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World Series 2001
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10/17/2001 08:52 PM ET
Position-by-position breakdowns
By Ken Gurnick & Jim Molony
MLB.com
Catcher
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Paul Bako, four years, .212, two homers, 15 RBIs. Injuries to Javy Lopez and Eddie Perez have left Bako as the starter. The left-handed hitting Bako had seven hits in his last 14 at bats of the regular season and hit .286 in the NLDS with a double, homer and three RBIs. Since taking over for Lopez, Bako hasn't allowed a stolen base (including three games against NL-leading Phillies and three against Houston in the NLDS). Had a homer (first postseason hit), laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, and doubled in Game 3 of DS. Damian Miller, five years, .271, 13 homers, 47 RBIs. With former catchers as Manager Bob Brenly and bench coach Bob Melvin, you have to figure Miller does something right. He does a lot right, from nursing the pitchers to delivering clutch hits low in the order to providing a toughness from playing seriously hurt. His shoulder is bad and the Braves would be wise to test him. His backup is Rod Barajas, who caught one inning in the playoffs and might not get that much time in this one.
Edge:Arizona
First Base
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Julio Franco, 17 years, .300, three homers, 11 RBIs. The 42-year-old infielder was leading the Mexican League in hitting when the Braves signed him. He has surprised more than a few people with his hitting and his glove but Franco has little power. Franco had 16 hits in his last 44 at-bats of regular season to raise his average from .239 to .300 after hitting .435 in Mexican League before joining Braves on Sept. 1. Committed one error in 198 chances. Had four hits in 13 NLDS at-bats, including a homer in Game 3. Mark Grace, 14 years, .298, 15 homers, 78 RBIs. Grace made little impact against the Cardinals, and Brenly likes to use Greg Colbrunn against some lefties. Even when he isn't hitting, Grace brings a slick-fielding glove and is a key part of the best defense in the NL. He's a contact hitter with occasional power, but he's been through the wars and is typical of Arizona's collection of veterans with post-season experience.
Edge:Atlanta
Second Base
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Marcus Giles, rookie, .262, nine homers, 31 RBIs. After a strong start at the plate, Giles gradually cooled and hit only .221 during the season's final six weeks. Has decent range, a plus arm and a good glove, but the rookie's production at the top of the order could be pivotal in this series. Though probably not a true leadoff hitter, Giles, with the help of first base coach Glenn Hubbard, has dramatically improved his defense and provides a solid DP partner for Rey Sanchez. Craig Counsell, six years, .275, four homers, 38 RBIs. Even before his shocking home run in St. Louis, Counsell was known as a gamer who exemplifies his team's ability to find a way to win. He's a lefty who hits lefties, and a fundamentally sound defender who took the job from Jay Bell. Most of all, having scored the winning run in Florida's 1997 World Series, he is remarkably cool under pressure, and there will be plenty of that.
Edge:Arizona
Shortstop
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Rey Sanchez, 11 years, .227, 0 homers, nine RBIs. Slick fielding but light hitting, Sanchez was acquired at the trading deadline after Rafael Furcal went down for the year. Made 13 errors in 1999 with the Royals and committed a total of 11 since the start of the 2000 season. His glove kept him in the lineup in Atlanta despite a .229 average. Had just two hits in nine NLDS at-bats. Tony Womack, eight years, .266, three homers, 30 RBIs, 28 stolen bases. Womack had a big playoff series and an historic moment against the Cardinals, but his game has some holes. As a leadoff man, his speed is tempered by a low on-base percentage. Defensively, he is very athletic, not exactly smooth with the glove or arm. Mentally, as he showed after the blown squeeze bunt, he doesn't get down even when things go wrong.
Edge:Arizona
Third Base
