John Smoltz

John Smoltz

Infobox MLB player
name = John Smoltz

width = 178
caption = Smoltz, with the Braves in June 2007
team = Atlanta Braves
number = 29
position = Pitcher
birthdate = birth date and age|1967|5|15
birthplace = city-state|Warren|Michigan
bats = Right
throws = Right
debutdate = July 23
debutyear = 1988
debutteam = Atlanta Braves
statyear = 2008 season
stat1label = Win-Loss
stat1value = 210-147
stat2label = Saves
stat2value = 154
stat3label = Earned run average
stat3value = 3.26
stat4label = Strikeouts
stat4value = 3,011
teams =
*Atlanta Braves (by|1988-present)
awards =
*Cy Young Award winner (by|1996)
*8x All-Star selection (by|1989, by|1992, by|1993, by|1996, by|2002, by|2003, by|2005, by|2007)
*World Series champion in by|1995
*Led NL in wins in by|1996 and by|2006
*Led NL in saves in by|2002
*Led NL in strikeouts in by|1992 and by|1996

John Andrew Smoltz (born May 15, 1967 in city-state|Warren|Michigan) is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He is predominantly known as a starter and former Cy Young Award winner. However, before the by|2001 season, his 13th, he became a closer. In by|2002 he became only the second pitcher in history to have had both a 20-win season and a 50-save season (the other being Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley). He is the only pitcher in Major League history to top both 200 wins and 150 saves. He became the 16th member of the 3,000 strikeout club on April 22, by|2008 when he fanned Felipe Lopez of the Washington Nationals in the third inning in Atlanta.

Smoltz throws a four-seam fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 miles per hour, a strong, effective slider, and an 88-91 mph split-finger fastball that he uses as a strikeout pitch. He also mixes in a curveball and change-up on occasion, and in 1999, he began experimenting with both a knuckleball and a three-quarters delivery, though he rarely uses either in game situations today. [Neyer, Rob and Bill James, "The Neyer-James Guide to Pitchers". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN 0743261585]

Minor Leagues and trade to Atlanta

John Smoltz was an All-State baseball and basketball player at Waverly High School in Lansing, Michigan before the Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 22nd round of the by|1985 amateur draft. [Porter, David L. 2000. “John Smoltz" In The Biographical Dictionary of American Sports, 1440-1441. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group] He was the 574th selection of the draft. [ [ 1985 MLB Draft History - Round 22 ] ]

Smoltz played first for the Lakeland Flying Tigers minor league team and then moved on to the Glens Falls Tigers in 1987. [Porter, David L. 2000. “John Smoltz" In The Biographical Dictionary of American Sports, 1440-1441. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.] On August 12, by|1987, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. The 1987 Tigers were in a three-team race, chasing the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East division lead. In need of pitching help, Detroit sent their 20-year-old prospect to the Braves for the 36-year-old veteran Doyle Alexander.


Early years

Smoltz made his Major League debut on July 23, by|1988. He posted poor statistics in a dozen starts, but in by|1989, Smoltz blossomed. In 29 starts, he recorded a 12–11 record and 2.94 ERA while pitching 208 innings and making the All-Star team. Teammate Tom Glavine also had his first good year in 1989, raising optimism about the future of Atlanta's pitching staff.

Smoltz began the 1991 season with a 2–11 record. He began seeing a sports psychologist, after which he closed out the season on a 12–2 pace, [ [ Does sports psychology really work? - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine ] ] helping the Braves win a tight NL West race. His winning ways continued into the 1991 National League Championship Series. Smoltz won both his starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates, capped by a complete game shutout in the seventh game, propelling the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz had two no-decisions against the Minnesota Twins, with a 1.26 ERA. In the seventh and deciding game, he faced his former Detroit Tiger hero, Jack Morris. Both starters pitched shutout ball for seven innings, before Smoltz was removed from the 0–0 game in the eighth. Morris had eventually pitched a 10-inning complete game victory.

The next year, Smoltz won fifteen regular season games and was the MVP of the 1992 National League Championship Series, winning two games. He left the seventh game trailing, but ended up with a no-decision as the Braves mounted a dramatic ninth-inning comeback win. In the World Series that year, Smoltz started two of the six games in the series, with a no-decision in Game Two and a win with the Braves facing elimination in Game 5.

Before the by|1993 season, the Braves signed renowned control pitcher Greg Maddux, completing what many consider to be the most accomplished starting trio ever assembled on a single Major League team. Smoltz again won fifteen games, but suffered his first postseason loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS despite a 0.00 ERA.

Smoltz had a 6-10 record in the strike-shortened by|1994 season, and during the break, had bone chips removed from his elbow. Returning as the Braves' #3 starter, he posted a 12–7 record in by|1995. Smoltz had shaky postseason numbers, avoiding a decision despite a 6.60 ERA. But Smoltz and the Braves won their only World Series, thanks in great part to Maddux and Glavine, who had begun to overshadow Smoltz.

