The Hall of Monikers: Best Braves Players by First Name

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So in today’s mailbag, one Ryan Cothran of Santa Rosa Beach, FL writes: “Who are the best Braves by first name?” Well, little Ryan, it’s almost Christmas, so I’ll answer your question.

Step 1: Who’s A Good Player?

I head over to Stathead and make a list of the top 1000 hitters and top 1000 pitchers by first name. Let’s not get too fancy here: “top” is measured by career WAR. These 1988 names (Babe Ruth is there twice and there are 11 names like Dutch Leonard that describe more than one player) includes every Hall of Famer of course; the batting list runs from Barry Bonds (162.8) to Hank Severeid (18.6) and the pitching list runs from Cy Young (165.7) to Luis Severino (11.7).

Step 2: Sort by First Names and Pick the Best

It’s easy enough to take this list and sort by first names, as long as you’re going to take the first names as BRef gives them to you.So Babe Ruth isn’t a George, Old Hoss Radbourn’s first name is “Old” and the 44 Jims, 11 Jimmys, 2 James’s, 1 Jimmie and 1 Jamie are treated as five separate names. (Jimy Williams isn’t on the list: -0.2 career WAR). The 1999 different players (adding up the Bambino’s two lines) have 668 different first names. The Jims lead with 44.There are 43 Bills, 41 Mikes, 38 Bobs and 32 Johns and Georges. On the other end, there are 412 unique first names and 95 names used just twice.

We now take the 668 best WAR results by first name.Before looking, you might try to guess the best Jim, Bill, Mike, Bob and John. Two of them are not in the HOF and another one is in, but one of the more obscure members. Answers below.(No prize for guessing the best Chipper.)

We take WAR as sacrosanct, but a number of these races are really close. Was Aaron Hill (24.4) really better than Aaron Harang (23.8)? It probably doesn’t matter much, since Aaron Nola (22.3) will probably pass both of them next year, and if he stays healthy Judge will pass them both as well. The Aarons Rowand, and Sele weren’t that far behind and I’m sure Aaron Cook, bringing up the rear at 15.7 had some good points in his favor. But Aaron Hill it is for this exercise. And, of course, all 412 unique first names win their competitions by default, allowing Melky Cabrera to be the top Melky of all time.

Step 3: Who was a Brave?

Finally, we look and see which of these 668 players played for the Braves.You didn’t have to play very much for the Braves (looking at you, Liván Hernandez) or very well (Melky again) but you had to don the uniform officially.

Step 4: The Best Braves

So it turns out that there are 108 Braves who are the best their first name has to offer. But 73 of these are unique names. To know that Chipper Jones was the best Chipper, or that Bartolo Colon was the best Bartolo is not that interesting. So I’ll focus on the remaining 35: the Braves Hall of Monikers

The Top 9

Cy Young (165.7): The best of the 6 Cys. It is somewhat surprising that there have been 6 Cys, but a big reason for this is that players were being compared to Young.

Babe Ruth (162.1 + 20.4): Babes Adams and Herman are far back. But come on… Neither Young nor Ruth were Braves of any importance. This leads to:

Hank Aaron (143.1): Not only was the Hammer the best Hank, but some of the other 9 Hanks were pretty good, particularly Greenberg. If you are wondering, there are two Henrys, the best of them the 19th century Henry Larkin (28.7).

Kid Nichols (116.7): Best of 3.

Greg Maddux (104.8): Best of 9. Vaughn and Swindell are way back.

Phil Niekro (97): Best of 8. Rizzuto and Cavaretta are next in line.

Warren Spahn (92.5): Better than Warren Hacker

John Clarkson (84.9): Best of the 32 Johns. Did you get him? I sure as hell didn’t. But he was a very interesting player. Smoltz (66.4) comes in second, just ahead of Olerud in 3rd.

Dan Brouthers (79.8): Another HOFer with one short year in a Braves uniform.

Bill Dahlen (75.3): Another big surprise. There are 43 Bills on our list, and while Bill Dickey (57.3) is in the HOF, none have the WAR standing of perpetual egregiously overlooked Bill Dahlen. His long career had two Boston years near the end.

The Rest

Kenny Lofton (68.4): Ahead of Rogers (50.5)

Vic Willis (67.5): Ahead of Wertz and 4 others

Sherry Magee (59.4): There was another Sherry? Yes.

Darrell Evans (58.8): Ahead of Porter (40.9). Glad to see Chaney didn’t make the list.

Jimmy Collins (53.5): Another big surprise. There have been 11 good Jimmys. None of them are truly great. I mean, he’s in the HOF and everything, but he was put there because he was good fielding bunts down the third base line. Third base is the most underrepresented position in the HOF, and he was the first. Jimmy Sheckard (49.7) is next, followed by Key (49.7) and Rollins (49).

Earl Averill (51.1): Best of 8

Orlando Cepeda (50.1): Best of 5

Brett Butler (49.7): Better than Gardner (43), but I guess there’s an outside chance he can be caught. Myers brings up the rear.

Wes Ferrell (48.9): Better than Parker

Dale Murphy (46.5): How does Dale Murphy have less WAR than Brett Butler? Career counting stats are just brutal. But he’s still the best Dale, well ahead of Mitchell (19.4)

Milt Pappas (46.2): Best of 5

Deacon White (45.7): Best of 3

J.D. Drew (44.9): Martinez (23.6) is not going to catch him.

