Best Braves Players Of All Time: Top 5 Most Legendary Athletes, According To Baseball Experts

Anyone from the South understands the cultural importance and significance of Atlanta Braves baseball. Even though the Braves haven’t always resided in Atlanta, they’re the quintessential baseball franchise of the Southeastern United States and have been for generations now. With so much tradition and such a rich history, it’s difficult to narrow down the best Braves players of all time. Of course, that doesn’t keep fans from discussing and talking about their all-time favorites.

And speaking of fans, a recent survey of sports fans found that most of them are willing to travel and spend big money just to see their favorite sports team play in person. A survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fans found that 35 percent of fans have planned a vacation around watching their favorite team play in person. Results also found that the average respondent would travel a staggering five hours and 48 minutes plus spend over $750 for tickets to see their favorite team play a game live. Just imagine how horrible the vacation would be if your team lost.  

While we’re on the subject of your favorite teams winning and losing, another recent study found that fans of winning teams can also experience a boost in mood in the days following a big win. Researchers at the Ohio State University found that fans of a winning team can experience a boost in self-esteem in the days following a victory. The team questioned 174 students from Michigan State University and the Ohio State University before and after a big football game between the rival schools in which Michigan State won on a last-second field goal. The researchers found that students from the Michigan State side experienced a boost in self-esteem for up to two full days following the big win. Definitely good news for Braves fans given their team is one of the winningest franchises over the past three decades. 

So, who are the most legendary players on this beloved Atlanta team? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the five best Braves players of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed players from across these sites. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! 

The List: Best Braves Players of All Time, According to Sports Fans  

1. Hank Aaron (1954-1974)

Topping the list of the best Braves players of all time is none other than the legendary Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron was with the Braves franchise when it was located in Milwaukee, and he was already a star when the club moved to Atlanta in 1966. Hank Aaron played nearly his entire career in a Braves uniform, he’s the all-time franchise leader in home runs, and he’s widely considered one of the best players in MLB history. 

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron in New York City 2013 (Photo by Debby Wong on Shutterstock)

“Hank Aaron is, without a doubt, the greatest Brave of all time and some say he is the greatest player to put on a baseball uniform. He is No. 1 on the Braves all-time list in home runs with 755, RBI with 2,202, at-bats with 11,628, games with 3,076, and total bases with 6,591. He was the National League MVP in 1957 and was an incredible 24-time All Star. Aaron was a pioneer for the game of baseball,” explains Bleacher Report

Aaron was a 24-time all star because MLB played two All-Star games for a brief period of time. But, Hank Aaron’s road to becoming arguably the best hitter of all time and a Braves franchise legend wasn’t easy. Hank Aaron had to battle his way through the ranks, and fight racial inequities along the way. 

“There is no better option for the top of the list of the best Braves of all time – because Henry (or Hank) Aaron is the epitome of what it means to be a Brave. Above all else, Aaron should be remembered for how he helped break racial barriers in the MLB, regularly speaking out against systemic racism. Having played his way up from a semi-pro team (Black Bears) to the Negro Baseball League (Indianapolis Clowns) and finally joining the Boston Braves in 1952, Aaron bid his time and made his way through the ranks, and he was thankfully able to experience a ton of great results throughout his playing career,” adds Clutch Points

Hank Aaron is a true legend on many levels. But, Hank let his play on the baseball field do a lot of the talking. In all, Hank Aaron smashed over 750 home runs and amassed more than 3,000 hits. Hank Aaron still leads the Braves franchise in several statistical categories. 

“Even for a franchise that’s employed Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews and Freddie Freeman, it’s Aaron that leads the Braves in almost every offensive category. Aaron is the Braves’ team leader in fWAR (142.6), offensive WAR (131.9), slugging percentage (.567), OPS (.944), hits (3,600), doubles (600), home runs (733), RBIs (2,202) and total bases (6,591). He’s the greatest player in Braves history by far, and one of the most iconic players in the history of the sport. His No. 44 is retired by the Braves, and you can make a case it should be retired across the entire sport,” furthers Audacy

2. Warren Spahn (1942 & 1946-1964)

Next up on the list of the best Braves players of all time is a player that most consider the greatest pitcher in the history of the Braves franchise – Warren Spahn. Most present-day Braves fans would expect to see Smoltz, Maddux, or Glavine listed first as the best pitcher in Braves history, but as the experts explain, that title goes to Warren Spahn. 

