The best Atlanta Braves RHP: so how do you value pitching?

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Tim Hudson with former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tim Hudson with former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

How do you measure the better pitcher? In the rich history of the Atlanta Braves, this is actually an interesting question.

Longevity? Dependability?  Performance?  Intangibles?  The Atlanta Braves — through their history — have enjoyed a lot of excellent pitchers over their nearly 150 years of existence, and thus it is definitely a question worth exploring.

Atlanta Braves beat writer Mark Bowman raises the point today is a tweet that suggests he is researching that very question.

In case you can’t see it, he poses a poll among his top four candidates for that “runner-up” position: John Smoltz, Phil Niekro, Tim Hudson, and 1880’s legend Kid Nichols.

Let’s break them down a bit… and I’ll throw Greg Maddux into the mix as well for the sake of completeness.  We’ll also assign points as one means of ranking these guys.  For the record, this is being done on -the-fly with no pre-conceived notions.



This should matter if you’re asking about the best pitcher for a given team. Granted – if you’re racking up years, you’ll also mount up a lot of stats. That said, you’re mounting up stats because you’re good enough to justify keeping for all of those years, too.

Here’s the tale of the tenure tape:

  • HUDSON – 2005-2013: 9 seasons
  • MADDUX – 1993-2003: 11 seasons
  • NICHOLS – 1890-1901: 12 seasons
  • NIEKRO – 1964-1983: 20 seasons, plus 3 innings in 1987 at age 48.
  • SMOLTZ – 1988-2008: 21 seasons (counts an injured 2000 season).

Points: 5 for Smoltz down to 1 for Huddy. Yes – 20+ years is a lot better than 9-12, but let’s see if there’s any “adjustments” necessary at the end. This also awards the extra point to Smoltz despite an entire season in which he didn’t play.

For now, we’ll play it straight, but there’s much more to get to.

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