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Behind the HOF Ballot: A Tribute to Some Former Braves

Dale Murphy is one of the best Braves of all time, but is he a Hall-of-Famer?
Dale Murphy is one of the best Braves of all time, but is he a Hall-of-Famer?

As I'm sure you have heard, the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released a while back. While the players who are likely to get in have no real connections to the Braves, there are six former Braves on the ballot. Since none of those players will get in this year (or ever, most likely), I thought I'd take some time on this lazy Sunday to remember their careers and what they meant to the Braves.

I've listed the players in order of how much they meant to the Braves (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being "Hank Aaron" and 1 being "Jo-Jo Reyes"). For each player, I included some career stats, his stats with the Braves, his best moment as a Brave, a brief recap of his career, and my prediction for his vote percentage on this year's ballot.

Dale Murphy (Braves Rating: 9)

The Murph is the quintessential Brave: quiet, professional, and an all-around good guy. With a Braves career that lasted from 1976 to 1990, he also nearly bridged the gap from the Hank Aaron Era and the Bobby Cox Dynasty. For most of  those years, Dale Murphy was the Braves. He worked hard to make himself a good centerfielder after converting from catcher early in his career. Though his peak was short, it was quite impressive: from 1980 to 1987, he averaged 33 homers, a .284 / .374 / .517 line (a 140 OPS+) and 5.2 WAR. If he had just been able to maintain that production for 2-3 more years instead of falling off a cliff after 1987, he might already be in the Hall.

Career Stats (18 Seasons): .265 / .346 / .469 (121 OPS+), 398 HRs, 44.2 WAR
Awards: 2 MVPs (1982 & 1983), 7-time All Star, 5 Gold Gloves, 4 Silver Sluggers
Best Season (1987): .295 / .417 / .580 (157 OPS+), 44 HRs, 7.5 WAR, +10 fielding runs

Braves Stats (15 seasons): .268 / .351 / .478 (125 OPS+), 371 HRs, 45.7 WAR
Top Braves Moment: In 1982, leading the Braves to their first playoff appearance since 1969.
Predicted Vote: 12%

Fred McGriff (Braves Rating: 7)

I think the Crime Dog is one of the most underrated players of his era. His numbers didn't seem that huge during the 90s, when other players were exploiting the Steroid Era to ridiculous levels, but he was a legitimately great hitter for a long period of time. For 10 years (1987-1996), he never posted an OBP below .361 or a SLG below .489. He led the league in homers twice before the Steroid Era truly hit. He was even a good player for a while after his peak, not truly slowing down until 2003, when he was 39. He started on our only World Series-winning team, too. Plus, he had a Hall-of-Fame nickname.

Career Stats (19 Seasons): .284 / .377 / .509 (134 OPS+), 493 HRs, 50.5 WAR
Awards: 5-time All Star, 4 Silver Sluggers, All-Star Game MVP (1994); received MVP votes in 8 seasons.
Best Season (1989): .269 / .399 / .525 (166 OPS+), 36 HRs, 6.6 WAR, +5 fielding runs

Braves Stats (5 seasons): .293 / .369 / .516 (128 OPS+), 130 HRs, 10.9 WAR
Top Braves Moment: Lighting a fire under the Braves after being traded here in 1993, helping us overtake the Giants in the Last Great Pennant Chase.
Predicted Vote: 25%

More after the jump.

Marquis Grissom (Braves Rating: 5)

Marquis was only here for two seasons, but those seasons were very successful, both for him and for the Braves. He won Gold Gloves both years and got 207 hits in 1996 (only Ralph Garr and Felipe Alou have had more as an Atlanta Brave). The Braves won the World Series in 1995, and were just a Leyritz away from repeating in 1996. Grissom even caught the last out of the 1995 series--probably the greatest single moment in Atlanta Braves history. Early in his career, he was a fantastic defender and stolen base threat (he lead the NL in steals in 1991 and 1992). He was never really a star player, but he had some good years. I'll always remember him fondly.

