John Smoltz: Hall of Famer?
John Smoltz made his worst start of the season last night in the Yankees 13-6 win over the Red Sox.
Smoltz allowed eight runs, nine hits, four walks and two homers in 3 1/3 innings. His ERA skyrocketed to 8.33.
It was a chance for Smoltz to step up his game pitching against the Yankees. Instead he showed once again he is not the Smoltz that was 30-17 combined over the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
In the last two seasons he is a combined 5-5 with less than two months left in the 2009 season.
He may still be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame someday but the longer he pitches like he has this season the more difficult it will be for him to get the votes he needs to be inducted.
His 8.33 ERA is 16th on the Red Sox this season. He has given up eight homers in 40 innings while the Red Sox ace Josh Beckett has given up 10 homers in 143 innings.
Smoltz is 2-5 this season with both wins coming against the last place Royals and Orioles. His pitching had nothing to do with the Orioles win since he gave up five runs in six innings and the Red Sox eked out a 6-5 win.
Three of his five losses have been to the last place Nationals, Athletics and Orioles.
Before last night Smoltz had walked only five batters in his seven previous starts but walked four in the loss to the Yankees.
Nobody expected Smoltz to pitch as well as he did before his surgery but his ERA is the highest of the season. He has allowed at least five runs in six of his eight starts. He has also given up 59 hits in 40 innings.
This is only his second season to give up more hits than innings pitched with the last time being in 1988 when he gave up 74 hits in 64 innings.
The Red Sox are in a pennant race and can’t keep sending Smoltz to the mound to be hammered. He has posted a 12.50 ERA against lefthanded hitters this season.
He has a 21.60 ERA during August and an ERA of 11.25 since the All Star game. Opposing hitters are hitting .343 against Smoltz with lefthanded hitters hitting .444. Righthanded hitters are only hitting .232 against Smoltz.
Smoltz only won six games during his four years as a closer for the Braves. If he had started those four years he probably would have won 15-20 games a season. Using the lower number of 15 that would give him a total of 272 wins.
He may have improved his Hall of Fame chances by being so dominating as a closer when he saved 154 games. His 212 wins as of today would by themselves never get him into the Hall of Fame. However when his 154 saves are combined with the 212 wins he becomes a Hall of Fame candidate.
Smoltz is 16th on the alltime strikeouts list with 3044 strikeouts. The only player with more strikeouts than Smoltz that is eligible for the Hall of Fame and not voted in is Bert Blyleven who is fifth with 3701 strikeouts.
Smoltz was drafted in the 1985 amateur draft by the Tigers as the 574th overall pick in the 22nd round. He was picked ahead of Mark Grace who wasn’t drafted by the Cubs till the 24th round as their 622nd overall pick.
He won the 1996 NL Cy Young Award when he posted a 24-8 record. He was chosen for eight NL All Star teams. His record in 40 postseason games was 15-4 with 27 of those games being starts.
Baseball-reference.com compares his stats to those of Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Don Drysdale and Catfish Hunter.
It may be time for Smoltz to decide after this season whether he should retire at the age of 42 or rest over the winter and hope his arm will be completely recovered by spring training.
Or he could walk away from the game and wait the five years he needs and see what the Hall of Fame voters think of his career.
Smoltz belongs in the Hall of Fame in my book but my opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is if the Hall of Fame voters decide to cast a vote for Smoltz whenever he is eligible to be inducted.