Poll Position: Who was Atlanta’s greatest Brave of all?

After a long winter — in terms of the state Legislature and the GOP presidential race, not the temperature — the boys of summer are almost back, which means spring is near. But before we could reach Opening Day, we found out it’ll be the last season for one Larry Wayne Jones Jr., better known as Chipper.

Those of us who watched the Braves’ unprecedented streak of division titles during the 1990s and early 2000s have been treated to a succession of retiring greats during the past few years: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Bobby Cox and, now, Chipper Jones.

Who was the greatest *Atlanta* Brave ever?

  • Chipper Jones (66 Votes)
  • Greg Maddux (60 Votes)
  • Dale Murphy (42 Votes)
  • Someone else (28 Votes)
  • John Smoltz (22 Votes)
  • Phil Niekro (19 Votes)
  • Tom Glavine (9 Votes)
  • Andruw Jones (2 Votes)

Total Voters: 248

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And that got me thinking: Is Chipper the best Atlanta Brave ever?

Note the phrasing: Atlanta Brave. So, greats from the franchise’s days in Milwaukee like Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn don’t qualify. Hank Aaron does, and I think few people would dispute he’s the greatest Brave regardless of city, but he played only about 40 percent of his games in Atlanta.

The other recent Braves I already mentioned are certainly in the running, as are players like Andruw Jones, Dale Murphy and Phil Niekro. Some others burned very bright for a short time, such as Ron Gant and Terry Pendleton. A few other Hall of Famers passed through town, usually toward the end of their careers — players like Orlando Cepeda, Hoyt Wilhelm and Bruce Sutter — but they aren’t typically considered Atlanta Braves.

So, let’s take the short-timers out of the running and, for argument’s sake, Aaron as well. And let’s keep it only to the players (so no Cox). Who’s the greatest Atlanta Brave of all?

That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread below — and feel free there to suggest other names.

– By Kyle Wingfield

85 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

March 23rd, 2012
6:32 am

Why did you take Aaron out of the mix? He is still the best person that was a Brave. Pure class!

No Steve Bedrosian?

ragnar danneskjold

March 23rd, 2012
6:34 am

Good selection of alternatives. Four premiere pitchers – the Braves’s signature strength – with differing styles, two Golden Glove outfielders, and the best infielder in Atlanta history. All meritorious, but I voted for – arguably – the best pitcher in MLB history, Greg Maddux.

From 1992 – 1995 he so dominated the pitching position, compared to all other pitchers in baseball, that at least one wag suggested that Cy Young could never have won the Greg Maddux award. So many great stories about Maddux on the bench, including one I think Glavine tells about Maddux forecasting with amazing accuracy where hitters would drive their pitches including one into their dugout. Always amused by the fact that television was unable to show Maddux’s face after each pitch, because he purportedly cursed his inability to throw it within a half inch of his desire. Truly a “genius” – surely nobody knew the science of his position better – and a character for the ages.

jconservative

March 23rd, 2012
6:40 am

I hope I am not off on my years, but I believe these 5 Atlanta Braves will enter the Hall of Fame in five successive years in this order:

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones.

It was an amazing run which will never be seen again.

Browncoat

March 23rd, 2012
6:54 am

Aaron was the greatest

John

March 23rd, 2012
7:14 am

Rickster

March 23rd, 2012
7:23 am

There is no one that even comes close to Hank Aaron!!!!!

BlahBlahBlah

March 23rd, 2012
7:40 am

Chippers 17+ years in Atlanta are greater than Hank’s limited time in Atlanta. If Hank had spent a few more years here, he would be the obvious choice.

Susan V

March 23rd, 2012
7:54 am

A better question would probably be “favorite” Braves player. Atlanta has been so fortunate to have seen MANY great ball players knock on our door. Hank Aaron is without a doubt the best remembered. He accomplished so much … and without any drugs involved. He is an outstanding individual with much love in his heart for Atlanta and the game of basebell. But Atlanta has had alot of great individuals that have sent the Braves through many years of bliss. Our three pitchers, a trio of Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux. None could stop them. We have had the pleasure of Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. Ron Gant and Otis Nixon in the outfield. Javy Lopez was pre-McCann. It’s truly hard to say which was the greatest. Even now, as we prepare for Chipper’s retirement, we have to look forward. We have to look for the newbies to come up and take the reins to keep us going. Chipper will be missed by all. He is truly a great player among the great players that Atlanta has experienced. I personnally cannot pick the greatest player that Atlanta has known. They have ALL brought so much enjoyment to the fans of Atlanta.