The following season, by|1996, was Smoltz's best year as a professional. He went 24–8 with a 2.94 ERA and 276 strikeouts, including winning a franchise record fourteen straight decisions. He won the National League Cy Young with 26 of the 28 first-place votes. Smoltz's effectiveness in by|1997 was only slightly less than his Cy Young season, but frugal run support limited him to a 15–12 record. Smoltz was also awarded a Silver Slugger Award for his batting.

Injuries and move to the bullpen

Smoltz continued to post excellent statistics in by|1998 and by|1999, but he was spending significant time on the disabled list and missed about a fourth of his starts. In 1999, Smoltz began experimenting with both a knuckleball and a three-quarters delivery, though he rarely uses either in game situations today. [Neyer, Rob and Bill James, "The Neyer-James Guide to Pichers". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN 0743261585]

He underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the by|2000 season, missing the entire year. When he was unable to perform effectively as a starter in by|2001, Smoltz made a transition to the bullpen, filling a void as Atlanta's closer down the stretch.

In by|2002, his first full season as a closer, Smoltz broke the National League saves record with 55 saves (the previous record was 53; Éric Gagné would equal Smoltz's new record a year later). Smoltz finished third in the Cy Young Award voting. Injuries limited Smoltz slightly in by|2003, but he still recorded 45 saves with a 1.12 ERA in 64.3 innings pitched. In by|2004, Smoltz finished with 44 saves, but was frustrated with his inability to make an impact as a closer during another Braves' postseason loss.

By this point, Smoltz was all that remained of the once-dominant Atlanta Braves' rotation of the 1990s. Tom Glavine had moved on to play for the New York Mets, a divisional rival, while Greg Maddux returned to his old team, the Chicago Cubs.

Return to the rotation

After three years as one of baseball's most dominating closers, the team's management agreed to return Smoltz to the starting rotation prior to the by|2005 season.

Smoltz's renewed career as a starter began inauspiciously. He allowed six earned runs in only 1 2/3 innings — matching the shortest starts of his career--as the Braves were blown out on Opening Day by the Florida Marlins. Poor run support contributed to an 0–3 start despite stronger pitching performances by Smoltz. After these initial difficulties, though, things fell into place. At the All-Star break, Smoltz was 9–5 with an ERA of 2.68 and was chosen for the 2005 NL All-Star team. Smoltz gave up a solo home run to Miguel Tejada in the second inning of the American League's 7–5 victory and received the loss. For his career, he is 1–2 in All-Star games, putting him in a tie for the most losses.

Smoltz finished by|2005 at 14–7, with a 3.06 ERA with 169 strikeouts while allowing less than one hit per inning. Smoltz had answered the critics who doubted would be able to reach the 200 inning plateau after three years in the bullpen. Nonetheless, Smoltz's increased workload caused him to wear down towards the end of the season.

Despite a sore shoulder, Smoltz pitched seven innings in the Braves' 7–1 win over the Houston Astros in Game Two of the 2005 NLDS. It was the only game the Braves would manage to win in the series against the eventual National League champions. The victory over Houston gave Smoltz a 13-4 record as a starter (15–4 overall) with a 2.65 ERA in the postseason. He currently has more career postseason wins than any other player in history. He is followed by Andy Pettitte (14), Tom Glavine (14), and Greg Maddux (11).

In by|2006, Smoltz finished the season with a record of 16–9, an earned run average of 3.49, and 211 strikeouts. He was tied for the National League lead in wins, and was third in strikeouts. The fact that the Braves bullpen blew six of Smoltz's leads in 2006 robbed him of a strong chance at a 20-win season.

On September 21, 2006, the Braves announced they had picked up Smoltz's $8 million contract option for the by|2007 season. On April 26, 2007 Smoltz agreed to a contract extension with the Braves. The extension includes a $14 million salary for the 2008 season, a $12 million vesting option for 2009 dependent on Smoltz's ability to pitch 200 innings in 2008, and a $12 or $13 million team option for 2010 dependent on Smoltz's ability to pitch 200 innings in 2009. [Citation
last = Bowman
first = Mark
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
title = Braves give Smoltz an extension: Veteran almost certain to finish legendary career in Atlanta
newspaper =
pages =
year = 2007
date = April 26, 2007
url =

by|2007 was a year of reunions and milestones for Smoltz. On May 9, he faced Greg Maddux for the first time since July 10, 1992. Smoltz earned a win in a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres; Maddux received a no-decision. On May 24, exactly eleven years to the day after recording his 100th win, Smoltz recorded his 200th win against Tom Glavine. [ [ The Official Site of The Atlanta Braves: News: Game Wrapup ] ] He faced Glavine 3 other times faring 3-1 overall against him. On June 27, Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux all recorded wins on the same day. On August 19, 2007, Smoltz set the new Atlanta Braves strikeout record by striking out Arizona Diamondbacks' Mark Reynolds. It was his 2,913th strikeout and he passed Phil Niekro on the Braves all-time list; striking out a season-high 12 in the game. [ [ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News ] ] He finished the year 14-8 with a 3.11 ERA and 197 strikeouts. The stalwart pitcher was the only holdover on the Braves' roster from their 1991 worst-to-first season until Glavine returned to the Braves after an absence of several years following the 2007 season.

