Is Trevor Hoffman A 1st Ballot Hall Of Famer??
With the recent announcement that Trevor Hoffman is retiring from major league baseball, it is a lock that he will join baseball’s elite stars in Cooperstown.
But is he worthy of the ‘1st Ballott Entry’??
I have gone back and forth over the value of a closer for most of the time that I have been a baseball fan. And during my generation, we have statistically seen some of the best closers that the sport has ever had.
But where does Hoffman fit into that class?
Great question, right? Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we…
OK, getting the obvious out of the way – Hoffman retires as the game’s all-time saves leader. With 601 saves during his 18-year big league career, Hoffman recorded more saves than any other player in the history of the sport.
Does that mark alone grant him entry during his first year of eligibility? Many will say yes, but for this fan, I see that 601 mark as a sign of consistent performance and injury-free play before I see it has him dominating the game.
A closer look at his 18-year career reveals 1 season with at least 50 saves, 8 seasons with at least 40 saves, and another 5 seasons with at least 30 saves. While these numbers are solid – and worthy of recognition, the circumstances by which they were earned put Hoffman into a position to ‘pad his stats’. If the San Diego Padres play in a lot of close games that are decided by 3 runs or less, obviously Hoffman is going to pick up a lot more save opportunities.
Let’s look at his win-loss record. 61-75 is way below-par. In fact, a record like that would be cause for a demotion to the minor leagues in most cases.
And when it comes to ERA, Hoffman sports a career number of 2.87. 2.87 is solid for a guy starting 40 times a year while hurling for more than 200 innings, but is that a strong number for a guy that typically will face 3 batters or less per game?
Hoffman is a 7-time All-star. He has 4 Top 10 finishes for the Cy Young award, including 2 runner-up finishes. He led the league in saves twice during his playing days.
So, is Trevor Hoffman a 1st ballot Hall of Fame player?
For me, the answer is no. I save that tag for the most elite player – a la Rickey Henderson or Tony Gwynn. I think he will get a lot of consideration for entry during his first year of eligibility, but I don’t think he’ll capture 75% of the vote the first time out.
He will be enshrined at Cooperstown, I have no doubt about it. But personally, for me, I love the thought of keeping the players that gain entry during their 1st year to a very limited and select few. Watering down that core group should not happen as it will just open the gates and erode the special meaning that being a 1st ballot player should be.
What do you think? Which side of the fence are you on??