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West Division

Central Division

East Division

Series Wrapup

Story

The 1997 baseball season ended up being an extremely good one for fans of the Florida Marlins, who captured their first world championship in just their fifth year of existence.  After advancing to the playoffs as the National League’s wild-card entry, Florida defeated three heavily favored teams en route to establishing themselves as rulers of the baseball world.

Led by veteran manager Jim Leyland, the Marlins accomplished all they did even though they lacked the presence of a true superstar on their roster.  Moises Alou was the team’s top offensive performer, batting .292, scoring 88 runs, and finishing first on the club with 23 home runs and 115 runs batted in.  Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Edgar Renteria also made significant contributions on offense.  Sheffield hit 21 homers and scored 86 runs.  Bonilla hit 17 home runs, drove in 96 runs, and batted .297.  Renteria led the team with 90 runs scored and 32 stolen bases.  Meanwhile, Kevin Brown anchored the pitching staff, finishing 16-8 and placing among the league leaders with a 2.69 ERA and 205 strikeouts.

The Marlins ended up representing the senior circuit in the World Series even though they finished a distant second to the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East.  The Braves won their third straight division title by concluding the campaign with a record of 101-61 that left them nine full games ahead of the runner-up Marlins.   

Clearly the National League’s strongest team over the course of the regular season, the Braves finished near the top of the league rankings with 791 runs scored, 174 home runs, a .270 team batting average, and a .426 team slugging average, and they also led the league with a 3.18 team ERA.  Kenny Lofton, Fred McGriff, Jeff Blauser, and Chipper Jones paced Atlanta on offense.  Lofton batted .333 and scored 90 runs.  McGriff hit 22 homers and drove in 97 runs.  Blauser batted .308, knocked in 70 runs, and scored 90 others.  Jones hit 21 homers, batted .295, and led the team with 111 runs batted in and 100 runs scored.  

The Braves’ greatest strength continued to be their outstanding starting pitching.  Left-hander Denny Neagle finished 20-5, to lead the league in victories.  He also compiled a fine 2.97 ERA.  Tom Glavine finished 14-7 with a 2.96 ERA.  John Smoltz won 15 games, posted an ERA of 3.02, and placed among the league leaders with 241 strikeouts and 256 innings pitched.  Greg Maddux came up just short of winning his fifth Cy Young Award, earning a second-place finish in the balloting by going 19-4 with a brilliant 2.20 ERA.

Edging out Maddux in the Cy Young voting was Pedro Martinez, who won 17 games for a Montreal Expos team that finished 23 games behind Atlanta in the N.L. East.  In addition to compiling a record of 17-8, Martinez struck out 305 batters and led the league with a 1.90 ERA and 13 complete games.  

While the Braves won their third straight N.L. East title, the Houston Astros claimed their first Central Division crown by finishing the season with a record of 84-78, five games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates.  The dynamic tandem of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell again led Houston on offense.  Biggio hit 22 home runs, drove in 81 runs, batted .309, stole 47 bases, and led the league with 146 runs scored.  Bagwell batted .286, scored 109 runs, stole 31 bases, and placed second in the league with 43 home runs and 135 runs batted in.  By hitting 43 homers and stealing 31 bases, Bagwell became the first full-time first baseman in major league history to surpass the 30-mark in both categories in the same season.  The Astros also had one of the league’s top pitchers in Darryl Kile, who finished 19-7, with a 2.57 ERA, 205 strikeouts, and four shutouts.  

The N.L. West turned out to be the most competitive division in the league, with the San Francisco Giants barely edging out the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place by concluding the campaign with a record of 90-72.  The Dodgers finished just two games back, while the Colorado Rockies came in third, just seven games off the pace.

Although the San Diego Padres finished last in the division, 14 games behind the Giants, they featured one of the league’s very best players.  Tony Gwynn had perhaps the finest season of his Hall of Fame career, establishing career highs by hitting 17 home runs and driving in 119 runs, and leading the league with a .372 batting average and 220 hits.
 
Also having fabulous years were Colorado’s Larry Walker and the Dodgers’ Mike Piazza.  Walker earned N.L. MVP honors by placing among the league leaders with 130 runs batted in, 143 runs scored, 208 hits, 46 doubles, and a .366 batting average, while topping the circuit with 49 home runs, 409 total bases, a .452 on-base percentage, and a .720 slugging average.  Piazza earned a second-place finish in the balloting by hitting 40 homers, driving in 124 runs, scoring 104 others, batting .362, and collecting 201 hits.

