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The 29 Most Important Braves during the Streak: 23-25

Here are the next three (actually four) on the list. This solves the mystery of the "29 most important Braves" only having 28 places - I forced a tie between Neagle and Ortiz. For an introduction to the list, go here.

  1. Mike Remlinger - One of the best left-handed relievers in the game at the turn of the century. From his 10-and-1 season in `99 to his 1.99 ERA in `02 when he was an All-Star, Remlinger was the mark of consistency from the left side of the pen which we haven't seen since. Forget what he did (or didn't do) in 2006 - after his poor showing in Spring Training he should have never made the club. I have a lot of bullpen guys on this list, and I don't know if that is a symptom of last season's bullpen woes or if last season showed us just how valuable even the second or third guy out of the pen can be.
  2. Julio Franco - The ageless one. This is the first guy on here who gets a lot of points for being one of those "leaders in the clubhouse." That may be a cliché, but it was an all-important part of the run of success that the Braves enjoyed for a decade and a half. Franco was the selfless pinch-hitter who's unconventional stance and beautiful opposite field stroke got the fans excited when he came up to pinch hit in the late innings. He is still applauded when he comes back to Atlanta as a member of the Mets for what he accomplished as a Brave. When we look at pinch hitters throughout the streak, his name stands out as the best of the bunch by far. And when we look at the end of the streak, he should be someone we admit that we may have missed last year.
  3. Denny Neagle & Russ Ortiz (tie) - These are two guys who spent a very brief time with the team, and amazingly had the same exact record during their two "full" years with the Braves, 36-16, though Neagle started a handful of games after being acquired at the end of `96. So the same record thing is one of the big reasons I made them tie, though Neagle was actually a little better during his stint in a Braves uniform. They both won 20 games (21 for Ortiz), placed in the top four in Cy Young voting, and were named to the All-Star team in their first year as Braves. Ortiz was a walk machine who eventually crumbled under the weight of his free passes (and perhaps his own weight), and Neagle made the mistake of thinking he could be successful in Coors Field. But while they were Braves they were considered part of the core of starters that was "supposed" to define the Braves organization.