In 2009 John Smoltz spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox but that season was largely insignificant to the career that will one day see him enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Smoltz made his Major League Debut in 1988 with the Atlanta Braves and would go on to spend twenty seasons with the franchise and establish himself as one of the best pitchers of his era.
Smoltz won 213 career games, 210 of those coming with the Braves. He appeared in 8 All-Star Games, won an NLCS MVP Award (1992), and has a World Series ring (1995). In 1996 he won the National League Cy Young Award. Smoltz finished the season with a 24-8 record and led the league in innings pitched (253.7) and strikeouts (276). His win total was also tops in the NL.
In addition to being one of the better starting pitchers during his time Smoltz also transitioned to the bullpen and for a three-year period was one of the more dominant closers in baseball. From 2002-2004 Smoltz registered 144 saves, including 55 in 2002 which broke the previous National League record of 53. In total he recorded 154 saves as a member of the Braves and holds the franchise record.
Smoltz wasn’t just good in the regular season. He posted a career record of 15-4 with an ERA of 2.67 in the postseason and in 209 innings struck out 199 batters, the Major League record for strikeouts in the playoffs.
In 2008 Smoltz became the 16th pitcher to strikeout 3,000 batters and just the 4th to record them with one team. His 3,011 in an Atlanta uniform is the most in team history. He’s the only pitcher in Major League history with 200+ wins and 150+ saves.
For good measure Smoltz added a Silver Slugger Award to his resume in 1997.
While in Atlanta Smoltz teamed up with Gregg Maddux and Tom Glavine in one of the best pitching rotations in recent history. Maddux is a lock for the Hall of Fame. Glavine will be there as well. Smoltz will have his day in Cooperstown also. But before that happens he will be inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame and have his #29 retired during a ceremony prior to the game on June 8th against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Atlanta Braves to retire John Smoltz’s uniform #29