Karl Marx

March 23rd, 2012
8:01 am

If you take out Aaron you should also remove Niekro, both were great players for the Braves in their day. Recent, then I’d vote for the entire 1991 worst to first team.

Brosephus

March 23rd, 2012
8:01 am

No Steve Bedrosian?

I’m with you on that one.. Bedrock was the man!! There have been many greats over the years, so to try to narrow it down is virtually impossible in my opinion. Hank’s the only one with a designation that still lies in the old Fulton County outline. That speaks to the greatness that is Hank Aaron.

Overall though, I think Tom Glavine has been the greatest of the Atlanta players. He came in when there were 30 people attending games (hyperbole) and was the anchor on that worst to first team.

Karl Marx

March 23rd, 2012
8:08 am

BTW Nice change of pace Mr. Wingfield Thanks

iliketacos

March 23rd, 2012
8:13 am

how many gold gloves in a row?……why is anyone wasting time and internet space to discuss this?

Finn McCool (Class Warfare = Stopping Rich People from TAKING MORE of OUR MONEY)

March 23rd, 2012
8:14 am

I miss watching Maddux pitch. Here is the story from SI.com:

But he is even better at analyzing hitters—so good that four times this year, while seated next to Smoltz in the dugout, he has warned, “This guy’s going to hit a foul ball in here.” Three of those times a foul came screeching into the dugout.

JKL2

March 23rd, 2012
8:15 am

Doesn’t matter because the Cardinals will still kick your a$$.

Pennants are cute, but real teams win the World Series.

No Artificial Flavors

March 23rd, 2012
8:15 am

The duo of Dale Murphy and Bob Horner were my heroes.

Butch Patton

March 23rd, 2012
8:17 am

I’d have to say, since this is a TEAM sport, their accomplishments were not of one man. When John Shurholtz came over from Kanas, HE put together the TEAM and the glue to make it great. I think everyplayer from 91 on in those 14 seasons should be on the list compiled. 14 straight division titles. Best in SPORT. ANY SPORT. Nothing else even comes close. Someday a player will hit 57 straight hits, ousting DiMaggio, Ruths record fell again and again. Gerigs fell, ect. But 14 division titles, I think it’s truly the most untouchable record not only in baseball, but like I said any sport. Just for fun, gotta include special mention to Fred Mcgriff, who else could light the stadium on fire the day he reports..LOL.

carlosgvv

March 23rd, 2012
8:25 am

Since baseball is such a deadly dull game and watching the grass grow is more exciting, my answer is – I could not possibly care less.

Murph the Smurf

March 23rd, 2012
8:25 am

Pay attention. It clearly states greatest *ATLANTA* Brave ever. That takes Mr. Aaron out of the equation. Andruw had the potential to be the greatest; but it’s Dale Murphy hands down. back to back MVP season on last place teams? Will that ever happen again? Class act all the way. It’s hard to say a pitcher was the greatest ever. They only play every four to five games.

greg

March 23rd, 2012
8:26 am

“Hank Aaron does (qualify as an Atlanta Brave), and I think few people would dispute he’s the greatest Brave regardless of city, but he played only about 40 percent of his games in Atlanta.”

So why didn’t you give us the option to vote for Aaron? Easily the greatest ATLANTA Brave…

Aaron the Best

March 23rd, 2012
8:35 am

Aaron was and still is the Best Brave….whoever said Horner needs to have their head examined – he was a puke bag.

Intown

March 23rd, 2012
8:40 am

You can’t have this conversation without Hank Aaron. He wins. Hands down.

Cosby

March 23rd, 2012
8:56 am

Who cares…..does not affect my life at all and if I do not go to another game I am that much ahead with the family budget…just a bunch of overgrown childrun making tons of money thinking they are somebody special.

Cutty

March 23rd, 2012
8:58 am

Watching ‘America’s Team’ in Chicago on TBS in the ’80s, Dale Murphy was the only reason to watch the Braves. Forever a Cubs fan, my interest in the Braves waned after they stopped coming on Ted’s network. And I live in Atlanta now and only go to Turner Field when my Cubbies are in town.

