The last time the Atlanta Braves won the National League East was 2005. That was nearly eight years ago. Feels strange to read that, doesn't it? Win 14 straight division titles, then miss out on eight in a row. To put the Braves' dominance in the 1990s and 2000s in even greater perspective, imagine the Braves win the division this season. If they were to repeat the streak, the next time Atlanta wouldn't be hanging a pennant in left field would be 2027.
Where will you be in 2027?
Anyway, the 2005 team wouldn't have won the division without the help of the 18 rookies employed on the roster at one point or another. Some were big names like Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson. Others, like Frank Brooks and Matt Childers, seemed to disappear overnight. Let's take a look at where those Baby Braves ended up in the baseball world.
2005 season: 115 games, .305/.359/.435, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 1.0 WAR
Betemit was one of the more successful rookies of the bunch, playing in 799 big league games since originally debuting in 2001 when he was all of 19 years old. Despite once being touted as a promising prospect, Betemit never really turned into more than a bench bat. He's currently in the Orioles' farm system.
2005 season: 37.2 IP, 3.11 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 7.88 K/9, 4.06 BB/9, 0.5 WAR
Boyer has bounced around since his first few seasons with Atlanta, and he last pitched in Triple-A with the Royals. Despite always having good stuff, he could never quite put up big enough strikeout and walk ratios to secure a late-inning role. He last pitched in the Majors with regularity in 2010 with the Diamondbacks.
If you don't remember Brooks, it's probably because he recorded one out in his one and only appearance in 2005. That one appearance with Atlanta would be his final one in the Major Leagues, and he hasn't pitched professionally since 2007. If they were ever going to make a Field of Dreams 2...
Childers was used only slightly more than Brooks, tossing four innings over three appearances with a 4.50 ERA and an ugly walk rate. He's out of pro baseball now. No one is going to make a movie about him.
2005 season: 44.1 IP, 5.28 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, -0.4 WAR
Colon didn't pitch real well for Atlanta and was quickly shipped off to Detroit. He's still in pro baseball at the age of 34, pitching last season with the (surprise!) Royals. Roman actually pitched 13 innings in Gwinnett earlier this season. His career is just about done.
2005 season: 87.2 IP, 4.93 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 6.37 K/9, 5.03 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
Another guy who was once touted as a promising prospect, Davies was never quite able to harness his control at the highest level and has since bounced around since debuting with the Braves. He pitched decently with the Royals from 2008 to 2011 as a starter, though his career ERA is 5.59 over the course of 144 starts. He's now serving as organizational filler with the Twins Triple-A affiliate.
2005 season: 5 IP, 12.60 ERA, 10.02 FIP, 5.40 K/9, 9.00 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
Devine was supposed to be the original Craig Kimbrel in Atlanta. He threw wicked stuff on the mound, but didn't have much control. If he could just limit his walks, he'd be one of the top relievers in the game. What could go wrong? That never happened, of course, and he would eventually need about seven operations on his elbow and shoulder. Devine's time in Atlanta is most remembered for giving up the walk-off homer to Chris Burke in Game 5 of the NLDS. I'm not sure he ever fully recovered from that mentally.
2005 season: 70 games, .300/.336/.549, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 3.0 WAR
2005 season: 5.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 7.94 K/9, 4.76 BB/9, 0.1 WAR
Chuck went on to have a few decent seasons as a starter in Atlanta after 2005, though his role was limited to bullpen duty in his debut season. Looking back on it, James reminds me a lot of what Paul Maholm does now. He has decent stuff from the left side, and when he was locating his pitches, he was really tough to beat. Where it got ugly was when he started leaving his fastball up in the zone. He spent last season pitching for the Mets Double-A team and is currently a free agent.
2005 season: 87 games, .241/.334/.397, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 1.5 WAR
2005 season: 128 games, .267/.348/.426, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 2.5 WAR
Langerhans had a big year in 2005. Sadly, things didn't get much better after his rookie year. He'd go on to serve as a pretty solid platoon option for the Braves in '05 and '06 before struggling to play regularly with the Nationals, Mariners and Angels. He's now 34 years old and with the Blue Jays' Triple-A team.
2005 season: 8 IP, 5.63 ERA, 5.27 FIP, 5.63 K/9, 5.63 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
Lerew was another promising bullpen arm from the 2005 team that just didn't pan out. He did not pitch well in limited duty from 2005 to 2007, spending most of his time in the minors. A couple of injuries held him back, as well. Anthony hasn't pitched professionally since 2010 with (you guess it) the Royals.
2005 season: 24 games, .140/.227/.211, 0 HR, 4 RBI, -1.1 WAR
Marte came up as a highly-touted third base prospect. Some believed he could replace Chipper Jones at the hot corner one day. That obviously didn't happen, and he was quickly shipped off to Boston as the key piece in the Edgar Renteria trade. Marte has never been able to figure out the higher levels of baseball, appearing in 302 big league games since his debut. He last appeared in MLB back in 2010 with the Indians.
2005 season: 14 IP, 5.79 ERA, 1.38 FIP, 14.14 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
McBride was a first round pick and moved quickly through the Braves' farm system. He never really stuck, pitching about 70 innings out of the bullpen in '05 and '06. He has been out of baseball since 2008.
2005 season: 59 games, .278/.345/.400, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0.5 WAR
Love you, Mac. Don't ever leave.
2005 season: 112 games, .300/.331/.387, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 7 SB, 0.3 WAR
After making his debut in '05, Orr spent three seasons with the Braves as a utility guy. While he had some speed and was a decent fielder, Orr just never hit enough to justify making him a regular starter. He's since bounced around with the Nationals and Phillies.
2005 season: 18 games, .179/.200/.231, -0.5 WAR
I didn't even realize Pena was still playing until a few weeks ago. Now 32 years old, Pena has spent the better part of the past decade serving as a backup catcher in Atlanta, Kansas City and now Detroit. The guy seems to love doing what he does -- start a game or two each week while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and will likely end up as one of those 15-year journeyman catchers we never remember. He's also pretty great on Twitter.
Vasquez appeared in just seven games as a Baby Brave in 2005, and his final appearance would be his last in Major League Baseball. He spent some time with the Pirates and Rangers and most recently pitched in the Mexican League back in 2010.
So there you have it. The 2005 Baby Braves. Of the 18 rookies, one turned out to be a star (McCann), one turned out to be a solid regular contributor (Johnson), a few (Francoeur, Pena, Langerhans) experienced a couple of decent seasons along the way but are now backups, and the rest were all out of baseball sooner rather than later.
Here's hoping things work out a little better for all of the young guys in Atlanta now.