‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Dennis Eckersley VS John Smoltz
If you were to ask my to name two of my favorite pitchers from the last 30 years, the names of Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz would certainly be in the mix.
And these two dominant starting pitchers turned closers have quite a bit in common when it comes to dominance on the field.
And in my eyes, but are extremely undervalued even with all of the attention and fame that has come their way.
But, let’s get back to my comment about how similar these two guys are.
Take a look at the numbers:
I told you that they had some things in common…
The standout numbers for me:
* Eck’s career complete games is unreal, but it also speaks to the style of ball played when he was a starter
* In four seasons as a closer, Smoltz averaged 38.5 saves per year, he then returned back to the starting lineup and went 14-7, 16-9, and 14-8 in his next three seasons
* incredibly close ERA and WHIP
* Smoltz dominates in strikeouts despite pitching just 180 more innings
* Smoltz crushes in K’s per 9 innings despite that being Eck’s signature with Oakland
* Very surprised to see Eck have a higher K:Walk ratio
So, who is the better pitcher? Who has accomplished more?
Well, according to BaseballReference.com, Eck wins the battle as they have him ranked as the 28th best pitcher of all-time, with Smoltz taking the 31st spot. They also have Orel Hershiser in 26th so take that for what it is worth…
But when I compare these two very talented pitchers, I have to give the slight edge to Eckersley – and it is by a very thin margin; the thinnest since I have introduced this new head-to-head format.
My reasons? Well, for me it came down to longevity at both roles – and long-lasting dominance at both as well. For Eck, he does not get the credit he deserves for being a solid starting pitcher. He started for the first 12 years of his career, averaging 12 wins a year on some lousy teams. Smoltz may have averaged more wins per year, but he played on the team of the decade and had a huge offense to rely on for run support. Eckersley’s 3.25 K:Walk ratio is well above the mendoza-line as well (3.0:1.0) and is surprisingly higher than that of Smoltz, who was known as the power pitcher from the Braves dynasty of the 1990’s.
Lastly, Dennis Eckserlsey is considered to be one of the finest closers of all-time. When naming them, he is always present – and usually sets in the Top 3 without much argument. With Smoltz, for as dominant as he was with the Braves, there was a lot of competition for the top spot among starting pitcher during his prime. Would he get a vote or two? Sure, but so would a dozen other guys.
So, when you compare the careers of Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz, how do you rank them? Is one far better than the other in your eyes or do you, too, think that the match-up is close like I do??
I’m eager to get your thoughts on this one! Let me hear it.