When the Atlanta Braves drafted Tom Glavine in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft out of Billerica High School in Massachusetts, they landed one of the best pitchers in franchise history.
In 17 seasons with the Braves spanning two different stints, Glavine went 244-147 with a 3.41 ERA and 3.84 FIP. As a Brave, Glavine led the senior circuit in wins on five different occasions and won the National League Cy Young Award twice.
With five strong seasons with the New York Mets also on his legacy, Glavine was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2014, with his plaque featuring him wearing a Braves hat.
For just about any other franchise, Glavine would have been a lock to crack a list of their nine greatest players ever. But when you consider that we evaluated the entirety of the Braves' franchise history -- including their time in Boston and Milwaukee -- you will start to understand why Glavine didn't quite make the cut here.
Glavine didn't make our list, but neither did Dale Murphy or Freddie Freeman, among others. Here are the nine greatest players in Braves history, a particularly tough list to put together:
9. Andruw Jones (1996-2007)
Best Season as a Brave: 2005 - .263/.347/.575 with 51 home runs, 128 RBIs, 64 walks, .922 OPS, 136 OPS+ and a 7.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: .263/.342/.497 with 368 home runs, 1,117 RBIs, 717 walks, 1,683 hits, .839 OPS, 114 OPS+ and 64.3 fWAR
One of the greatest center fielders that the sport has ever seen, Jones was a perfect mix of power and tremendous fielding at the height of his powers. Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards between 1998 and 2007, and led baseball with 51 home runs in 2005. Jones may have hit a wall when he turned 30, but he was essentially a perfect player during his 20s, which gives him an intriguing Hall of Fame case.
8. Phil Niekro (1964-1983; 1987)
Best Season as a Brave: 1978 - 19-18 with a 2.88 ERA, 142 ERA+, 2.76 FIP, 1.187 WHIP, 248 strikeouts, 22 complete games and an 8.6 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: 268-230 a 3.20 ERA, 119 ERA+, 3.46 FIP, 1.229 WHIP, 2,912 strikeouts, 226 complete games and 72.3 fWAR
Niekro wasn't the most dominant pitchers in Braves history, but he was among the best pitchers in the sport for a large chunk of the 21 seasons that he spent with the franchise. While he didn't win a National League Cy Young Award, Niekro finished in the top six in voting for the honor on five occasions, finishing as high as second in 1969. Niekro also was one of the best fielding pitchers the game has ever seen, winning five Gold Glove Awards. Niekro was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Brave in 1997, and his No. 35 is retired by the franchise.
7. John Smoltz (1988-1999; 2001-2008)
Best Season as a Brave: 1996 - 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA, 149 ERA+, 2.64 FIP, 1.001 WHIP, 276 strikeouts, seven complete games and an 8.4 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: 210-147, 3.26 ERA, 127 ERA+, 3.23 FIP, 1.170 WHIP, 3,011 strikeouts, 53 complete games, 154/168 (92%) on save attempts and 78.2 fWAR
Smoltz was both one of the greatest starting and relief pitchers of his era. As a starting pitcher, Smoltz pitched 200 or more innings in 10 different seasons and won the 1996 National League Cy Young Award. Between 2002 and 2004 -- his three full seasons as a reliever -- Smoltz finished second only to Eric Gagne with 144 saves. Smoltz was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2015, and his No. 29 is retired by the Braves.
6. Greg Maddux (1993-2003)
Best Season as a Brave: 1995 - 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA, 260 ERA+, 2.26 FIP, 0.811 WHIP, 181 strikeouts, 10 complete games and a 7.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: 194-88 with a 2.63 ERA, 163 ERA+, 2.95 FIP, 1.051 WHIP, 1,828 strikeouts, 61 complete games and 72.7 fWAR
The Braves signed Maddux to a five-year/$28 million deal ahead of the 1993 season, and it turned out to be one of the greatest signings in MLB history. After winning the 1992 National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Maddux won three more in a row with the Braves between 1993 and 1995. While he did spend a decade in Chicago, Maddux's best run of years came during the 11 seasons he spent with the Braves. With a Braves cap eventually going on his Cooperstown plaque, Maddux was a first-ballot Hall of Fame electee in 2014. His No. 31 is retired by the Braves.
