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all-time-braves-third-base | November | 2007 Articles

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All-Time Braves: Third Base

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Rafael Furcal is your All-Time Braves shortstop after winning easily. Furcal had 43% of the vote with Jeff Blauser, Rabbit Maranville, and Johnny Logan finishing behind him. I have to say I was a bit shocked that the only Hall of Famer on the ballot finished third. Now though, we move on to what has arguably been the strongest position in Braves history. Third base. 1. Eddie Mathews (1952-1966)- Mathews, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978, is the only player to play with the Braves in all three cities. Three years after signing with Boston out of high school, Mathews won the starting job at only 20 years of age. He hit only .242 that season but launched 25 home runs. Mathews went on to hit 47 the next season and 493 over the course of his Braves career. He finished his last season with the Braves in their first year in Atlanta and then was traded to Houston. Throughout his career with the Braves, Mathews became known as the offensive leader of the team and one of the best power hitters in the game as well as hitting for average and play excellent defense at the hot corner. 2. Bob Horner (1978-1986)- Horner made a jump right from college to the Braves starting lineup in 1978. That year he won Rookie of the Year honors after hitting .266 with 23 home runs. Horner was known throughout his career as a steady 30-home run threat. Throughout his career, Horner had to deal with weight and especially injury issues. Speed was not his strong suit and eventually Horner had to move to first base because of his range. Horner made one All-Star team in his time with Atlanta before playing in Japan. He played one more season after that with St. Louis and then retired at age 30. 3. Terry Pendleton (1991-1995, 1996)- Pendleton instantly became a fan favorite in Atlanta. He was brought in before the 1991 season and was a key contributor for the "worst-to-first" Braves while winning the NL MVP award that season as well as the Comeback Player of the Year award. Pendleton was one of the most consistent performers both at the plate and in the field as one of the top defensive third baseman in baseball. He suffered through neck injuries near the end of his first stint with Atlanta and went to the Marlins in free agency. After one year in Florida he was dealt back mid-season 1996 to replace Chipper Jones, who had shifted over to shortstop due to a Jeff Blauser injury. That was Pendleton's last year with Atlanta and after bumping around for the next two years he retired and eventually ended up as the Braves' hitting coach. Though he was one of the main offensive producers of the dominant early 90's Braves, Pendleton missed their only championship while he was with Florida. 4. Chipper Jones (1993-Present)- Undoubtedly the face of the Braves franchise, Chipper has been the biggest offensive threat in Atlanta's lineup for over a decade. Jones, the first overall pick in 1990, is the rare complete offensive package. Although he has lost his speed throughout the years, Jones retained the ability to hit for power, average, and have incredible plate discipline. Jones is a five-time All-Star and won the MVP award in 1999 when he hit .319 with 45 home runs, much of the damage coming against the Mets, who the Braves fended off for the NL East title that year. That season secured Chipper's chant of "Laaa-rrrry" whenever he bats at Shea Stadium. Jones had 8-straight season with over 20 home runs and 100 RBIs but his problem was always his defense at third. Jones was moved to left field in 2002 to make room for Vinny Castilla and surprisingly when he made his return to the hot corner at age 32, he seemed like a completely different fielder with significantly improved defense. Jones is considered almost a sure-fire future Hall of Famer.
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