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The best Braves left fielders since 1990

Ryan Klesko played the most games, Chipper Jones had two strong seasons and Ron Gant had the best single season; but who will lay claim to the best left fielder for the Braves since 1990?

BBN-METS-BRAVES-KLESKO
Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones join Ron Gant as the three most obvious options as the best left fielder for the Braves since 1990.
Photo credit should read STEVEN R. SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

Oof.

That’s the best way I can describe the left field for the greater part of the past decade.

Since 1990, the Braves have manned the left side of the outfield with a litany of converted infielders, platoon outfielders, and players whose defensive prowess was less-than-desirable (including a few whose range was rivalled only by that of a maple tree).

From 1990 through 2008, the position typically made-up for the defensive limitations of the fielders by offering above average offensive output. Starting in 2009, however, left field has largely been an abyss, save a handful of seasons.

We’ll dive deeper into this later, but to mark how poorly the position has been since 2015, there have been four seasons - five if you include 2020 - that didn’t qualify for this list as no single player appeared in 65 or more games. While I have not included the 2020 season in any of these retrospectives, the fact that five of the past seven season (when including 2020) haven’t had a single player play in 40-percent of the Braves games in left field … that is, as they say, yikes.

Yikes, yikes, yikes.

This isn’t to say that legends and Hall of Famers haven’t played left field for Atlanta, because they have.

If you had to take a guess as to who the best left fielder to play in Atlanta since 1966 was, who would you choose?

I’ll give you a minute to think about that question.

Ready?

Are you sure?

It’s Lonnie Smith.

Lonnie Smith played with Atlanta from 1988 through 1992. You may already know Smith’s story, but if you don’t, here’s the quick recap. He played in MLB from 1978 though 1994, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting with the Phillies in 1980 and finishing second in the NL MVP voting while with the Cardinals during his lone All Star season in 1982.

Notably, he won a World Series with each of the first three teams he played for including the Royals in 1985. Known as “Skates” through out his career, Smith’s involvement with MLB’s drugs hearings in the mid-1980s almost ended his career. Smith signed with Atlanta in 1988 at age 32 played in only 43 games posting a lowly OPS of .638.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Lonnie Smith produced the best season of any left fielder in Atlanta Braves history in 1989.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

He bounced back in a big way in 1989 with the best season of his 17 year career, posting a bWAR of 8.8 (fWAR of 8.1). Despite playing on the worst team in the National League, Smith finished 11th in the NL MVP voting and led the league with a .415 OBP. For the year, he hit a career best 21 home runs, stole 25 bases and produced a .948 OPS.

He followed his career-best season with an outstanding 4.6 bWAR in 1990, with an OPS of .844 anchored by an OBP of .459. He also provided outstand defense in left during those seasons.

During the worst-to-first season of 1991, the 35 year-old Smith played in 99 games for Atlanta with a 1.8 bWAR and ended his Braves run in 1992 as part-time player, but still posted 1.5 bWAR.

Although Smith is remembered by many for his baserunning gaff in the 1991 World Series, he hit three home runs in that World Series with a 13.5% cWPA. He followed that up with an 11.5% cWPA in the 1992 World Series despite only appearing as a pinch-hitter in each of the six games.

For his post-season career, he posted a 42.9% cWPA in 63 games with a triple-slash of .278/.341/.424. He was even better during his career in five World Series appearances. In 32 games - and 124 plate appearances - he produced a 46.8 cWPA and a triple slash of .277/.341/.473.

During his regular season career with Atlanta, he provided 17.3 bWAR , which is the most of any left fielder since the team moved to Atlanta. (FanGraphs rated his tenue slightly lower, but still strong with 14.8 fWAR.)

Ken Griffey Jr. And Sr. Chat In Dugout
Ken Griffey, Sr. and his son chat in the Braves dugout during the elder’s time with Atlanta. You may be familiar with his son. I understand he played baseball when he was a little older.

Looking back at other notable players for the Braves who manned left field through the 1980s, Ken Griffey, Sr. was a positive producer in a parts of three season in his late-30’s before Smith took over the position. The 19-year MLB veteran spent parts of the 1986 and 1988 season with Atlanta. In 1987, Griffey slashed .286/.358/.456 will playing left field during his age 37 season.

