Introduction to Nos. 5-6

The next two players on the list are, in alphabetical order, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. It’s hard to rank them, which is odd since we’re talking two pitchers who played for the same team in the same era, but the shape of their contributions is different.

Through 1999, Glavine was clearly far ahead. But since then, Smoltz had a detour to the pen, Glavine left the team, and Smoltz came back for two strong years in the rotation. There’s also the matter of the postseason, which for these two is about an entire season’s worth. Glavine’s postseason results are actually not bad at all: he’s only 14-16, but his ERA is 3.42. But Smoltz’s ERA is 2.65 and his record 15-4. How much weight do we give that? And if it’s a lot, what about Glavine winning a World Series MVP award?

11 thoughts on “Introduction to Nos. 5-6”

  1. One way to look at it is head-to-head regular season results. From 1990-2002 (minus 2000, when Smoltz was out), I see it as Glavine 4, Smoltz 4, tied (more or less) 4. Of course, Glavine had a great year in 2000, finishing 2nd in the Cy voting, and had accomplished a bit more prior to 1990.

    Both had high-profile successes in the postseason, but Glavine had the highest-profile success of all. At the time he left, there’s no doubt in my mind that Glavine had an edge, significant but not unsurmountable.

    But Smoltz has surmounted it with his play over the last 4 years — he’s been great, and I now think he ranks ahead. I had Glavine 4 spots ahead of Smoltz originally, but I now think I was mistaken. A lot of it was due to our perceptions of Smoltz and Glavine in the early- to mid-90s.

    Because of their respective styles, it was generally thought that Smoltz was sometimes dominant but frustratingly inconsistent, while Glavine was getting the most out of his more modest gifts. In fact, their year-to-year results were closer than I would have thought, Glavine receiving more accolades due to award voting that stresses wins over other measures.

  2. I’m a simple man thinking simple thoughts.

    Years with 20 or more wins as an Atlanta pitcher: Smoltz 1, Glavine 5. Move it down to 16 or better and its Years Smoltz 3, Glavine 8.

    We can get fancier and look at ERA+ and innings, but you can look that up as well as I can. It is pretty clear that Glavine was more durable and prevented runs at least as well on an inning per inning basis. The only way Smoltz closes the gap is tremendous post-season credit (and Tommy was pretty good) or unreasonable amounts of “leverage” for his brief time in the pen.

    Glavine should rank above Smoltz.

  3. GOING PLACES: The negotiating rights to Kei Igawa, a 27-year-old Hanshin Tigers star, are expected to be made available to the highest-bidding major-league team via the posting system, just like Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Mets had scout Isao O’Jimi monitoring Igawa’s performance, but the southpaw – who is most often linked to the Braves in reports – had a rough outing control-wise. Igawa allowed two runs on five hits and six walks in six innings. The Japanese staff walked 10 batters in all.

    “He’s got a good changeup, man – nasty,” Reyes said. “And he can throw the ball. He throws 92, 93 mph.”

    And the fact he’s lefthanded is a big positive.

    “I favor lefthanders anywhere in the world,” said Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine, who attended yesterday’s game. “The first time I saw him four years ago he was a lot better than he is now, but he’s still good.”

  4. “I favor lefthanders anywhere in the world,” said Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine, who attended yesterday’s game. “The first time I saw him four years ago he was a lot better than he is now, but he’s still good.”

    Talk about a backhanded compliment. The numbers back that up, though.

  5. I think it’s close. Smoltz was always a more dominant pitcher, but let’s face it, he was always number 3. He rarely opened the playoffs. And I think the postseason is skewed by Glavine’s problems in recent years, but he pitched two of the best games in recent WS history (Game 6 1995 obviously and Game 1 in 1992).

  6. smoltz is ahead of glavine, it’s not even close. playoffs count, we’re not talking regular season only here.

  7. Either way, as soon as Smoltz retires he instantly becomes the best player to spend his entire (major league) career with the Braves. That’s a little surprising, but it’s a better compliment than you think — a lot of superstars, even the ones who are identified with a team, spend a few years at the end of their careers kickng around the league…Chipper will probably take it from him eventually, but congrats Smoltz while you’ve got it.

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