The addition of veteran leadership from Terry Pendleton (the '91 NL MVP), Sid Bream and Rafael Belliard helped carry the Braves from worst-to-first, but it was the core of blossoming young hurlers that propelled the team. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery formed the cornerstone of a beginning dynasty.
2 of 9V.J. Lovero/SI
The offseason signings of Jack Morris and Chili Davis gave the Twins the frontline starter and switch-hitting power bat they needed to turn the franchise around quickly. Those two, AL Rookie of the Year Chuck Knoblauch and Kirby Puckett carried the Twins to their second World Series title in an epic matchup of worst-to-first teams.
3 of 9John Iacono/SI
Keyed by attitude and sporting mullets, the '93 Phillies relied on a veteran cast of colorful characters to reverse their fortunes. Tough, scrappy players like Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Curt Schilling led the way as the Phils toppled the favored Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and moved on to the World Series.
4 of 9AP
Two offseason trades invigorated what was already a solid Giants lineup. San Francisco acquired future MVP Jeff Kent from the Indians and first baseman J.T. Snow from the Angels. The Giants also bolstered their pitching staff with a deadline deal, acquiring Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez and Danny Darwin from the White Sox on their way to nailing down an NL West crown.
5 of 9V.J. Lovero/SI
After watching the Giants go worst-to-first in their division the year before, the Padres added Kevin Brown to an already strong pitching rotation. Brown went 18-7 in '98 and posted a 2.38 ERA. Runs were never at a premium in a lineup with Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Greg Vaughn and Steve Finley, and the Padres ran away in the West, winning the division by 9.5 games.
6 of 9V.J. Lovero/SI
The expansion Diamondbacks lost 97 games in their inaugural season of 1998, but the signing of star left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson in the offseason dramatically altered their fortunes. Johnson went on to win the first of four straight Cy Young awards in 1999 and the Diamondbacks finished with 100 victories. They captured the NL West title by 14 games but fell to the Mets in the Division Series.
7 of 9Robert Beck/SI
The Cubs slumped to a 96-loss season in 2006, but rebounded in 2007 behind new manager Lou Piniella and a roster bolstered by $300 million worth of new additions, like Alfonso Soriano and pitcher Ted Lilly. The Cubs were stuck at 22-31 in June before catching fire and winning the NL Central in the last week of the season.
8 of 9Robert Beck/SI, John Biever/SI, Damian Strohmeyer/SI
The D'backs lost 111 games in 2004 and even though they improved to 76-86 two years later, they still finished tied for last in the NL West. But in 2007, despite a young roster and an offense that was outscored for the season, the D'backs pitched their way to 90 wins and the NL West crown. Arizona was swept out of the NLCS by the Rockies.
9 of 9Illustration by Mark Bagley, Karl Story and Alex Sinclair, Al Tielemans/SI
2007 was not much different than every other season in the Rays' brief history. They lost 101 games, their third 100-loss season, and finished in last place in the AL East for the ninth time in their 10 seasons. But in 2008, with a cast of young stars led by rookie third baseman Evan Longoria, the Rays jumped to an early lead in the AL East and held it almost every day the rest of the way. After winning the division, the Rays advanced to their first World Series by eliminating the White Sox in the Division Series and the defending world champion Red Sox in the ALCS.<br><br>Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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