Elbow woes and a 3 1/2-season stint as a closer took a bite out of Smoltz's final numbers as well, and yet the shape of his career makes for a less-than-ideal comparison to the enshrined Dennis Eckerlsey.Unlike the paradigm-changing Eck, Smoltz accrued far more value as a starter than as a reliever, and he's more appropriately measured against other starters.
Unless the writers elect four players for the first time since 1955 — in addition to Johnson and Martinez, Craig Biggio seems unlikely to miss after falling two votes short last year — Smoltz could have to wait a year or two.
Born in Detroit, Smoltz came from a lineage of Tigers loyalists.
But unlike Glavine and Maddux, he lacks the magic number of wins — 300 — that guarantees a quick election for a starting pitcher.
While he's one of just 16 pitchers to strike out at least 3,000 hitters, Smoltz didn't light up the leaderboards in the same manner as his two former teammates, not to mention fellow 2015 newcomers Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.
Fears that he would go that route scared some major league teams away, which explains in part why he wasn't chosen until the 22nd round of the 1985 draft.
That could be a problem given an electorate that has tabbed just one starting pitcher with fewer than 300 wins since 1991 and has thus far failed to wrap its head around the accomplishments of holdover candidates Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, both of whom also have more than 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 300 wins.
Still, Smoltz's success in both roles as a pillar of the Braves' dynasty and his status as one of the top postseason pitchers of all time will probably carry the day, at least at some point.
His grandfather John Frank Smoltz worked on the Tiger Stadium grounds crew, and was such a ballpark staple that when he died, broadcast legend Ernie Harwell was the first to show up to his wake.
His father, John Adam Smoltz, played accordion at the Tigers' 1968 World Series championship celebration and worked as an usher at the famous ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues as well.
Meanwhile, his mother, Mary Smoltz, was a second cousin of Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer.
Smoltz grew up in Lansing, where he was an All-State baseball and basketball player at Waverly High School and was good enough at hoops to be offered a scholarship to Michigan State.