62.8, and 1289 RBI to go with those Gold Gloves.





Batting seventh.. the Left Fielder.. Dale Murphy

One of the most popular players in franchise history, Dale Murphy has to play left field for the Braves All-Time Team due to the presence of Andruw Jones. A Hall of Famer in the hearts of Braves fans everywhere, "Murph" was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, winning back-to-back MVP awards, five Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers. His career WAR of 46.5 is short of Cooperstown standards, but plenty of players have made it there with less production.





Batting eighth.. the Catcher.. Brian McCann

The Braves' current catcher, Brian McCann returned to Atlanta after three years with the Yankees and two with the Astros. The seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger winner compiled nine consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2008-16. McCann has more home runs than any catcher in team history and his slugging and OPS averages rank him just ahead of Joe Torre for second place among Braves backstops.







Batting ninth.. the Second Baseman.. Rabbit Maranville

The oldest continually operating franchise in baseball has surprisingly slim pick'ins at second base. Maranville is a Hall of Famer despite a meager .258/.318/.340 career slash line. His career WAR of 42.8 was 29th-best on the 1954 BBWAA ballot (four players ahead of him never made it to Cooperstown), yet he got the most votes in that year's election.


That said, he's still a better choice than Glenn Hubbard or Mark Lemke.



The Starting Pitcher for the Braves.. Warren Spahn
 
Warren Spahn is still the winningest (that's not a word?) left-hander in baseball history. He's also got more victories than any post-war pitcher and the sixth-most of any pitcher ever. Spahn led the league in complete games nine times, innings pitched four times, strikeouts four times, and WHIP four times. Surprisingly, the 17-time All-Star won just one Cy Young and one World Series, both in 1957.






Now let's look at the Braves' bench and bullpen:



Catcher -  Del Crandall
1st Base - Joe Adcock
Infielder -
Johnny Logan
Outfield - Wally Berger
Outfield - David Justice


Brian McCann and Javy Lopez have nearly identical stats for the Braves. So why did I go with Del Crandall as the backup catcher? Eleven All-Star nods and four Gold Gloves, plus a 14.0 career dWAR. With Chipper Jones and Eddie Mathews on the roster I chose the shortstop Logan over another third baseman such as Darrell Evans.



 

#2 starter - Phil Niekro
#3 starter - Tom Glavine
#4 starter - John Smoltz
#5 starter - Kid Nichols


What, no Greg Maddux? The four-time Cy Young winner was allocated to Chicago because the Braves franchise has had so many more great pitchers to choose from. Maddux isn't even the only Hall of Fame pitcher the Cubs are "borrowing" from the Braves.





 

RH Reliever - Rick Camp
RH Reliever - Mark Wohlers
RH Reliever - Greg McMichael
RH Reliever - Steve Bedrosian
RH Reliever - Gene Garber
RH Reliever - Craig Kimbrel

You might notice a lack of left-handers in this bullpen. When I chose these teams the bullpens were built on stats alone - games finished, saves, ERA, WHIP, and so on. Handedness did not factor into any roster decisions.
(FYI, the lefty reliever with the most saves and games finished in franchise history is.. John Rocker.)




Come back tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Baltimore Orioles.


Thanks for reading!


~


 



14 comments:

  1. With only 32 complete games at SS, it seems like a cheap trick to put Chipper at that position despite that being his natural position in high school. That being said if these rosters were played today with all the shifting, it wouldn't really matter. Another lineup that is absolutely loaded. The bullpen for this team isn't as stacked as I would have thought, but with that rotation their butts are going to be sore from all the sitting anyway. That staff finished what they started. Keep up the great work!

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    1. Chipper at SS is a stretch, but I figured it was better than having him DH.

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  2. One thing we can all agree on: John Rocker is a doofus. John Rocker is a big honkin’ doofus.

    (Quoted from the great series Sports Night.)

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    1. I love Sports Night. I'm about due to rewatch it, it's been a few years.

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  3. I'll take Chippers offense at SS... it'll surely make up for his lack of range at the position.
    Woo-Hoo! Maddux as a Cub!

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  4. This is an extremely talented team. I'm shocked that Freeman hasn't even turned 30 yet. He truly is one of the most underrated players in the game.

    I'm glad you put Kimbrel in the pen. I'm disappointed with how he's performed for the Cubs, but it's not surprising given how long he went between MLB appearances.

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    1. I was also shocked Freeman is still so young.

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  5. Rafael Belliard gets no respect.

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  6. Ronald Acuna Jr. is going to make this particular list outdated within the next 5 years!

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    1. No doubt! And I didn't forget about Crime Dog. He's on another team..

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  7. Replies
    1. Kurt Suzuki is dead to me :P

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    2. Lol. I hear ya. I sure hope he was just messing around.

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