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The 29 Most Important Braves during the Streak: 14-16

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  1. Mark Wohlers - I still remember watching his Major League debut against San Diego in '91. Wohlers came into the game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the tying run on third and struck out Tim Teufel for the final out. We had heard so many good things about Mark, and here he was in his first game in the Majors and he looked every bit as good as he was made out to be. Wohlers continued to set-up for several more years before assuming the closers' role in '95. He of course got the final out in the World Series that year, and was one of our better postseason pitchers during the streak with 2.35 career postseason ERA and nine saves. Who knows what happened to him in '98. Some call it Steve Blass disease, but whatever it was it pretty much ended his career.
  2. Ryan Klesko - He had one of the best but not so often used nicknames of Thumper. Ryno never seemed to reach his full potential, always just sitting on the cusp of doing great things. Perhaps his growth as a Major Leaguer was a bit retarded by his lack of a natural position to play. The Braves never seemed to give him the first base job outright (sound familiar), and in the outfield he was a juggernaut of a fielder. Klesko was an above average postseason performer, clubbing three of his ten career postseason homers in the '95 World Series. My fondest memory of Thumper was during the '98 NLDS against the Cubs when he hit a grand slam in the seventh inning of game one. I was sitting towards the back of the first level of seats, 30 rows up or so from the field and about 20 seats from the foul pole along the first base line. I swear to this day that the homerun Klesko hit did not get above my head - that thing was a serious line-drive homerun that probably never made it 40 feet off the ground.
  3. Otis Nixon - The first spark plug of the Atlanta lineup, he probably did more in the department of distracting pitchers than he did in the department of scoring runs. If he would have played a full slate of games in '91 he probably would have stolen 100 bases, and if he had not tested positive for cocaine towards the end of that year and missed the World Series our fortunes in that postseason might have been different. (Cocaine is a hell of a drug.) Nevertheless, Nixon was the prototypical 80's/early 90's lead-off guy (Vince Coleman, Ricky Henderson), and proved to be an important force when in the lineup. He helped establish the tempo of the team in the worst-to-first year, and contributed to the rebuilt defense.