Of all the things Our Beloved Founder did on this site, my absolute favorite was the “44 Greatest Atlanta Braves.” This is the kind of barstool argument or back of the envelope noodling that I love, on a subject dear to my heart. It engendered a lot of nostalgic reminiscing from the gang and some good-natured debate about inclusions and exclusions. I even responded with my own list of my Left Behind 18, the taxi squad Braves that Mac left off, that included a couple of serious oversights in my view (Clete Boyer, for one), some halfhearted entries, and one fully tongue in cheek. Given that the franchise moved in ’66, Mac’s list also allowed the Methuselahs in the gallery to play “remember when” as well as edumacate the young’uns about some players that they never saw play and maybe even had never heard of.
Mac’s last update to the 44 Greatest on this site was after the 2007 season. (He did publish a later version after the 2011 season as an e-book, which expanded the list to 47 entries). A lot has happened since then. This is my attempt to update Mac’s list based on what has happened since.
For those unfamiliar or in need of a refresher, Mac’s rules for the list are here. The abbreviated version is 1) the key criterion is career value in a Braves uniform only, not what the player did elsewhere, and 2) the equivalent of at least three full seasons with the Atlanta franchise is required for eligibility. (Milwaukee stats count if the player had 3 full seasons with Atlanta.)
For purposes of this update, I have regarded Mac’s original list of 44 as canonical, even if I disagreed with them at the time. So I will spend no time evaluating the merits of the original entries in the Gospel according to Saint Mac. But there are, by my lights, seven Braves not on the Original 44 that now should be, requiring us to expel the bottom seven on the Original List. That means bye-bye to Lonnie Smith, Jeff Burroughs, Gary Matthews, Claudell Washington, Charlie Leibrandt, Cecil Upshaw, and Steve Bedrosian. (For the most part, good riddance. The first four were short term free agent Braves, most from the crazy years when Ted Turner play-acted as a GM, and I never really felt any loyalty to them. I am, however, sad to see Mr. Upshaw go down the Memory Hole.)
In Mac’s fashion, I will introduce the new inductees one by one, in similar format to Mac’s original entries, over the next few weeks.