680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – As we glance back at our Braves World Championship in 1995, we all talk a lot about our world class pitching of Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux, but not enough about slugger Fred McGriff. We should never underestimate the impact of the “Crime Dog” or the genius of John Schuerholz!
Fred McGriff helped put us over the top in our chase of a World Series title! In the years leading up to the magical 1995 championship season, we all lamented over not scoring enough runs. Two World Series opportunities had already slipped away.
It was mind-blowing, really. In those eight World Series losses in 1991 & 1992, we scored only 17 runs (2.1 runs per game). In seven of the eight losses, we lost by ONE run. It was gut-wrenching. Something needed to be done.
So, in early part of the 1993 season, GM John Schuerholz changed that narrative by adding one of the top sluggers in the game. Sid Bream and Brian Hunter were struggling offensively, rotating at first base and we trailed the Giants at the All-Star break by 7.5 games. That’s when Mr. Schuerholz made one of his best deals!
On July 19, 1993, the Braves got McGriff from San Diego, without giving up one of our Top 3 Prospects (Chipper, Javy or Klesco). Mr. S took advantage of the Padres wanting to dump Fred’s big salary ($4.7M). It turned out to be a difference-making trade for the Braves, who got him in the prime of his career.
During the 1995 Championship season, the “Crime Dog” hit .280, with 27 bombs and 93 RBI. He was a classic clean-up slugger. Could hit bombs of righties and lefties! Fred hitting clean-up pushed David Justice back to the 5th spot in the order. Klesco hit 6th and Javy Lopez hit 7th. Chipper was hitting in front of Fred, in the 3-hole.
One teammate believed McGriff in the middle of the batting order made everyone better and it certainly put more pressure on opposing pitching. It showed up in the ’95 World Series box score, where the Braves averaged almost 4 runs a game.
During his 4-plus years in Atlanta, McGriff punished MLB pitching. His average season production looked like this: .296 average, with 29 HR’s and 100 RBI. He was a force! He played a strong first base and his teammates loved him.
“Crime Dog’s” addition certainly paid off!
After the ’95 season, McGriff agreed to a 4-year/$20M deal to stay with the Braves, where he played the next two seasons, at a high level. He was a 5-time All-Star, who hit 493 bombs, during his 19-year career.
So, the next time you and the boys are reflecting back on that memorable, championship 1995 season…remember to give “Crime Dog” a Shout-out! Fred McGriff was awesome!
Buck Belue can be heard on 680 The Fan Weekdays from noon to 3pm on “Buck & Kincade.”
The Braves acquisition of Fred McGriff from the Padres led Atlanta to NL West crown.(JOHN BAZEMORE / ASSOCIATED PRESS)