Throughout the 90s and some of the 00s, the Atlanta Braves had one of the best rotations in baseball. Whether you said Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or John Smoltz first, the other two names quickly rolled off the tongue. So considering the Braves retired the numbers of Maddux and Glavine, it only makes sense to complete the trifecta and retire John Smoltz’s no. 29.
John Smoltz has a special place in baseball history. He is the only pitcher to have 200 wins and 150 saves in his career. Not even Dennis Eckersley can say that. Smoltz pitched 20 seasons with the Braves before he went to the Boston Red Sox, in what was a failed experiment. Smoltz ended up finishing his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he went 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts.
There are plenty of accolades John Smoltz can brag about in his fantastic 21-year career. He won his only Cy Young award in 1996, in which he won 24 games and led the National League in strikeouts with 276. Smoltz also won a Silver Slugger award in 1997, where his on-base percentage was .307, not bad for a pitcher. Lastly, Smoltz made 8 National League All-Star teams, six as a starting pitcher and two as a reliever.
Outside of his Cy Young winning season in 1996, Smoltz’s best season might have been as a reliever in 2002. Smoltz set a National League record with 55 saves – which was equaled by Eric Gagne in the following year – and had fantastic 1.033 WHIP.
Personally, John Smoltz is one of my favorite pitchers from the “Steroid ERA”. He was fun to watch, and did everything a good pitcher is supposed to do. He made hitters earn their way on base – and if they didn’t – he struck you out.
Great move by the Braves in retiring Smoltz’s number 29. He definitely deserves to be enshrined with his other two partners in crime. The ceremony will be held on June 8th.