Atlanta Braves history: top five franchise first basemen

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A glove like those worn by Atlanta Braves first basemen today. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

As the Atlanta Braves prepare for 2020 with a roster full of young stars, we look back at the best players at each position in franchise history.

When I decided to do this series, I knew context would affect the final list, but felt I'd quickly identify the number one Atlanta Braves player at each position. It wasn't easy; that's what I get for thinking.

I knew I had to set a limit on the fewest games played. As you'll see, as I go through the positions, I couldn't use the same number of games for each position.

The franchise's long history meant I had to attempt to level the playing field across seven generations of players. I settled on 'plus stats' as the way to do that.  Plus stats like OPS+ tell us how well a player stacks up against the rest of the league when he played, with 100 as league average.

Using a Fangraphs custom player search by position, a created a table of the following plus stats.

  • wOBA - if you care about determining how well a player contributes to run-scoring, wOBA is a more accurate representation of that contribution than OPS
  • wRC+ - If you want a rate statistic for hitters that weights each offensive action and controls for league and park effects, wRC+ is for you.
  • BB%+
  • K%+
  • AVG+
  • OBP+
  • SLG+

I ranked every player's plus stats from one through six and created the top five list. This post looks at first baseman who played at least 600 games for the Braves franchise.

Why 600 games?

Six-hundred isn't the first number that comes to mind, and I started with a 750 game cutoff.  At that point, the list contained some famous names, but I noticed one omitted name that I felt demanded consideration: Fred McGriff.

Crime dog played only 636 games, but his play in those games took the Atlanta Braves to several division titles; I had to include him even if he eventually fell off the list.

Next: The Earl