Brett Butler had a strong season in 1983 before he was traded in one of the worst trades of the 1980s. Dale Murphy spend almost half a season in left during his MVP season of 1982.

The 1970s had Jeff Burroughs in the last two seasons of the decade. The former AL MVP was an All Star for the Braves in 1978 and finished in the top 20 of the MVP vote in two of his three seasons with Atlanta.

Ralph Garr spent parts of eights seasons seeing time in left field with Atlanta from 1968 through 1975. The “Roadrunner” was an All Star in 1974 when he led the league with a .353 batting average, hits with 214, and triples with 17. He finished 12th in the MVP voting that season. He also got down-ballot votes for MVP in 1971 and 1972.

Hank Aaron spent time in left field in both 1973 and 1974 and was an All Star both seasons.

1970 Major League Baseball Allstar Game - American League v National League
Rico Carty was an All Star in 1970 when he led the NL with a .366 batting average while playing left field for Atlanta.

Rico Carty held down left field for five of the first seven seasons the Braves played in Atlanta. He provided Atlanta with 16.1 bWAR (second highest to Smith) during his time in Atlanta including his All Star 1970 season. That season he led the NL with a .366 batting average and a .454 OBP while hitting 25 home runs and driving in 101 runs. He finished 10th in the MVP voting, one season after finishing 13th despite only appearing in 104 games in 1969.

Now its time to focus Braves left fielders from 1990 through 2021. The sole qualifier is a player must have appeared in 65 games during a single season in left field.

As always, the following stats are from Baseball-Reference, and while not perfect, it works just fine for this application. Further, this retrospective has focused primarily on offensive value, and that will continue to be the case while reviewing left fielders.

Best Single Seasons Since 1990

Here are the best single seasons by a left fielder for the Braves since 1990.

Atlanta Braves
Ron Gant led all left fielders by posting 6.5 bWAR in 1993. He finished fifth in the NL MVP vote that season. He also had large biceps.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by bWAR

Ron Gant, 1993, 6.5

Chipper Jones, 2002, 5.8

Martin Prado, 2012, 5.4

Lonnie Smith, 1990, 4.6

Chipper Jones, 2003, 4.4

Atlanta Braves Ryan Klesko...
Ryan Klesko led all left fielders in OPS+ with a 158 in 1995. While the converted first baseman was not known for is defense he did make this leaping catch against the Dodgers in April 1995.

Top 5 Seasons, by OPS+

Ryan Klesko, 1995, 158

Chipper Jones, 2002, 153

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 143

Chipper Jones, 2003, 137

Justin Upton, 2014, 133

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Ron Gant paced left fielders with 36 home runs in 1993.
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by HR

Ron Gant, 1993, 36

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 34

Justin Upton, 2014, 29

Chipper Jones, 2003, 27

Justin Upton, 2013, 27

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves
Martin Prado hit 42 doubles in 2012, the best total for any left fielder since 1990.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by 2B

Martin Prado, 2012, 42

Chipper Jones, 2002, 35

Justin Upton, 2014, 34

B.J. Surhoff, 2001, 33

Chipper Jones, 2003, 33

Ron Gant’s outstanding 1993 season included 117 RBI.

Top 5 Seasons, by RBI

Ron Gant, 1993, 117

Chipper Jones, 2003, 106

Justin Upton, 2014, 102

Chipper Jones, 2002, 100

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 93

RON GANT BRAVES
Ron Gant’s 113 runs in 1993 led all left fielders.

Top 5 Seasons, by Runs

Ron Gant, 1993, 113

Chipper Jones, 2003, 103

Justin Upton, 2013, 94

Chipper Jones, 2002, 90

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 90

RYAN KLESKO BRAVES
Ryan Klesko produced a 1.004 OPS in 1995.

Top 5 Season, by OPS

Ryan Klesko, 1995, 1.004

Chipper Jones, 2002, .972

Chipper Jones, 2003, .920

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, .917

Ryan Klesko, 1994, .907

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals
Matt Diaz led left fielders with a .338 batting average in 2007. He also tied Chipper Jones for the second highest when he hit .327 in 2006.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by BA

Matt Diaz, 2007, .338

Matt Diaz, 2006, .327

Chipper Jones, 2002, .327

Ryan Klesko, 1995, .310

Chipper Jones, 2003, .305

Lonnie Smith, 1990, .305

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Ron Gant had the two best single single totals for stolen bases with 32 in 1992 and 26 in 1993.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Top 5 Seasons, by SB

Ron Gant, 1992, 32

Ron Gant, 1993, 26

Reggie Sanders, 2000, 21

Gerald Williams, 1999, 19

Martin Prado, 2012, 17

Willie Harris, 2007, 17

Best Single Seasons by Decade

These are the best single seasons for left fielders per decade based on qualifying seasons only.

