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Lefthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing First Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 1980-1986
Stats With Braves: .272/.345/.422, 80 HR, 366 RBI, 319 RS
You’ve got to have some Chris Chamblisses if you want to win. Not that he was great, because he wasn’t, but he was solid. Every year teams miss out because they have a bad player when a solid one would put them over the top.
Chris was the #1 pick in the 1970 draft by the Indians. He was in the majors full time a year later and won the Rookie of the Year award. Unfortunately, the Indians at the time made the Braves of the time look like the Reds of the time, and early in 1974, after Chris failed to develop the power they expected they dealt him and Dick Tidrow and the remains of Cecil Upshaw to the Yankees for Fritz Peterson, Mike Kekich’s wife, and a grab bag of miscellaneous relievers.
Chambliss had two of the best years of his career for the Yankees in 1975-76 and capped them with a walkoff homer to win the 1976 ALCS against the Royals; he finished fifth in the MVP voting that year and made his only All-Star team. After that, he fell off a bit, plus the Yankees started to import free agents and he became less important to the team’s success. In an off year with the bat in 1978 he won the Gold Glove, then rebounded offensively in 1979. After the season, the Yankees (suddenly in need of a catcher) traded him (and Damaso Garcia) to the Blue Jays in a trade that brought over Rick Cerone. The Jays flipped him to the Braves in the offseason.
Chambliss’ hitting numbers in Atlanta are superficially a little better than his career standard, but that is a park illusion. In his first year as a Brave, he hit 18 homers, equalling his career high. In 1982 and 1983 he beat that with 20. It’s really only in the last year of that sequence when he hit over his head (.280/.366/.481). But he was a solid hitter, a guy who hit for a decent average with some walks, some doubles, some homers, and played good defense at first base.
He basically stopped hitting in 1984, though. In 1985, the Braves started playing Horner at first base most of the time, and Chambliss didn’t even get into the game much as a defensive replacement. In 1986, he played only 20 games at first, but had a good year as a pinch-hitter, hitting .311. After the season, he apparently retired, but came out of retirement for a valedictory at-bat with the Yankees in 1988.
Chambliss really should have gotten a managerial job by now, but if he did they owners would have to find someone else to interview before hiring the white guy.