John Smoltz

The heart and soul of the Braves pitched as well at age 40 as he ever has, and there’s no sign that he won’t do the same at age 41. You’ve probably seen that Bill James’ projection system had Smoltz winning the most games in the league in 2008. Simply put, this is a combination of a good offensive team and a pitcher who isn’t slowing down at all as he ages. The most important statistic for projecting a pitcher going forward is strikeouts, and Smoltz’s strikeout rate in 2007 was excellent, fifth in the league. His control is better than it’s ever been. The combination means that he led the league in strikeout/walk ratio. He’s as good of a bet as anyone to win the Cy Young Award.

Over the three seasons since returning to the rotation, he’s pitched almost as well as he did from 1995-1998. The terrible, terrible relief pitching of Reitsma and Kolb likely cost him five wins, at least, over the first two seasons of the period, and possibly a Cy Young Award in 2005… Did not have a complete game in 2007, the first time that’s happened in a full season as a starter.

Won his 200th game last year, and passed Niekro as the franchise strikeout leader. No chance to move up the franchise lists this year except in a negative category: he’s two losses behind Vic Willis for fourth. 97th in major league history in wins, at a spot where he could move up in a hurry; he could easily be about 70th at the end of the year. I think he needs over 240 to guarantee a Hall of Fame plaque. Commence voicing other opinions on this now.

John Smoltz Statistics –

105 thoughts on “John Smoltz”

  1. Here’s another opinion. One more year like last one guarantees him a spot in the Hall.

  2. Smoltz is great. I hope his health holds up. I don’t think he’s going to win another Cy Young with Peavy and Webb in the league, but you never know.

  3. Has anyone worked harder to keep such a level of excellence than John Smoltz?

    I think we can safely assume that his HOF plaque will show him in a Braves Cap!

  4. I hope his health holds up.

    Bingo. That’s my thought with every pitch he throws. He’s my favorite.

  5. He’s one of the best starters in the league even at his age. For three years he was one of the best closers in baseball, and I think the best in the NL. He’s fourth among active players in sacrifice bunts. As he has lost some of his durability and athleticism, he’s become a better pitcher.

    If John Smoltz hasn’t already done enough to get into the Hall, then the Hall is a sham.

  6. He’s fourth among active players in sacrifice bunts.

    First time I’ve seen that used as a rationale for HoF induction. Awesome.

    It should be noted that Juan Pierre is fourth among active players in stolen bases.

  7. The fact that Smoltzie is still going at it with excellence at this age, makes me feel a little younger….

  8. Wikipedia informs that Vizquel and Glavine are 1 and 2 on the list. Can’t find (quickly) who’s third.

  9. Smoltz looked like he started hurting at the end of the year, but I think that’s more because he was the go to guy to give us innings and a win. If the back end of the rotation can give us more than five innings and not overwork the bullpen again, I think he should be alright.

  10. Smoltz is an absolute anchor… knowing that he pretty much has to win every time he takes the mound (and often stop a mini losing streak from the 3-5 starters, heh heh).

    I told Alex R. that I’d post a picture of my son in his best Christmas present (Braves jersey, of course) — and I’m finally getting around to it:

  11. Smoltz seems like a hall lock if you look at the context of his career: The success of the Braves starting rotation as a whole, his bad ass playoff performances, his longevity as a top notch pitcher, his versatility in becoming a shutdown closer and then returning to Cy Young candidacy level as a starter.

    Smoltz is one of the types of players for whom the statistics don’t truly tell you everything you need to know about the guy, though even the statistics tell you he’s probably a hall of famer anyway.

  12. Vizquel, Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz.

    Barry Bonds has the second most stolen bases by an active player, which goes to show how much he’s changed as a player this decade.

  13. Considering that Jack Morris is garnering a bunch of Hall votes based on one single postseason game, I think it’s safe to assume that Smoltz’s postseason record will push him into the hall if his years as a starter and closer don’t. I’m thinking second ballot, easily.

  14. I threw the SAC bunt thing in for fun. And yes, I think it’s really cool that 2, 3, and 4 on the active list are “The Big Three”

  15. Not when it’s your pitcher, even good hitting pitchers like Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz.

  16. “Bunts don’t need to be destroyed per se, just bunts by guys that don’t know how to do it.”

    Bingo, bad thing is this describes our whole team outside of Smoltz

  17. a few years ago, when he was still a reliever, he pitched in a game againt the cubs in the playoffs looking like his arm was literally going to fall off. i told my wife and some friends that i doubted we’d ever see him pitch again. way to go, john…………thx for proving me wrong.