Career Stats (17 Seasons): .272 / .318 / .415 (92 OPS+), 227 HRs, 429 SBs, 25.6 WAR
Awards: 2-time All Star, 4 Gold Gloves; received MVP votes in 4 seasons
Best Season (1992): .276 / .322 / .418 (110 OPS+), 14 HRs, 78 SBs, 5.6 WAR, +6 fielding runs (you could make an argument for his 1993 or 1996 seasons, too)

Braves Stats (2 seasons): .286 / .335 / .448 (99 OPS+), 35 HRs, 57 SBs, 5.0 WAR
Top Braves Moment: The last out of 1995: "The Atlanta Braves have given you a championship!!!!"
Predicted Vote: 1%

B.J. Surhoff (Braves Rating: 2)

It's easy to forget this, but Surhoff had a damn good career. Sure, by the time he got to Atlanta, he was just a below-average-hitting left-fielder, but he was a very good and consistent player for Baltimore and Milwaukee. He had an interesting career path, starting as a catcher, then moving to third base, until finally ending up in left field (and DH). He played games at every position except pitcher in his career. He didn't really help the Braves much, but he was a regular on the mediocre division-winning 2001 team. Obviously not a Hall-of-Famer, but that's not an insult; not many players have 19-year careers.

Career Stats (19 Seasons): .282 / .332 / .413 (98 OPS+), 188 HRs, 34.4 WAR
Awards: All Star in 1999; received MVP votes in 1 season
Best Season (1999): .308 / .347 / .492 (115 OPS+), 28 HRs, 4.4 WAR, +16 fielding runs

Braves Stats (3 seasons): .277 / .332 / .402 (87 OPS+), 11 HRs, 0.9 WAR
Top Braves Moment: Homering in Game 2 of the 2001 NLCS, an 8-1 Braves win over the eventual WS Champion Diamondbacks
Predicted Vote: 0%

Bret Boone (Braves Rating: 2)

Boone's first 9 years in the majors were workmanlike; sure he had a couple good years for Cincinnati, but most years he was a bit below average. That includes his one year in Atlanta, when he hit 20 homers but didn't do much else right. Then, out of nowhere, he exploded in Seattle from 2001-2003, hitting 96 homers and putting up 20.3 WAR. Immediately after that, he went back to being below average, but those three years were amazing. He was also excellent in the 1999 playoffs for the Braves, which should count for something.

Career Stats (14 Seasons): .266 / .325 / .442 (101 OPS+), 252 HRs, 21.4 WAR

Awards: 2-time All-Star, 4 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, received MVP votes in 3 seasons
Best Season (2001): .331 / .372 / .578 (153 OPS+), 37 HRs, 9.3 WAR, +11 fielding runs

Braves Stats (1 season): .252 / .310 / .416 (82 OPS+), 20 HRs, 0.6 WAR
Top Braves Moment: Going 7/13 with 4 doubles in the 1999 World Series
Predicted Vote: 0%

Raul Mondesi (Braves Rating: 1)

When talking about Raul Mondesi, it really helps to forget that he ever played for the Braves. That shouldn't be too hard, since he really, really sucked for us and didn't make it past May before being released. He did have some very good years in his career, but he was basically washed up by age 33. Mondesi was probably best known for his cannon arm (112 career OF assists) and his two 30 homer/30 steal seasons in 1997 in 1999. It was a nice career, even if it ended with a miserable 2 months in Atlanta.

Career Stats (13 Seasons): .273 / .331 / .485 (113 OPS+), 271 HRs, 229 SBs, 27.2 WAR

Awards: 1994 Rookie of the Year, 1995 All-Star, 2 Gold Gloves, received MVP votes in 1997
Best Season (1997): .310 / .360 / .541 (140 OPS+), 30 HRs, 32 SBs, 5.8 WAR, +11 fielding runs

Braves Stats (1 season): .211 / .271 / .359 (63 OPS+), 4 HRs, -0.1 WAR
Top Braves Moment: Hitting a walkoff homer on April 30, 2005 against the Cardinals.
Predicted Vote: 0%

As for the rest of the ballot, I think Jeff Bagwell and Bert Blyleven are no-brainers; I'd also vote for Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, and Alan Trammell without thinking twice. Beyond that, I'm not sure; I'm on the fence with Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Kevin Brown (yes, really--go back and look at his career), but I probably wouldn't vote for any of them. As for Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, I just don't think that they would have done enough to make the Hall if they hadn't been on steroids. That's a judgment call, obviously, but I can't justify voting for either.

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