LEFT BEHIND NO. 13 Mike Stanton


Mike Stanton.jpgLefthanded Relief Pitcher
Seasons with Braves: 1989-95
Career Stats with Braves: 18-21, ERA 4.01, 289.7 IP, 55 SV, 223 SO

Mike Stanton was a hardthrowing lefthanded minor league centerfielder whom the Braves took a look at and said “Pitcher.” Good call, as Mike’s 17-year career attest. Guy’s still pitching, at age 51, I think.

Mike looked like the Braves closer of the future in 1993. He was virtually unhittable in the first half, with his ridiculously high leg kick. He had 27 saves in 1993, virtually all before the All-star Game. [I don’t have the splits for that year, but maybe Mac can supply.] (Saves by month, from Retrosheet: 8, 10, 3, 6, 0, 0. He really doesn’t seem to have been overused, just 28 IP before July.) But all of a sudden he got very, very hittable, just due to overuse, and his ERA ballooned up to 4-plus. Greg McMichael came in and closed for rest of the season. Mike was then relegated to setting up for McMichael; when McMichael dropped to setup man, Mike dropped to 7th inning guy/LOOGY. Eventually, he was sent off to Boston for 3 warm buckets of spit. He went on to better things, and he will go down as a very solid, workhorse career reliever. He’s thrown over 1000 innings of relief. He won’t catch Jesse Orosco, but he’s getting close.

No, he can’t make the Gang of 44. His Atlanta stats don’t justify it. But he remains 7th all-time on the Atlanta saves chart: almost exactly half his saves came in one half season.

Note by Mac: Stanton’s had a remarkable career. He’s third on the all-time appearances list now and the active leader, assuming Orosco and Franco stay retired. He pitched okay this season and will probably pass the latter in late April or early May, and if he can put together two more seasons like 2006 actually will pass Orosco as the all-time appearance king.

At the same time, I agreed with his dumping at the time and still do; he was terrible in 1995.

Mike Stanton Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

11 thoughts on “LEFT BEHIND NO. 13 Mike Stanton”

  1. I had huge hopes for him as our closer in 90, after saving 7 late in 89 and looking good at it. It all came crashing down in late April/may 1990 as his arm blew out, and thus we had a bunch of shmoes again on the dish in 90 trying for the saves.
    Yeah I liked Mike as well, and to think we traded with Stanton Mr AAA Matt Murray with him to Boston yikes for wait for it , keep waiting yup keep waiting ,,,,,,no one. Not one of JS fine moments. I am assuming Stanton was a jerk in the clubhouse, because at the time the two slugs we got were noone then as well. And If I remember Murray was on the verge of winning 20 at Richmond. ( He was an older AAA guy, with Zero upside, ) and he later proved me correct as he did nothing.
    Anyway I still love JS, but for what ever reason he loved to get rid of some young arms that I did like
    Merker/Stanton/Greene, meanwhile he would keep troting out the likes of olson, davis

  2. I hated to see Stanton leave, even though I thought at the time he was probably washed up.

    It would not surprise me to see him pitch in 07 and be effective. Since he made his first appearance at the end of the 1980s, Stanton has at outside chance at being one of those rare players to play in 4 different decades (Franco has achieved this and Smoltz has a pretty decent shot). A very solid career indeed.

  3. I don’t think Smoltz “has a pretty decent shot.” He’ll choose to hang ’em up sooner rather than later.

  4. A few more names for the left behind list:

    Buzz Capra – He had an incredible first year with Atlanta in 1974. He went 16-8 with a league leading 2.28 ERA. After the 74 season he was never the same and he retired from baseball after only 7 major league seasons (only two when he pitched over 100 innings as a starter) – I wonder if Tommy John surgery would have made a difference for him if it was available in the mid 70’s.

    Rowland Office – He had two pretty good years with Atlanta, but it seemed like he got worse as he got more playing time. His best year was 1995 – .290 /.337 /.361. He had some speed and I remember that he at least appeared to be a decent outfielder (not that I knew much about it when I was 9 or 10 years old).

    Brett Butler – when Butler started to hit the Braves decided to trade him away in one of the worst trades in their history. (Butler was the infamous PTBNL in a deal that sent the immortal Len Barker to Atlanta for the small price of Butler, Brook Jacoby, Rick Behenna, and $150K). He completed a 17 year career (one full and two partial seasons with Atlanta) with a .290 avg, a .377 OBP. , 558 SB’s and a .992 fielding percent (but he had a poor throwing arm). This has to go down as one of the worst trades ever made. Below is a quote from theBaseballPage.com:

    “Braves’ owner Ted Turner, who was a huge fan of Butler’s tried to negate this deal a few day after it was announced, and tried to remove Butler from the swap, to no avail. Cleveland manager Pat Corrales said of the trade:

    “When [GM] Phil Seghi first mentioned to me that Butler was coming here, I didn’t believe Atlanta would be willing to give him up.” “

  5. Maybe Smoltz will decide to retire, but most players would love to have the choice. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should be able to pitch in a variety of roles for a number of years.

  6. Stanton’s most memorable moments are postseason moments. He was the lefty killer in the 1991 World Series and shut the Twins down over and over again. I remember him coming into a game (6?) with no outs, bases loaded, and striking out Hrbek and then getting a double play ball. His postseason record was the best in major league history for a reliever as of the end of +/- 1993. Something like 1 ER in 25 innings pitched.

  7. Smoltz would have to play 4 more years to get the “four decade” title. It’s possible, but I would be surprised. I figure he’ll be around next year and *maybe* one or two more.

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