As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn.
The best Brave to wear #58 is the only player to wear it consistently throughout his Atlanta career, Australian reliever Peter Moylan.
Signed by the Twins in 1996 as an amateur free agent, Moylan spent two years in Minnesota’s rookie-ball before the Twins released him. He returned to Australia and played semi-pro ball for a few years. By 2003, Moylan had made his way to the Taipei Gida of the Taiwan Major League. By 2006, he had changed his pitching motion and found new velocity, a 10 mph spike, and new success while competing for the Claxton Shield, Australia’s national baseball championship. This earned him some local attention, and Moylan was added to Australia’s roster for the 2006 World Baseball Classic. In the WBC, Moylan had meager success, but gained scouting attention when he struck out Venezuelan stars like Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez. Atlanta signed Moylan shortly after the WBC.
Moylan made his MLB debut later that spring, wearing… #27. He was sent back to AAA for seasoning. When Moylan made it back to the majors for good, he wore #58. In 2007, he was one of the league’s most valuable relievers, logging a 1.80 ERA over 90 innings. Moylan required Tommy John surgery in 2008, but returned in ’09 as strong as ever. Throwing 73 innings, he boasted a 2.84 ERA, and was arguably better than his 2007 form. His peripherals were stronger, with a higher strikeout rate, and he set a MLB record by appearing in 87 games without allowing a home run. That streak would reach into the 2010 season, spanning 123 games. ’10 was another strong year for Moylan (6-2, 2.97, 1 sv). In 2011, Moylan struggled with injuries, and shoulder surgery would sideline him for much of 2012 as well. Now a free agent, Moylan signed with the Dodgers. His 2013 season in LA was the worst of his career, and after a 2014 lost to another round of TJ surgery, Moylan returned to Atlanta for 2015, where he re-established his competency in a late-season return from the injury.
#58 has since moved on to Kansas City, where he has thrown over 100 innings over the last two seasons, leading the AL with 79 appearances in 2017.
Check out this highlight reel, which features one of the worst called strike threes in baseball history. Such was the magic of Moylan:
Honorable mention: Alex Wood (2013)
Who is the best ever to wear #58?
All 368 of Papelbon’s saves came in #58. He made 6 All-Star appearances in the jersey. While he probably didn’t have a Hall of Fame career, he’s probably one of the 50 best relievers in MLB history, which is something. Also, he gave us this moment:
For that, I can’t thank him enough.