DARRELL EVANS

March 23rd, 2012
9:00 am

c’mon – not even a mention of the great DARRELL EVANS?

read up people – Darrell Evans was a beast! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darrell_Evans

DARRELL EVANS

March 23rd, 2012
9:09 am

by position:

OF – Hank Aaron
OF – Andruw Jones
OF – Dusty Baker
1B – Darrell Evans
2B – Glenn Hubbard
3B – Larry Wayne Jones
SS – Jeff Blauser (or Ramirez?)
SP – Greg Maddux
SP – Tom Glavine
SP – Phil Neikro
RP – Steve Bedrosian? hmmmm….
C – Dale Murphy

Will

March 23rd, 2012
9:15 am

Saw the Braves play the Tigers (exhibition) in their first ever game played in the old Atlanta-Fulton County ballyard.

As a 25 year old who had been a Milwaukee Brave fan since childhood, you can imagine the thrill of not only MLB coming to Atlanta but the team coming was my favorite.

From your list Maddux is the best. My favorites? Aaron without question followed by, oddly enough, a long line of catchers starting with Del Crandall in Milwaukee and continuing with Joe Torre, Javy Lopez and the splendid current backstop, Brian McCann. Very partial to Eddie Matthews, Joe Adcock, Tommy Glavine, Denney Lemaster and Jerry Royster.

I think McCann best represents the difference between a splendid athlete (i.e., Fancouer and Heyward) and a splendid baseball player.

Baba Booey

March 23rd, 2012
9:24 am

Let’s not forget Chief Knockahoma!

DawgDad

March 23rd, 2012
9:25 am

Without Aaron in the pool I see no point in voting. Otherwise, for accumulated value Chipper is tops, but the greatest player was Maddux, relatively speaking. I mean, Maddux is arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball over the past 50 years, at least going all the way back to Warren Spahn, and he’s in the discussion with Spahn, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, and others all-time. Chipper’s been a great player, but he’s not in the “best ever” discussions like Maddux.

Mark Niesse

March 23rd, 2012
9:28 am

By Fangraphs WAR at http://www.fangraphs.com (filtered for 1966-2011, Braves only), Chipper comes in first at 87.5, followed by Smoltz at 80.9, Maddux at 74.4, A. Jones at 69, Aaron at 58.4 and Glavine at 56.9.

brianc

March 23rd, 2012
9:30 am

Depends on what you mean best “Atlanta” Brave. Hank Aaron’s best years were before Atlanta. Chipper played his entire career here and was very consistent. However, Greg Maddux was in his prime for the years he played here and was much more dominant at his position than Jones. I’d also have to consider Smoltz, who was the best postseason player the Braves ever had, and he made the nearly unprecedented switch to dominant closer fairly late in his career. If forced to choose one, I’d go with Smoltz by a hair over Jones.

DawgDad

March 23rd, 2012
9:33 am

I’ll say one other thing about Aaron and only playing a few years in Atlanta. I go all the way back through the sixties watching Major League Baseball, and particularly the National League. Hank Aaron didn’t just spend a few good years in Atlanta, and a few waning years, it’s quite likely JUST his years in Atlanta would have landed him in the Hall of Fame.

clyde

March 23rd, 2012
9:34 am

This is sports.Clyde has no interest.In Sports.

Junior Samples

March 23rd, 2012
9:38 am

All fine examples, but we’re forgetting one;

“Line drive and a base hit! Justice has scored the tying run, Bream to the plate, and he is… SAFE! Safe at the plate! The Braves go to the World Series!”

Devil's Advocate

March 23rd, 2012
9:39 am

This is a question that is hard to answer because so many factors go into determining who is the greatest Atlanta Brave ever. Are we talking pure stat totals for a career, greatest run of stats (e.g. in their prime), what they meant to the teams they played for (peer and fan opinion of the man), or most achievements (subjective media attention plus single season statistical accomplishments)? I’m going to comment on the total package, every consideration.

I’ve often argued that Dale Murphy was better than with Chipper when considering total game (offense, defense, character). Chipper has enjoyed many great offensive players around him in the batting order along with one of the best pitching runs in baseball history. That all translates to more meaningful opportunities to produce. Murphy played on junk teams with poor protection in the batting order compared to what CJ has enjoyed and still put up great numbers for his era. Murphy was also a better defensive player and 2-time MVP.

Greg Maddux had one of the greatest runs in pitching history but he made his name with the Cubs so he’s out of the discussion (short-term version of the Aaron argument for exclusion).

If Maddux was the #1 starting pitcher of his era then Glavine might be #2 considering the only reason he didn’t win more Cy Young awards is because of Maddux.