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Ron Gant’s 1993 season offers a lot of “what ifs”. He was injured in an ATV accident before the 1994 season and was released by Atlanta after signing a contract extension. He played in MLB for a decade after the accident although he missed the 1994 season before signing with the Reds in 1995.
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Top 5 bWAR, 1990s

Ron Gant, 1993, 6.5

Lonnie Smith, 1990, 4.6

Ron Gant, 1992, 3.6

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 3.5

Ryan Klesko, 1998, 2.9

World Series - New York Yankees v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
The top three OPS+ seasons in the 1990s all belong to Ryan Klesko. Although he was a bat-first left fielder, his offense production made up his defensive short-comings.

Top 5 OPS+, 1990s

Ryan Klesko, 1995, 158

Ryan Klesko, 1994, 130

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 128

Lonnie Smith, 1990, 127

Ron Gant, 1993, 126

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Ryan Klesko had three of the top four batting averages for left fielders in the 1990s, including hitting .310 in 1995.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Top 5 BA, 1990s

Ryan Klesko, 1995, .310

Lonnie Smith, 1990, .305

Ryan Klesko, 1996, .282

Ryan Klesko, 1994, .278

Lonnie Smith, 1991, .275

Gerald William, 1999, .275

Atlanta Braves
Ron Gant launched 36 home runs in 1993. Ryan Klesko rounded out the remainder of the top 5 single single home run totals.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, 1990s

Ron Gant, 1993, 36

Ryan Klesko, 1996, 34

Ryan Klesko, 1997, 24

Ryan Klesko, 1995, 23

Ryan Klesko, 1998, 18

RON GANT BRAVES
Ron Gant had rare power and speed combination. Although he narrowly missing having a 30SB/30HR season while playing left field in 1993, he did go 30/30 while playing center field in 1990 and 1991.

Top 5 SB, 1990s

Ron Gant, 1992, 32

Ron Gant, 1993, 26

Gerald Williams, 1999, 19

Lonnie Smith, 1990, 10

Lonnie Smith, 1991, 9

Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves
Chipper Jones moved to left field in 2002 and proceeded to put up 5.8 bWAR and finish 11th in the NL MVP voting.

Top 5, bWAR, 2000s

Chipper Jones, 2002, 5.8

Chipper Jones, 2003, 4.4

Matt Diaz, 2007, 2.6

Willie Harris, 2007, 2.1

Matt Diaz, 2006, 1.9

Giants v Braves
Chipper Jones boosted the Braves outfield production with a 153 OPS+ while playing left field in 2002.

Top 5, OPS+, 2000s

Chipper Jones, 2002, 153

Chipper Jones, 2003, 137

Matt Diaz, 2007, 124

Matt Diaz, 2006, 114

Charles Thomas, 2004, 109

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves
Matt Diaz hit .338 in 2007, the highest batting average for qualified left fielders in the 2000s.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 BA, 2000s

Matt Diaz, 2007, .338

Matt Diaz, 2006, .327

Chipper Jones, 2002, .327

Chipper Jones, 2003, .305

Charles Thomas, 2004, .288

Jones hits 2R HR
Chipper Jones had the highest single season home run totals for left fielders in the 2000s.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, 2000s

Chipper Jones, 2003, 27

Chipper Jones, 2002, 26

Garret Anderson, 2009, 13

Matt Diaz, 2007, 12

Reggie Sanders, 2000, 11

BBN-CUBS-BRAVES-01
Reggie Sanders struggled mightily in is lone season with Atlanta in 2000. He did steal 21 bases that season, most of any single season in the 2000s.
Photo by STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

Top 5 SB, 2000s

Reggie Sanders, 2000, 21

Willie Harris, 2007, 17

Gregor Blanco, 2008, 13

B.J. Surhoff, 2001, 9

Chipper Jones, 2002, 8

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants
Martin Prado led left fielders in the 2010s with a 5.4 bWAR.

