Player Profile: Mike Hampton

Mike Hampton, the Braves new lefty ace, is the first Braves to be profiled on BravesCenter by Nancy Ward. Click on for interesting facts you might not know about Bulldog's career.

On November 18, 2002, a huge six-player deal was made, which involved the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, and Colorado Rockies. The Rockiestraded lefthanded starting pitcher Mike Hampton to the Florida Marlins in exchange for Preston Wilson and Charles Johnson. The Marlins then shipped Hampton to the Braves in exchange for reliever Tim Spooneybarger and a minor league player. After a dismal two-year stint in Colorado, hopefully Hampton can return to his previous level of excellence as a starting pitcher under the guidance of Braves' pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Now, for some information about Mike Hampton:

Mike Hampton: The Basics

Lefthanded starting pitcher Michael William Hampton was born on September 9, 1972 in Brooksville, Florida. Hampton's professional baseball career began when he was acquired by the Seattle Mariners in the sixth round of the June, 1990 draft. During his stint in the Mariners' organization, Hampton spent playing time with the Tempe, San Bernadino and Bellingham teams. On December 10, 1993, he was traded to the Houston Astros, with whom he spent six seasons. He spent the 2000 season with the New York Mets, and helped the club to achieve the National League Championship. Hampton then spent two years with the Colorado Rockies before being acquired by Atlanta. Mike and his wife Kautia have two sons, Michael and Griffin.

Scouting Report: Mike Hampton throws three quality pitches, and has the ability to change speeds on each one of them, especially his fastball, which has as much as a 6 mph variance in speed. He often throws a sinker which will produce groundballs, and he effectively uses a slider on righthanded batters. Due to his competitiveness, he often shows frustration on the mound when he doesn't have his best stuff. He is excellent at fielding his position, and at the plate is an outstanding hitter, as evidenced by seven home runs hit in 2002.

Hampton's Career Highlights: 1993: in his rookie season with Seattle, recorded his first major league win on April 23 vs. the New York Yankees; recorded his first and only major league save on July 15 against the Boston Red Sox
1994: made his National League debut as a reliever on Opening Day
1995: recorded his first National League win while pitching for the Houston Astros on April 29 1995; as the youngest player on the Astros at age 23; finished the season with a 3.35 ERA, which ranked 11th among NL starting pitchers
1996: pitched two complete games and his first major league shutout
1997: on July 2 in Houston, pitched a complete game which was the first of seven consecutive wins; on September 25, his win against the Chicago Cubs clenched the NL Central title; posted 15 wins, most by an Astros' lefthander since Jim Deshaies' 15 victories in 1989; ranked ninth in the NL with 229 innings pitched; tied for ninth in victories (15), tied for third in both starts (34) and complete games (7), and ranked fifth in shutouts (2)
1998: recorded a 11-7 record with a 3.36 ERA which helped Houston to win its second consecutive division title; received a nodecision in his NLDS start despite allowing only one run on two hits in 6.0 innings pitched 1999: finished the season with a 22-4 record and a 2.90 ERA; was second in the National League Cy Young voting
2000: was named the NLCS Most Valuable player while playing for the New York Mets; was named to the Silver Slugger team
2001: in his first season with Colorado, his 14 wins and 32 starts ranked first on the club 2002: despite a dismal 7-15 record, hit .344 with 2 homers

Well-known and not so well-known facts about Mike Hampton:

  • nickname is bulldog, due to his hard-nosed approach to baseball
  • during his youth in Florida, often envisioned playing in the postseason during games of catch with his father, Mike Sr.
  • received a combined football and baseball scholarship offer from Florida State University
  • was also recruited to play college football by Rutgers and the University of Florida
  • while playing for the Houston Astros, learned the importance of using both sides of the plate and changing speeds from pitching coach Vern Ruhle and manager Larry Dierker
  • during his playing time with the Mets, was often compared New York greats Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman
  • during his first month with the Mets, took pitching advice from Tom Seaver
  • while playing for the Colorado Rockies, contributed significantly to the Colorado Rockies' Charity Fund
  • received a phone call offering pitching advice and support from the late St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Darryl Kile; this phone call was made just three days before Kile's death in June, 2002
  • one of the first people he notified after being traded to Atlanta was Braves'leftfielder Chipper Jones
  • is the only active pitcher with 300 at-bats and a career batting average above .200
  • in his leisure time, enjoys hunting and fishing

    What others have said about Mike Hampton:
  • Braves General Manager John Schuerholz, concerning the signing of Hampton: "Based on all of the evaluations submitted to me by our scouting staff and those who have seen Mike pitch over the years, we all feel very strongly that he adds very strongly to our starting pitching staff."
  • Another quote by Schuerholz: "We feel very confident. Our scouts all say his arm action is as good as it was before he went to Coors Field. We're going to tell you that we believe he is going to regain that pitching excellence that he enjoyed prior to these past two years."
  • Chipper Jones, concerning facing Hampton in '99 during the postseason: "I think (Hampton's) 22-4 record speaks for itself. He is certainly the one Astro pitcher who's been on top of his game all year. He's gutty. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has four quality pitches and those guys are hard to get comfortable against."
  • Former Houston Astros outfielder Matt Mieske: "He's a bulldog. It was never an easy game trying to face him. He had that tough, go-get mentality even in the minors. You always like to have him on your team; you don't want to face him."
  • TBS announcer and Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton: "I think he may be one of the top ten athletes in all of baseball. I would expect him to do a good job."

    Hampton, about himself: concerning being traded to Atlanta: "This is kind of a new start, I understand that. But I don't put any added pressure on myself. I've got as high of expectations on myself as anyone could have on themselves. So I'm going to take every step necessary to ensure things are the way they should be."

    "Working with Leo (Mazzone) is going to be a plus. If he can pick up anything that maybe I couldn't and the coaching staff with the Rockies couldn't, then maybe he'll have some tips and pointers. But ultimately, I feel like I'm the same guy. I feel that I can be the successful person, successful pitcher that I was before."

  • concerning pitching for the Houston Astros: "That's where I made a name for myself. When I look back on my career, my years in Houston will be one of the highlights."

  • concerning his first multiple homer game on June 7, 2001: "It was luck. On my first homer, I was just able to put it on the good part of the bat. I was looking away, and he threw it, and I was able to hit it. The second at-bat, I was just trying to make contact, and he left the breaking ball up."

  • "I like to feel I can contribute offensively anywhere I play. That was my main reason for not going to the American League. I wasn't ready to give up the hitting part."

  • concerning playing for the Mets: "I enjoy New York. I'm not scared by it at all. It's exciting to play in a place where the fans really get pumped. I'm looking forward to having a chance to be rooted for by them rather than having them root against me. I'm excited to be a Met. They have everything it takes to win a championship."

  • "You want to thrive in pressure situations. It's easy to get up for those type of games, and if you do well, you look great. But if not, you look like a guy that's choked. So it's a double-edged sword. But those are the games you want to be in. Those are the games that test your character and test your ability when everything is on the line. Those are the situations you dream about."

  • concerning pitching in the '99 postseason: "I know it's a big game, but the situation won't make me pitch any differently. You try and ignore the expectations as much as you can."

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