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The Best Braves Second Basemen Since 1990

How do Mark Lemke, Marcus Giles, Dan Uggla and Ozzie Albies stack-up with the rest of Atlanta’s starting second basemen since 1990?

Giles turns double play
Marcus Giles spent the early-and mid-2000’s as the starting second baseman for Atlanta. His 2003 season was one of the best for any infielder in the history of the Braves franchise.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Second base was one of the positions I was most looking forward to delving into as part of this historical retrospective of Atlanta Braves players since 1990.

For the segment of the Braves fanbase who love “guys who play hard and get their uniform dirty” - this is full of players who fit that profile because, with a few notable exceptions, this position hasn’t historically profiled as a source of significant offensive production.

Second basemen for the Braves have rarely been the best player on the team but they probably lead the team in cliché usage. And, in full disclosure, it includes three of my all-time favorite Braves players.

Close your eyes and you can probably hear an old timer say one these guys were a “good little ballplayer” or that “he does all the little things to win you a ballgame” or maybe “he’s all heart but as tough as shoe leather”.

You can bet your bottom-dollar that more than a few got the hallmark of days-gone-by with the trusted “... and he plays the game the right way” quip.

If that doesn’t wet your whistle for nostalgia, I don’t know what will. So before heading into the post-1990 segment, let’s take a look at some of the notable men who played the position after the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966.

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s were owned by three-time All Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Felix Millan. For as good as “the Cat” was during his seven-year tenure with Atlanta (he posted a total of 9.5 bWAR), he never posted an OPS+ higher than 98.

The man who replaced Millan at second in 1973 was Davey Johnson, who had spent the previous eight seasons of his career collecting two Gold Gloves and three All Star selections for the Baltimore Orioles.

Johnson, whose post-playing managerial career is probably Hall of Fame-worthy with a .562 winning percentage over 17 seasons, produced a historic season in 1973. Although he never hit more than 18 home runs in any other single season of his 13-year MLB career, he belted 43 home runs in 1973, with 42 coming as a second basemen. That total tied him Hall of Famer Rodgers Hornsby for most at the position. and stood until 2021 when it was broken by Marcus Semien.

Atlanta Braves
Davey Johnson (right), Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans became the first set of teammates to hit 40 or more home runs in a single season in 1973.
Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

The 1973 Braves team was the first in MLB history to have three teammates hit 40 or more home runs in a single season as Johnson was joined by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans.

Marty Perez posted a decent season in 1974 but the rest of the decade was made up of three younger players, two of whom played notable roles with the Braves well into the 1980’s. In 1972, the Braves called-up 19 year-old Rod Gilbreath, and during parts of seven seasons with Atlanta - including as the primary second basement from 1976 through 1978 - he played in exactly 500 games.

The other two young players who joined Atlanta in the late-1970s and played a notable role at second were Jerry Royster and Glenn Hubbard.

Debuting for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973, Royster was traded to Atlanta before the 1976 season and played 10 of his 16 MLB season with the Braves. Royster was a prototypical utility player, playing primarily on the infield at second, third and shortstop. He also played a decent amount of outfield with Atlanta between 1976 and 1984 before ending his playing career with the team in 1988.

For most of the 1980’s, it was Glenn Hubbard who manned second for Atlanta. An All Star in 1983, he posted 16.9 bWAR during his 10 seasons and almost 1,200 games with the Braves.

Atlanta Braves v Cincinnati Reds
Glenn Hubbard spent most of the 1980’s as Atlanta’s starting second baseman. He also spent more than a decade as first base coach for the team, primarily in the 2000s.

Hubbard became the primary second baseman for the Braves in 1979 and held the position through the 1987 season before signing with the Oakland in 1988 and finishing his career with the A’s in 1989. Like Millan, Hubbard never posted an OPS+ of 100 or better during his time with Atlanta. But Hubbard was an above average defender, and for the era, was also a positive offensive contributor.

And let’s be honest, Hubbard has maybe the single greatest baseball card photo in history.

Ron Gant took over at second in 1988 for the departed Hubbard, and although he hit 19 home runs during the season and finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote, the team sent him to Single-A to during 1989 season to learn how to play the outfield.

