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.