“Warren Spahn is on the Mount Rushmore of left-handed starting pitchers to ever play Major League Baseball, and the Braves were lucky enough to have him on their side for 20 seasons. Spahn never pitched in Atlanta but was both a Boston Brave and a Milwaukee Brave, and for the better part of two decades, was at the top of his profession. The Buffalo, NY native pitched in 714 games for the Braves and earned 356 victories while working to a 3.05 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He led the league in wins on eight different occasions, won two ERA titles, was selected to 17 all-star games, and was the 1957 Cy Young winner–the same season the Braves won the World Series,” writes Yardbarker

Warren Spahn was a dominant left-handed pitcher throughout his career. However, as most experts will tell you, Spahn’s numbers could have been even greater had he not lost some of his prime years to serving in the military. 

“Spahn is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in MLB history, having led baseball in wins, ERA, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP all in at least three separate seasons. This is despite him losing his age-22 through age-24 seasons because he was serving in World War II. Having played for the Braves both in Boston and Milwaukee, Spahn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973. His No. 21 is retired by the Braves,” writes Audacy

Like many MLB players of his time, Spahn left baseball to serve in the military during World War II. In fact, Spahn faced his fair share of adversity as he was serving in Europe, taking two bullets in the process. Through all of this, Spahn went on to be one of MLB’s best pitchers and a true Braves legend. 

“As a soldier in the Army’s 9th Armored Division in World War II, Spahn fought across Europe and at the Battle of the Bulge he took two bullets, one grazing his head. He lived through hell, missing three-plus years. The war understably had a lasting impact on him. A teammate would say of a still 20-something Spahn: ‘He was born old.’ Old was when Spahn was at his best: he didn’t win his first game until he was 25, won an incredible 255 games after his 30th birthday, and 75 games in his 40s. He won a total of 404 games in professional baseball and threw his last pitch for money when he was 46 years old,” writes Baseball Egg

3. Chipper Jones (1993 & 1995-2012)

Chopping into the third spot on the list of the best Braves players of all time is none other than Larry Wayne Jones Jr., known affectionately by Braves fans as Chipper. Chipper Jones personified Braves baseball throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s. For the generation of Braves fans who grew up watching Braves baseball, there’s no one more deserving of being called one of the greatest Braves of all time than Chipper Jones. 

Chipper Jones
Chiper Jones taking off his gloves (“Chipper Jones” by Dirk DBQ is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

“One of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game, Jones spent the entirety of his 19-year career with the Braves, the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 MLB Draft. Jones was an eight-time All-Star who won both a National League MVP (1999) and senior circuit batting title (2008). His 1,512 career walks are the most in Braves history. Jones was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2018, and his No. 10 is retired by the Braves,” explains Audacy

Chipper had a lot of expectations placed on him as the number one overall draft pick. Of course, the MLB draft is a little different than other professional sports, but the expectations remain the same. To say Chipper lived up to those expectations is an understatement, and he even draws comparisons to one of the best center fielders of all time.  

“Jones had a lot in common with Mickey Mantle, one of only two switch-hitters who hit more home runs than Chipper. Both Mickey and Chipper were born in the south, originally shortstops, and both were influenced heavily by their fathers. Both players had serious knee injuries early in their career.… Both Chipper and Mickey played a lot in October. Mantle hit 18 homers with 40 RBIs and batted .257 in 65 postseason games, Chipper hit 13 homers with 47 RBIs and batted .287 in 93 postseason games,” adds Baseball Egg

Although Chipper was a third basemen, he is compared to Mickey Mantle because he was one of the best switch-hitters in MLB history. Chipper had power from both sides of the plate, and he had excellent discipline, too. Chipper is the all-time Braves leader in walks, and with the number of great hitters that have come through the Braves organization, that’s saying something. Individual accolades aside, Chipper Jones helped lead a winning Braves team to the playoffs year after year and he has a World Series championship to show for it. 

“Chipper was the ultimate Brave, spending his entire 19-year Hall of Fame career in Atlanta. Only Aaron played in more games as a Brave. Jones made his debut in September 1993 but missed all of 1994 due to injury. So his MLB career really got started in 1995, a year that would culminate in a World Series championship for the team. It would be the only ring Jones would win despite twelve more playoff appearances. Jones made eight All-Star games in his career to go along with two Silver Sluggers and the 1999 NL MVP,” furthers Pitcher List

4. Eddie Mathews (1952-1966)

Speaking of all-time great third basemen, the next player on the list of the best Braves players of all time is Eddie Mathews. Mathews was a Brave through and through, and he’s the only player to play with the Braves in all three cities – Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. 