Jeff Treadway was brought in from Cincinnati late in Spring Training in 1989 and became the primary starter at second until 1992 when became the lesser-part of a second base platoon with Mark Lemke.

That brings us to the 1990’s.

As always, the data for this is from Baseball-Reference and focuses mainly on offensive performance. The sole qualifier to appear in this ranking is playing 65 games at the position for the season. Although it would not have played a role in the rankings for second baseman, the 2020 season was excluded.

Best Single Seasons Since 1990

Here are the best single seasons by a second baseman for the Braves since 1990.

Marcus Giles readies for the pitch
Marcus Giles posted an incredible 7.9 bWAR in 2003.
Photo by Craig Melvin/Getty Images

Top 5 seasons, by bWAR

Marcus Giles, 2003, 7.9

Martin Prado, 2010, 5.0

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 4.9

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 4.9

Marcus Giles, 2005, 4.1

Baltimore Orioles v Atlanta Braves
Giles produced a 136 OPS+ in 2003.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by OPS+

Marcus Giles, 2003, 136

Martin Prado, 2010, 119

Kelly Johnson, 2007, 116

Jeff Treadway, 1991, 116

Marcus Giles, 2005, 114

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals
Dan Uggla paced second basemen with 36 home runs in 2011.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by HR

Dan Uggla, 2011, 36

Ozzie Albies, 2021, 30

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 24

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 24

Dan Uggla, 2013, 22

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles
Ozzie Albies posted three of the top five single season RBI totals for a second basemen with Atlanta since 1990, including 106 in 2021.
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by RBI

Ozzie Albies, 2021, 106

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 86

Dan Uggla, 2011, 82

Dan Uggla, 2012, 78

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 72

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Albies has the highest single season total for runs scored in this ranking with 105 in 2018.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by Runs

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 105

Marcus Giles, 2005, 104

Ozzie Albies, 2021, 103

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 102

Bret Boone, 1999, 102

Marcus Giles watches the ball
Marcus Giles takes the top spot with an OPS of .917 in 2003.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by OPS

Marcus Giles, 2003, .917

Ozzie Albies, 2019, .852

Kelly Johnson, 2007, .831

Marcus Giles, 2005, .826

Quilvio Veras, 2000, .823

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
Surprise! Omar Infante hit .321 in 2010 to edge out Jeff Treadway for the highest single season batting average in this ranking.
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by BA

Omar Infante, 2010, .321

Jeff Treadway, 1991, .320

Marcus Giles, 2003, .316

Marcus Giles, 2004, .311

Quilvio Veras, 2000, .309

BBN-GIANTS-BRAVES 3
Quilvio Veras stole 25 bases in 2000, the most in a single since for a second baseman since 1990.
Photo by STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by SB

Quilvio Veras, 2000, 25

Ozzie Albies, 2021, 20

Marcus Giles, 2005, 16

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 15

Four tied with 14

Best Single Seasons by Decade

These are the best single seasons for second basemen per decade based on qualifying seasons only.

Mark Lemke
Mark Lemke posted 2.1 bWAR in 1993, the only Braves second baseman to post a bWAR of 1.5 or greater in the 1990s.

Top 5 bWAR, 1990s

Mark Lemke, 1993, 2.1

Mark Lemke, 1995, 1.4

Tony Graffanino, 1997, 1.3

Jeff Treadway, 1991, 1.2

Mark Lemke, 1996 and 1997, 1.2

Keith Lockhart, 1998, 1.2

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants
Jeff Treadway was one of only two Braves second basemen to have an OPS+ of 100 or higher in the 1990s. His 116 OPS+ in 1991 was best of the decade.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Top 5 OPS+, 1990s

Jeff Treadway, 1991, 116

Tony Graffanino, 1997, 104

Jeff Treadway, 1990, 94

Mark Lemke, 1994, 89

Keith Lockhart, 1998, 82

Bret Boone, 1999, 82

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves
A Georgia native, Treadway hit .320 in 1991. Platooning at second with Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser, Treadway started 85 games at second base, but only collected 336 plate appearances for the season.