John Smoltz was solid during the run. He’s special because he dominated as both a starter and a closer. When the smoke settled on Maddux and Glavine as dominant Atlanta pitchers, Smoltz was still going strong despite multiple injuries and became Atlanta’s clear #1 towards the end of the run.

Andruw never lived up to his career potential which is something if you really digest what I’m saying. He was on pace to clearly be better than any position player in Atlanta history other than Aaron until his sudden drop off. He was the best defensive player in a generation and had the offense to back it up until his last year or two in Atlanta.

Neikro was awesome but he’s behind Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz.

I’m going to have to give the nod to Murphy simply because other than Neikro, all the other names I mentioned had each other to depend on while Murphy never had a consistent superstar around him for his career in Atlanta. Think about it, Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz as your pitching core with several other darn good starters and relievers at any point in the past 2 decades along with Andruw, Texira, Drew, Big Cat, McGriff, Pendleton, Blauser’s crazy good season, Bream, Gant, Justice, Nixon, Sanders, Lofton, DeShields, Klesko, Hunter, McCann, Uggla, Heyward, and Freeman. I’m sure I probably missed some other batters who had darn good offensive seasons in Atlanta during Chippers run. Murphy never had that magnitude of talent around him.

#3

No Artificial Flavors

March 23rd, 2012
9:40 am

Many of my favorite Braves were not the best but I enjoyed watching them play, winning teams or not: Andres Thomas, Jeff Blauser, Odibe McDowell, Otis Nixon, Andres Galaraga, Jeff Treadway, Rafael Belliard, Bruce Benedict, Mark Lemke, Mark Wholers, Ryan Klesko, and so on.

Devil's Advocate

March 23rd, 2012
9:44 am

Actually, I think Gant was gone by the time Chipper came up. Sorry.

Devil's Advocate

March 23rd, 2012
9:44 am

And Bream too but the rest were around him!

Stupid is as stupid does.

March 23rd, 2012
9:46 am

Greg Maddux

4 time CY Young winner, 355 career wins and the greatest modern day pitcher of all time.

Stupid is as stupid does.

March 23rd, 2012
9:47 am

“Who was Atlanta’s greatest Brave of all?”

Aaron came over from Milwaukee. Most of you probably don’t even realize it. Kyle stated ATLANTA.

Make sense?

Kyle Wingfield

March 23rd, 2012
9:50 am

Artificial: No Ken Oberkfell???

Joe the Prophet

March 23rd, 2012
9:51 am

Wohlers was definitely the best closer….

Real American

March 23rd, 2012
9:51 am

@@

March 23rd, 2012
9:52 am

Someone else.

Joe the Prophet

March 23rd, 2012
9:53 am

Unfortunately, I’m starting to think Freddy Gonzales should look for other employment…at a high school or junior college or someplace else….

Reebok

March 23rd, 2012
9:54 am

Why in the world would you take Aaron out of the running? Everyone else is vying for 2nd place.

Question Man

March 23rd, 2012
9:55 am

Isn’t your question akin to asking who was the greatest U.S. President, excluding Washington because he ran unopposed and excluding Lincoln because he didn’t finish his second term?

MB

March 23rd, 2012
9:59 am

Maybe not the “best”, but I’d have to say watching Phil Neikro’s knuckle balls dance around makes him my favorite.

St Simons- island off the coast of New Somalia

March 23rd, 2012
10:03 am

Don Balfour – mighty brave

bluecoat

March 23rd, 2012
10:04 am

All are tops.Wish I could get that feeling now.

Kyle Wingfield

March 23rd, 2012
10:08 am

To all who have complained about my leaving out Aaron: Don’t forget what I wrote in the OP…I left him out “for argument’s sake.” A poll in which one answer runs away with it usually isn’t a very fun poll.

Again, if we were talking about the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, it would be Aaron, hands-down. (The real debate would be Spahn/Niekro/Glavine/Maddux/Smoltz, and what a good debate that would be.) But his best years — his MVP year (can you believe there was just one??), his World Series title — came in Milwaukee.

Fwiw, here are some stats for the Atlanta portions of Aaron’s, Murphy’s and the Joneses’ careers:

Aaron: .293 BA/335 HR/897 RBI (vs. .320/398/1305 with Milwaukee Braves)
Murphy: .268/371/1,143
C. Jones: .304/454/1,561
A. Jones: .263/368/1,117