Best Atlanta Braves offensive players for each decade

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves accepts his 2020 MVP trophy from former Brave Chipper Jones on April 11, 2021, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves accepts his 2020 MVP trophy from former Brave Chipper Jones on April 11, 2021, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The eras of Atlanta Braves baseball — exclusively in Atlanta — can readily be tracked from decade to decade.

What players have been the best for the Atlanta Braves for each decade since their arrival from Milwaukee?

For the most part, you can probably guess the answers correctly, but perhaps the more surprising numbers are about those coming in second or third place along the way.

Let’s start at the beginning: the latter half of the 1960’s just as baseball came to the southeastern US.

These rankings consider the total fangraphs’ WAR (Wins Above Replacement) values for offensive players only.  Pitchers… might wait for another day.


  • Hank Aaron       28.9
  • Joe Torre            14.5
  • Felipe Alou        14.2

No one else above 10.

Yes:  Aaron was still a force… and this covers only the years through his age 35 season… past his “prime”.  We’ll see just how much a force shortly, but the fact that his WAR doubled that of anyone else on the club (though Torre was traded to St. Louis for the 1969 season) speaks volumes.


  • Darrell Evans    25.4
  • Hank Aaron       23.9
  • Dusty Baker      13.8

This covers the 5 final seasons for Aaron with the Braves (1975-76 were back in Milwaukee), but consider that he still averaged close to 5 WAR per year for ages 36-40.

As for Evans, it took him an additional 1-1/3 seasons to pass up Aaron’s contributions... while more than a decade younger with Aaron playing less often by then.

Baker was really no slouch himself (he received some modest MVP support in 1972), but barely managed half the contribution of these front-runners through 1975.

It’s then telling about the Braves that their offense was fairly punchless for the rest of the decade once these players left the club.


  • Dale Murphy      43.8
  • Bob Horner         14.6
  • Glenn Hubbard  14.3

There was no one else above 9.0 for the entire decade.  Yes:  it was Murphy and Murphy alone generating most of the offensive firepower in the 1980’s.  All the more so considering that Hubbard’s contributions primarily came from his defensive skills (+67.6 on defense; -61.6 on offense).

He debuted in 1976 during his age 20 season, but suddenly burst out with a 5.7 WAR in 1980.

Murphy’s dominance can’t be overstated:  only Mike Schmidt hit more homers in these years (331 to Murph’s 308) and only 3 player scored more often.

Murphy also played 37 more games than anyone in the 1980’s.  He was Atlanta’s offense in that decade.

Horner’s contributions were harmed — for the purposes of this list — by being split over 2 decades while also falling off after 1983.


While Chipper debuted in 1993, his 8 AB then barely registers thanks to a devastating knee injury.  That delayed his true rookie season to the 1995 Championship year.  So his team-leading production was the result of only half a decade of work.

Various other contributors were worked into the mix in the 1990’s as well… which might catch some off guard, given the club’s dominance of the NL West (early on) and (later) East.  Notably, Fred McGriff didn’t make this list as his production slowed in 1995-97.

That also accounts for the relatively suppressed numbers here overall.  In fact, Andruw Jones’ contributions were primarily defensive through the end of the century, scoring a respectable 19.5 on the offensive side, but a spectacular 100.0 for defense…in just 4 seasons.


  • Chipper Jones    50.3
  • Andruw Jones   46.6
  • Brian McCann    21.1

This 50.3 figure for Chipper represents the single-highest score for any Atlanta Brave in any decade… and he didn’t get much love for his defense.

Andruw’s bat cranked for 288 homers in the decade (Chipper had 273), but his defensive score leapt up to 190.0 to move him within striking distance of Chipper  Then again, he was out of Atlanta after 2007.

This one-two punch was supplemented by others during this decade, by McCann was the next-best contributor at less than half the output of either of the Jones boys.


  • Freddie Freeman             34.4
  • Brian McCann                   22.5
  • Jason Heyward                 19.5

Another era began in 2010, and while it looked like this might become Jason’s team when the decade ensued, it clearly belonged to Freeman by the time it ended.

It was a decade marked by a lot of roster moves as the team went through their first true rebuilding cycle since 1990-91… so many changes that Tyler Flowers was 4th on the WAR list at 11.5 (thanks to defense).


  • Freddie Freeman             7.8
  • Ronald Acuna Jr.              6.6
  • Dansby Swanson            5.0

Of course, these numbers only represent roughly 1-1/3rd seasons, and it’s really hard to discern a real trend at this point.  In fact, the 2020 season might be one of those anomalies that hurt some players down the road when Hall of Fame considerations get tallied.  But I digress.

As for the future of the 2020’s in Atlanta, Freeman’s status beyond 2021 is the primary uncertainty here, but there’s also the emergence in 2021 of two more contributors that aren’t (yet) on this chart:  Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley.

Next. Zippidee-do-dah Indeed!. dark

Their continued successes or failures — along with the hoped-for firepower to come from Acuna — should shape the future of these results through most of this decade… regardless of Freeman’s future with the Braves.