Michael William Hampton (born September 9, 1972 in Brooksville, Florida, U.S.) is a Major League Baseball starting pitcher who plays for the Atlanta Braves. He bats right-handed and throws left-handed. Hampton is well known for being one of the best active hitting pitchers, as well as (more recently) for his large contract and frequent injuries.
Early career[edit | edit source]
Mike Hampton was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 5th round of the 1990 draft. He first broke into the major leagues in 1993, but had a disappointing start. After the season, he found himself traded to the Houston Astros, where he would become a star.
Hampton became a starter for Houston in 1995, and kept his ERA under 4.00 for every season he was with the Astros. In 1999, Hampton had his best year. He broke through with a 22-4 record, best in the National League, and a 2.90 ERA. He picked up his first of five Silver Slugger Awards and narrowly finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting to Randy Johnson.
Entering the final year of his contract, Hampton was dealt to the New York Mets in the wake of his big season. He went 15-10 with a 3.12 ERA and helped the Mets greatly in the postseason. With two wins and no earned runs in two starts, Hampton was named the MVP of the 2000 NLCS. Hampton received a loss in his only World Series appearance.
During this time, Hampton also established a reputation as a good hitting pitcher, as he batted .311 (23 for 74) in 1999. His best season came in 2001 with the Colorado Rockies, when he would hit .291 with 7 home runs. The next year he hit 3 home runs and batted .344. From 1999-2003, Hampton would go on to win 5 consecutive Silver Slugger Awards.
Colorado and Atlanta[edit | edit source]
The Colorado Rockies signed Hampton to an expensive, long-term contract on December 9, 2000. The contract is the 23rd largest in the history of sports. The Rockies hoped Hampton, who had been one of the best pitchers in the league over the past few seasons, would be able to succeed in the tough pitching conditions of Coors Field.
Hampton went a slightly disappointing 14-13 with a 5.12 ERA in 2001, his pitching clearly affected by Coors Field. Like his predecessor Darryl Kile, Hampton succumbed to control problems. The next season was even more of a disaster for the highly-paid Hampton, as he went 7-15 with his ERA climbing to 6.15. The only positive from Hampton's two Colorado years was his hitting (ten home runs and .300+ batting average over two seasons).
In November 2002, Hampton and his contract were traded to the Florida Marlins, then to the Atlanta Braves. Braves' pitching coach Leo Mazzone set about trying to get Hampton's career back on track after the Coors Field debacle. Hampton won 14 games and got his ERA back down to 3.84 in 2003. He overcame a slow start in 2004 by winning 10 of his last 11 decisions and helping to propel the Braves to another division championship.
Hampton did not contribute nearly as much in 2005 as he was limited heavily by injuries. He went 5-3 in twelve starts, but was lost for the rest of the season with an elbow injury on August 19, 2005. Hampton had Tommy John surgery on September 25, 2005 and missed the entire 2006 season rehabbing.
The Braves were hoping for Hampton to be ready to rejoin the rotation in time for the start of the 2007 season. The rehab was on schedule until Hampton tore his oblique muscle on March 7, 2007, which was to sideline him until at least May. Soon after, the Braves signed Mark Redman to be a left-handed starting pitcher for them in case Hampton was not able to return to action soon. After Hampton threw a bullpen session on April 8, the Braves shut Hampton down due to recurring elbow pain and said that he would see Dr. David Altchek, who had performed his Tommy John surgery in 2005. The next day, it was announced after having another left elbow procedure, that Hampton would miss the entire 2007 season.
Hampton began a rehab assignment on November 22, 2007 for Navojoa of the Mexican Winter League. In the first inning, he attempted to make a play on a comebacker and left during warmups before the second inning, feeling discomfort in his hamstring. The rest of his rehab was left in doubt.
However, Hampton reported to "Camp Roger" on time in late January. He threw off the mound for Bobby Cox and Roger McDowell, both of whom were impressed with Hampton's steady progress. Hampton arrived a day before pitchers and catchers were due to report at Lake Buena Vista. He ran sprints and played catch with teammates, and continued to pitch off the mound, and threw to live batters: Mark Kotsay, Tim Hudson, and Corky Miller.
On April 3, 2008, Hampton was scheduled to make his long-anticipated return to the Braves rotation in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While warming up, however, Hampton strained his left pectoral muscle, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
On July 26, 2008, Hampton made his first major league start since August 2005 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
On August 5, 2008, following two mediocre starts in his return to the majors, Hampton earned his first victory in very nearly three years with a sterling 7 inning, 4 hit, 2 earned run performance against the San Franciso Giants. In addition to providing an outstanding start on the mound, Hampton helped his own cause in the 5th inning when he showed his vintage batting prowice and smashed an RBI double to left-center field.
Awards and Accomplishments[edit | edit source]
- 2-time All-Star (1999, 2001)
- National League Championship Series MVP (2000)
- Led NL in winning percentage (.8462, 1999)
- Became the first pitcher ever to win the Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger awards in the same season (2003). The Gold Glove also snapped then-Atlanta teammate Greg Maddux's streak of 13 consecutive Gold Gloves. Hampton remains the only National League pitcher other than Maddux to win a Gold Glove since Ron Darling won in 1989.
- Hampton holds the record for most Silver Slugger awards for a pitcher, with five.
Statistics[edit | edit source]
|2000||New York Mets||15||10||3.14||33||33||3||1||0||217.2||194||10||99||151|
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
|National League Wins Champion
|National League Championship Series MVP
|National League Gold Glove Award (P)
|DATE OF BIRTH||1972|
|PLACE OF BIRTH|
|DATE OF DEATH|
|PLACE OF DEATH|