No. 18: Tim Hudson
RH Starting Pitcher
Braves Seasons: 2005-2013
113-72; 3.56 ERA, 115 ERA+, 1.242 WHIP, 1573 IP
Hudson, like McCann, didn’t make the Original List due to not meeting minimum career length. In 2007, Mac said that if he revised the list, Hudson would probably need to debut somewhere in the thirties just based on his then-existing body of work. But in Mac’s 2011 e-book update, after several additional good years, Hudson was added at 18.5, between Millwood and Felipe Alou. Subsequent to that, Hudson went out and had another good year in 2012, going 16-7 with a 3.62 ERA. He was also pitching decently in 2013 (8-7 with a 1.188 WHIP) when he suffered a fairly gruesome leg injury covering first, when Eric Young landed full stride on his ankle. He never pitched for the Braves again.
Another Georgia boy, Huddy was born in Columbus but grew up in Alabama. He first attended his local juco, then went on to Auburn. At Auburn he was a two-way player (outfielder), and he won college baseball’s equivalent of the Heisman, the Rotary Smith award, in 1997, after going 15-2 with a 2.97 ERA while also hitting .396. A sixth round draftee of the Athletics, he became part of their “Big Three” with Zito and Mulder, which included a 20-6 year in 2000. (Seriously, what’s up with that? The guy voted best player in college baseball goes in the sixth round?)
His Atlanta stats make him fifth in wins and fifth in IP, behind Niekro and the Big Three. His W-L percentage is again fifth for Atlanta pitchers with more than 500 IP. He is in my view slightly underappreciated by the average Atlanta fan, still spoiled and drunk on the lees of the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz cocktail we all had been guzzling for the previous decade. He had one anomalous year in 2006, 13-12 with an ERA near 5. Throw out that year and he’s 100-60 with a 3.35 ERA as a Brave. He was pretty darn good.
The Braves signed him as a free agent traded for him before the 2005 season. For a couple of years, he served as our No. 2 behind Smoltz, until he blew out his elbow in 2008 and needed Tommy John. He missed virtually all of 2009, and thereafter was the linchpin of the staff for the next four years. His best year was 2010, 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA, winning NL Comeback Player of the Year.
His athleticism allowed him to perform occasionally as a pinch-runner or pinch-hit; he hit .173 for his Atlanta career. Tim had an aura of tenaciousness, a bulldog mentality. He just gave off the vibe that he would do almost anything to win that particular game.
So where does he stand now? He was a very good pitcher, but obviously at least a full notch below the Big Three. He won’t make the Hall of Fame. But he threw a lot of quality innings for us, pounding the zone with that lovely sinker. I would move him up from Mac’s slotting at 18.5, based on his 2012 and 2013 seasons, to new No. 17, above Jeff Blauser and below No. 16 Darrell Evans (now bumped down one slot by BMac.) That may be low by a slot or two– but the reason I put him here is that I know Mac would not let him be above Darrell Evans.