“Eddie Mathews broke in with the Boston Braves in 1952 – the team’s last season before moving to Milwaukee. He bookended this by spending his final season with the club in 1966 – their first year in Atlanta. On the last day of 1966, the Braves traded Mathews to the Houston Astros, ending his run with the club after 2,223 games. He made twelve All-Star appearances with Milwaukee over nine seasons (there were two All-Star games from 1959 to 1962). A great power-hitter was an excellent eye; Mathews led the league in HRs twice and BBs four times. In his fifth year of eligibility, the BBWAA elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1978,” explains Pitcher List

Eddie Mathews was an excellent defensive third basemen, and he’s considered one of the best to ever play the position. Mathews played an astonishing 15 years with the Braves franchise, and as the experts will tell you, Eddie Mathews personified what it meant to be a Brave. 

“Mathews managed to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, and cemented his place as one of the inner circle members of the franchise during 15 years with the Braves. As a Brave, Mathews led the National League in walks on four occasions (1955, 1961, 1962 & 1963) and home runs twice (1953 & 1959). In total, 493 of Mathews’ 512 career home runs came with the Braves. One of the very best third basemen in MLB history, Mathews was elected to the Hall of Fame with a Milwaukee Braves cap in 1978,” furthers Audacy

In all, Eddie Mathews smashed nearly 500 home runs, amassed over 2,200 hits, and scored 1,452 runs as a member of the Braves organization. Eddie Mathews was also a consistent hitter at the plate. Mathews smashed over 30 home runs in 10 seasons over the course of his career. 

“Matthews is one of the greatest third baseman in Major League history. He is the only player to play for the Braves’ organization while they were in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He is second in Braves’ history with 493 home runs and is second in RBI with 1,388. Matthews is a nine-time All Star and hit 30 or more home runs 10 times in a season,” adds Bleacher Report

5. Greg Maddux (1993-2003)

Rounding out the list of the best Braves players of all time takes us back to the mound and over to one of the best pitchers of all time – Greg Maddux. Of course, Maddux played for the Chicago Cubs for several years before being signed as a free agent by the Braves going into the 1993 MLB season. And as some experts will tell you, that’s considered one of the best free agent signings in MLB history and a pivotal moment in the storied history of the Braves franchise.

“The Braves signed Maddux to a five-year/$28 million deal ahead of the 1993 season, and it turned out to be one of the greatest signings in MLB history. After winning the 1992 National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Maddux won three more in a row with the Braves between 1993 and 1995. While he did spend a decade in Chicago, Maddux’s best run of years came during the 11 seasons he spent with the Braves. With a Braves cap eventually going on his Cooperstown plaque, Maddux was a first-ballot Hall of Fame electee in 2014. His No. 31 is retired by the Braves,” explains Audacy

Maddux Greg 228.2006.3_Act_CSU
Greg Maddux pitching (“Maddux Greg 228.2006.3_Act_CSU” by Bush 41 Library is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

Maddux was a Cy Young winner when the Braves signed him away from Chicago and he clearly continued that dominance in Atlanta. But, Maddux wasn’t alone in the rotation in Atlanta, and he helped spearhead the vaunted Braves lineup of the 1990s

“Greg Maddux is the greatest defensive pitcher in MLB history, his 18 Gold Glove Awards undoubtedly prove that. Maddux has won 194 of his 355 career wins with the Atlanta Braves. He has 1,828 strikeouts [ranking] him fifth in Braves’ history and his 2.63 era is also good for fifth. Maddux is known as the top pitcher on the incredible Braves’ rotation of the 1990s that featured Glavine and Smoltz,” writes Bleacher Report

“It is an embarrassment of riches for the Braves and their pitchers, as players like Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are really good but still find themselves looking up at the top of the Greatest Braves list. For Maddux, he spent most of his time in the MLB with the Braves – 11 seasons to be exact. In those 11 seasons, Maddux earned a ton of MVP respect (5 Top-15 finishes) on his way to recording 194 victories and 1,828 strikeouts. A ridiculous 2.63 ERA is why Maddux is one of the Greatest Braves of all time – among other reasons,” furthers Clutch Points

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  1. I have no problems with your top 5, but can we give a top 10 or honorable mention to include worthies line Dale Murphy, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz; among others.

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