Sunday, November 9, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #160 STEVE AVERY

THAT'S A PRETTY TERRIBLE CROP.


THE BRAVES RODE HIM LIKE A RENTED MULE.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Before the signing of #85 Greg Maddux, Steve Avery was very much a part of the Braves' Big 3 rotation at age 22. After the Maddux acquisition in the winter of 1992, Avery had to be content to be part of a Big 4. And what a quartet it was: Maddux, #87 Tom Glavine, #166 John Smoltz and Avery, the third overall pick of the '88 draft who had his best season in '93. An argument could be made for that being the greatest rotation in major-league history. Avery, probably because of a heavy workload in those early years, was never the same after an injury late in the season, so the Big 4 was short-lived. He pitched 11 years, going 96-83 with a 4.19 ERA for four teams.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Avery entered his 31st start of the season on Sept. 12, 1993, with a 16-4 record and a 2.82 ERA. He strained a muscle under his armpit (now referred to as an "oblique'') and never recovered. He lasted only four innings, and as a result of changing his mechanics to compensate for the discomfort, he later developed shoulder problems. 

DEFINING SEASON

  • The '93 season would be Avery's only All-Star appearance. He finished 18-6 with a career-low 2.94 ERA. It was also his third consecutive 200-plus inning season. Then there were the 77.2 postseason innings. He would never top 174 innings again.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Avery pitched 766.1 innings in his first four seasons, which began as a 20-year-old, and won 50 games. He would win only 46 more games.
  2. Pitching coach Leo Mazzone gets a lot of credit for the success of the Braves' pitching staffs of the '90s, but should he and Manager Bobby Cox get some of the blame for Avery's workload?  
  3. Thoroughly dominated the Pirates in the '91 NLCS, making two starts and pitching 16.2 shutout innings with the Braves winning both games 1-0. He was named NLCS MVP.
  4. After suffering the oblique injury in '93, Avery's record was 44-50.
  5. Signed with the Red Sox in winter '97 and was the No. 2 starter behind Pedro Martinez for two seasons, compiling a 16-14 record.

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