5. Chipper Jones (1993; 1995-2012)
Best Season as a Brave: 1999- .319/.441/.633 with 45 home runs, 110 RBIs, 126 walks, 1.074 OPS, 169 OPS+ and 7.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: .303/.401/.529 with 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs, 1,512 walks, 2,726 hits, .930 OPS, 141 OPS+ and 84.6 fWAR
One of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game, Jones spent the entirety of his 19-year career with the Braves, the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 MLB Draft. Jones was an eight-time All-Star who won both a National League MVP (1999) and senior circuit batting title (2008). His 1,512 career walks are the most in Braves history. Jones was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2018, and his No. 10 is retired by the Braves.
4. Warren Spahn (1942; 1946-1964)
Best Season as a Brave: 1953 - 23-7 with a 2.10 ERA, 188 ERA+, 2.97 FIP, 1.058 WHIP, 148 strikeouts, 24 complete games and a 6.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: 356-229 with a 3.05 ERA, 120 ERA+, 3.41 FIP, 1.189 WHIP, 2,493 strikeouts, 374 complete games and 74.4 fWAR
Spahn is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in MLB history, having led baseball in wins, ERA, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP all in at least three separate seasons. This is despite him losing his age-22 through age-24 seasons because he was serving in World War II. Having played for the Braves both in Boston and Milwaukee, Spahn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973. His No. 21 is retired by the Braves.
3. Eddie Mathews (1952-1966)
Best Season as a Brave: 1953 - .302/.406/.627 with 47 home runs, 135 RBIs, 99 walks, 1.033 OPS, 171 OPS+ and an 8.7 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: .271/.376/.509 with 512 home runs, 1,453 RBIs,1,444 walks, 2,315 hits, .885 OPS, 143 OPS+ and 94.3 fWAR
Mathews managed to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, and cemented his place as one of the inner circle members of the franchise during 15 years with the Braves. As a Brave, Mathews led the National League in walks on four occasions (1955, 1961, 1962 & 1963) and home runs twice (1953 & 1959). In total, 493 of Mathews' 512 career home runs came with the Braves. One of the very best third basemen in MLB history, Mathews was elected to the Hall of Fame with a Milwaukee Braves cap in 1978. His No. 41 is retired by the Braves franchise.
2. Kid Nichols (1890-1901)
Best Season as a Brave: 1890 - 27-19 with a 2.23 ERA, 170 ERA+, 2.98 FIP, 1.146 WHIP, 222 strikeouts, 47 complete games and an 8.4 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: 330-183 with a 3.00 ERA, 143 ERA+, 3.59 FIP, 1.234 WHIP, 1,680 strikeouts, 476 complete games and 72.9 fWAR
In 12 seasons pitching for the Boston Beaneaters -- who eventually became the Braves -- Nichols led the league in wins, complete-game shutouts and WHIP on at least three occasions. The Cy Young Award didn't exist when Nichols was pitching, as he and Young both debuted in the 1890 season. Rest assured, though, Nichols would have taken home a host of NL Cy Young Awards. Between 1890 and 1901, Nichols led all pitchers in wins (329) and fWAR (72.8). Nichols is the all-time leader among Braves pitchers in complete games (476) and bWAR (107.4). Born as Charles, Nichols was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1949.
1. Henry Aaron (1954-1974)
Best Season as a Brave: 1963 - .319/.391/.586 with 44 home runs, 130 RBIs, 78 walks, .977 OPS, 179 OPS+ and an 8.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Brave: .310/.377/.567 with 733 home runs, 2,202 RBIs, 1,297 walks, 3,600 hits, .944 OPS, 159 OPS+ and 136.0 fWAR
Even for a franchise that's employed Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews and Freddie Freeman, it's Aaron that leads the Braves in almost every offensive category. Aaron is the Braves' team leader in fWAR (142.6), offensive WAR (131.9), slugging percentage (.567), OPS (.944), hits (3,600), doubles (600), home runs (733), RBIs (2,202) and total bases (6,591). He's the greatest player in Braves history by far, and one of the most iconic players in the history of the sport. His No. 44 is retired by the Braves, and you can make a case it should be retired across the entire sport.