Julio Franco (43.6): Take that, Teheran (18.7). We had both of them.

Hugh Duffy (43.1): Like Collins, a 1945 admission to the HOF. Take him out and put Murph in. Still the best of 3.

Josh Donaldson (41.5): Donaldson’s going to pass Duffy and yet he’ll never sniff the HOF. Ahead of Beckett, Hamilton, Reddick, Johnson and Willingham, in that order. Josh is a name that is clearly pretty recent.

Freddie Freeman (38.8): Now comfortably ahead of Fitzimmons (33.6), Lindstrom (27.5) and Patek (24.1).

Sid Gordon (38.3): Best of 3

Nick Markakis (34): The best Nick ever. Way better than Esasky (who didn’t make the list) and Swisher (21.4) the only other Nick who did.

Marty McManus (33.3): Best of 3

Chick Stahl (31.9): best of 4, but Hafey fell just short (31.1) and if Gandil hadn’t been thrown out of baseball….

Raul Mondesi (29.5): I like to forget he played for the Braves, but he had a better career than Ibanez.

Lloyd Waner (27.9):Yet another Iffy HOFer. 19 games played in Boston. Barely better than Moseby (27.5) and Brown.

Lew Burdette (25.5): Beat out Richie.

Clay Carroll (18.4): Better than Buchholz, barely, unless Buchholz comes back.

The One-Namers

In WAR order, the 73 unique Braves first names: Rogers, Gaylord, Chipper, Old Hoss, Graig, Andruw, Cole, Enos, Hoyt, Bartolo, King, Burleigh, Bucky, Dolf, Javier, Rabbit, Felipe, Hardy, Nig (?! He was Bavarian!), Lonnie, Herman, Dusty, Andrelton, Doyle, Derrek, B.J., Stuffy, Elbie, Ezra, Mort, Andres, Ginger, Javy, Marquis, Anibal, Martin, Denis, Clete, Stu, Walker, Yunel, Ervin, Charley, Jouett, Garret, Liván, Nels, R.A., Erick, Dallas, Bernard, Marcell, Mack, Zane, Melky, Rey, Kurt, Jermaine, Moe, Pablo, Willard, Claudell, Vinnie, Togie, Pascual, Jhoulys, Pretzels, Gavin, Octavio, Alejandro, Len, Huck and Si.

So, young Mr. Cothran, does this answer your question? (Braun is the best of 5 Ryans. Klesko is in 3rd place. I am stuck with Papelbon.)

Answer to quiz above: Jim McCormick (read about him here,) Bill Dahlen, Mike Schmidt, Bob Gibson, John Clarkson and George Brett. Jim Thome fell 3.1 WAR short of McCormick.

If you enjoyed this look back at Braves History, check this piece out as well by Jonathan F.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

18 thoughts on “The Hall of Monikers: Best Braves Players by First Name”

  1. Garrido did not quite make the cut of the top 2000. But the top Gil is Hodges (43.9) followed by McDougald (40.8) and Meche (16.9). Garrido is at 0.3, and is also behind Heredia (10.2) who didn’t make the top 2000 either.

  2. Do I understand correctly that the Braves have had such good players, historically, that Chipper doesn’t break the top 9? If so, wow.

  3. Not quite. Chipper, at 85.3, is ahead of Dahlen, Brouthers and Clarkson. But the top 9 were for competitive first names, which Chipper isn’t. And he’s not in the overall top 9 only if you count Ruth and Young and Hornsby and Perry, who, great players that they were, weren’t all that much for the Braves.

  4. @5, same!

    Man, this was great, JonathanF. How about Pasquals, Bruces, and Geralds?

  5. Pascual was on the list. He’s the greatest, and only, Pascual.
    For the Bruces, Sutter (24.5) trails Hurst (34.5) and leads Bochte (19.4) and Kison (14.3). Benedict missed the list at 7.4.
    There is no Gerald in the top 2000. Laird and Williams were both at 6.5, and Young was at 6, and as much as it pains me to say so, Perry was at -0.1.

  6. I’m amazed that Ice and Laird had the same career WAR. How was Gerald Laird nearly as valuable a player as Eggs Benedict?

  7. @7 Hornsby was absolutely great for the Braves. He had one of the greatest single seasons of any position player in the history of the franchise.

  8. I always like last names that can be first names as well, as all three of my names can do double duty. Looks like a dozen or so of the unique-first-name Braves have first names that are the same as the last names of other players, though I don’t know if all the other players made the top 2000. Off the top of my head, I can think of Steve Rogers, Lamarr Hoyt, Ray King, J.J. Hardy, Babe Herman, Larry Doyle, Billy Martin, Larry Walker, Wayne Garret (was he Garrett?), Connie Mack (he played too), Jerry Willard, and Camilo Pascual. Probably several others too.

  9. @12: That’s true but it (a) was one season of a 23 year career; and (b) it may have been a great season for the Braves, but it was not a particularly great year for Hornsby — he had three or four better ones…. I’ll grant that it was in his top 5.

    @13: Jason Marquis.

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