Since this franchise became known as the Braves in 1912, they have made the playoffs 26 times, won 9 pennants, and three World Series titles. Since arriving in Atlanta, the Braves have made the playoffs 22 times, winning five pennants and one championship. The quantity of postseason appearances is quite impressive when compared to the rest of baseball over the past 54 years.
Obviously, the most memorable stretch of playoff success for the Braves was their run of 14 straight division titles between 1991 and 2005. The streak itself was quite impressive; however, only winning one World Series title over that stretch stands out just as much, if not more, than the streak itself. Though they did not have much success winning titles, the Braves had plenty of chances in the 1990’s and at the very beginning of the new millennium.
The Braves made a few playoff trips after they arrived in Atlanta before the 1990’s. In 1969, the Braves made the NLCS and faced off against the eventual World Series Champion New York Mets, losing three straight games to names such as Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. The 1982 Braves actually represented one of the biggest single year turnarounds in franchise history, as they improved from 50 wins in 1981 to 89 wins. Unfortunately, they had their first experience with the Devil Magic of the Cardinals and lost three straight games.
Though they experienced several years of losing in the 1980’s, the Braves were also gearing up for their historic run in the 1990’s. In 1991, the Braves had a similar single season turnaround as they had experienced in 1982. This also setup one of the more entertaining NLCS rivalries in recent memory, as the Braves bested the Pirates over seven games to move on to the World Series, where they would eventually lose in seven games after one of the most memorable Game 7 matchups in baseball history.
The Braves would again meet the Pirates in the NLCS in 1992. Though it was for the second straight season, this time it certainly seemed that the stakes were a bit more memorable. The 1992 matchup actually was a bit less suspenseful, as over the first six games, only one game was decided by one run compared to four one run games in the 1991 series. However, you would not know that as a Braves fan, as after winning three out of the first four games, Atlanta lost the next two of the series by a combined score of 20-5. However, there was no need to worry, as the hit off the bat of Francisco Cabrera that scored Sid Bream and created the iconic “When Sid Slid” moment (which can be viewed above from the perspective of Sean Mcdonough or Skip Carey) allowed the Braves to once again make the World Series. Unfortunately, they would face the Toronto Blue Jays, and lose for the second straight year in six games.
The Braves once again made the NLCS in 1993 against the Philadelphia Phillies and lost in six games for their first Championship Series loss of the 1990s. Then, the unfortunate baseball strike in 1994 led to a lack of postseason baseball. However, if there is a bit of humor to be made, it was the only thing that prevented the Braves from playing for the National League pennant during the 1990s outside of 1990 itself.
In 1995, as mentioned before the Braves sweep of the Reds in the NLWC this season, the Braves defeated the Reds in four games to advance to the World Series. After Game 1, the Reds simply were no match for the Braves. Of course, Atlanta would carry that momentum to the 1995 World Series title.
Outside of 1992, perhaps the most exciting NLCS for the Braves was the 1996 matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won three of the first four games, but the Braves stormed back, winning three straight, including scores of 14-0 and 15-0. Of course, despite looking as if they would not be denied during the first two games of the World Series, the Braves would eventually lose to the Yankees in six games.
Atlanta would make the NLCS in both 1997 and 1998, but would lose to the Marlins and San Diego Padres in six games both years. Atlanta could not over come Livan Hernandez in 1997. In 1998, the Padres won the first three games of the series, and the Braves roared back to win the next two before San Diego eventually advanced with a 5-0 win.
Though the Braves had not made the World Series in back to back years for the first time in the 1990s, Chipper Jones made sure that trend would not continue in 1999. The Hall of Famer led the Braves back to the playoffs by winning the 1999 MVP award, and produced a .886 OPS against the Mets in the NLCS. The Braves would win the NL Pennant on a walk-off walk to Andruw Jones. Though they would lose to the Yankees in the World Series, the Braves produced one of the most dominant decades in the 1990s in National League History. They made 8 National League Championship appearances, and won the pennant five times. Though only one World Series title was accomplished, it truly was an amazing run for Atlanta.
The Braves would make their last NLCS appearance in 2001 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Facing Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Braves could not find any momentum. They lost the series 4-1, and despite plenty of chances over the next two decades, would not make a return to the NLCS until this year.
As can be seen, there was a time when one of the most certain things in baseball was the Braves playing for a chance to make the World Series. Though they may not be the favorite now as they were then, they are finally back where they belong. This current Braves team certainly has championship potential. Though they have not made it this far in 19 years, they have certainly shown they have the talent and drive to thrive in their pursuit of another World Series Title.