Is John Smoltz the greatest pitcher of all time?

I only ask because that is apparently what Mr. Mark Bowman of thinks. Or his editor. Or whoever it was that picked the headline for this article, entitled “Smoltz latest, greatest to reach 3,000 Ks.”


Do they even have editors over there? Because if whoever it was actually believes that John Smoltz is the greatest pitcher to ever reach 3,000 strikeouts, then they are the only one in the world who thinks that.

Even Smoltz’s own mother wouldn’t suggest that he is the greatest pitcher on this list:

Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Bert Blyleven, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson, Phil Niekro, Greg Maddux, Ferguson Jenkins, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz.

In fact, it may even be possible to argue that John Smoltz is actually the worst pitcher on that list, but he certainly isn’t the best one, because that is basically a list of the greatest pitchers of all time. So in no way whatsoever is Smoltz the “greatest” pitcher to join the list.

So what really is going on with that title? I think what has happened here is another example of how these people get so up to their neck in sports clich├ęs that they forget that what they are writing is actually English words that actually mean things, and simply apply these catchphrases where ever they please, much the same way Jackson Pollock applied paint to canvas, although probably with even less forethought.

I’m sure the person who came up with that headline probably just thought it had a nice “ring” to it, without even considering that it was actually words which would be making the insane claim that Smoltz was the greatest pitcher on the list above. But still, my gods. Learn to speak English – it’s your own native language (I hope).

Also, the subtitle of that article is pretty funny too – “Veteran no longer walking in shadows of Maddux, Glavine.” Um, okaaaay. Greg Maddux: – 349 wins, 4 Cy Youngs, 2 20-win seasons, so good he can be caught with your eyes closed. Tom Glavine: 303 wins, 2 Cy Youngs, 5 20-win seasons, hot baseball wife.

John Smoltz? 210 wins, 1 20-win season, 1 Cy Young. I think it is fair to say he is still chilling pretty deep in the shade of Maddux and Glavine. I mean Glavine has ninety-three more wins than Smoltz does. Even if you give him back the three years he was a closer, was he really going to average 31 wins per season?

Also, everyone is talking like Smoltz is a surefire Hall of Famer now, and he probably is, but if Smoltz makes the Hall for getting 3,000 strikeouts, than Bert Blyleven, who is number 5 on the list above, needs to have been inducted several years ago.

13 Responses to “Is John Smoltz the greatest pitcher of all time?”

  1. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…agree…she qualifies as a hot baseball wife.

  2. Oscar the Grouch says:


  3. Smoltz is a lock for the Hall, in a way Blyleven isn’t (though I think Blyleven deserves it).

    Like counting stats? 210 wins and 154 saves, in addition to those 3000 Ks. Smoltz is the only player with 200 W and 150 S.

    Like all-inclusive measures? His HOF Monitor score is 170, well above the ~100 threshold for “likely” HOFer. Prefer Jay Jaffe’s JAWS? Smoltz is a 83.0 through his previous start, a mark above the average HOF SP’s of 80.

    Consider that Smoltz has only put up ERAs above 4 in two seasons in his career: his 21 year old debut in 64 innings, and in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

    He has more postseason wins (15) than any other pitcher.

    Among Braves, he leads in career saves (154), saves in a season (55), wins in a season (24), and strikeouts (3006). And counting.

    He is also an exceptional batter (he won a Silver Slugger award) and is a scratch golfer.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, I\’m of the mind that Smoltz is/was/should be rememered as a better pitcher than Glavine. Smoltz has a much better K rate, a better walk rate, similar homerun rate, better ERA, better ratio of complete games per start, better WHIP, much better postseason record, so on and so forth. The only things that Glavine has Smoltz beat in are wins and innings pitched.

    Still doesn’t make this article any less ridiculous, though.

  5. Coley Ward says:

    I think Smoltz’s 3,000th K will actually help get Blyleven inducted. After all, you can’t argue in favor of Smoltz and base your argument on his high strikeout numbers, while continuing to ignore Blyleven’s K’s.

  6. Coley Ward says:

    Also, as somebody who writes articles for a living, I can tell you that reporters seldom write their own headlines. Usually, that job falls to the copy desk. That actually makes this poor word choice less forgivable. I mean, if you only got to write the headline (in this case seven words), wouldn’t you make sure that every word meant something? And that it was all correct?

  7. Yes, the headline was stupid, but I don’t like your tone. Smoltz is awesome! :P

    Go Braves!

  8. Boo to you on the Smoltz hating. But for real, He got his 3000 strikeout in the 6th fewest innings ever. He really missed 4 seasons from the rotation, since he only started 5 games in 2001 (he also saved 10 games). Not saying that he averages 25 a year if he wasn’t in the ‘pen, but he’d be in striking distance of it right now. And hell, this guy is still pitching out of his mind at 41 years. And if there’s a pitcher I want on the mound in a big game, it’d probably be John Smoltz. Needless to say, he’d be lucky to be in the top 15 all-time pitchers though. The headline was REALLY retarded.

  9. Thurgood says:

    Agree the headline is a bad one, but kind of nitpicky, no? produces a ton of copy, and a lot of quirky headlines make it through. Not excusing, just saying. Could be read as “latest player among the greatest players to hit 3,000 Ks.” That’s a stretch — again, I think you’re right that the headline is shaky — but it’s not worth getting undies in a bundle.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    Maybe it’s just an anal UmpBumper thing, but I completely agree with Nick. Remember, these are professional writers—we should hold them to a high standard, and they shouldn’t mind when we do. I like Smoltz as much as the next gal, but that headline just doesn’t make any sense.

    Just like this one.

    As you can see, Nick and I are cut from the same cloth on this matter.

  11. Finch,
    So… where was the Smoltz hating here? The point being made in the post is about the inaccuracy of the headline writing, which you admit by referring to it as “retarded.”
    I think Smoltz is a future hall of famer and a great pitcher, however the 4 seasons he missed from the rotation were due to injury. He was moved to the bullpen because it was believed that he would hold up better there after Tommy John surgery. You are acting as if he was somehow prevented from reaching 300 wins by something other than his own inability to make the starts. He is one of many great pitchers that didn’t reach 300 wins and it was because they were not durable enough to do so. That is why it is such a distinguishing accomplishment for a pitcher to reach the 300 mark.
    May I request that you start tagging posts, “anal UmpBumper thing?” The possibilities seem endless. BTW, I agree with Nick and you about it being an inaccurate headline. It was sloppy and there really isn’t any excuse for it. The people that write these headlines are the same ones that complain about bloggers not being “professional” writers.

  12. Sarah Green says:

    Melissa, see above. Your wish is my command!

  13. Best tag evah! Thanks for giving the people what they want. This may lead to some very disappointed google searching pervs.

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