Top 5 BA, 1990s

Jeff Treadway, 1991, .320

Mark Lemke, 1994, .294

Jeff Treadway, 1990, .283

Tony Graffanino, 1997, .258

Keith Lockhart, 1998, .257

Bret Boone #24...
Power was at a premium from Braves second basemen in the 1990’s. Bret Boone hit 20 home runs in 1999, by far the most of the decade.

Top 5 HR, 1990s

Bret Boone, 1999, 20

Jeff Treadway, 1990, 11

Keith Lockhart, 1998, 9

Tony Graffanino, 1997, 8

Mark Lemke, 1993, 7

Young fans try to get autographs
Marcus Giles produced 7.9 bWAR in 2003. He was also selected as an All Star season for the only time in his career. He finished third in the NL in bWAR behind only Barry Bonds (9.2) and Albert Pujols (8.7).

Top 5 bWAR, 2000s

Marcus Giles, 2003, 7.9

Kelly Johnson, 2007, 3.7

Marcus Giles, 2003, 3.3

Quilvio Veras, 2000, 2.4

Kelly Johnson, 2008, 2.2

Padres v Braves
Giles had a 136 OPS+ in 2003. He was also hit by a pitch 11 times during the regular season.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Top 5 OPS+, 2000s

Marcus Giles, 2003, 136

Kelly Johnson, 2007, 116

Marcus Giles, 2005, 114

Marcus Giles, 2004, 111

Quilvio Veras, 2000, 110

Alou breaks up double play
Marcus Giles posted the top two single season batting averages in the 2000s. He also had an excellent defensive season in 2003 finishing third in the NL with a defensive WAR of 2.3.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Top 5 BA, 2000s

Marcus Giles, 2003, .316

Marcus Giles, 2004, .311

Quilvio Veras, 2000, .309

Marcus Giles, 2005, .291

Kelly Johnson, 2008, .287

Pirates v Braves
Marcus Giles hit 72 home runs during his time in Atlanta, including 21 in 2003. He narrowly missed qualifying for this ranking in both 2001 and 2002 when he appeared in a total of 68 games each season.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, 2000s

Marcus Giles, 2003, 21

Kelly Johnson, 2007, 16

Marcus Giles, 2005, 15

Kelly Johnson, 2008 12

Marcus Giles, 2006, 11

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Martin Prado led Braves second basemen in the 2010s with a single season bWAR of 5.0 in 2010.
Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

Top 5 bWAR, 2010s

Martin Prado, 2010, 5.0

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 4.9

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 4.1

Omar Infante, 2010, 3.1

Dan Uggla, 2012, 2.9

2008 Atlanta Braves Practice
Martin Prado had the best single-season OPS+ in 2010 with 119. Platoon partner and fellow 2010 All Star Omar Infante finished third in the decade with a 111 OPS+.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Top 5 OPS+, 2010s

Martin Prado, 2010, 119

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 113

Omar Infante, 2010, 111

Dan Uggla, 2011, 107

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 101

Florida Marlins v Atlanta Braves
Omar Infante hit a decade-based .321 for qualifying second basemen in 2010. He appeared at at five different defensive positions for the Braves in 2010, including 65 at second base.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Top 5 BA, 2010s

Omar Infante, 2010, .321

Martin Prado, 2010, .307

Ozzie Albies, 2019, .295

Brandon Phillips, 2017, .291

Ozzie Albies, 2018, .261

Atlanta Braves v Florida Marlins
Dan Uggla hit 36 home runs in his first season with Atlanta in 2011.
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, 2010s

Dan Uggla, 2011, 36

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 24

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 24

Dan Uggla, 2013, 22

Dan Uggla, 2012, 19

Best Cumulative Qualifying Seasons

These are the best cumulative totals for Atlanta’s second basemen since 1990.

