Welcome To The Club: Notable milestones reached in Braves uniform since 2000
Brandon Phillips has company.
As the veteran second baseman notched his 2,000th career hit on Aug. 30, he became the latest player to reach a major career milestone in an Atlanta Braves uniform. FOX Sports South has compiled a timeline of notable milestones Braves players have reached this century.
June 29, 2000: Andrés Galarraga’s 2,000th Hit
Big Cat’s return to the field following chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma throughout the 1999 season would have been a tall enough mountain to climb. Instead, in his age-39 season, Galarraga returned to All-Star form by posting a 123 OPS+ in 548 plate appearances for yet another division champ, notching his 2,000th career hit days before his fifth and final appearance in the Midsummer Classic. Galarraga was one of then-GM John Schuerholz’s best additions to his roster’s Hall of Fame core, eventually finishing his career with 2,333 hits, 399 home runs (tallying No. 300 in a Braves uniform) and 1,425 RBI.
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July 30, 2000: Tom Glavine’s 200th Win
The Hall of Fame left-hander, by chance, captured his 300th career win in a Mets uniform before returning to Atlanta for the 2008 campaign. In July of 2000, however, that ultra-exclusive club (and playing for a division rival) remained in the distant future.
Taking the mound against the Houston Astros, Glavine pitched eight innings of three-run ball on just 91 pitches. Mike Remlinger slammed the door for the save. Glavine fully understood the gravity of the situation: "I looked at it like a playoff game.” For the record: He won a few of those along the way, too.
Getty ImagesRon Vesely
Aug. 30, 2001: B.J. Surhoff’s 2,000th Hit
B.J. Surhoff and Andrés Galarraga started a trend that should look familiar by now. Both MLB standouts stockpiled the vast majority of their career hits elsewhere — in Surhoff’s case, the Brewers and Orioles — and both were viewed as turn-of-the-century additions meant to push the Braves back in the direction of World Series glory.
A double off Juan Cruz in August 2001 served as a feather in the hitting cap for the former No. 1 overall pick.
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Sept. 6, 2003: Gary Sheffield’s 200th Stolen Base
One of baseball’s best hitters for nearly two full decades, operating as a power-hitting pick-me-up for seven different franchises after his slow start with the Milwaukee Brewers, Sheffield landed in Atlanta in 2002 to help form baseball’s best offensive outfield alongside Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones for a two-year stretch. He hit 64 home runs with a 151 OPS+ in just 290 games for Bobby Cox’s teams.
Now, stolen base milestones are typically low on the totem pole for members of the 500 Home Run Club and nine All-Star appearances, but when Sheffield swiped his 200th bag, he cemented his place in exclusive company as one of the top power-speed combinations in baseball history. Only eight players in baseball history have ever capped their careers with at least 500 homers and 200 stolen bases: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Frank Robinson and Sheff.
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May 24, 2007: John Smoltz’s 200th Win
Smoltz followed in the footsteps of his former rotation mates … by beating one of his former rotation mates. After starting only five games from 2000 to 2004, Smoltz had reestablished himself as a top-of-the-line starter by the time he squared off with Tom Glavine and the New York Mets in May of 2007. For the milestone victory, Smoltz tossed seven scoreless innings to send Glavine (who pitched well) home with a loss. After the game, Smoltz called the win “just a number.” That’s difficult to believe from the notoriously competitive pitching friends.
The result made Smoltz the lone member in MLB’s 200 Wins/150 Saves Club — a statistical oddity (due to Tommy John surgery) that the first-ballot Hall of Famer still credits for his place in Cooperstown.
Nov. 6, 2007: Andruw Jones’ 10th Gold Glove
From 1998 to 2007, Andruw Jones was the principal owner of the National League Gold Glove Awards — all of them, apparently. Even before the era of defensive context and appreciation from the statistical community, Jones was clearly special and his decade-worth of hardware elevated him into all-time company. Only 16 players have ever won double-digit Gold Gloves. Among outfielders, No. 10 earns Jones a spot next to Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Al Kaline and Ichiro Suzuki.
"It doesn't matter how many you get," Jones said at the time. "They're all special."
USA TODAY SportsJonathan Dyer
April 22, 2008: John Smoltz’s 3,000th Strikeout
Only 16 players ever fanned three stacks of opposing batters. Smoltz is the final name on the list with 3,084 career strikeouts. Pitching arguably his last great game in a Braves uniform during his age-41 season, the milestone whiff arrived against Felipe Lopez and the Washington Nationals; Smoltz struck out 10 over the course of seven innings even as he knew his major-league time was running out.
