Manager: Bobby Cox
After finishing 65-97 and in last place in the division, the Braves had only one way to go -- up. And that's just what this team managed to do.
The Atlanta squad in 1991 had the pieces of a pitching staff that would dominated the 1990s. The previous year, Atlanta had made a trade that sent former Braves star Dale Murphy to the Philadelphia Phillies. In return, the Braves received little that would help them in their championship run. But, the move did open the way for Atlanta to go out and acquire much-needed free agents and to elevate some players from the minor league system.
Tom Glavine (20-11, 2.55 ERA) and John Smoltz (14-13, 3.80 ERA) began to establish themselves in 1991 as pitching stars. Joining them in the rotation were Steve Avery (18-8, 3.38 ERA), Charlie Liebrandt (15-13, 3.49 ERA) and Kent Mercker (5-3, 2.58 ERA).
The team lacked a dominating closer but picked up 48 saves with its closer by committee of Alejandro Pena (11 saves), Juan Berenguer (17), Mike Stanton (7) and Mercker (6).
In the field, Atlanta put together a lineup that would change entirely by the end of the decade. Still this lineup would power the Braves for several seasons. Sid Bream (11 HR, 45 RBI), Terry Pendleton (22 HR, 86 RBI) and Otis Nixon (72 SB) gave the team a much-needed lift from its free-agent signings. Ron Gant (32 HR, 105 RBI) and Dave Justice (21 HR, 87 RBI) provided two hitters that the Braves had developed in their system.
The Braves began their run to the World Series with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates for the National League Championship.
The Braves' opponents in the World Series were the Minnesota Twins, another team that had finished the previous season in last place in its division. In the seventh game of that series, the Twins' Jack Morris shut out the Braves for a 1-0 victory and the championship.
Atlanta fans would be disappointed in the outcome, but they were watching the beginnings of one of the most dominant teams of the 1990s.