New York Mets’ David Wright slides under Atlanta Braves’ Mar
Marcus Giles led this ranking with a total of 15.9 bWAR.
Photo by Howard Earl Simmons/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Top 5 bWAR, Qualifying Seasons

Marcus Giles, 15.9

Ozzie Albies, 12.4

Mark Lemke, 6.1

Kelly Johnson, 6.1

Martin Prado, 5.0

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Ozzie Albies hit 78 home runs in qualifying seasons, one more than Dan Uggla’s 77.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, Qualifying Seasons

Ozzie Albies, 78

Dan Uggla, 77

Marcus Giles, 55

Kelly Johnson, 36

Mark Lemke, 30

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
Ozzie Albies tops of the lists of cumulative RBI with 264.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Top 5 RBI, Qualifying Seasons

Ozzie Albies, 264

Marcus Giles, 240

Mark Lemke, 230

Dan Uggla, 215

Kelly Johnson, 166

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
Marcus Giles score 353 runs in his qualifying seasons, best in this ranking for second basemen.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 Runs, Qualifying Seasons

Marcus Giles, 353

Ozzie Albies, 310

Mark Lemke, 305

Dan Uggla, 234

Kelly Johnson, 224

Youngest and Oldest Qualifiers

Divisional Round - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Ozzie Albies was 21 in 2018, the youngest player in any qualifying season.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Top 5 Youngest

Ozzie Albies, 2018, 21

Ozzie Albies, 2019, 22

Ozzie Albies, 2021, 24

Seven tied at 25

Braves v Cubs
Keith Lockhart was “gritty” and a “gamer” and Bobby Cox wrote his name in the line-up quite a bit through his late 30’s, including 72 times as the starting second baseman in 2002 when he was 37 years old.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Top 5 Oldest

Keith Lockhart, 2002, 37

Brandon Phillips, 2017, 36

Keith Lockhart, 2000, 35

Keith Lockhart, 1998, 33

Dan Uggla, 2013, 33

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson spent parts of six seasons of his 11 year career with Atlanta, including three seasons as the team’s primary starting second baseman.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Notable Tidbits

Let’s take a look at some of the interesting pieces of information for second basemen since 1990.

  • In qualifying seasons, the 1990s produced only 10.8 bWAR. In contrast the 2000s and 2010s both provided bWAR on either side of 25 for each decade.
  • Mark Lemke appeared in 860 games during qualifying seasons - 341 games more then the next highest ranking total put up by Marcus Giles.
  • Speaking of “The Lemmer”, Lemke had seven qualifying seasons, tops for this ranking. Marcus Giles had four qualifying seasons while Ozzie Albies, Kelly Johnson, Dan Uggla and Keith Lockhart each having three qualifying seasons.
  • The highest bWAR for any season single season based on qualifiers was 2010, when Martin Prado and Omar Infante posted a combined 8.1 bWAR.
  • Marcus Giles had an all-time great bWAR season in 2003 for Atlanta. The only two position players with a better bWAR since 1990 were outfielders Andruw Jones and J.D. Drew.
  • Despite finishing third in total bWAR and defensive WAR in 2003, Giles only finished 18th in the NL MVP voting.
  • Giles was injured in a collision with Andruw Jones in 2004, with the resulting broken collarbone and concussion causing him to miss more than 50 games.
  • Giles also led second basemen in steals for qualifying seasons in this ranking with 54.
  • History shows that Dan Uggla was productive in several season other than 2011. He led the NL in walks in 2012 the same season he was selected as an All Star.
  • Kelly Johnson was more-than-effective following Giles as the starter at second. The utilityman had three separate stints with Atlanta, including time during his last season in 2016.
  • The mid-2010s had a parade of players qualify based on games played at second between the Uggla and Albies eras. Tommy LaStella and Brandon Phillips both were positive contributors during their single seasons in Atlanta while Jace Peterson added 1.9 total bWAR between 2015 and 2016.
  • The worst qualifying seasons were not as bad as I was expecting with only five of 37 qualifying season producing a negative bWAR. Nick Green had the worst bWAR with -0.5 in 2004 filling in for the injured Giles. Mark Lemke (-0.4, 1991; -0.1, 1992), Dan Uggla (-0.3, 2013) and Tony Graffanino, (-0.2, 1998) round out the list.
  • If you were wondering, the three guys who are among by favorites to wear an Atlanta jersey are Glenn Hubbard, Ozzie Albies and Martin Prado.