The Atlanta Braves franchise has seemingly been around forever and are one of the most storied teams in the history of the sport. They’ve got 3 World Series Championships and hold arguably one of the best power hitters of all time. Their lineup is comprised of two speedsters at the top and bottom with a flurry of power bats between. Defensively, they’ve got great players down the middle of the field at the center field spot and both middle infield positions. Their starting pitcher is one of the best and could even form an entire pitching staff with their honorable mentions list.
1. Herman Long, SS (L)
2. Hank Aaron, RF (R)
3. Chipper Jones, 3B (S)
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B (L)
5. Dale Murphy, LF (R)
6. Joe Torre, C (R)
7. Andruw Jones, CF (R)
8. Rabbit Maranville, 2B (R)
9. Warren Spahn, P (L)
Manager: Bobby Cox
1960-68: 470 Runs, 142 HR, 552 RBI, 10 SB, .294 BA/.356 OBP/.462 SLG
After mainly hitting for average early on in his career, Joe Torre broke out in 1963 in his first season as an All Star. He became a power hitter who would go on to hit at least 20 home runs per season from 1964 to 1967. Along with that power, he maintained a steady average and would pick up some MVP votes in most of those seasons. In his time with the Braves, Torre was a great defensive catcher who saved a total of five defensive runs above replacement over 9 years. While he was a great hitter, so too was most of the Braves on this historical team. He’s a great bat who can hit in the middle of the lineup and provide some great protection for the some of the other great bats on the team.
Honorable Mentions: Del Crandall, Bruce Benedict, Brian McCann
2010-19: 778 Runs, 218 HR, 779 RBI, 42 SB, .294 BA/.380 OBP/.504 SLG
The Braves’ current first baseman has quietly become one of the best players of the franchise in just his 10th year. He’s been a model of consistency in his past four years and has a skill for getting on base both through hitting and walking. With the state of the current Atlanta roster, there’s no doubt Freeman’s stats should continue improving in the next few years as he continues to be one of the best at his position. Defensively, he ranks as a decent player who’s only Gold Glove came in 2018. However, he’s known better for his offense which should place him nicely in the middle of the Braves lineup. While he doesn’t have the power numbers of some of the other members, he can get on base fairly easily which bodes well for everyone behind him.
Honorable Mentions: Fred McGriff, Fred Tenney, Joe Adcock
1912-20, 1929-33, 35: 802 Runs, 23 HR, 558 RBI, 194 SB, .252 BA/.313 OBP/.329 SLG
While he doesn’t quite have the pedigree of some of the others on this lineup, Rabbit Maranville certainly has the most unique out of everyone. Playing for the Braves in three different stints, Maranville was a great source of speed for the then Boston Braves team. He had a few seasons of good average though they came in spurts and were never very consistent. However, his value came on the defensive side of the ball where he ended his career with the Braves with 19.3 defensive WAR. He’ll make a perfect #8 hitter who has the ability to get on base in front of the pitcher and even steal a bag every once in a while.
Honorable Mentions: John Morrill, Mark Lemke
1890-02: 1,292 Runs, 88 HR, 964 RBI, 434 SB, .280 BA/.337 OBP/.390 SLG
While he did play over a century ago, Herman Long ranks as the Braves’ 3rd best defensive player in club history. While he doesn’t have the power of many of the other players on this roster, he does have the ability to steal bases and was very dangerous at doing so. While the stats of the time don’t necessarily show how often he attempted a steal or how successful he was, Long did swipe 434 bases throughout his Brave career. He was extremely skilled at scoring and the stealing ability helped him average roughly 49 steals during his first 8 years. He makes for the ideal leadoff hitter who will be counted on to get on base and run.