  18. Huddy’s also not such a bad hitter. Sometimes the guy oughta swing away.

    Mac, your guess is better than mine about how many wins Smoltz would need to get into the HoF. I think if he retired tomorrow he’d be a strong borderline candidate, because so many sportswriters would point out the 200 wins, 150 saves stat, and the incredible postseason record. At 250 no one can possibly object, at 240 it’s probably almost as likely, and at 230 he’s probably still got even odds to make it. Of course, I tend to think that he already deserves to make it in based on what he’s already done, but I’m a homer.

    Also, I strongly support your decision in the last thread to reread Hank Aaron’s book. (Assuming you mean I Had a Hammer, not the one he wrote with Furman Bisher.) All through my childhood, it was my second-favorite book to Lord of the Rings.

  19. Smoltz has been and continues to be an inspiration….I think that when he gets his 3000th strikeout, he will clinch a place in Cooperstown.

    Smoltz has a chance to be one of the few players to appear in 4 decades and possibly the first (does anybody know?) to do it with one club.

    I hope that Smoltz pitches beyond 2010 and always with the Braves….

  20. I believe Minnie Minoso is the only other player to appear in four different decades with the same team, although it was a stunt and he did play for other teams.

    Luke Appling almost made it — he played exclusively for the White Sox from 1930-1950. I noticed that none other than our own J Leeds sponsors his BBRef page. I met Appling, too — his son lived up the street from me in Alpharetta. On July 4, 1983 I ran the Peachtree Road Race for the first time, then Luke Appling came to our backyard cookout where, serving as a heavily supervised 17-year-old bartender, I mixed him a vodka and tonic. That was a pretty good day.

  21. Thanks sansho1–Smoltz would be in good company if he does it….

    Luke Appling…pretty cool…

  22. I saw Luke Appling hit a home run when he was in his 70’s at an old timers game. Only time I’ve shed a tear at a ballpark.

  23. The man- I told this story years ago on here but worth repeating- night game against the mets in the 93 season- get there early and am wandering around buying peanuts. I see Smoltz finishing up throwing and he is about to toss the ball into the stands. There is a mob of fans gathered in front of him begging for the ball. I am standing alone,maybe 15 or so rows up from the crowd. I start waving my hands for the ball. Smolts sees me, smiles, and tosses it right to me.

    Thanks John.

  24. spike,

    I remember seeing that in a 50 Greatest Home Runs tape made in 1992.

    Duane Kuiper’s only home run and Rick Camp’s 1984 shot against the Mets were on the tape too. Heh heh.

  25. The only game I’ve ever been to at Turner Field was another Smoltz start link Unfortunately Durazo had his number that day. Klesko’s homer was a monster.

    And, typically, the player I really came to see (Andruw) took a quiet 0 for 4.

  26. Smoltz should already be a HOF lock. Of course, so should Bert Blyleven.

    According to Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe, Smolzie is now above average among all HOF pitchers. Presumably, voters will have a hard time comparing him to Eck and not casting that vote.

  27. I dropped Smoltz from my keeper list for my fantasy team last Spring because I was worried about his arm. I used my savings to draft – wait for it – Jason Schmidt.

    Serves me right…

  28. I guess Andy Marte fell prey to TINSTAAST (there is no such thing as a sure thing), Rob Neyer’s variation on TINSTAAPP (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect).

    Of course, Schuerholz has seemed to have an ESP-like sense of when to jettison a highly touted prospect at peak value. But the fact is that #1 prospects in baseball tend to turn out to be pretty good players a lot more frequently than not. Memorable flameouts like Andy Marte are rarer, but they sting a lot worse for the teams who give up talent to get them.

  29. Bobby Cox was on XM radio talking about a two year deal for Rafeal Soriano, who apparently becomes a free agent after the 2008 season.

  30. Given the three years as the Braves’ closer, I think he’s in the HOF now- the only really comparable guy is the enshrined Dennis Eckersley, and Smoltz has outperformed the Eck.

    Glad to hear it, Dan. Soriano should be a fine pitcher to build the pen around.

  31. That would be a heck of a game, if he struck out 25 in a game. That might even be a record. Whatever day it is, if it is a home game I will be there.

  32. That would be a heck of a game, if he struck out 25 in a game.

    Sorta ruins the joke when you spell it out like that, Kenny.

    A 2-year deal for Soriano sounds like something I could get behind.

  33. By way of comparison, we’ll be paying Brian McCann $16.3 million over that same stretch.

    (1) Molina is a much better defensive catcher than McCann.

    (2) McCann’s was well below market.

    I don’t think Molina’s is all that unreasonable in this market—it’s the market that’s unreasonable.