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Chipper Jones, eight years, .330, 38 homers, 102 RBIs. Hit .419 since Aug. 31 and was a key factor in the Braves holding off Philadelphia for the NL East crown. Became the first third baseman in Major League history with 100 RBIs in six consecutive seasons. Hit .401 from Sept. 1 to end of season to give him a career-high .330 batting average. Had a .945 fielding percentage at third, compared with .944 in 2000. A career .324 hitter in LCS play, Jones was 4-for-9 (.444) with two homers and five RBIs in the NLDS. Matt Williams, 15 years, .275, 16 HR, 65 RBI. It's been one of those years - injuries, slumps, a physical comeback, a dreadful playoff, an incredibly clutch hit. Defensively, he's been looking like the former Gold Glover he is. The bat, however, has lost much of its power, and the 0-for-15 disappearance against the Cards is not a good sign from another playoff veteran who was booed by his hometown fans.
Edge:Atlanta
Left Field
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B.J. Surhoff, 15 years, .271, 10 homers, 58 RBIs. Surhoff is past his prime but still produces decent if not super numbers. Nothing flashy about Surhoff. He doesn't provide big offensive numbers but always runs hard and does the little things to help the team win -- like his great play in Tom Glavine's Game 2 shutout in the NLDS. Braves coach Merv Rettenmund compares his attitude to that of the Diamondbacks' Steve Finley. Luis Gonzalez, 12 years, .325, 57 homers, 142 RBIs. He carried the offense all year, but not in the playoffs, and Arizona won anyway. He's the one bat in the lineup opponents fear, remarkable considering the team really has no clean-up hitter to protect him. He has no problems against left-handed pitching. He plays a decent left field and is a smart base runner. You wouldn't mind having a dozen of him.
Edge:Arizona
Center Field
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Andruw Jones, six years, .251, 34 homers, 104 RBIs. Jones didn't have as good a year in 2001 as he did in 2000, but he's still the best defensive center fielder in the game. Had 26 RBIs in final 27 games to give him a career-high 104. Hit 34 homers yet hit only .252. Had just six errors in 472 chances to put him in line to win his fourth straight Gold Glove. Steve Finley, 13 years, .275, 14 homers, 73 RBI. On paper, Finley doesn't match up with the talented Jones. Yet, he was the Diamondbacks' best player in the playoffs, hitting .421 and was even moved to the clean-up spot for the final game. And even if he doesn't have the natural grace of Jones in the outfield, he winds up on as many highlight films because he's fearless going after balls and will sacrifice his body to steal an extra-base hit. Offensively, he had a miserable first half because of injuries, but was tough enough to fight his way back.
Edge:Atlanta
Right Field
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Brian Jordan, 10 years, .295, 29 homers, 97 RBIs. Hit .312 with five homers and 19 RBIs in his last 25 games. Doesn't run as well as he once did. A clutch performer, Jordan's last five regular season homers came after the seventh inning, including two against the Mets at Shea Stadium on Sept. 23 and a walk-off grand slam against them on Sept. 29 to help Braves overcome a four-run deficit heading into the final frame. Had homer in Game One of the NLDS and hit .182 for the series. Reggie Sanders, 11 years, .263, 33 homers, 90 RBIs. Probably the closest match-up in the series. Like Jordan, Sanders has lost some of his natural skills, but has compensated by playing smarter. He has emerged as a clutch slugger who provided Arizona with substantial production lower in the lineup. And he stepped up in the playoffs, hitting .357 and delivering the critical home run off Matt Morris in the clincher. While he occasionally yields to Danny Bautista, don't underestimate Sanders' importance to the Arizona lineup.
Edge:Even
Bench
- Mark DeRosa, five years, .287, three homers, 20 RBIs. Didn't pan out when he had a chance to win the starting shortstop job, DeRosa also helped out at second, third and left field. Hit .296 at Turner Field. Singled in only at bat of the NLDS.