On April 22, 2008, Smoltz became the 16th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 3,000 career strikeouts. He is one of four pitchers to strike out 3,000 batters for one team, joining Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.

On April 28, 2008, Smoltz was placed on the 15 day disabled list due to an inflamed right shoulder. [Citation
last = The Associated Press
first =
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
title = Smoltz Put on Disabled List With Sore Right Shoulder
newspaper = New York Times
pages =
year = 2008
date = April 30, 2008
url =

Return to relief

On May 1, 2008, Smoltz indicated that he intended to return to being a relief pitcher. After coming off the disabled list on June 2, 2008, he blew his first save opportunity in three years. Two days later, the Braves placed him back on the disabled list. John Smoltz underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on June 10, 2008. [ [ "Smoltz has surgery, future as pitcher uncertain"] , Sports Illustrated, June 10, 2008]

Personal life

John Andrew Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Warren, Michigan.

Smoltz met his wife at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta. Smoltz is a born-again Christian who has made Atlanta his home, and is Chairman of the Board at Alpharetta-based King's Ridge Christian School, and a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. He also has a home at Sea Island, a golf resort on the Georgia coast. Smoltz produced an automated campaign phone recording on behalf of the candidacy of Ralph E. Reed, Jr. for Lt. Governor of Georgia during the 2006 primary ( [|Gwinnett Post] )As a father of four children, he dedicated himself to the development of a new Christian school in the metropolitan Atlanta region. On February 9, 2007, Smoltz's agent, Lonnie Cooper, released a statement informing the public of the decision by Smoltz and his wife Dyan to divorce after 16 years of marriage. [Citation
last = Bowman
first = Mark
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
title = Smoltz, wife to end 16-year marriage
newspaper =
pages =
year = 2007
date = February 9, 2007
url =
] Smoltz is a good friend of professional golfer Tiger Woods. The two often golf together. [ [ Official Website for Tiger Woods ] ] John made his debut as a baseball commentator on August 16, 2008. He was the color-commentator along side Joe Simpson.


*Eight-time All-Star (1989, 1992–93, 1996, 2002–03, 2005, 2007)
*National League Championship Series MVP (1992)
*Led the National League in Strikeouts (1992, with 215)
*National League Cy Young Award winner (1996)
*Holds Braves record for most wins in a season (1996, with 24)
*Led the National League in wins (1996, with 24)
*Counting his wins in the playoffs and All-Star Game, John Smoltz amassed 29 wins in 1996. The only higher such total in the last 70 years is Denny McLain who had 31 in 1968.

*Holds Braves record for most strikeouts in a season (1996, with 276)
*Led the Major Leagues in strikeouts (1996, with 276)
*Led the National League in win percentage (1996)
*Silver Slugger Award Winner for Pitcher (1997)
*Finished 4th in National League Cy Young Award voting (1998)
*Led the Major Leagues in Win Percentage (1998)
*National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award winner (2002)
*Finished 8th in National League MVP voting (2002)
*Finished 3rd in National League Cy Young Award voting (2002)
*Holds Braves record for most saves in a career (154)
*Holds Braves record for most saves in a season (2002, with 55)
*Led the Major Leagues in saves (2002, with 55)
*Tied for National League lead in wins (2006, with 16)
*Only pitcher to compile 200 wins and 150 saves
*Holds Braves record for most strikeouts in a career (3,011)
*Given the Branch Rickey Award for exceptional community service (2007) [ [ ESPN - Smoltz wins Branch Rickey Award - MLB ] ]
*First pitcher in modern era (since 1900) to pitch exactly five shutout innings, strike out ten, and get the win (April 17, 2008 in the Braves' 8–0 win at Florida) [ [ Slugger's Tales from the Rails: Big night for Chipper, Smoltz, and the Braves ] ]
*3,000 strikeouts (April 22, 2008)

ee also

*3000 strikeout club
*Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
*List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
*List of Major League Baseball all-time saves leaders
*List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
*List of Major League Baseball wins champions
*List of Major League Baseball saves champions


External links

*Baseballstats |mlb=122477 |espn=2077 |br=s/smoltjo01 |fangraphs=115 |cube=s/john-smoltz

succession box
title = National League Strikeout Champion
years = by|1992
before = David Cone
Hideo Nomo
after = Jose Rijo
Curt Schilling
succession box
title = National League Championship Series MVP
years = by|1992
before = Steve Avery
after = Curt Schilling
succession box
title = National League Wins Champion
years = by|1996
(with Harang, Lowe, Penny, Webb & Zambrano)
before = Greg Maddux
Dontrelle Willis
after = Denny Neagle
Jake Peavy
succession box
title = National League Cy Young Award
years = by|1996
before = Greg Maddux
after = Pedro Martínez
succession box
title = National League Saves Champion
years = by|2002
before = Robb Nen
after = Éric Gagné
succession box
title = National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year
years = by|2002
before = Armando Benitez
after = Éric Gagné
succession box
title = Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
years = by|2005
before = Jim Thome
after = Trevor Hoffman

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