Tuesday, February 3, 2009

#21 -- Atlanta Braves Team

Atlanta Braves
The shot here looks like a Spring Training facility. This was a team that had been fairly strong and had a 3rd place finish in 1971. But they were headed into a brick wall in 1972.

Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews came in to manage toward the end of the year. That didn’t help. They had Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Phil Niekro. That didn’t help. They had the 1971 NL Rookie of the Year Earl Williams behind the plate. That didn’t help. Ralph Garr and Dusty Baker both hit over .320 in the outfield. That didn’t help.

They finished last in the NL in pitching. That sure didn’t help. The only thing that did help is that the injury-decimated Giants and the expansion Padres were in their division so they only slipped to 4th. They had an odd year. They split with division-winning Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, but were a combined 10-19 against the Padres and Expos.

In addition to Williams, Aaron, Garr and Baker, the lineup had Darrell Evans, Mike Lum and Rico Carty, so there was plenty of pop. The middle infield of Felix Millan and Marty Perez were weaker than average at the plate. Millan was strong in the field, winning a Gold Glove, but Perez wasn't. The pitching staff was horrible that year. They were last in ERA, last in shutouts, last in strikeouts and 8th (of 12) in walks allowed. I know the Launching Pad of a stadium they played half their games in had something to do with it, though. Niekro and Ron Reed were the only decent starters they had, and Reed was below league average that year. After Niekro and Reed, 8 other guys got at least 5 starts. That's not a good thing.

Hank Aaron started the All-Star Game in right field, but that was all the Braves had. This was the start of a long descent. They finished above .500 in 1974, but then had 4 last place finishes to round out the '70's and then in the late '80's finished last 4 out of 5 years. They did manage to fit in 3 winning seasons in the glory days of Dale Murphy, but that was short lived.

1972 feature
I was having fun with this, but it's getting time consuming. I've recently (and unexpectedly) had some big time commitments come up. This is going to be an intermittently recurring feature and I'll focus more on the baseball aspect of the cards, players and teams involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment