Best Trades In Atlanta Braves History: Otis Nixon

As our Wankers and Wonders series winds down, we are going to introduce another side by side series, and what better way to kick it off then to discuss a trade that had a major impact on a miracle season and that leads us to “Best Trades In Atlanta Braves History: Otis Nixon“.

Best Trades In Atlanta Braves History: Otis Nixon: What a Steal!

It was the offseason prior to the miracle 1991 season and the Braves had traded their beloved RFer Dale Murphy at the 1990 trade deadline. With 2 young studs in David Justice and Ron Gant penciled into 2/3 of the outfield, the Braves were in need of additional OFer to complement an aging Lonnie Smith. They seemed set going into spring to try out a myriad of misfits, but wound up making a trade 9 days before Opening Day. Here’s that trade in it’s full:

April 1, 1991: Otis Nixon, Traded by the Montreal Expos with Boi Rodriguez (minors) to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later and Jimmy Kremers. The Atlanta Braves sent Keith Morrison (minors) (June 3, 1991) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

I’ll spare you most of the details…

  • Boi Rodriguez never made it to the bigs and became a well known player in Mexico for a few years.
  • Jimmy Kremers only time in the bigs was the season prior where he wasn’t very good.
  • Keith Morrison never made it past AAA.

Otis came from the Expos with only 1 year left on his deal and a reputation for speed. At this point in his career, he had a lowish batting average, lowish OBP, and while he was fast, he was only successful stealing about 2/3 of the time. Looking at his playing time to begin the season, it was apparent that Bobby Cox planned to use him as a 4th outfielder, but injuries and good play altered that plan.

The Path to Playing Time

Lonnie Smith started the year on the DL and would miss the first month of the season. The first crack at left was given to Prime Time Deion Sanders, but after 3 games of poor performance, Deion took a seat and Otis received a start batting leadoff. He went 2-5 with 2 SB (and 2 CS) and started sparingly throughout the month of April, but May brought Nixon flowers.

In May, Otis was a Man on Fire as he scorched the earth with his speed, stealing 12 bases and batted .391 with a .463 OBP. Entering May, the team was 8-10, and when May had concluded, the team was 25-19 and went 17-9 for the month. Otis was the spark that began the streak.

While injuries had a lot to do with it as both Lonnie Smith and David Justice sat for significant time, 4 outfielders saw their fair share of playing time and Otis finished the year with a .371 OBP (the only stat that matters for Otis) with 72 stolen bases to 21 CS. He re-signed with the Braves on a 2 year deal the next offseason, then left for free agency in 1993, only to return to the Braves for one last hurrah for the 1999 season. Between ’91 & ’93, Otis carried a .356 OBP and stole 160 bases to 52 CS, and was worth 7 fWAR.

While it won’t go down in history as the most significant trade in Braves history, there’s no denying that Otis’s presence in 1991 was a spark.

Otis Nixon Highlights

The Catch

Otis Steals 6 bases in One Game

The Brawl

Otis Ties It

Thanks for reading on Best Trades in Atlanta Braves History: Otis Nixon. If you enjoyed this piece, take a look at Alan Cole’s breakdown of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Best Trades In Atlanta Braves History: Otis Nixon”

  1. It was a heck of a trade for us!

    Here’s what I wrote a week ago:

    It’s not that Otis couldn’t take a walk. His career batting line from 1983-1990 was a putrid .228/.302/.277, but an OBP 74 points higher than his batting average isn’t dreadful; dreadful is the fact that a guy as fast as he was had a .264 BABIP over that period. He only had 50 infield hits from 1988-1990; if he had hit the ball into the ground more and legged out more infield hits, his OBP would’ve looked perfectly respectable.

    That’s pretty much just what happened in 1991, when he finished with a batting average of .297, and an OBP exactly 74 points higher. BB-ref suggests that he had 73 infield hits in 1991, which is insane. His BABIP in 1991 was .327, which made a lot more sense.

    I think he may have had some good coaching which helped him leg out a few more singles, which helped him contribute easily 1-2 extra wins to the team by himself.

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