Top 5 Greatest Teams in Atlanta Braves History

Jim PrattContributor IIJune 18, 2012

Top 5 Greatest Teams in Atlanta Braves History

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    Compiling all-time rankings is subjective at best, regardless if the focus is team- or individual-oriented.

    Since the Braves franchise came to Atlanta in 1966, they have won one world championship, five pennants and made 17 playoff appearances.

    The past 22 seasons have been the most successful in Braves history, so it goes without saying they will be our focus when discussing the greatest teams in history of the franchise.

    These rankings will only include the top five greatest teams for a reason; I am looking for discussion and debate among the Braves fans here at Bleacher Report.

    Which Braves team do you consider the greatest of all time?

5) 1991 Atlanta Braves (94-68)

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    The 1991 Braves might not be a top five team of all time if talent was the only measure of greatness.

    Pulling the Braves from the doldrums of last place and starting a decade-plus run of division championships, this may be the single most significant season in modern Braves history.

    Terry Pendleton was named NL MVP after leading the league with a .319 average and 187 total hits.

    Ron Gant led the team with 32 home runs and 105 RBI.

    The rotation was headed by Tom Glavine’s 20 wins and nine complete games.

    Steve Avery also had a stellar season with an 18-8 record and 3.38 ERA, including the NL Championship Series MVP. 

    The Braves won a hard fought NL Championship Series (4-3), which included three 1-0 games.

    Atlanta ultimately lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins in a dramatic seventh game, 1-0 in 10 innings.

4) 1997 Atlanta Braves (101-61)

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    According to Fangraphs, the 1997 pitching staff was the best in Atlanta Braves history with a 29.8 WAR.

    Each of the top four pitchers in the rotation made at least 33 starts, including pitching a total of 21 complete games.

    Even though the more recognizable names such as Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine took their normal spots in the rotation, Denny Neagle led the team with 20 wins.

    Maddux led this group with a 2.20 ERA, followed by Glavine at 2.96, Neagle at 2.97 and Smoltz with a 3.02 ERA.

    The pitching staff as a whole led the National League in wins, ERA, IP, WHIP, team shutouts and fewest home runs allowed.

    After sweeping the Houston Astros (3-0) in the division series, Atlanta lost to the Florida Marlins (4-2) in the NL Championship Series.

3) 2003 Atlanta Braves (101-61)

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    The 2003 season belonged to the offense, specifically Javy Lopez, who finished fifth in MVP voting after hitting .328/.378/.687 with 43 home runs and 109 RBI.

    The above mentioned offense finished the season with a National League leading 907 runs, which included all starting position players hitting double-digit home runs.

    Russ Ortiz led the league with 21 wins while posting a 3.81 ERA in 34 starts.

    Although Greg Maddux was still in the mix, the rest of the rotation lacked the potent arms of seasons past with Mike Hampton, Horacio Ramirez and Shane Reynolds.

    At the time, John Smoltz set a MLB record with 34 save before the All-Star break and finished with 45 for the season.

2) 1998 Atlanta Braves (106-56)

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    The 1998 team’s 106 wins are the most in franchise history. Even though they lost to the San Diego Padres in the NL Championship Series (4-2), that number of wins in a single season has to be recognized.

    The Braves had four players surpass the 30 home run mark, including Andres Galarraga’s team leading 44 homers.

    Chipper Jones led the team with a .313 batting average while also finishing second with 34 home runs and 107 RBI.

    Glavine paced the rotation with a 20-6 record during a CY Young award winning campaign.

    Maddux led the team with a 2.22 ERA, with Glavine and Smoltz also posting a sub-3.00 ERA.  

    Kerry Ligtenberg saved a team-high 30 games.

1) 1995 Atlanta Braves (90-54)

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    This strike-shortened season brought the Braves franchise their first World Series championship since the days of the Milwaukee Braves circa 1957.

    Atlanta won the National League East in convincing fashion with the second place New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies finishing 21 games behind the Braves.

    The rotation was led by Cy Young award winner Greg Maddux, who finished the season with a 19-2 record.

    He also led the league with a 1.63 ERA, 10 complete games and 209.2 innings pitched.

    Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery and Kent Mercker rounded out the rest of the rotation.

    Mark Wohlers finished the season with 25 saves and a 2.09 ERA.

    The offense was led by catcher Javy Lopez (.315 BA, 14 HR, 51 RBI), first baseman Fred McGriff (.280 BA, 27 HR, 93 RBI) and outfielder Ryan Klesko (.310 BA, 23 HR, 70 RBI).

    Atlanta defeated the Colorado Rockies in the NL Divisional Series (3-1) and then swept the Cincinnati Reds (4-0) in the NL Championship Series, before eventually claiming the world championship over the Cleveland Indians (4-2).

    Tom Glavine (2-0) was named World Series MVP, allowing only two runs in 14 innings while striking out 11 batters.