No. 37: Ron Reed

Ron Reed.JPGRighthanded Pitcher
Seasons With Braves: 1966-1975
Stats With Braves: 80-88, 3.74 ERA

So, would you rather have a serviceable starter or a dominant reliever? That may not be precisely fair, because there’s no evidence that the Braves ever even considered Reed for relief.

Reed was one of the last pre-draft players, signed out of Notre Dame in 1965 (after spending a couple of years playing forward in the NBA) and was in the majors in September of the next season. He pitched briefly for the big club in 1966 and 1967 and was up to stay in 1968. Reed’s 3.35 ERA that year looks superficially impressive, but that’s in a context of a 2.99 league average (the Year of the Pitcher, remember). His ERA was in the low twos in May and he made his only All-Star team that year, finishing 11-10.

In 1969, offense began to go up due to rules changes but Reed’s ERA didn’t go up as much as some; his 3.47 was 4 percent better than the league. He went 18-10 as the Braves’ #2 starter but got beaten to a pulp in the second game of the NLCS. 1970 was an off year, as it was for so many Braves: Reed obviously had some injuries and fell to 7-10, 4.41.

For the rest of Reed’s Braves career he was basically an average pitcher. He had an injury dip in 1974 but otherwise was average or a little above, but the team wasn’t very good so he wound up with records like 13-14, 11-15, and 10-11. He got off to a slow start in 1975 (4-5 but with a highish ERA) so the Braves (as usual) sold low, trading him to the Cardinals for two guys who had once been good, Elias Sosa and Ray Sadecki. He finished out the year with the Cards, who then traded him to the Phillies for a terrible outfielder named Mike Anderson.

I normally focus on the Braves career of the players in this series, but what happened in Philadelphia is fascinating. Someone in Philly knew something. Reed only made seven starts for the Phils in his first two seasons there and mostly was used in relief. If you want to see a bullpen by committee that worked, take a look at what the Phillies had from 1976-78: Reed combined with Tug McGraw and (until he was traded to the Braves in mid-78) Gene Garber for what must have been one of the best bullpens God ever made. Reed saved 14, 15, and 17 games in those three seasons while McGraw and Garber were picking up similar numbers. He was also pitching over 100 innings a year. That caught up to him in 1979-80, but he rebounded for three solid years of relief with the Phillies before finishing up with a strong year — at the age of 41 — with the White Sox.

Obviously, the Braves needed starting pitching in the early part of the seventies, but gosh, Reed’s statistics as a reliever are good.

Ron Reed Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

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14 thoughts on “No. 37: Ron Reed”

  1. Nice write up! I particularly enjoyed the treatment of Reed as a reliever. I can remember lots of Braves fans wondering in the early 70s why Reed had not developed. By the time he wound up in Philly no one In Atlanta seemed to care–but they should have.

  2. I think Otis Nixon should make the list for that one great catch against van Slyke and the Pirates. I’ll remember that as long as I live.

  3. I finally decided to contribute something more than devisivness and college football talk. Where can I send my player profile Mac? It might be a touch long.

  4. Nixon goes as far as he can gooo……… HE CAUGHT THE BALL! HE CAUGHT THE BALL! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!

    I’ll never forget that.

  5. I’ll never forget Andy Van Slyke’s reaction.

    By the way, does anyone think Ol’ Andy was an earlyish user of steroids? His body was pretty dang huge. (As was Ron Gant’s…)

  6. I’ll never forget Andy Van Slyke’s reaction.

    That’s a good one. My most prominent Van Slyke memory is Game 6 in the 1991 NLCS and his epic struggle against Alejandro Pena.

    Avery goes eight shutout and it’s 1-0 bottom nine. Gary Varsho is on third with two outs and Van Slyke is up. Pena throws fastball-fastball-fastball every pitch and Van Slyke keeps fouling them off. Finally Pena decides to mix it up with a 3-2 change up. This absolutely freezes Van Slyke who takes a called strike three. Tremendous pitch, Van Slyke was total frozen by it.

  7. true storey, I was into autograph collecting a few years back , on just specific former Atlanta Braves of note, career hits /Hr/W/Sv/ K and Ron has some pretty good numbers. I sent two cards ( I don’t push it) of course in a Bravos uniform. A month or so later what do I get. Two autograph cards of Mr Ron Reed, In a a phils uniform. The jerk stole my Bravos cards and subbed them for his phillies cards. Totally worthless to me as I am a BRAVES fan and could give a rats rear on the phils.
    true storey.

    I

  8. Those Phillie bullpens also featured Warren Brusstar, who was pretty darn good for a couple of years. They were right up there with the Angels bullpens of the early aughts.

  9. AVS did not take steriods – he was not that large. He was 6’2″ and only 190 lbs I believe. He wasn’t that muscular. Besides, I think if he had taken steriods, his career would have lasted longer – injuries ultimately did him in.

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