- Keith Lockhart, eight years, .219, three homers, 12 RBIs. Another lefty bat off the bench for Bobby Cox as well as backup middle infielder. Doubled in two plate appearances in the NLDS.

- Ken Caminiti, 15 years, .228, 15 homers, 41 RBIs. Former MVP and switch hitter used primarily as right-handed pinch hitter. Could provide some power off the bench. Struggled this season and was 0-for-2 in the NLDS.

- Bernard Gilkey, 12 years, .274, two homers, 14 RBIs. Fourth outfielder will be used primarily to pinch hit. Didn't appear in the NLDS.

- Dave Martinez, 16 years, .287, two homers, 20 RBIs. Veteran pinch hitter played all three outfield positions this season. Playing in the playoffs for first time, he grounded into a double play in his only NLDS at-bat. Could be used at first base to spell Franco.

- Steve Torrealba, rookie, .500, O HR, 0 RBI. Added as backup to Paul Bako following injuries to Javy Lopez and Eddie Perez. Hit .270 at Double-A Greenville this season and had a hit in his only NLDS at-bat.

- Greg Colbrunn, 12 years, .289, four homers, 18 RBIs. Came back quickly from mid-season knee surgery, but the bad wheel limits him to pinch-hitting. Delivered twice pinch-hitting against the Cards.

- David Dellucci, four years, .276, 10 homers, 40 RBIs. Pretty productive to drive in 40 runs with 10 homers in only 217 at-bats. He came to the plate twice against St. Louis, (even though he was pinch hit for both times) but figures to have more with John Smoltz pitching the ninth inning instead of Steve Kline.

- Erubiel Durazo, three years, .269, 12 homers, 38 RBIs. No trade deadline deal was rumored without his name coming up. A left-handed power hitter who doesn't get cheated when he swings.

- Jay Bell, 16 years, .248, 13 homers, 46 RBIs. It's been a tough season for a classy veteran. He lost his second-base job and pretty much disappeared as the game grew in importance. Of course, these are the kinds of guys who often steal the October spotlight, and his resume says he could do it if given the chance.

- Midre Cummings, nine years, .300, 0 HR, one RBI. Played only 20 big-league games during the season but made the post-season roster because of a versatile left-handed bat and healthy legs.

- Rod Barajas, two years, .160, three homers, nine RBIs. He hit .160 during his rookie season and caught one inning of the playoffs, so don't expect to see him much unless Damian Miller is officially declared dead.

- Danny Bautista, nine years, .302, five homers, 26 RBIs. Was given a playoff start against Darryl Kile and didn't get the ball out of the infield in five at-bats, but Brenly likes his versatility.
Edge:Arizona
Starting Pitchers
Game 1
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Greg Maddux, 16 years, 17-11, 3.05 ERA. Has been one of the best big game pitchers in the game for a long time. Though he had a poor September (0-3, 5.19 ERA), Maddux was his usual dominating self in the NLDS. Randy Johnson, 14 years, 21-6, 2.49 ERA, 372 Ks. He's lost seven consecutive post-season decisions, but it's not like he pulled an Albie Lopez. His teams don't score for him in those big games. But he's due.
Game 2
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Tom Glavine, 15 years, 16-7, 3.57 ERA. Perhaps the hottest pitcher in the league, didn't allow a run in eight innings in the NLDS. Miguel Batista, seven years, 11-8, 3.36 ERA. He matched Darryl Kile to win Game 3, and doesn't seem to rattle. He gives his team a chance to win, and not much more can be asked.
Game 3
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John Burkett, 13 years, 12-12, 3.04 ERA. Finished third in the league in ERA and capped three-game sweep in the NLDS with 6 1/3 solid innings against Houston. Curt Schilling, 14 years, 22-6, 2.98, 293 Ks. He says the post-season is the time to make a name for yourself, and if he keeps this up, he just might be one of the best big-game pitchers in recent times.
Game 4
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Maddux, see above. Brenly said Lopez will start Game 4. We'll believe it when we see it. In St. Louis, he pitched like he didn't want to be there.
Edge:Atlanta
Relief Pitchers
- John Smoltz, 13 years, 3-3, 3.36, 10 saves. Veteran right-hander rejuvenated his career in the closer role, converting 12-of-13 opportunities, including the playoffs. Allowed three hits and one earned run (HR) in NLDS. Including the playoffs Smoltz has a 1.66 ERA (38 IP/7 ER) as a reliever this season.

