Running around to Give you the Reacharound


List! Top 10 Atlanta Pro Athletes

What's a sports blog without a nice, arbitrary, completely subjective list apropos of nothing? Well, it's probably a good one actually.  

So without further adieu, here's one man's opinion on the Top 10 Professional Athletes in Atlanta.  Criteria?  No thanks.  Let's get it:

1. Ilya Kovalchuk - I first came up with the idea to do this list while writing the one and only hockey post you'll ever find on this here blawg.  Ilya has slipped quite a bit this season under Coach Anderson's new system (apparantly, as I haven't watched a second of regular season action. I can't lie), but are their any other Atlanta athletes that have been one of the truly elite players in their sport over the last few years?  Dude has been among the Top 10 goal scorers every year since his rookie season and he's only 25.  Hopefully, this current slide is just an early season slump.  

2.  Chipper Jones -  Wins a batting title at age 36.  Still among the game's most feared hitters, even if his power has slipped a bit with age.  Sure, injuries have taken a toll, and and it speaks to the current crop of pro athletes in this city when the 2nd best athlete is a 36 year old that misses 15-20% of each season, but Chipper remains an elite talent at the hot corner and at the plate.  

3.  Brian McCann -  In terms of pure plate discipline and ability to turn a crap pitch into a solid single or hard-hit ball, few young players in baseball remind me of a young Chipper in the batter's box the way McCann does.  Add in the fact he's a catcher and that makes his bat even more valuable.  At age 24 he's already a three-time All-Star and could have ten appearances in the midsummer classic before all is said and done.  Using Baseball References "similar batters through age X" stat, here are some of the guys McCann compares to at this point in his career:  Joe Torre, Ernie Banks, Tony Lazzeri, Yogi Berra, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer, Scott Rolen.  You're talking Hall-of-Fame capabilities here, brother.  

4.  Joe Johnson -  He's probably one of the few Hawks that has reached his ceiling in terms of development (well, assuming these players don't spend their whole careers under Mike Woodson), and thats fine.  Hell, it probably already makes him the best shooting guard in Hawks history.  That said, he's a 2nd tier star (think Paul Pierce, Carlos Boozer, TMac five years ago or Elton Brand) and you're probably not winning a championship with him as your #1 option.  

(Aside:  Anyone thinking Paul Pierce doesn't belong on that list needs a reality check.  Those Celtics teams where he was the clear cut go-to-guy were usually awful, and a conference finalist at best.  I'm not saying he didn't deserve the Finals MVP last year, but he had two great games, two good ones, and two really shitty games.  And he doesn't even sniff that stage without KG and RayRay.)

5.  Michael Turner -  How insane is it that Turner could actually go ahead of LDT in next year's fantasy drafts?  Not in mine of course, as I'll probably be picking LDT in the Top Five until 2015, but in most normal people's that don't discount the facts of life regarding aging and the pounding that 200+ carries for 5+ NFL seasons can put on a player.  Anyways, anyone who had Turner on a fantasy team in years past and was hoping for an LDT injury saw the potential in this guy, and now he's the best back the Falcons have had since Jamal Anderson's fluke season ----errr---- prime.  Turner, not Matt Ryan, is the Falcons MVP this season.  

6.  Josh Smith -  When his contract is up in five seasons, I could see him at #1 or #2 on this list, or completely absent from the list.  Neither would surprise me.  Whatever.  I'm so ready for him to come back that I'd be happy with the Hawks bringing in Randolph Morris and Solomon Jones to just clothesline folks as they continuously penetrate the baseline and take it to the rim, flagrants and suspensions be damned.  Say what you will about Smith's defense, but opposing players feared taking it to the rim with JSmoove shadowing them.  That isn't the case when he's not in there.  

7.  Roddy White -  Looks like a Pro Bowler.  If only he was this effective when MV7 was under center.  Not bitter or anything.  Moving on...did anyone else read this article and get blown away by White's revelation that it was Joe Horn and Bobby Petrino who had the greatest influence on White's transformation into the player he is now?  What the hell were the odds of that happening?  Glad they were able to earn at least part of the millions they essentially stole from this organization.  

8.  Al Horford -  Yeah, he's definitely gotten off to a slow and injury-riddled start this season, but if he develops as his talent warrants (insert Woodson caveat), he could shoot to the top of this list in the next few seasons.  My one concern is that, unlike Dwight Howard, he probably doesn't have the size to excel at the center position; and yet, he doesn't have the "game" of a power forward.  Still...the talent is there for multiple all-star appearances in his future.  

9.  John Abraham -  Talk about frustrating.  When this guy is on, he is on.  Hell, earlier this season, the talking heads were calling him the best since Lawrence Taylor at getting to and sacking the, that's obviously insane, but you can understand how good the guy looks when fully healthy and doing his thing.  Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to stay healthy for prolonged periods throughout his career, so you take what you can get.  

10.  Slava Kozlov -  Token Thrasher #2...but if Marvin Williams shows that his improvement is for real and sustainable, he could get on this list shortly.  I'm sure he'll be thrilled.  

One thing I thought when making this list was how devoid it was of elite superstars, so off the top of my head, I decided to go through some other cities with four teams and see what players would have made their lists, in comparison to Atlanta's.  

Again, off the top of my head...

Denver - Cutler, Brandon Marshall, CHAMP, generic Rockie hitters,

Phoenix - Warner, Fitzgerald, Bolden, Nash, Amare, B-Webb...nice...

Dallas - Romo, TO, Barber, Dirk, JoHo, Hamilton, Mike Modono still playing?

Philly - McNabb (kinda), Westbrook, Samuel, Utley, Howard, Hamels, Rollins, Brand,

Boston - This will be fun...Brady, Moss, KG, Pierce, RayRay, YOOK, Papi, etc. etc. etc.  Shit, Wes Welker probably would have been #7 on the Atlanta list.  

Maybe Atlanta doesn't have it too bad...after all, there is a lot of young talent on the above list (7/10 players are 28 or younger), but then again, when you pick in the Top 10 as often as the Hawks and Thrashers have, that is going to happen.  Hopefully in two weeks I can edit this list with Jake Peavy in the top slot.  We keep it optimistic here at Sue's.  


Drew Ditzel said...

i usually scan posts. this one i did not. very enjoyable.

i would make my list based on relevance and impact.

That would put chipper one and joe two.

and Matty franchise would have to make my list as well.

the relevance requirement would of course severely hurt any thrasher hoping to make the list.

Joe Friday said...


Solid analysis and logical critera are generally frowned upon here.

That said, I don't disagree with your thoughts. I probably deserve some sort of flogging for ranking a Thrasher over Chipper.



JJ said...

Good post.

Matt Ryan should probably already be in the Top 10, and he will be easily #1 within the next 2 years, a spot which he will occupy for the following decade (at minimum) as he leads the Falcons to at least 2 parades down Peachtree.

Osama Bin Jammin said...

Hi JJ. Welcome to Sue's. Wishful thinking perhaps? Ryan is proving himself to be one helluva quarterback, but let's see how he does with regards to his sophomore slump. He's doing great, yes, but remember the stat comparison of Vick and Ryan during their first full seasons starting. Very, eerily similar.

Look forward to more of your thoughts in the future.