Lonnie Smith‘s base-running gaffe did not cost the Braves Game 7 in 1991. If you’re going to assign blame, place it on Ron Gant and Sid Bream — a combined 0-for-8 that night — for their inability to get a runner home from third with less than 2 outs.
Lonnie had 2 hits that night, and if he catches heat for anything it should be his decision to bunt with Lemmer on 2nd and 1 out in the 5th inning. He reached base, moving Lemmer to third, but should’ve been trying to get the run home. That aside, Lonnie was one of the Braves’ better hitters in the series, homering three times with a .910 OPS, more than double Bream’s OPS in the Fall Classic.
Yet Bream is a folk hero in Atlanta. Lonnie, meanwhile, is seen as a goat. I don’t begrudge Sid’s status, but with the game on the line I’d take Lonnie every time.
In 5 years with the Braves, he hit .291 with a .380 OBP and .456 slugging percentage. Sure, his defense was shaky, but was he any worse than Justin Upton last year?
Next time you hear someone badmouthing Lonnie, remind them what he did for the Braves. Sure, he once threatened to kill JS, but that’s why pencils have erasers.