Voting results for the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced on January 25, live on the MLB Network. There are currently five players on the Hall of Fame ballot that spent time in an Atlanta Braves uniform. We will be further examining the Hall of Fame cases for each of those players over the next couple of weeks, but for now, let’s take a look at five of the best former Atlanta Braves players that are not currently enshrined in Cooperstown.
Andruw Jones is currently in his fifth year on the Hall of Fame ballot and is polling at 48.9 percent on the public ballots according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker. Jones jumped from 19.4 percent to 33.9 percent during last year’s voting cycle. but remains a long way from the 75 percent threshold that is required for induction.
Jones spent 12 of his 17 professional seasons with Atlanta and finished his career with 434 home runs, an .823 OPS and an 111 OPS+. He was a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner and was widely regarded as one of, if not the best, defensive center fielder of all time.
The biggest detriment to Jones’ Hall of Fame case was how his career ended. After leaving the Braves at the end of the 2007 season, Jones hit just .210/.316/.424 with 66 home runs and a 95 OPS+ between 2008 and 2012 while playing with four different teams, and his defensive value cratered. Still, he ranks 11th all-time in fWAR among center fielders despite failing to rack up much value after the age of 30.
Fred McGriff’s final year on the Hall of Fame ballot came in 2019, when he topped out at 39.8 percent of the vote. It was a notable omission by the baseball writers for a player that amassed 493 career home runs without any of the steroid-related baggage prevalent throughout this era. McGriff spent five seasons with the Braves and hit .293 with 130 home runs while producing a 128 OPS+. From 1988 to 1997, he hit the third-most homers in the Majors, trailing only Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. His 56.9 career fWAR place him 32nd all-time among first basemen.
McGriff’s Hall of Fame fate is now in the hands of the Today’s Game Committee, which is currently scheduled to hold another election in December of 2022.
One of the most beloved former players in Atlanta Braves history, Dale Murphy remains on the outside looking in at the Hall of Fame. Murphy was among the best players in the majors throughout the mid-80s and captured back-to-back MVP Awards in 1982 and 1983. However, he never amassed more than 23.2 percent of the votes during his 15 years on the ballot.
While Murphy’s peak was phenomenal, leg injuries hampered the end of his career. He finished with 398 home runs and is fifth on the Braves’ all-time list in bWAR (47.3) and fWAR (44.3). During his 15 years with Atlanta, Murphy hit .268/.351/.478 with 371 home runs, a 125 OPS+ and 160 stolen bases.
The character clause has been cited in the past as a reason to keep certain players out of the Hall of Fame. If that is the case, then it should be used to boost Murphy’s case as he remains one of the game’s all-time greats in that regard.
Gary Sheffield is in his eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot and is polling at 49.6 percent according to the Hall of Fame tracker. Sheffield has monster numbers with 509 career home runs along with a .907 OPS and a 140 OPS+. He was no doubt one of the best hitters of his era. Sheffield spent two seasons in Atlanta, hitting .319/.412/.562 with 64 home runs and a 151 OPS+.
PED suspicions are the only reason that Sheffield isn’t in the Hall of Fame already. He has more than 60 career fWAR, and that number is depressed by some awful defensive seasons — literally no player with 1,000 or more PAs has accrued as much negative defensive value as Sheffield over their careers, if you go by the metrics available to evaluate historical defense.
Perhaps a controversial pick, but it is going to be interesting to see how Brian McCann’s career is viewed when he appears on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2025. With what the industry now understands about pitch framing, McCann was one of the most valuable players in the game during his peak. Jay Jaffe looked at McCann’s Hall of Fame case prior to the 2019 season at FanGraphs and Brendan Gawlowski revisited it again after McCann announced his retirement at the end of the season.
McCann is probably a long shot at best, but incorporating the framing numbers make it interesting. FanGraphs’ version of WAR incorporates framing and gives McCann massive value in that regard given that he seemed to be doing it before it became a league-wide focus, which places him sixth all time for the Braves at 43.6, trailing only Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Dale Murphy. Roughly 30 percent of his career fWAR comes from framing value.