Top 5 bWAR, 2010s

Martin Prado, 2012, 5.4

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 3.9

Justin Upton, 2014, 3.1

Justin Upton, 2013, 2.8

Martin Prado, 2011, 1.5

Japan v MLB All Stars - Game 6
Ronald Acuna, Jr. paced Braves left fielders with a 143 OPS+ in 2018. Did you remember he played with a team of MLB players in Japan after the season? I didn’t. Here he is celebrating a home run during game six of the series in Nagoya.
Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Top 5 OPS+, 2010s

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 143

Justin Upton, 2014, 133

Justin Upton, 2013, 124

Martin Prado, 2012, 114

Matt Kemp, 2017, 101

Atlanta Braves v. Chicago Cubs
Martin Prado was the only Braves left fielder to hit .300 or better in the 2010s. He batted .301 in 2012.
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB via Getty Images

Top 5 BA, 2010s

Martin Prado, 2012, .301

Ronald Acuna, Jr. 2018, .293

Matt Kemp, 2017, .276

Justin Upton, 2014, .270

Justin Upton, 2013, .263

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves
Justin Upton pounded 29 home runs in 2014, one season after hitting 27 for the Braves. His totals were the high water mark for Braves left fielders.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 HR, 2010s

Justin Upton, 2014, 29

Justin Upton, 2013, 27

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 26

Matt Kemp, 2017, 19

Martin Prado, 2011, 13

Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
Martin Prado lead the 2010s in steals by a left fielder with 17 in 2012.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Top 5 SB, 2010s

Martin Prado, 2012, 17

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 16

Justin Upton, 2013, 8

Justin Upton, 2014, 8

Melky Cabrera, 2010, 7

Best Cumulative Qualifying Seasons

These are the best cumulative totals from qualifying season for Atlanta’s left fielders since 1990.

Chipper Jones led left fielders with 10.2 bWAR, narrowly beating Ron Gant’s 10.1 bWAR.

Top 5 bWAR, Qualifying Seasons

Chipper Jones, 10.2

Ron Gant, 10.1

Ryan Klesko, 9.6

Martin Prado, 6.9

Lonnie Smith, 6.4

Atlanta Braves Ryan Klesko hits a grand slam home
Ryan Klesko led all Braves left fielders with 116 in qualifying seasons - a total that more than doubled the next highest total.
Photo credit should read STEVEN SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

Top 5 HR, Qualifying Seasons

Ryan Klesko, 116

Justin Upton, 56

Ron Gant, 53

Chipper Jones, 53

Ronald Acuna., Jr. 26

Atlanta Braves’ Ryan Klesko is congratulated by te
Ryan Klesko drove in 364 runs during qualifying seasons as the Braves left fielder during his tenure with the team in the 1990s.
Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images

Top 5 RBI, Qualifying Seasons

Ryan Klesko, 364

Chipper Jones, 206

Ron Gant, 197

Justin Upton, 172

Martin Prado, 127

Ryan Klesko #18
Ryan Klesko played the most games of any Braves left fielder since 1990.

Top 5 Games, Qualifying Season

Ryan Klesko, 570

Chipper Jones, 301

Ron Gant, 293

Justin Upton, 258

Lonnie Smith, 221

Youngest and Oldest Qualifiers

Atlanta Braves v Cincinnati Reds
Ronald Acuna, Jr. was the youngest player to qualify in left field, playing 101 games at the position during his age 20 season in 2018.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Top 5 Youngest

Ronald Acuna, Jr., 2018, 20

Ryan Klesko, 1994, 23

Kelly Johnson, 2005, 23

Ryan Klesko, 1995, 24

Gregor Blanco, 2008, 24

New York Yankees v Atlanta Braves
Garret Anderson had spent the first 15 seasons of his career with the Angles before signing with the Braves for the 2009 season. The 37 year-old former three-time All Star ended his career the following season with the Dodgers.
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Top 5 Oldest

Garret Anderson, 2009, 37

B.J. Surhoff, 2001, 36

Lonnie Smith, 1991, 35

Lonnie Smith, 1990, 34

Dave Gallagher, 1994, 33

Klesko, the Converted Left Fielder

Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Klesko debuted with Atlanta in 1992 and played with the team through the 1999 season before returning to his native California for the last eight seasons of his career.