The Giants somehow managed to win the division even though they surrendered nine more runs to the opposition than they themselves scored over the course of the regular season.  Shawn Estes served as the ace of San Francisco’s pitching staff, compiling a record of 19-5 and a 3.18 ERA.  Rod Beck finished second in the league with 37 saves.  Meanwhile, J.T. Snow, Jeff Kent, and Barry Bonds shouldered most of the offensive burden.  Snow hit 28 homers and drove in 104 runs.  Kent homered 29 times and knocked in 121 runs.  Bonds hit 40 home runs, knocked in 101 runs, scored 123 others, batted .291, stole 37 bases, and led the league with 145 walks.  

The wild-card Marlins eliminated the Giants in the first round of the playoffs, sweeping them in three straight games.  After winning each of the first two contests in the bottom of the ninth inning, Florida posted a convincing 6-2 victory in the series clincher.  Atlanta similarly disposed of Houston in three straight games, before falling to the Marlins in six games in the NLCS.  The Braves lost to the underdog Marlins even though they outscored them by a combined margin of 21-20, out-homered them, 6-1, and out-hit them, .253 to .199.

The Marlins then completed their unlikely trifecta by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games in the World Series.  They won Game Seven in the bottom of the 11th inning when Edgar Renteria singled home Craig Counsell with the winning run.  Livan Hernandez earned Series MVP honors by winning both his starts.

However, Florida fans found their enthusiasm tempered shortly thereafter when team owner Wayne Huizenga, intending to sell the club, cut costs by trading away most of the Marlins’ best players.

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• July 31 – The Oakland Athletics traded Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews, and Blake Stein.

• September 10 - Mark McGwire joined Babe Ruth as the only players in major league history to surpass 50 home runs in consecutive seasons.  McGwire, who hit a major league-leading 52 homers for the Oakland Athletics the previous year, became the first player to accomplish the feat since Ruth topped the 50-homer mark for the Yankees in 1927 and 1928.  McGwire went on to hit 58 home runs on the year, tying Jimmie Foxx for the most home runs ever hit by a right-handed hitter in a season.

• September 21 - Mike Piazza joined Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell as the only players to hit a home run completely out of Dodger Stadium.  

• September 25 - Pedro Martínez recorded his 300th strikeout of the season, becoming the first player since 1972 (Steve Carlton) to record 300 or more strikeouts while maintaining a sub-2.00 ERA.

• By leading the National League with a .372 batting average, Tony Gwynn tied Honus Wagner’s record by winning his eighth N.L. batting title.

• Florida's Kevin Brown threw a no-hitter against the Giants during a 9-0 victory at Candlestick Park on June 10.

• In the first-ever combined 10-inning no-hitter, Pittsburgh's Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon blanked the Astros 3-0 on July 12.

• Philadelphia’s Scott Rolen (21 home runs, 92 RBIs, .283 batting average) earned N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• Pittsburgh’s Tony Womack stole 32 consecutive bases en route to leading the National League with 60 thefts.

• Philadelphia’s Curt Schilling led the league with 319 strikeouts – the most ever by a National League right-hander.

• Colorado’s Andres Galarraga hit 41 homers, scored 120 runs, batted .318, and led the National League with 140 runs batted in.

• After stealing 56 bases, Cincinnati's Deion Sanders retired to concentrate solely on pro football.

• Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg retired for a second time at the end of the season, this time for good.

• Rupert Murdoch purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for an estimated $350 million.

• Within two months of winning the World Series, Florida traded away stars Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Jeff Conine, Robb Nen, and Devon White in an attempt to dump salaries.

Seasons of the National League

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Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
ATL 2340 5528 791 1490 755 .201 268 37 174 108 58 2354 .329 .294 .653 143 52 83
CHN 2361 5489 687 1444 642 .163 269 39 127 116 60 2172 .310 .227 .604 119 38 83
CIN 2374 5484 651 1386 612 .198 269 27 142 190 67 2135 .325 .280 .678 104 30 75
COL 2263 5603 923 1611 869 .210 269 40 239 137 65 2677 .341 .313 .691 138 35 73
FLO 2308 5439 740 1410 703 .256 272 28 136 115 58 2146 .397 .391 .822 132 42 71
HOU 2221 5502 777 1427 720 .181 314 40 133 171 74 2220 .319 .283 .669 104 53 74
LAN 2299 5544 742 1488 706 .211 242 33 174 131 64 2318 .319 .298 .641 109 36 105
MON 2241 5526 691 1423 659 .207 339 34 172 75 46 2346 .341 .304 .702 95 40 72
NYN 2359 5524 777 1448 740 .181 274 28 153 97 74 2237 .337 .251 .660 122 59 58
PHI 2285 5443 668 1390 622 .185 290 35 116 92 56 2098 .338 .263 .654 105 50 74
PIT 2288 5503 725 1440 686 .189 291 52 129 160 50 2222 .315 .284 .654 105 47 77
SDN 2348 5609 795 1519 761 .205 275 16 152 140 60 2282 .314 .291 .631 130 58 63
SFN 2325 5485 784 1415 746 .205 266 37 172 121 49 2271 .331 .280 .662 111 59 64
SLN 2345 5524 689 1409 654 .189 269 39 144 164 60 2188 .294 .265 .602 128 44 58

