15 ATLANTA BRAVES

April 14, 1986

When Dale Murphy was called for jury duty this off-season, the National League home run champ was nervous about the questions he might be asked during the selection process. "I was worried the lawyers would ask me what went wrong with the Braves," says Murphy. "I was all set to take the Fifth Amendment." As it was, Murphy was impaneled for a Cabbage Patch Doll licensing case.

Here are a few closing remarks about Atlanta's 66-96 season: The Braves finished fifth in the NL West with the worst ERA (4.19), worst home record and second-worst fielding percentage in the league.

When the season ended, the Braves were broken. So Ted Turner did what he does best. He spent lots of money on new personnel—not players this time, but management. He hired former Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner and lured Blue Jay manager Bobby Cox home to Georgia to run the front office. "A tremendous step," says Rick Mahler, the only starter with an ERA under 3.50. "It was more important than going out and getting two superstars."

"As players, we kind of lost the spirit last year. Chuck will keep it in us," says Murphy, who also has a warm spot in his heart for Cox. "He saved my career." It was Cox who moved Murphy out from behind the plate in 1978.

Cox has already made a few changes—he traded for a starting catcher, Ozzie Virgil, and reinforced the bench with Ted Simmons and Billy Sample. Cox did nothing to speed up the second-slowest team in the league, but he may have set a record for the fastest swallowing of $3.45 million in salaries. Gone from the pitching staff are Len Barker, Pascual Perez, Terry Forster and Rick Camp. Free-agent signee David Palmer joins Mahler, Zane Smith and Joe Johnson in the rotation. The good news is that Bruce Sutter, coming off shoulder surgery and a bad year, gave up only one run this spring.

Meanwhile, Cox and Tanner seemed to be getting on quite splendidly; some days they're on the phone to each other at 5:30 a.m. "Who knows," says Tanner, "five years from now, maybe we'll switch jobs."

The best news of all may have come over the winter. Turner told his new management, "Jeez, guys, I'm busy this year, buying M-G-M and all. You run the team."

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PLAYER KEY
STATS

P.

THE ELIAS ANALYST:

OZZIE VIRGIL
.246, 19 HRs, 55 RBIs

C

Has only four hits in 38 career at bats in Atlanta Stadium, no home runs.

BOB HORNER
.267, 27 HRs, 89 RBIs

1B

Handled 950 chances at 1B without an error in '85; at 3B, his fielding pct. was .887.

GLENN HUBBARD
.232, 5 HRs, 39 RBIs

2B

Career 5 for 53 against pitchers named Smith: Bryn, Dave, Lee and Mike.

RAFAEL RAMIREZ
.248, 5 HRs, 58 RBIs

SS

Led NL shortstops in errors (32) for the 5th straight year-the longest streak in NL history.

KEN OBERKFELL
.272, 3 HRs, 35 RBIs

3B

Hit only .181 in LIP situations, but has a career LIP average of .287.

TERRY HARPER
.264, 17 HRs, 72 RBIs

LF

One of only two players in either league to hit three extra-inning home runs in '85.

DALE MURPHY
.300, 37 HRs, 111 RBIs

CF

Led the NL in runs (118), walks (90) and strike-

CLAUDELL WASHINGTON
.276, 15 HRs, 14 SBs

RF

The only player to hit for the cycle against Gooden. That's in a career, not in one game.

RICK MAHLER
17-15, 3.48 ERA

SP

Total of 79 extra-base hits allowed was 2nd highest in NL last season.

ZANE SMITH
9-10, 3.80 ERA

SP

Has allowed only one HR per 33.4 innings, 2nd lowest career rate in NL.

DAVID PALMER
7-10, 3.71 ERA

SP

Set career-high marks in '85 for games started, innings pitched and strikeouts.

JOE JOHNSON
4-4, 4.10 ERA

SP

Believe it or not, he is the 1st Joe Johnson ever to play in the majors.

BRUCE SUTTER
23 saves, 4.48 ERA

RP

Allowed 13 homers, tying Mark Davis for highest total among NL relievers.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)