As you can see the from games-played leaders in left field since 1990, only one player - Ryan Klesko - spent more than two qualifying season at the position. That strategy worked out fairly well for Atlanta with the position providing positive bWAR by all qualifying players but one - Dave Gallagher (who posted a -0.1 bWAR in 1994) - from 1990 through 2008.

Cumulatively, the 1990s provided 27.8 bWAR for the decade. That slipped to 20.6 bWAR in the 2002s and fell to 15.1 in the 2010s.

So who lays stake to the title of the best left fielder since 1990?

Chipper Jones and Ron Gant were almost even in their two qualifying seasons. Justin Upton was good for two seasons a in the early 2010s, but not as good as Lonnie Smith’s two seasons at the beginning of the 1990s. Martin Prado was excellent in 2012 and okay in 2011.

Ultimately, it was difficult for me to overlook the lack of time spent at the position by anyone other than Klesko.

Klesko played the most games at the position - by far - but he was such a poor defensive player in left field that it dropped his overall value. That is to be expected for a player who was really a first baseman masquerading as a left fielder.

If you are too young to remember Klesko’s career, it was actually underrated.

Baseball America ranked Klesko in the Top 3 of Braves prospects four times in the early 1990s - including the organizations top prospect over Chipper Jones after the 1990 season. A highly-touted pitcher out of high school, the Braves took a chance on his bat after an arm injury and a commitment to play at Arizona State saw his draft stock slip. The power in his bat played, with Baseball America ranking him as the third best prospect in baseball prior to the 1991 season and as the eighth best prospect heading into 1992.

Hitting was Klesko’s forte. His athletic ability was high enough to provide the team with positional versatility at the major league level. In eight seasons with Atlanta, he toggled between left field and first base, although most of his action was in the outfield.

His 16-year career WAR totals range from 26.7 bWAR to 30.1 fWAR. While WAR isn’t the end-all-be-all, it does frame his career pretty well. He triple slashed .279/.370/.500 while collecting more than 1,500 career hits, 278 home runs and finishing 13 RBI short of 1,000 for his career. He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1994.

For Atlanta, he appeared in 792 games and hitting .281/.361/.525 in eight seasons. He was traded from Atlanta prior to the 2000 season and spent seven seasons with the Padres, earning his lone All Star appearance in 2001. He wrapped up his career in 2007 with the Giants at age 36.

Klesko wasn’t as good in the post season as he was during the regular season, but still finished his career with a positive cWPA at 5.4% across 62 games - all but six of which were with Atlanta.

While it would be justifiable to bestow the honor of best Braves left fielder to Jones or Gant, the fact they they played in almost less than half the total games in left field that Klesko did is a big reason for choosing Klesko.

Notable Tidbits

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Matt Diaz and Willie Harris combined to produce 4.7 bWAR in 2007
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Left field was the position of leftovers for the majority of the lasts two decades. Let’s take a look at some interesting data for left fielders.

