Thursday, December 11, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #166 JOHN SMOLTZ

WILL THE HALL CALL NEXT MONTH?


DID A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Right-hander John Smoltz did a little of everything during his 21-year career. He reached the 3,000-strikeout plateau, became the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves, won a Cy Young Award and made a successful recovery from Tommy John surgery after missing all of 2000. He also had a signature performance that ironically took place during a historic defeat. Add it up and he was one of the game's top hurlers on a staff for the ages. Smoltz, a career Brave and eight-time All-Star, finished 213-155 with a 3.33 ERA and 125 ERA+.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Against most any other pitcher, Smoltz would've been good enough on Oct. 27, 1991, to pitch his team to a World Series championship. Unfortunately for him, he matched up against the Twins' Jack Morris in Game 7. Smoltz pitched 7.1 scoreless, striking out four and allowing six hits, good for a no-decision. He also got a no-decision in Game 4 and finished the Series with a 1.26 ERA over 14.1 innings.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Smoltz went 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA and 276 strikeouts to win the '96 NL Cy Young Award. He led the majors in wins and strikeouts and the NL in innings pitched with 253.2.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. The Braves acquired Smoltz in '87 from the Tigers, who were battling for the AL East title and needed a major-league-ready arm. Doyle Alexander, whom the Tigers received, went 9-0 and helped Detroit win the division.
  2. After winning 157 games in Atlanta, Smoltz hurt his elbow in '99 and returned two years later to the bullpen to limit his innings.
  3. He saved 10 games in '01 and then led the majors with 55 the next season. He'd save 89 more games in the next two seasons before returning the rotation in '05.
  4. Against the Astros in Game 3 of the '97 ALDS, Smoltz tossed a complete-game three-hitter with 11 strikeouts as the Braves moved on to the NLCS.
  5. His 55 saves in his first full season as closer established an NL record.

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