- Steve Karsay, seven years, 3-4, 3.43, seven saves. The closer before Smoltz; faltered down the stretch with five earned runs allowed (all against the Mets) in last 8 2/3 innings. Pitched one perfect inning in the NLDS.

- Kerry Ligtenberg, four years, 3-3, 3.02, one save. One of the most consistent relievers on the staff. Hasn't allowed a run in his last 15 appearances (18 innings). Should be fresh as he didn't appear in the NLDS.

- Steve Reed, 10 years, 2-2, 3.48, one save. Has allowed five earned runs since July 31 and has a nearly 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span. Usually comes in when the Braves need to get a ground balls. Held right-handed hitters to a .148 average after joining Braves on June 24. Has a postseaon ERA of 17.47 in 5 2/3 innings.

- Mike Remlinger, nine years, 3-3, 2.76, one save. The only lefty in the bullpen. Has allowed only one earned run in his last eight games. Has had some back problems recently but seems to have recovered. Pitched a perfect one-third inning in NLDS.

- Rudy Seanez, 10 years, 0-2, 2.75, one save. Right-handed set-up man with decent fastball and slider. During regular season held batters to a .178 BA (23-for-129). Fanned 17 in 12 innings in Atlanta.

- Jason Marquis, two years, 5-6, 3.48. One of the team's fastest men, Marquis will also be used to pinch run. Can start but most likely will be used out of the bullpen in the NLCS.
- Byung-Hyun Kim, three years, 5-6, 2.94, converted 19-of-23 save opportunities. He's a thrill a minute. He can be unhittable or uncatchable. Even in his playoff save, three of six batters reached base.

- Greg Swindell, 16 years, 2-6, 4.53 ERA, two saves. Wily situational lefthander who's equally tough against hitters on both sides of the plate, but he gives up a lot of home runs.

- Mike Morgan, 21 years, 1-0, 4.26 ERA. Still chucking in his fourth decade, and he's finally reached the LCS. He has a rubber arm and gets ground balls.

- Bobby Witt, 16 years, 4-1, 4.78 ERA. Came up with muscle spasms in his shoulder and was unavailable for a couple playoff games. Delivered some strong September starts, but looked bad at the end.

- Brian Anderson, eight years, 4-9, 5.20 ERA. Lost his starting job to Witt, but was pressed into emergency relief in the playoffs and might have pitched well enough to replace Lopez as Game 4 starter.

- Mike Koplove, rookie, 0-1, 3.60 ERA in nine games. Will be the mop-up man if needed. Smallish righthander throws strikes.
Edge:Atlanta
Manager
Bobby Cox, 20 years, 1,704-1,345. You don't have as many postseason wins on your resume as Cox (58), including 18-5 in Division Series games and nine NLCS appearances in 10 years, unless you're one of the best. Cox is, and has been, one of the game's best managers for a long time. Bob Brenly, first year. 92-70. In his first year out of the broadcast booth, Brenly has treated his players like grownups and has been rewarded with a professional performance. His strategy isn't always predictable because he plays his hunches, but he also has used his bench liberally, which has served this veteran team well. And with all due respect, the guy seems to manage with a horseshoe in his pocket.
Edge:Atlanta
Intangibles
The Braves had a hard fight to make the playoffs and swept a favored Houston team in the NLDS. The Braves have gotten hot at the right time, but they lost five of seven to the Diamondbacks this year and both wins came in April, when the Braves still had shortstop Rafael Furcal. The Braves have done well to get this far, but they will be facing a better pitching staff and a better defensive team in the NLCS than they did in the first round against Houston. It doesn't always make sense, but the Diamondbacks find a way to win. Plenty of veterans with the urgency of knowing they either win this year or the team could get torn apart. An active bench that is sharp from getting plenty of action during the season. Most of all, they have two starting pitchers who can completely dominate a game.
Edge:Arizona