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
ATL 536 101 61 1465 1196 450 6057 1319 111 57.680 518 581 21 10 37 38 4
CHN 603 68 94 1428 1072 590 6226 1451 185 106.930 705 759 6 2 37 35 8
CIN 585 76 86 1449 1159 558 6264 1408 173 146.320 711 764 5 0 49 64 7
COL 588 83 79 1433 870 566 6417 1697 196 139.790 836 908 9 3 38 50 6
FLO 566 92 70 1447 1188 639 6223 1353 131 93.360 615 669 12 4 39 41 4
HOU 516 84 78 1460 1138 511 6166 1379 134 79.570 595 660 16 7 37 46 9
LAN 574 88 74 1461 1232 546 6191 1325 163 65.590 588 645 6 1 45 36 14
MON 552 78 84 1445 1138 557 6189 1365 149 147.260 665 740 27 12 37 52 4
NYN 538 88 74 1459 982 504 6210 1452 160 102.090 641 709 7 3 49 47 7
PHI 571 68 94 1423 1209 616 6228 1441 171 127.030 768 840 13 3 35 73 12
PIT 613 79 83 1436 1080 560 6291 1503 143 98.160 683 760 6 2 41 61 12
SDN 588 76 86 1449 1059 596 6429 1581 172 122.070 804 891 5 0 43 58 7
SFN 643 90 72 1445 1044 578 6284 1494 160 140.240 712 793 5 3 45 48 10
SLN 561 73 89 1455 1130 536 6222 1422 124 122.980 628 708 5 0 39 48 8

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
ATL 2775 7304 5465 1701 138 .977 17584 124 54 1.00 11
CHN 2713 7107 5332 1644 131 .975 17145 146 59 0 16
CIN 2765 7132 5405 1602 125 .948 17392 139 48 0 13
COL 2728 7316 5212 1978 126 .975 17191 130 54 0 5
FLO 2718 7085 5272 1682 131 .953 17356 95 70 0 7
HOU 2603 7374 5317 1906 151 .974 17501 92 57 1.00 6
LAN 2669 7195 5476 1587 132 .976 17514 118 58 1.00 11
MON 2687 7220 5339 1727 154 .961 17363 192 42 0 13
NYN 2764 7464 5395 1924 145 .974 17510 106 44 0 10
PHI 2664 7008 5299 1580 129 .962 17048 107 57 0 16
PIT 2702 7177 5156 1867 154 .970 17235 109 66 0 11
SDN 2705 7358 5348 1855 155 .958 17400 171 75 0 8
SFN 2751 7322 5353 1817 152 .964 17355 108 73 0 9
SLN 2782 7267 5356 1766 145 .967 17466 134 66 1.00 18

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
San Francisco Giants 90 72 1690869 1 1044
Los Angeles Dodgers 88 74 3319504 2 1232
Colorado Rockies 83 79 3888453 3 870
San Diego Padres 76 86 2089333 4 1059

Central

team W L Att Rk SOP
Houston Astros 84 78 2046781 1 1138
Pittsburg Pirates 79 83 1657022 2 1080
Cincinnati Reds 76 86 1785788 3 1159
St. Louis Cardinals 73 89 2634014 4 1130
Chicago Cubs 68 94 2190308 5 1072

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Atlanta Braves 101 61 3464488 1 1196
Florida Marlins 92 70 2364387 2 1188
New York Mets 88 74 1766174 3 982
Montreal Expos 78 84 1497609 4 1138
Philadelphia Philies 68 94 1490638 5 1209

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Tagged:
1997 NLCS, 1997 NLDS1, 1997 NLDS2, 1997 World Series, Andres Galarraga, Atlanta Braves, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Chipper Jones, Craig Biggio, Craig Counsell, Curt Schilling, Darryl Kile, Deion Sanders, Denny Neagle, Edgar Renteria, Florida Marlins, Francisco Cordova, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Greg Maddux, J.T. Snow, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Blauser, Jeff Kent, Jim Leyland, John Smoltz, Kenny Lofton, Kevin Brown, Larry Walker, Livan Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez, Ricardo Rincon, Rod Beck, Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Scott Rolen, Shawn Estes, Tom Glavine, Tony Gwynn, Tony Womack, Wayne Huizenga

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