Actually, I think John Thomson is probably the Braves’ #3 starter, but they’ll stick Hampton here to keep from having three righthanders in a row all the time… Hampton was pretty good in 2003, basically average in 2004. He missed some starts with a knee injury (Hampton usually misses a couple of starts) which required offseason surgery, but is expected to be ready to start the season.
Hampton’s splits with the Braves are interesting. His pre-All Star numbers each season were awful, 4.85 in 2003 and 4.95 last season. But he was good in the second half in 2003 (2.95) and pretty good last year (3.65) Both seasons he’s been hittable by righthanders, but in 2003 he killed lefties, and last season he wasn’t nearly as effective, though still better than against righthanders.
Hampton only struck out 87 men in 172 1/3 IP last season; low strikeout rates have been a problem for the Braves in recent seasons but Hampton was by far the worst offender last year. Even Byrd, a guy who can’t throw the ball through wet tissue, struck out only eight fewer men, and he needed 58 fewer innings and walked only 19. Hampton walked 65. He’s verging on a 1:1 ratio, which I don’t think can possibly work, though Ramirez and Gryboski somehow get away with it. (Get used to this complaint; you’re going to be reading it a lot for the next couple of weeks.)