Atlanta Braves Continue Mend-Making Tour, Set to Retire John Smoltz’s Number

The Atlanta Braves announced earlier today that they will retire John Smoltz‘s number on June 8th and induct him into the Atlanta Braves’ Hall of Fame. The news was announced early this morning by Braves’ president, John Schuerholz. While the move comes as no surprise, it is nice to see the Braves proactively repair the relationship with one of the greatest pitchers to wear their uniform.

Smoltz pitched for the Braves for 20 seasons, spanning across 21 years. He missed the 2000 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He was acquired in a 1987 trade with the Detroit Tigers for Doyle Alexander. He made his MLB debut the next year and never left the Braves’ rotation, excluding injury, until 2009.

His departure is what clouded the Braves’ relationship with the future Hall of Famer. The Braves decided to let Smoltz walk before the 2009 season because of injury concerns and financial restraints. The Boston Red Sox signed him to a $5.5 million contract versus a $2 million contract that the Braves offered. Both contract offers were for more than $10 million, however the incentives that the Braves offered were more difficult to achieve.

This departure undoubtedly left a bad taste in the mouth of Smoltz, and Chipper Jones for that matter. This terrific handling came on the heels of a tumultuous departure of Tom Glavine as well. The Braves retired his number in 2010 and has since given him a position within the organization.

Smoltz will be the final piece of the “Big 3″ that carried the Braves to the success of the 14 consecutive division titles of the 1990s and 2000s. Greg Maddux and Glavine had their numbers retired previously.

Smoltz is undoubtedly deserving of the honor. Here is a look at his career numbers with the Braves:

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
ATL (20 yrs) 210 147 .588 3.26 708 466 53 16 154 3395.0 2979 1229 992 3011 127 1.170 8.0 3.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/16/2012.

He was an 8 time All Star, won the Cy Young in 1996, placed in the top 7 in the Cy Young 4 other times (top 4 two other times), and won the Silver Slugger award in 1997. Smoltz is the only pitcher to win more than 200 games and save 150 games. His postseason dominance is another example that shows his dominance. Look at his postseason stats:

Year Age Tm Lg Series Rslt W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
14 Yrs (25 Series) 15 4 .789 2.67 41 27 2 1 4 209.0 172 62 17 67 199 1.144 8.6 2.97
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/16/2012.

While the move to induct Smoltz into the Atlanta Braves’ Hall of Fame and retire his number is a no-brainer, it is nice that the Braves seem to be trying to repair the relationship with Smoltz. Here is a quote from the press release:

“John has contributed so much to Atlanta Braves history,” said Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz. “Inducting him into our Hall of Fame and making sure no one else will ever wear his number 29, are the most meaningful and significant ways we can honor John.”

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