What’s going on lately…
It’s been an eventful week for the Atlanta Braves, with no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. With that said, here’s a few of the things that have been on my mind as I sit high up in the writer’s box at Turner Field.
Braves must consider life after Smoltz
It’s hard to think of the Atlanta Braves without thinking of John Smoltz. Since the initial run of success began in 1991, no other player has been as easily identifiable as a symbol of winning and determination as the right-hander who wears number 29.
Yet, with the announcement that Smoltz will undergo season ending surgery as soon as next week, the Braves and their fans will have to start giving some serious thought to life after John Smoltz. While he does not yet know what his future holds, a decision will likely be coming sooner than later.
Acquired in a deadline deal in late 1987 in exchange for Doyle Alexander, Smoltz debuted with eight strong innings and came away with a victory against the New York Mets on July 24, 1988. Just like that a Hall of Fame career was born.
If this is the end, and the final pitch has been thrown by the veteran right-hander from Warren, Michigan, then we have all been witness to something pretty special. While the legacy of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux both have the nice tidy 300-win club attached, Smoltz has cobbled together a different brand of Hall of Fame worthiness. Eight All-Star games, one Cy Young, 200 wins, 154 saves and 3,000 strikeouts later, Smoltz has put together a career unlike any other hurler in the history of the game.
Chipper belts 400th career homer, average still over .400
Thursday saw the long awaited 400th homer in the stellar career of Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. Driving a 2-0 pitch from Ricky Nolasco into the right field seats to become just the third switch-hitter to reach the 400 home run plateau.
How about a little stat department fun for the Chipper Jones Cooperstown contingent, shall we? Only Frankie Frisch holds a higher average among switch-hitters with at least 6,000 plate appearances (.316). Jones is sporting a .310 career mark heading into play on Saturday. But which side of the plate does he hit better from, you might ask. Chipper likes to keep it even from each side, with a .311 mark from the right side and a steady .310 average from the left side of the dish. Pretty impressive.
I wasn’t able to find a full set of splits from Mickey Mantle’s career, but I can tell you that from 1956 (when he won the Triple Crown) to 1968, Mantle played in 1748 games and hit .333 from the right and .281 from the left. Usually there is a disparity (Eddie Murray – .292 left and .276 right), but Chipper is almost dead even. Even Pete Rose had a 13 point differencial (.306 left and .293 righty). Maybe it doesn’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but it means alot to know you can count on the same track record one way or the other.
There will be plenty more times to talk about the stats of Chipper Jones as the season wears on, but one that has caught the most attention this season is his .421 average through Friday’s game against the Phillies. If you ask Chipper when it’s time to start talking about hitting.400, you’ll get a simple one word reply, “September.”
I like it… and he’s right.
Till next time,