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The 29 Most Important Braves during the Streak: 17-19

  1. Brian Jordan - Take Jordan for what he did during his first stint with the Braves, not the hobbled shell of a baseball player who returned the last two years. Jordan anchored the center of the Braves order for parts of three years and when batting fourth in '99 was instrumental in helping Chipper win the MVP. His addition to the team that year - and his contribution on the field - was especially important after the loss of Galarraga for the season. He is another guy who was considered a great clubhouse personality, which is probably the reason he was brought back the last two seasons. He came up big in several postseason series for the Braves, and that is most likely why I rank him higher on this list than Galaragga or Sheffield.
  2. Andres Galarraga - He may have been the best pure cleanup hitter we had during the streak. McGriff was solid, but Galarraga was the fear in the middle of the order. His first season with the Braves was as good as the ones he had been having in Colorado, and he showed no outward signs of slowing down, but a diagnosis of cancer made him miss the '99 season. He miraculously came back in 2000, and had a season that many players would envy, batting over .300 and driving in 100 runs. He is another player, like Sheffield, who unfortunately fizzled in the postseason. He gets a lot of points for his smile alone - a full register of teeth, top and bottom, with a little touch of shyness. The only things that could put a damper on that smile were the times he was hit by a pitch (25 times in '98). It got so bad at one point in '98 that the Big Cat finally snapped and charged the mound, putting Darren Dreifort in an unforgiving headlock - he might get some extra points for that brawl too (if only I could have put Charlie O'Brien on this list somewhere).
  3. Kevin Millwood - He has one of the sleepiest deliveries I can think of, but he nonetheless puts some heat behind it. Mill was twice an 18-game winner and once a 17-game winner for the Braves, but even with a great record he never seemed to rise to that ace level that many thought he was bound for after his breakthrough year in '99. Even after he left Atlanta his good years have been surrounded by several bad or mediocre years - he has never put together solid back to back seasons. He had an above average postseason record, with just two really bad outings spoiling what would otherwise have been a spectacular postseason record.