John Smoltz reached the 50-save plateau tonight. Brian Rodriguez points out:
smoltz got #50 by retiring one batter with the tying run on deck. this
after his bullpen-mates gave up 3 runs to give him the "save"
what a joke.
Smoltz threw 4 pitches to the eminent Ty Wigginton. The first two were folued off, the third a ball, and the last a called strike. There was a man on second at the time with the score 8-5 (add in the batter and the man on-deck and you get a save).
The Braves had been cruising 6-1until the top of the eighth when Tim Spooneybarger gave up an Edgardo Alfonso home run. The Braves scored two more in the bottom of the eighth, but again the Atlanta bullpen did its best to get Smoltz that all-important 50th save. Kevin Gryboski hit scrub Jason Phillips on an 0-1 pitch and then allowed Roger Cedeno to bunt his way on. He did manage to strike out Timo Perez who had only stuck out 33 times all year. So Rafael Furcal had to come to Smoltz' aid by throwing away a ground ball to short scoring 1 run (8-3). Mike Remlinger got into the spirit, giving up a double to Piazza scoring 2 (8-5) and then a deep fly ball to Alfonzo (I guess Andruw Jones forgot to drop it). Then it was time for Smoltz' exciting backwards-K.
So what's so great about 50 saves beside only 7 guys have done it (there may be eight soon with Eric Gagne at 48)? Here is the lucky 7:
1. Bobby Thigpen 57 1990 R
2t Trevor Hoffman 53 1998 R
2t Randy Myers 53 1993 L
4t Rod Beck 51 1998 R
4t Dennis Eckersley 51 1992 R
6t Mariano Rivera 50 2001 R
6t John Smoltz, 50 20002 R
How meaningful is a statistic whose all-time season leaders have all played within the last 13 seasons?
- Bobby Thigpen earned 21 win shares for his 57 saves in 1990. That was good for third on the Pale Hose. It's the all-time record, but he was only 5th in MVP and 4th in Cy Young. His win share total is the highest of the group.
- Hoffman's 20 win shares tied him for 5th on the NL champion Padres. He was second in Cy Young to Tom Glavine and seventh in MVP voting.
- Randy Myers was tied (with Sammy Sosa) for third in win shares on the 1993 Cubs with 15. Myers was eighth in Cy Young.
- Rod Beck's 51 saves got him 13 win shares, tying him for 7th on the Cubbies. He was not in the top ten for Cy Young nor MVP voting. He never record more than 10 again.
- Eckersley's fabulous performance on the pathetic 1992 A's is only worth 9 win shares though it garnered him an MVP and a Cy Young.
- Rivera earned 19 win shares tied with Clemens for sixth on the 2001 Yankees. He was not in the top-10 in MVP nor Cy Young voting.
- Smoltz though he may break the record is no longer considered a decent MVP candidate. With Schilling, Johnson, and Oswalt in the league, he has no shot at the Cy Young. The greatest concern that the Braves should have is that the numbers in August indicate that some of his pen-mates who have been fabulous so far may be breaking down. The settled down in September prior to tonight, but John Smoltz is to the Atlanta bullpen what George Bush is to the presidency. If his supporting caste cannnot hold up, the Braves again will earn an early exit in the playoffs.