Braves all-time home run hitters – No. 19: Jeff Blauser
In reading about Rico Carty, it might have surprised you that “only” 109 homers are currently required to make the Top 20 in the HR history of the Atlanta Braves franchise.
It might surprise you even more that one of the members of this list called the shortstop position his home for the bulk of his major league career – particularly one who slugged just .406 for his career.
Jeff Blauser was not a great defender (.964 fielding percentage at SS) nor was he considered to have a power bat on the offensive side. What he did, though, was consistent and helpful to the club on both sides of the ball. That kept him in the league for 13 seasons as a Brave (11 years) and a Cub (2).
Blauser, like Rico Carty, fought his share of injuries, and thus averaged just over 108 games per season.
Averaging .262 overall, Blauser had two different career years of note: 1993 and 1997, hitting .305 and .308 respectively.
1993 got him a nod on the National League’s All-Star team and several votes for MVP.
It was in that latter year (1997) at age 31 where Blauser slammed 17 homers – a career-high in what would be his last season as a Brave. It also earned him a Silver Slugger award and a smattering of MVP respect as well.
There’s a Draft in Here
Jeff Blauser was actually drafted originally by the St. Louis Cardinals as part of an interesting 1984 draft class.
In those days, there were multiple drafts and multiple segments of the draft. In January’s regular session, Blauser was taken 8th overall by the Cardinals.
Of all those first-rounders selected, his career was easily the best, though St. Louis didn’t get him: Blauser did not sign.
Instead, he was still draft-eligible in June when the “Secondary Phase” of the draft was held. In that session, the Atlanta Braves took him fourth overall. He signed.
There are a couple of other names of note that came up during the 1984 draft:
- June/2nd round, 31st overall: Greg Maddux (Cubs)
- June/2nd round, 47th overall: Tom Glavine (Braves)
Blauser was still a fixture on the Braves during the early portion of the glory 90s years, but also knew the depths of the bad years that came earlier, debuting in July of 1987 – just a month prior to Glavine’s first appearance.
He also had a reputation as a Cub killer: hitting 11 homers at Wrigley Field as a visitor, and 4 more against them while in Atlanta. Twice he had 2-homer games at Wrigley and once – on July 12, 1992 – he pulled off a hat trick of homers while hitting just .222 on the year!
Maybe that’s why Chicago picked him up in 1998?
Jeff Blauser hit 122 home runs for Atlanta between 1987 and 1997, never hitting more than 17 in any of those seasons. He wasn’t “replacement level” – he was a notch above that for most of his career, though fully half of his career WAR numbers came in those 1993 and 1997 seasons.
He still checks in with the 19th most in the long history of this franchise.