John Smoltz is so old that Joan Rivers should be roasting HIM!
Alright, alright…that was just a lame attempt to get that coveted Monday morning “Comedy Central Joan Rivers Roast” traffic through Google.
But seriously, roast aside, the weekend didn't really kicked turn out the way I would have hoped.
I went and saw “GI Joe” (which sucked WAY more than I anticipated it would), the Red Sox decided to let the Yankees have their way with them, and then, Smoltz was pretty much left for dead by Boston.
I’ve always been a Smoltz fan and was singing his praises big time when it was announced that he was going to suit up for the Sox and try and help lead them to their third World Series in six years.
It was here at The Hall where, in March, I thought he was going to have a good enough season to raise him from 16th (he entered the season at 3011) on the all-time strikeout list to 13th…leapfrogging Bob Gibson (3117), Pedro Martinez (3117) and Curt Schilling (3116) in the process!
And now it appears as though this might be the end.
Allow me sum up my current feelings for you.
THAT is how I am feeling about Smoltz right now.
Was he reliable?
A Hall of Famer?
Do any sort of online search and you’ll find PLENTY of people who are lauding Smoltz as a first ballot guy.
But is he?
Was he that good or did he just reap the benefits of hanging out alongside Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and the Braves dynasty (and yes, it was a dynasty) of the 90s?
Let’s break it down.
Right off the bat, Smoltz’s career record of 212-152 isn’t the most spectacular. But when you add in the four seasons where he came in from the bullpen (three seasons where you could consider him the most dominant closer in the National League), 212 wins AND 154 saves looks marvelous.
You could argue that without that stint as the Braves closer and a season lost to injury, we might be looking at a guy with 255 to 270 wins...a total which would put him in the same conversion (winswise) as Hall of Famers Jim Palmer (268), Bob Feller (266) and Bob Gibson (251).
As it is, Baseball-Reference has his four best comparisons as Kevin Brown, Curt Schilling, Bob Welch and Orel Hershiser and come on, Schilling aside, no one is mentioning any of them in the same discussion as the Hall of Fame.
But let’s not judge Smoltz on his win-loss record 154 saves (he is, along with Dennis Eckersley, the only pitcher to top both 200 wins and 150 saves), there is more to the man.
Last season, Smoltz became only the 16th member of the 3000 strikeout club and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that only one Hall eligible pitcher (Bert Blyleven) north of the 3000 K mark is NOT in the Hall of Fame.
However, unlike Blyleven, Smoltz has brought home a Cy Young Award (he finished in the top five three times), was an eight time All-Star AND was absolutely spectacular in the post-season.
And that is what separates the men from the boys…Smoltz’s post-season achievements.
Say what you want to about the afore mentioned Schilling and his post-season accolades, Smoltz was close to unstoppable for the Braves going a combined 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 40 post-season games.
Most impressive is his 7-0 record and a 2.52 ERA after toeing the rubber 15 times during Divisional Series action.
In Atlanta’s 1995 Championship run, Smoltz, ironically, had his worst showing by being unable to win a game and having a 6.60 ERA (15.43 in the World Series) in just three appearances.
The next year though, Smoltz amassed 29 total victories if you add up his regular season, All-Star Game and post season wins. The only modern day hurler to best that total is Denny McLain and his 32 wins in 1968.
So back to the question at hand…is John Smoltz a Hall of Famer, much less a first ballot guy?
There is something to be said for a pitcher that can go out there, put up 157 wins, a 3.35 ERA, miss an entire season (2000) due to Tommy John surgery and come back with a completely different mindset and delivery.
Smoltz changed up his legacy by establishing a National League record for saves (55 in 2002), and, in the process, becoming only the second pitcher in history (Eckersley, again, is the other) to have had both a 20 win and a 50 save season.
Admittedly, I’m all over the map when it comes to Hall of Fame endorsements. I’ve questioned the candidacy of Bert Blyleven, yet I’ve applauded both Orel Hershiser and David Cone.
But as far as Smoltz is concerned…I’m sold. I just wish he was on that same 2014 ballot alongside Maddux and Glavine.
It would only seem fitting, wouldn’t it?
Oh, to the eight of you that made it this far thanks to your Google search…welcome to The Hall of Very Good! And yes…I feel terrible that I contributed to the massive $56 million haul “GI Joe” took in this weekend.