  34. I can get behind almost anything that prevents us from having another season or seasons with no real closer.

  35. The only surprise there is that he isn’t projected first. If he gets stuck in the Pirates’ organization, that will be a shame.

  36. Stu,

    Remember, he lowered his draft status around 13 or 14 spots in that UGA game we went to, so for him to be back up as high as 2 is a major accomplishment.

  37. It will be interested to see what happens with Tim Beckham as many say he may be the best Georgia prospect in a long time, which is saying a lot. I know he dominated the summer wood bat leagues this year. I saw a little of him in the high school playoffs.

  38. Well, you thought Price lowered his stock, too, and he signed roughly the highest amateur baseball contract ever. That’s how we do it at Vanderbilt.

  39. As a fun reminder, Dix, BA’s scouting report on Price:

    Background: Price shattered most of Vanderbilt’s pitching records, going 11-1, 2.63 and leading NCAA Division I with 194 strikeouts in 133 innings as a junior. The Baseball America College Player of the Year and the Golden Spikes award winner signed an $8.5 million big league contract with a backloaded $5.6 million bonus.

    Strengths: Price is the complete package with outstanding athleticism, stuff and makeup. His fastball has great late life and armside run while sitting in the low 90s and touching 95 mph. He throws a plus-plus slider that reaches 87 mph and has a late, sharp bite. His changeup is also a plus pitch with excellent deception and fade. He uses the entire strike zone and is adept at adding or subtracting velocity with all of his pitches.

    Weaknesses: There’s no knock on Price. He still needs to make the adjustment to pro ball, but Tampa Bay doesn’t see him having any difficulties after he fared well in the SEC and with Team USA. He spent two weeks in instructional league before returning to school to work toward his sociology degree, but he should move rapidly through the system.

    The Future: He has legitimate No. 1 stuff, with a deeper repertoire and more polish than Scott Kazmir. Price likely will break into pro ball at high Class A or Double-A. He could reach Tampa before the end of the season.

  40. Price had probably the most outstanding year I remember an SEC pitcher having, especially when you consider all the pressure and hype of being the number one prospect. It was just a shame to see it in the way it did.

    We keep saying it, but if Tampa can find a way to actually keep some of this talent they could legitimately contend with the Yankees and Red Sox. It would obviously be difficult to do so over the long haul without continous depth in the minors or a major increase in payroll.

  41. Price should be the #1 prospect because he was in the SEC, which is the best football conference in the universe.

  42. I hear Price ran a 4.3 40, of course what would you expect with the SEC speed. Our region has naturally faster individuals. We are just like Kenya!

  43. This makes 18 consecutive posts—in less than 45 minutes—of just the three of us chatting. I’m sorry, everyone else. (9 Stu, 5 Kenny, 4 Dix…I think I see who the real problem is.)

  44. This post has no content. It merely serves as an enabling vehicle to allow Stu to post again without violating blog etiquette by triple posting.

  45. It is stunning how long a “defensive catcher” can hangon. I think the only thing better would be being a LOOGY. You could have no velocity and barely any break on your pitchs and still have a 10+ year career. I plan on making my son throw left-handed ASAP!!

  46. Rather them get Bedard than Santana. Considering how reluctant Minaya has shown himself to be to trade prospects, I’d be a little surprised if they get either. I wonder if Mets blogs are like the exact opposite of Braves Journal with the posters begging the GM to trade away minor leaguers.

  47. I’d rather they get Santana, because that would mean they improved their rotation at the expense of their lineup and defense (Reyes).

  48. all reports are now saying that Reyes wont be apart of the Santana package. I dont see them getting either..

  49. I can’t imagine any team going for the Mets offer. All of their prospects like Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez are far from sure things

  50. They can have him. I’ll be laughing when he’s on the DL for 3 months with a hyperextended left ear.

  51. What does that do to the supposed 2-year deal with Soriano? I know it won’t be that high, because we can have him for a maximum of $3.4 million in 2008 via arbitration, but Soriano has to be considered likely to be worth more than Dotel over the next 2 seasons.

  52. Well, reading over DOB’s blog, the 2-year rumor is not true. Bobby was making reference to the 2-year deal Soriano signed last offseason.

  53. Oh well. Even if Rafael Soriano is gone after 2008 the Braves will still have Mike Gonzalez, and when healthy he’s better than Soriano.

  54. the Braves will still have Mike Gonzalez, and when healthy he’s better than Soriano.

    I’d say that’s arguable.

    Age — 30
    IP — 172.7
    ERA+ — 189
    WHIP — 1.23
    K/BB — 2.39
    K/9 — 10.23
    HR/9 — 0.47

    Age — 28
    IP — 243
    ERA+ — 147
    WHIP — 1.03
    K/BB — 3.63
    K/9 — 9.15
    HR/9 — 1.04

    Considering that Gonzalez is coming off of major elbow surgery that Soriano may never have to have, my money would be on Soriano going forward.

