The Atlanta Braves saw unprecedented success from 1991-2005, winning 14 division titles.
In 1991 they got to the World Series but lost to Twins in what was perhaps the greatest World Series (at least WS Game 7) ever.
Again in 1992 Atlanta got to the World Series, only to be ousted in six games by the Blue Jays.
In 1995 the Braves finally won the WS, 4-2 over the Indians.
In 1996 Atlantalost the WS in six games to the Yankees.
Finally, in their most recent WS appearance, 1999, they got swept by the Yankees.
While the Braves obviously didn't win the World Series much, but the fact that they still got there five times in eight years says something in their defense.
Every stretch of prolonged success has a major driving force (or driving forces). In this case they were Leo Mazzone, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux.
No, it wasn't Bobby Cox, the Braves' manager during that run. He managed the Braves since 1986, so he was at the helm for four years before the team got good.
As a matter of fact, the Braves suffered their worst record ever under him, 54-106, in 1988.
And he's still managing the Braves now, and they can't stay very far above .500. In the past two seasons the Braves are 163-161. Counting this year they're 206-209 in the past three seasons. So it can't be Bobby Cox.
It's partly Leo Mazzone. No matter how good your players are, a coach has to contribute something success. After all, players don't always know what to do in terms of strategizing.
Plus, what happens when a player goes cold? The coach helps him correct what he's doing wrong and helps keep him on the right path.
But the Braves' division titles during that time are mostly due to their pitching - namely three pitchers, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux.
John Smoltz went 176-99 with a 3.09 ERA during that time. He also averaged 214 innings per year during the seasons in which he was a starter. In his four years as a closer, he converted 154-of-168 save opportunities. As a starter Smoltz registered 35 complete games and recorded 13 shut-outs.
Glavine went 209-102 with a 3.17 ERA. He averaged about 225 innings in his 12 seasons with the Braves. Not to mention the southpaw threw 44 complete games and notched 19 shut-outs.
Maddux went 194-124 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 seasons with Atlanta. The right-hander averaged about 229 innings a year with the Braves, and tossed 61 complete games and 21 shut-outs.
These contributions must have made a huge difference to the Braves' run of 14 straight division titles from the early nineties to 2005. These men - Leo Mazzone, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux are Atlanta Braves icons - even though three of the four are not with the organization today.
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