"Shortly afterwards, trying to use a utensil, I couldn’t even pick up a fork. I knew I was on borrowed time," Smoltz said. "Coming to the park, I didn’t even — everybody was talking about 3,000, and all my mind was trying to get through the game. I gotta admit: It was the coolest thing in the world once it happened."
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June 5, 2008: Chipper Jones’ 400th Home Run
Kevin Tapani, Darryl Kile, Sterling Hitchcock and Ricky Nolasco. Those are the four names Chipper Jones hit home runs Nos. 100, 200, 300 and 400 against over the course of his celebrated career.
The final powerful milestone — injuries kept Atlanta’s star third baseman from the 500 Club — arrived in his last truly great campaign, a season-long blitz in which he finished the year with a career-high .470 OBP. Nolasco, pitching for the Marlins, made the crucial mistake of throwing a breaking ball over the center of the plate and Jones, true to form, planted it in the right-field seats.
Jones also reached the 2,000-hit plateau in June 2007, but for a soon-to-be Hall of Famer with 2,726 career hits, 468 home runs and a .401 career OBP the bar was raised a little higher for the purposes of this list.
USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
June 25, 2010: Billy Wagner’s 400th Save
Billy Wagner, one of the best closers ever, did not limp into retirement. Serving the de facto bridge and mentor to then-rising prospect Craig Kimbrel, Wagner’s lone season in Atlanta — he retired after the 2010 season despite his $6.5 million option vesting for 2011 — was of All-Star quality. Pitching nearly 70 innings, he posted a 1.43 ERA with 37 saves.
During the run, he notched milestone save No. 400 along the way to his final career tally of 422. Wagner is one of only six MLB players to ever reach the mark, trailing only Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Francisco Rodriguez and John Franco.
April 30th, 2013: Tim Hudson’s 200th Win
Bridging the gap from three Hall of Fame starters to the next generation, Tim Hudson’s best seasons were spent in Oakland but he quickly became a franchise staple for the Braves. From 2005 to 2013 — even accounting for missed time due to injury — Huddy ranked 30th in wins above replacement and sixth in groundball rate among qualified pitchers.
Only 116 players have ever punched their ticket to the 200-Win Club. For his part, Hudson, who finished his career with the World Series-winning Giants and 222 career victories, appreciated the rare company.
"You have to be healthy. You have to pitch a long time. Nowadays, who knows how long careers are going to be?" Hudson said at the time. "There’s a lot of power arms, a lot of money to be made in this game. A lot of guys may not have the passion to play 15, 20 years. You may have some really good potential 200-, 250-, 300-win guys who shut it down after 12 years because they made their money or got hurt — or both."
May 18, 2014: Craig Kimbrel’s 150th Save
Craig Kimbrel was built to challenge the saves record. At 29 years old, the former Braves prospect already ranks 31st on the all-time list with 287 saves and, at his current pace, he’ll reach the top-20 before his 30th birthday. With good health and similar team performance, he’ll join the 400 Saves Club by 2020.
The first of three veterans to tally major milestone hits for the Braves over the past two seasons, Pierzynski linked up with Atlanta for a surprisingly strong offensive campaign in 2015 (112 OPS+) before re-signing for a less successful 2016 season. Still, in what amounted to the final season of his career, Pierzynski became just the 10th catcher to ever reach 2,000 hits … not an easy accomplishment for the sport’s most taxing position.
From Day 1, Nick Markakis could hit. In each of his first seven seasons — all in a Baltimore uniform — the metro Atlanta product hit well above league average. Even as his power numbers have declined in Atlanta the hits keep coming, ranking 14th in the majors alongside Nelson Cruz in hits since 2015.
Unlike the other players on this list, Markakis is unique in one peculiar way: He’s never made an All-Star team. Here’s the company he keeps in that regard: Only Juan Pierre, Orlando Cabrera, Todd Zeile and Tony Phillips have finished their career with 2,000 hits and zero All-Star appearances in the modern era.
Aug. 29, 2017: Brandon Phillips’ 2,000th Hit
The three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner is racking up his share of counting numbers. In addition to becoming the most recent addition to the 2,000-Hit Club on Aug. 30, Phillips’ 200 home runs and 200 stolen bases mean he’s just the 32nd player (and fifth second baseman) to check off all three of those boxes over the course of a career.