Atlanta Braves History: Greatest Players of the 2000s

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJune 24, 2012

Atlanta Braves History: Greatest Players of the 2000s

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    A little over six months ago, I started a five-part series detailing the best Atlanta Braves of each decade.

    Then, life got in the way, as well as other Bleacher Report obligations, and I left the last part of the series out.

    So, that's what this article is for.

    The 2000s have been up and down for the Braves as they went 1,072-870, winning division titles in each of the first six years, before seeing their string of division titles end in 2006.

    The team finally got back into the playoffs in 2010 as a wild card and are looking like they have the chance to do that again this year.

    So, like the previous article (see below), here is a look at the top 10 Atlanta Braves in the 2000s.

    Note: This is the last in a five-part series ranking the best Braves' players in each decade and will only include stats from 2000-2011.

    Previous Articles:

    Best Braves of the 1990s

    Best Braves of the 1980s

    Best Braves of the 1970s

    Best Braves of the 1960s

Honorable Mentions

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    Two guys missed out on the top 10, but they were worth mentioning.

    Marcus Giles played second base for the Braves from 2001-06, hitting .285 with 72 home runs and 294 RBI. He also had 717 hits, 168 doubles and 416 runs scored

    Gary Sheffield only spent two seasons in Atlanta, but hit .319 with 64 home runs and 216 RBI. He had 314 hits, scored 208 runs and had a .412 on-base percentage. He was also named a 2003 All-Star and earned the Silver Slugger that year as well.

10. Javy Lopez

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    Javy Lopez played for the team for four years during the 2000s and was a favorite among Braves' fans.

    During that time, he had a .282 average with 95 home runs and 316 RBI. He had 486 hits, scored 225 runs, hit 81 doubles and had a .500 slugging percentage.

    The 2003 season saw him bat .318 with 43 home runs and 109 RBI, earning an All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger award.

    Behind the plate, he threw out 110 of 349 base stealers, which is a little over a 31 percent success rate.

    After the 2003 season, he signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles.

9. Jeff Francoeur

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    His career started off great in 2005, but the end wasn't as good for Jeff Francouer.

    Still, Francoeur had good stats from 2005-09 and deserves to be in the top 10.

    During his more than four years in Atlanta, he hit .266 with 78 home runs and 359 RBI. He also had 653 hits, with 129 of those being doubles, and he scored 310 runs.

    Defensively, he won the Gold Glove in 2007 and had 65 total outfield assists in more than four years.

8. Tom Glavine

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    Tom Glavine spent four years during the decade with the Braves, playing from 2000-02, before signing with the New York Mets as a free agent. He came back to the Braves in 2008, but had a nasty divorce with the team in 2009 when the Braves called up stud prospect Tommy Hanson from Triple-A Gwinnett, instead of Glavine.

    However, during his time with Atlanta in the decade, Glavine went 57-31 with a 3.37 ERA and 432 strikeouts in 748.1 innings pitched.

    He made the All-Star teams in 2000 and 2002, also finishing second in the Cy Young voting in 2000.

    Although the divorce was nasty between the Braves and Glavine, the left-hander is still one of the most beloved Braves of all time.

7. Greg Maddux

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    Greg Maddux is another one of the most beloved Braves of all time, playing 11 total years in Atlanta, four of which were in the decade.

    During that time, Mad Dog went 68-37 with a 3.16 ERA and 605 strikeouts in 900 innings pitched. He also had a 1.123 WHIP and won three Gold Gloves.

    In 2004, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs, rejoining the team he started his career with.

6. Rafael Furcal

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    Some fans may not be as happy with Rafael Furcal after there was what seemed like a verbal deal in place to bring him back to Atlanta in 2008. But, Furcal backtracked and re-signed with the Dodgers.

    Outside of that, Furcal was one of the better Braves between 2000-05.

    During that time, he hit .284 with 57 home runs and 292 RBI. He also had 924 hits, 554 runs scored, stole 189 bases, had a .348 on-base percentage, hustled for 38 triples and knocked 160 doubles.

    He won the 2000 Rookie of the Year and was named a 2003 All-Star.

5. Tim Hudson

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    I'll admit it, when the Braves traded for Tim Hudson before the 2005 season, I was giddy. I was excited about getting one of the most consistent pitchers in the game and putting him at the top of the Atlanta rotation.

    Since coming to Atlanta, Hudson has gone 89-58 with a 3.51 ERA and 800 strikeouts in 1,262.2 innings pitched. He also has a 1.253 WHIP.

    In 2010, he was named an All-Star.

    Although his career with Atlanta is likely coming to an end in the next few years, Hudson has made his place in Atlanta history, and will get consideration for the Braves Hall of Fame.

4. Brian McCann

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    Brian McCann is another favorite among Braves fans, and has been since he came to town in 2005.

    In that time, he's hit .286 with 136 home runs and 537 RBI. He has 878 hits, 200 doubles and scored 377 runs.

    He's also been named to six All-Star Games and won five Silver Sluggers.

    Behind the dish, he's thrown out 156 of 519 runners, which is a 30 percent caught-stealing rate.

    Things will get interesting over the next year for McCann as he's a free agent after the 2013 season. Will he re-sign with his hometown team or will he take bigger bucks to go somewhere else?

    Hopefully, he does the former and can be considered one of the top Braves of all time.

3. Andruw Jones

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    Some people may be surprised to see Andruw Jones here, but the numbers speak for themselves.

    Jones played the first eight years of the decade with Atlanta and had some great power numbers.

    He hit .264 with 288 home runs and 860 RBI. He had 1,247 hits, 237 doubles and scored 788 runs.

    He made five All-Star teams and won Gold Gloves all eight years he was with the team in the decade.

    My hope is that by the time Jones retires, the Braves will do the right thing and induct him into the Braves Hall of Fame. It would be a shame if that didn't happen.

2. John Smoltz

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    In my opinion, John Smoltz is the most beloved pitcher in Atlanta history.

    From 2001-08 (injured in 2000), Smoltz started 110 games and finished 204 games.

    During that time, he was 55-34 with a 3.04 ERA, 913 strikeouts and had 154 saves in 980.2 innings pitched. He also had a 1.127 ERA.

    Furthermore, Smoltz is the only pitcher in baseball history to have 200 wins and 150 saves in his career.

1. Chipper Jones

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    Perhaps the most beloved Braves player of all time, depending on who you ask, Chipper Jones is the epitome of a team player and someone just about every Braves fan is going to miss once he retires after this season.

    During the decade, Jones has hit .306 with 301 home runs and 1,037 RBI. He also has 1,744 hits, 360 doubles, 1,019 runs scored and a .406 on-base percentage.

    He's been named to four All-Star teams.

    In 2002, he even gave up third base, moving to left field so the Braves could bring in Vinny Castilla to play third base.

    After that experiment was over a few years later, Jones moved back to third base.

    He's restructured his contract countless times to help sign guys like Hudson, and has been a leader in the clubhouse for as long as I can remember.

    Chipper Jones is everything Braves fans could ask for and is someone we'll truly miss.