Is Trevor Hoffman A 1st Ballot Hall Of Famer??

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??

11 responses to “Is Trevor Hoffman A 1st Ballot Hall Of Famer??

  1. I believe that being the all-time leader in saves will get him into the hall….eventually. But no way as a first ballot.

  2. I don’t care for much about the first ballot idea. I think he is either a HOFer or not. I am more against players making the HOF because of a weak ballot after years of being on the ballot. Next year strikes me as a year a player will make it because the competition is weak. That seems strange.
    Sorry, back to first ballot…that doesn’t bother me at all.

    • John-

      I agree with you. And that it why Barry Larkin may get a lot more votes next year than this year. I would love to see a player like Tim Raines get that kind of momentum. I firmly believe that he deserves to be in the HOF.

  3. The first ballot stuff is nonsense. A player is a Hall of Famer or he isn’t. Unless you believe there are more than 10 candidates worthy of your vote, there is no reason to leave someone off that you believe is a Hall of Famer.

    I haven’t looked at Hoffman’s stats enough to make a decision, but I don’t automatically think “Hall of Fame” when I hear his name the way I do with Mariano Rivera.

    • Paul – I totally agree. And when asked who the best closers are in the game’s history, the names Eckersley and Rivera are probably 1 & 2 on most people’s lists. In my opinion, Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Goose Gossage get the nod ahead of Trevor too. Trevor may be Top 10, but definitely the second half of that Top 10!!

  4. I like Trevor but there’s no way he gets in on the first ballot.


  5. It think it will depend largely upon who will be on the ballot five years from now–and that includes first timers like Trevor, and whatever hangers-on from previous ballots that will remain.

    It will be interesting to see five years from now where the current anti-steroids sentiment will be. If it starts to erode significantly, and guys like McGwire, Palmeiro, Bonds and Clemens start to see ballot totals go up, it might delay apparently cleaner new ballot guys like Hoffman.

    On his credentials, I can see how he would make it into the Hall, but it’s a toss-up on how much of a shot he’ll have on his first ballot. I do think that if you retire as the career leader of your most significant performance statistic, that does give you a leg up. Longevity is not a given; staying competitive over time is as much of a skill as individual performance highlights. Bottom line: if Trevor gets in, so should Lee Smith.

  6. He’ll be rubber stamped as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

    The media absolutely has nothing other than praise for Hoffman.

  7. I’m with you on this on as well. Probably not first ballot. I’ve always felt saves was an overrated statistic anyway but that’s an argument for another time.

    One thing that might get him IN on the first ballot is how we start to elect those of the steroid era over time. If people refuse to vote for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and the like, will those leftover votes go to guys like Hoffman and push him through earlier than we expected?

  8. Pingback: Voting For 1: Trevor Hoffman OR Andy Pettitte | 30-Year Old Cardboard

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