Manager Bobby Cox, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones could all make it to Cooperstown one day.
This year has been a season to remember, offensively.
Atlanta has six players with 20 or more home runs entering this week. Through Sunday’s game, Javy Lopez had 42 round-trippers, Gary Sheffield 37, Andruw Jones 36, Chipper Jones 27, Vinny Castilla 22 and Marcus Giles 20.
Giles was also tied with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols for the Major League lead in doubles (49).
On Sunday, Maddux threw five shutout innings to become the first pitcher to ever win at least 15 games a year for 16 consecutive seasons. And last week Russ Ortiz won his 20th game in his first year in Atlanta.
Maddux began his streak in 1988 when I was only eight-years-old.
Last week, Chipper Jones joined Willie Mays, Mel Ott and Sammy Sosa as the only National League players to ever have eight consecutive seasons with at least 100 RBIs.
While Jones’ most recent accomplishment is quite remarkable, it doesn’t yet have the longevity factor that makes the Maddux record one that may indeed last forever.
Another record that might be difficult to break was equaled by Javy Lopez last Sunday.
The Braves catcher had 41 home runs to tie Todd Hundley for the most by a catcher in a season in major league history.
He actually hit 42 home runs, including a pinch-hit homer. Hundley hit his 41 homers in 1996.
Javy’s .691 slugging percentage this season is higher than Hank Aaron’s modern day franchise of .669 in 1971. He has homered once in every 10.4 at-bats. That is second in the big leagues this season to only Barry Bonds.
But that’s not all the spoiled Atlanta fans are chopping about.
By clinching last week, the Braves became the only professional sports franchise to win 12 consecutive divisional titles.
But the fans want more.
The Braves fans have become complacent. They only speak out when the team is on a slide. They have grown to expect only the best.
They gripe about their Braves only winning one World Series, in 1996, during this 12-year run of excellence.
Atlanta will likely not sellout the opening playoff series at Turner Field.
Maybe that’s because the fans can see them every day or night on cable.
But this team is deserving of large crowds.
It’s time to get the chop going again in Atlanta.
If Smoltz’s elbow can hold out through the playoffs, the Braves could win their first World Series title of this century.
If not? They could be chopped down again before making the Fall Classic