  • As stated at the beginning of this article four of the last six qualifying seasons (2015, 2016, 2019, 2021) saw no single player appear in more than 65 games in left field.
  • Many of the players on this list saw extensive time at positions other than left field, leading to an average number of games played per season by qualifiers of 108 games.
  • Ryan Klesko led all players in qualifying seasons with five. Five other players tied for second with two qualifying seasons.
  • The fewest games played by qualifiers was led by Reggie Sanders’ 69 in 2000. Charles Thomas (70, 2004), Dave Gallagher (71, 1994), Klesko (74, 1994), Gregor Blanco (77, 2008) and Kelly Johnson (79, 2005) all appeared in less than 80 games in their respective seasons.
  • Only four players produced negative bWAR in left field, although three of those season have occurred in the last eight seasons. Garret Anderson was the worst with -1.4 bWAR in 2009. Matt Kemp (-1.3, 2017), Melky Cabrera (-0.3, 2010) and Gallagher (-0.1, 1994) round of the list of negative bWAR producers.
  • After Chipper Jones played his last season in left field in 2003 it was 10 seasons until a left fielder hit more than 13 home runs. Jones hit 27 bombs in 2003 and Justin Upton matched that total in 2013.
  • The lowest home run total for qualifying left fielders was a single home run hit by Blanco in 2008. Gallagher in 1994 and Willie Harris in 2007 hit two in their respective seasons.
  • Ryan Langerhans followed up a promising 2005 season by playing 104 games in left field in 2006. Although he produced 1.0 bWAR for the season, he wasn’t able to match the output of his prior season. He did appear in a total of 131 games in 2006, the highest total in the parts of 11 season he spent in MLB.
  • The Braves acquired Reggie Sanders as part of six player trade with the Padres in December 1999 that sent Klesko, among others, to San Diego. Sanders struggled with Atlanta, including an 0 for 34 hitless streak. For his career, Sanders provided 39.8 bWAR across 17 seasons, including an All Star selection for the Reds in 1995 when he finished sixth for the NL MVP. His single season in Atlanta was the worst of his career outside of his first nine game cup of coffee with Cincinnati in 1991.
  • Other than Gallagher, who saw the majority of his action with Atlanta as a defensive replacement with only 22 starts in his 71 games as a left fielder, Charles Thomas saw the fewest plate appearances as a qualifying Braves left fielder.
  • Thomas provided immense value to the Braves beyond his on-field production as a rookie in 2004. He was one of the pieces that went to Oakland in the trade that brought Tim Hudson to Atlanta. After appearing in 83 games for Atlanta, Thomas only saw action in 30 games in 2005 for Oakland, hitting .109 in 55 plate appearances. He was out of organized baseball by 2008.
  • Lonnie Smith led left fielders in triples, hitting nine in 1990, one more than Harris hit in 2007.
Atlanta Braves v Colorado Rockies
B.J. Surhoff played in 210 games for the Braves from 2000 to 2002.
  • B.J. Surhoff spent 19 seasons in MLB after being selected with the first overall pick in the 1985 draft by the Brewers. He spent more than 1,000 games each with the Milwaukee and the Baltimore Orioles as well as more than 200 with Atlanta. Although he was in his mid-30’s when the Braves traded for him in 2000, he was an effective everyday outfielder until suffering an ACL injury less than a third of the way into the 2002 season. He would return to the Orioles in 2003 as a part-time utility player until he retired after the 2005 season at 40 years old.
  • Although he had appeared in 48 games across three seasons before joining Atlanta in 2006, the 28 year-old Matt Diaz found a home in Atlanta, hitting .327 in his rookie season. In parts of six season for Atlanta, he hit .299/.347/.449
  • Diaz signed as a free agent with the Pirates prior to the 2011 season, but the Braves re-acquired him at the waiver trade deadline in 2011. He’d play the 2012 season with Atlanta before ending his career with the Marlins in 2013.
  • Gerald Williams, who passed away earlier this year at age 55, played two seasons for the Braves in the late ‘90s. His 1998 season was slightly better than 1999 when he spent more time in right field than left.
  • While there isn’t anything nice to say about Cabrera’s time with Atlanta, Blanco went on to have a nice career after leaving Atlanta. Blanco played a decade in the Majors on won two World Series rings while being utility outfielder for the Giants.
  • Justin Upton was a Silver Slugger award winner for Atlanta in 2014. The notoriously streaking Upton, who debuted as a 19 year-old with Arizona in 2007, played in 303 games with Atlanta before the team traded him to the Padres prior to the 2015 season.
  • From 1990 through 2004, qualifying left fielders who provided 38.7 bWAR. From 2005 through 2021, that number dropped to 24.8 bWAR. Worst of all was that the position provided a sum of 2.6 bWAR from 2015 through 2021, all thanks to Ronald Acuna, Jr.
  • Oddly, the some best seasons for left field since 1990 were 1992 and 1993, 2002 and 2003, and then 2012 and 2013. Although 2022 isn’t provided the best start for the Braves in left field, maybe this will be part of another two-year run of significant value. The 15-year MLB veteran recently signed with the Mariners after the Angles released the 34 year-old during Spring Training earlier this year.
  • And lastly, Matt Kemp lead the NL in double plays hit into while with the Braves in 2017. He hit into 25 of them that season.
Autumn maple on a farm along Route 7, Vermont
I’m fairly certain this maple tree would have been a defensive upgrade over a handful of the left fielders Atlanta has employed during the last 30 years. If you don’t believe me, go look up some of the defensive metrics of Anderson, Kemp and Klesko.