This past Wednesday, as most are already aware, Atlanta Braves legends Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were notified of their respective elections to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Both were virtual locks and waited only until their first year of eligibility to receive the honor.
Perhaps the only thing that could make this upcoming July’s induction ceremony even greater for the Braves franchise would be former longtime teammate John Smoltz joining them. However, due to a largely unrivaled level of competitiveness and love of the game, the starter-turned-closer-turned-starter hung around one year longer than his pitching peers and will therefore not appear on the ballot until 2015.
Whether or not a certain player is worthy of being voted in as a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer is more than a point of contention around baseball circles, but “Smoltzie” is a no-brainer. Starting with the fact that he managed to post a career 3.33 ERA while becoming the only pitcher in history to record 200 wins and 150 saves, the dominant right-hander prepared a 21-season resume that will more than stand the test of time.
Smoltz debuted in the bigs back in 1988 and had garnered the first of eight career All-Star selections by the next season. Over the next couple of decades, the only member of all 14 of the Braves’ division championships from 1991-2005 earned an absolutely incredible collection of accolades, including the 2002 NL Rolaids Relief Award, 1997 Silver Slugger, 1992 NLCS MVP and most impressively, the 1996 NL Cy Young Award.
In the process of filling his personal trophy case, Smoltz also took the time to climb up several MLB leaderboards. He currently sits in second place on the all-time postseason wins list with ,15 and is one of just 16 pitchers to eclipse 3,000 strikeouts. In addition, the former 22nd round draft pick is tied for the NL’s single-season saves record at 55.
Over the next calendar year, there will be plenty of debate as to who should be a member of the 2015 Hall-of-Fame class. Many are sure to pose an argument against Smoltz’s first-ballot candidacy, but those naive individuals are just looking for some misguided reason to ignore an easily understandable truth: Smoltz is one of the absolute best to ever step foot on a major league mound.