One of the most beloved Braves, Tim Hudson saw his 2013 season come to a sudden and premature end Wednesday night at Citi Field just ten days after his 38th birthday. Cruising through the Mets’ lineup in one of his most impressive performances of the season, the veteran right-hander suffered a fractured ankle after being stepped on while covering first base in the 8th inning. The longest tenured presence in the clubhouse is in the last year of his 4yr/$36M contract. The question now is if the three-time all-star has made his last appearance in an Atlanta uniform.
Hudson was originally acquired from the Oakland Athletics as part of a four player deal. The A’s compensation package included pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer along with outfielder Charles Thomas, in what has since turned out to be a complete theft for the Braves franchise.
As a centerpiece in Oakland’s success from 1999-2004, Hudson secured a reputation as one of the toughest and most competitive pitchers in the American League. With a rotation that included the most dominant trio of starters that the league had to offer, the A’s captured three division titles and one wild card over that stretch.
An AL All-Star in 2000 and 2004, Hudson was not without his own personal accolades during those years in the Bay Area. He amassed a 92-39 win-loss record, with a fantastic 3.30 ERA, while styling the Oakland green and yellow. Twice finishing top four in AL Cy Young voting, the Columbus Georgia native made his way home just in time for Christmas in 2004 with plenty of fanfare.
Slotting into the number two spot in the rotation behind John Smoltz, the former Auburn University standout was immediately given a chance to be a vital part of the Braves attempt to extend their streak of division titles. Making good on that opportunity, he went 14-9 with a 3.52 ERA over 29 starts that first season in the National League, as Atlanta would celebrate its 14th consecutive division championship. For Hudson, that 2005 season was just a preview of things to come over the next eight years.
2010 marks the best of those years. That season saw the Braves return to the playoffs for the first time since ’05, with Hudson leading a solidly built pitching staff. Turning in a 17-9 effort, while sporting a 2.83 ERA, he garnered his only NL All-Star selection to date and finished 4th in balloting for the Cy Young Award. If not previously accomplished, Hudson’s greatness had been solidified.
The consistency delivered by Hudson in a Braves jersey has resulted in firm placement in the Atlanta history books. He currently ranks 5th all-time in wins (113), strikeouts (997) and innings (1,573) for the Atlanta Braves. In addition, he holds a very respectable 3.56 ERA, while never posting a losing record over several “ace” caliber seasons.
If the decision had to be made today, it seems Tim Hudson would not have his #15 placed on the facades inside Turner Field along the retired numbers of former teammates Chipper Jones and John Smoltz. However, induction into the Braves Hall of Fame should be a given at this point. The respect given him from coaches and fellow players, combined with his standing in the community, only serves as an enhancement to the resume.
Hopefully, he has not pitched his last game as part of the home team in Atlanta. Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is for certain, “Huddy” will not soon be forgotten around Braves Country.