Honorable Mentions: Johnny Logan, Ezra Sutton
1993-12: 1,619 Runs, 468 HR, 1,623 RBI, 150 SB, .303 BA/.401 OBP/.529 SLG
This was by far the toughest position and I went back and forth multiple times deciding who would be the pick here. Eddie Matthews was a great player before the Braves even moved to Atlanta and had great power. His ability to hit for average while hitting a career 512 home runs was a mix of skills anyone could hope for. However, fellow Hall of Famer Chipper Jones was much of the same player. The switch hitting third baseman similarly hit very well and ended his career with 468 homers. However, the one aspect of his game that Matthews could never match was his speed. During a 5 season span from 1996 to 2000, he stole a total of 89 bases compared to Matthew’s 68 throughout his career. Chipper makes for a great middle of the order bat with a knack for getting on base and even stealing a few bags.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie Matthews, Billy Nash, Bob Elliott
1976-89: 1,103 Runs, 371 HR, 1,143 RBI, 160 SB, .268 BA/.351 OBP/.478 SLG
While he was mainly a center fielder for most of his career, I just had to find a way to get Dale Murphy’s bat into the lineup. During his career, Murphy was an integral part of the lineup and the true fivetool player for a span of his career. In his peak seasons between 1982 to 1985, Murphy captured back to back MVP trophies and averaged a .293 batting average. Murphy combined his 145 homer power with 82 steals while also scoring 456 times and knocking in 441 runs.
Honorable Mentions: Hugh Duffy, Rico Carty
1996-07: 1,045 Runs, 368 HR, 1,117 RBI, 138 SB, .263 BA/.342 OBP/.497 SLG
During his 12 year span with the Braves, Andruw Jones was everything you could ask for in a franchise center fielder. He played great defense throughout his career and won 10 straight Gold Glove Awards while playing one of the hardest positions in baseball. There’s no doubt he’ll solidify the outfield and make up for any mistakes that other defenders might make. Offensively, Jones enjoyed continual power numbers as he aged though the speed aspect of the game disappeared after the 2001 season. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to like a batter who could easily hit 30 homers a year and was regarded as having one of the best gloves in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Wally Berger, Billy Hamilton
1954-74: 2,107 Runs, 733 HR, 2,202 RBI, 240 SB, .310 BA/.377 OBP/.567 SLG
There’s no doubt the right field spot belongs to either the player who’s either 1st or 2nd in total home runs, depending on your take on Barry Bonds. Nevertheless, Aaron was a force at the plate during his career and will be forever remembered as one of the best players not only of his time, but all time. He was an All Star throughout his career and only missed that honor twice during his rookie and final season as a pro. During his prime, Aaron was a consistent 30 homer play who hit over .300 and and close to 100 runs and RBIs. With Aaron in the lineup, this Braves team will have one of the best all around hitters who could knock a homer out of the park whenever needed. He’ll slot nicely into the middle of the order for our purposes.
Honorable Mentions: Tommy Holmes, David Justice, Jason Heyward
1942-64: 356-229 Record, 3.05 ERA, 4.4 K/B, 2.5 BB/K
At the pitcher spot, there’s simply too many options. Warren Spahn’s career with the Braves spanned from 1942 to 1964 though he did serve a military stint during that stretch. During his time with the Braves, Spahn was a great control pitcher that could never strikeout batters like some of his modern day predecessors. He only averaged 4.4 strikeouts per 9 innings which in today’s terms, would be nothing. However, he was great with limiting damage and his career ERA definitely shows. Among the honorable mentions, Kid Nichols was similarly impressive during the late 1890s and early 1900s. The same goes for hall of Famer Phil Niekro and each of their Big Three in John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux.
Honorable Mentions: Kid Nichols, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux
Managing this All Time Lineup for the Braves will be 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Bobby Cox. While he does hold the major league record for ejections, Cox is the winningest manager in Atlanta history and ranks 4th all time. During his two separate stints as manager, first from 1982 to 1985 and then from 1990 to 2010, Cox led the Braves to their 3rd World Series victory in 1995. He’s the ideal man to lead the way and there’s no doubt he’s the best manager the Atlanta franchise ever had.
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