    I’d love to keep both, but there’s no way that will happen if they’re both as good as they can be.

  55. Didn’t Soriano have TJ surgery a few years back? Either way, I’d agree with Stu that Soriano is a better bet going forward than Gonzalez.

  56. Did he? I’d forgotten. I’d also forgotten about the liner off his head…but I like my closers crazy, anyway.

  57. Yeah, I just double-checked. He had TJ surgery in 04. But he’s proven himself since coming back, while Gonzalez hasn’t.

  58. I think Smoltz is in the HoF as of now. The level of respect for him as a player is very high. It’s weird—non-Braves fans don’t like Chipper, but they like Smoltz. (I’ve always wondered if it had anything to do with Chipper being a Southerner & Smoltz being a Yankee. Dunno.)

    As has been mentioned, when you add up the wins, the saves, the post-season numbers, and the memorable games (2 WS games he actually lost 1-0), I get the feeling that Smoltz will be elected within a couple years of his candidacy.

    (An Irony: Our best post-season pitcher didn’t win a game in the ’95 WS, or any game of that post-season.)

    Love the Luke Appling story.

    Just got back from the NAMM show, a music- products convention that I call “The Island of Lost Rock Stars.” (Along with dealers who sell the gear, recording artists of all eras attend the show to endorse products, check out the new music-related technology, etc.)

    Fave sightings from ’08: John Doe from X & Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. I was about 5 feet from Wilson. He looked pretty good actually, but a little shaky. He was being assisted on either side & he had that wide-eyed look of 1,000 acid trips. Had a bit of a glow about him, actually. It was weird.

  59. Also:

    Gonzalez: 2.29 career ERA and 9 homeruns allowed. Converted 29 of 29 last save attempts. 3 career blown saves.

    Soriano: 2.93 career ERA and 28 homeruns allowed. 13 career saves and 9 career blown saves.

  60. If Mike Gonzalez is the same guy after surgery, that’d be great. But there’s no guarantee, especially in his first season back.

  61. #2

    seat painter…le tme echo the entire rest of Bravesjournal and say that if Smoltz retired TODAY, he would be & should be a guaranteed first ballot HOF lock. The man is amazing, arguably, the most popular Brave of all time (after maybe Dale Murphy & Hank Aaron).

    Plus – besides what Smoltzie has done reinventing himself so many times and doing so much as both a starter & a reliever, not to mention that Smoltzie is beloved by the Baseball press and writers. He’s got an electric personality to go along with that electric stuff (the 2 times I have met him – super nice, great big smile).



    Awesome pic – so cute! It won’t be Frenchy, maybe Chipper, Smoltzie or vintage Dale Murphy, but a little Braves jersey for “Jake R.” is in order.

    As I may have mentioned, the Braves onezie he has is still too big on him. It’s 3-6 months and he’s just at 2 months and he’s skinny, so it’s going to take another month or two for him to fit it (just in time for Baseball season?).


    Stu – it still cracks me up how much you love “Tony LaRussa’s Hateable Face” as a name for your fantasy team. That may even top my sister-in-law’s Fantasy Football team she had last year in her league she did out in San Francisco (where she lives) – “Beat By a Girl”.


    I am actually torn on Santana vs. Bedard to the Mets.

    On one hand, Santana is the best pitcher in Baseball. Bedard is really, really good, but they may not have to trade Jose Reyes to get him.

    Santana is the best – no one in our rotation or any other starter in the NL is as good (Brandon Webb, Smoltzie and Peavy are close but Johann would be the best NL starter) so either way you slice it, it hurts the Braves for the Mets to get a legit ace.

    If somehow Omar Minaya can’t pull either trade off, then the Mets head into the Spring still having a great offense, and a really mediocre rotation.


    Stu – I agree with that and I also agree that I would rathe rkeep both.

    Once Gonzo is healthy, I think he will be really good again.

  62. Whatever happened to Smoltz’s knuckleball? Pitch was unhittable in the context of his other stuff.

    Speaking of acid trips, is the legend true that Doc Ellis threw a perfect game on LSD?

    I think the old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” applies to the Phillies. Hence, we need to beat them while they beat the Mets for us.

  63. hankonly,

    I think Smoltz messes around with a knuckleball and doesn’t really have it as a regular pitch. He was talking about using it after his 2000 surgery because it would be easier on his arm.

    I believe that legend is true. Ellis said he did it and there isn’t anything that disproves it. I think.

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