I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Atlanta Braves History?
While the Braves now reside in Atlanta, that hasn't always been the case for the oft-traveled franchise. First established in 1876 as the Boston Red Stockings, the team cycled through four other nicknames before becoming the Braves in 1912. They relocated to Milwaukee in 1953, and then to Atlanta in 1966. Along the way, some of the greatest sluggers in history have passed through—including the legendary Babe Ruth, who hit the final three home runs of his career for the Boston Braves in a game on May 25, 1935.
Ruth retired as the career home run leader with 714, and another Brave, Hank Aaron, eclipsed that mark in 1974. The current home run leader, Barry Bonds, however, has no connection to the Braves. There is one piece of home run history that will always belong to the Braves, though. On June 8, 1961, Milwaukee's Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, and Frank Thomas hit consecutive home runs in the seventh inning against the Reds, becoming the first quartet of teammates to achieve that feat.
Some of the players mentioned above are among those you're about to read about in the countdown of the five best home run hitters in Atlanta Braves history. These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the Braves. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the Braves
- Plate appearances per home run with the Braves
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the Braves. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Joe Adcock
- Years Played: 1953–62
- Home Runs: 239 (7th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.65 (5th)
- Single-Season High: 38 in 1956
Joe Adcock finished all 10 of his seasons with the Milwaukee Braves in double-figures when it came to home runs, and he closed out his tenure with at least 25 home runs in four straight seasons. He was selected for both All-Star games in 1960, and that year, he received MVP votes for the fourth time in his career. In 1953, Adcock became the first of three players to hit a home run into the centerfield bleachers at the Polo Grounds, and a year later, became the seventh player in history with four home runs in a single game.
T-3. Andruw Jones
- Years Played: 1996–2007
- Home Runs: 368 (5th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.77 (6th)
- Single-Season High: 51 in 2005
Andruw Jones burst onto the scene in a big way, becoming the youngest player in history to hit a home run in the World Series when he took Andy Pettitte deep in Game 1 of the 1996 Fall Classic (he later homered in his second World Series at-bat against Brian Boehringer). That was the start of a fantastic 12-year run with the Atlanta Braves (including eight other postseason homers). Jones was a defensive whiz in centerfield (he won 10 straight Gold Gloves) and a feared slugger (he hit at least 25 home runs each year from 1998 to 2007—including a single-season team record 51 in 2005, when he was the runner-up in MVP voting). Had he been able to hit one additional homer in 2004, Jones would have had seven straight seasons with 30 or more home runs. Despite these high marks, Jones has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
T-3. Bob Horner
- Years Played: 1978–86
- Home Runs: 215 (8th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.45 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 35 in 1980
Bob Horner was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1978 and went straight to the Atlanta Braves without any minor-league seasoning. He homered in his third career at-bat, and in 89 games as a rookie, he clubbed 23 home runs and won Rookie of the Year honors, so it's hard to argue that the Braves made the wrong decision. Over the next eight seasons, Horner hit at least 20 home runs in six of them (despite never playing more than 141 games in a season) and made his only career All-Star team in 1982. In 1986, he became the 11th player ever to hit four home runs in a game (and only the second to be on the losing team the same day), and he finally hit his first grand slam later that year.
2. Eddie Mathews
- Years Played: 1952–66
- Home Runs: 493 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.34 (4th)
- Single-Season High: 47 in 1953
Eddie Mathews was the greatest home run hitter of the 1950s, and he holds the unique distinction as the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He did this by playing the final season with the Boston Braves as a rookie in 1952, every season with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953 to '65, and the first season with the Atlanta Braves in 1966. Throughout that 15-year tenure, Mathews became one of the most respected offensive forces in baseball and was rewarded with 12 All-Star selections. He led the National League with 47 home runs in 1953, opening a stretch of three straight years with at least 40 home runs and nine straight years with at least 30. Mathews also led the NL with 46 home runs in 1959. In both his league-leading seasons, he finished as the runner-up in MVP voting.
1. Henry Aaron
- Years Played: 1954–74
- Home Runs: 733 (1st)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 17.86 (2nd)
- Single-Season High: 47 in 1971
Henry Aaron opened his career in the mid-1950s, and while becoming entrenched as a legend with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, he became one of the most feared sluggers of the 1960s and '70s. Aaron's 733 career home runs with the Braves is a franchise mark that likely won't be broken for years to come (if ever), and he achieved that record with a steady consistency over 21 seasons. Aaron led the National League in home runs four times and hit at least 40 in eight seasons. He was named an All-Star in each season with the Braves, save for his rookie year, and was the 1957 NL MVP (he also finished third in the voting six other times). In 1974, Aaron became the all-time home run leader with the 715th of his career (his final record of 755 was controversially eclipsed in 2007 by Barry Bonds, who has been accused of steroid use).
The Best of the Rest
The following three players are home run hitters from Atlanta Braves history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 1976–90
- Home Runs: 371 (4th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 21.82 (11th)
- Single-Season High: 44 in 1987
Dale Murphy is among the longest-tenured Atlanta Braves of all-time, and he was a powerful force the entire time. In 15 seasons, he hit at least 30 home runs six times, won a pair of MVP awards, and was a seven-time All-Star.
- Years Played: 1993–2012
- Home Runs: 468 (3rd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 22.68 (12th)
- Single-Season High: 45 in 1999
Chipper Jones spent his entire 19-year career with the Braves, and in each of his first 14 full seasons, he hit at least 20 home runs. He was the 1999 National League MVP, and the Hall of Famer was selected to eight All-Star teams.
- Years Played: 1992–2003
- Home Runs: 214 (9th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 20.41 (8th)
- Single-Season High: 43 in 2003
Javy Lopez was a solid catcher for the Braves for 12 seasons and hit at least 10 home runs in every full season during his time in Atlanta. He made three All-Star teams and won the only Silver Slugger award of his career in 2003.
Atlanta Braves Home Run Records
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta Braves Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Henry Aaron, 733
- 2. Eddie Mathews, 493
- 3. Chipper Jones, 468
- 4. Dale Murphy, 371
- 5. Andruw Jones, 368
Atlanta Braves Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Ronald Acuna Jr., 16.8
- Henry Aaron, 17.86
- Bob Horner, 18.45
- Eddie Mathews, 19.34
- Joe Adcock, 19.65
Atlanta Braves Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. Andruw Jones, 51 (2005)
- T-2. Henry Aaron, 47 (1971)
- T-2. Eddie Mathews, 47 (1953)
- 4. Mathews, 46 (1959)
- T-5. Chipper Jones, 45 (1999)
- T-5. Aaron, 45 (1962)
Atlanta Braves Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- Joe Adcock, 4 (July 31, 1954)
- Bob Horner, 4 (July 6, 1986)
- 23 players tied with 3 (Adam Duvall did it twice)
© 2021 Andrew Harner