Re: Why Trevor Hoffman Didn\'t Make the Hall of Fame

Moderator: TyCobb

User avatar
RealGM Articles
Veteran
Posts: 2,604
And1: 23
Joined: Mar 20, 2013

Why Trevor Hoffman Didn\'t Make the Hall of Fame 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:26 pm

Over the past week, tons of writers have talked about Trevor Hoffman narrowly missing enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Each of these articles offered up a different reason as to why he didn\'t receive enough votes to make it. They asked whether he was electric enough for the Hall of Fame, grouped him into the broad category of reliever, dove into his WAR, talked about his off-the-field professionalism or focused on Hoffman\'s reaction.

People! Wake up! 

When judging a player\'s greatness, we look at stats, and today we are going to look at the only stat that matters for any closer -- the save.

Trevor Hoffman secured a save 601 times. There is one person who has done it more than Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, who stands at 652 saves. Behind these two sits a long list of hopefuls, but not one of them has even surpassed 500 saves.

Upon first glance, it\'s perplexing that Hoffman isn\'t a shoe-in on the second ballot. In fact, at first, I was outraged. But upon further investigation, I understood. Let\'s look at the staple career stats that a player needs to receive an almost-automatic bid to the Hall of Fame.

 

For Hitters:

3,000 career hits or 500 career home runs

For Pitchers:

300 career wins

 

If a player can reach one of those milestones, it\'s a big deal. You can only accomplish the above stats by placing among the top 10% of all players in baseball for at least 15 years. *

Over the last two decades, the closer has become a pivotal position on every major league club. Everyone acknowledges the importance and magnitude of having a reliable pitcher at the back of the bullpen.  A team without a good closer can kiss their chances at a World Series ring good-bye. 

However, when it comes to deciding what makes a Hall of Fame closer, there is no precedent. There isn\'t a long line of closers dating back to the 1800s to which we can compare current closers, but there is an easy way to go ahead and set this bar.

 

What\'s the magic number for career saves that puts a closer in the Hall of Fame automatically?

It\'s 675.

500 Home Runs. 3,000 Hits. 300 Wins. 675 Saves. The fourth staple statistic.

Why? How? Where does 675 come from?

It\'s simple. If you look at what it takes to achieve the other staple career stats, and break them down to what a player has to do each season, it puts things in perspective.

 

To reach 500 career home runs, a player must hit 34 home runs for at least 15 seasons. How difficult is it to do this?

On average, over the past 10 seasons, only 8 percent of players hit 34 home runs in a given season. **

 

3,000 hits?  That’s 200 hits a season for 15 seasons. Only 2% of the players have done that in a given year. **

 

And for a starting pitcher and 300 wins? 20 wins a season for 15 seasons. Only 2% of starters reach 20 wins in a given year. ***

 

Now, how do 675 saves break down over a career? 

That\'s 45 saves a season for 15 seasons. Over the past decade, 9% of closers have achieved 45 saves in a given season. ****

That means the total of 675 hasn\'t even been reached yet -- but it\'ll be surpassed soon enough. The era of the closer is still in its infancy and here\'s a second reason 675 is the bar we need to set for closers.

 

Since we don\'t have a significant historical base to draw from, we must compare to the future.

Here is a look at nine current closers that have a shot at passing the mark.

<a href=\"http://s52.photobucket.com/user/pacerperspective/media/CloserTable.jpg.html\" target=\"_blank\"><img src=\"http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g7/pacerperspective/CloserTable.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\" photo CloserTable.jpg\"/></a>

Assuming each of these closers pitch until age 42 (Hoffman pitched to 42 and Rivera 43), four will surpass the 675 mark. (The bottom three players only have three years of data, so their theoretical total is quite uncertain). That means between now and 2040, six more closers could be added to the Hall of Fame -- not a small margin for the select group.

Based on the above, doesn\'t that mean that Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera aren\'t up to par to reach the Hall of Fame? Actually, that couldn\'t be any farther from the truth.

 

Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera are like Al Spalding.

Al Spalding, of course, was the first pitcher to reach 200 wins but he never reached 300 wins -- the current mark of an exceptional pitcher.  

Spalding is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings (Red Sox) and Chicago White Stockings (White Sox) from 1871-1877, one of the original men to play the game. He was truly magnificent for his time and ahead of the pack. He set a precedent for greatness before anyone could really know what all-time greatness was.

This is what Trevor Hoffman did, becoming the first player to reach both 500 and 600 saves.

Mariano Rivera then went and set the bar even higher. Both Hoffman and Rivera were magnificent for their time and set a precedent for greatness for all closers to follow. They each deserve a place in Cooperstown, but don\'t deserve to be first-ballot or maybe even second-ballot entrants. Those spots are reserved for the best of the best Hall of Famers. A higher tier within an elite group.

This is where 675 saves sits, along with 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 300 wins. The strainers that keep Cooperstown so prestigious and hallowed. It is the milestone that every young closer will dream of achieving and is the reason why Trevor Hoffman\'s place in the Hall of Fame is on hold for one more year.

 

* statistics were referenced from seasons 2007-2016 found at https://www.espn.com/mlb/statistics

** includes hitters with a minimum of 500 AB each season

*** includes the 120 starting pitchers with the most innings pitched each season

**** includes the 30 closers with the most innings pitched each season

BorkLazer
Junior
Posts: 362
And1: 103
Joined: Apr 17, 2015
Location: Southeastern CT
     

Re: Why Trevor Hoffman Didn\'t Make the Hall of Fame 

Post#2 » by BorkLazer » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:03 am

To say Mariano Rivera isn't a first-ballot HoF'er is just asinine. Most saves in MLB history (by a comfortable margin), best career ERA+ in MLB history (almost 50 points between him and the second person on the list), 13-time All-Star, 5 time World Series champ, World Series MVP, ALCS MVP, Comeback PotY, 5 times finished in the top-5 for the Cy Young Award. Was THE most feared closer for a decade. To even attempt to make an argument against him for a first-ballot entry is insane.
mawbsta
Senior
Posts: 578
And1: 36
Joined: Oct 04, 2013

Re: Why Trevor Hoffman Didn\'t Make the Hall of Fame 

Post#3 » by mawbsta » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:16 am

Your magic number theory is interesting, but ultimately flawed. There is more than bulk stats that goes into the votes - reputation, favoritism and stats are almost on par with one another.

2019 Mariano Rivera goes in first ballot as the most accomplished closer of all-time with 652, Arguing otherwise defeats your entire theory. Would have been more agile to go with 650 and proclaim Rivera is the first "deserving" closer to go in. Because as you must know, there are several other closers in the Hall already and NONE of them are anywhere near the number you mentioned.

Dennis Eckersley, a .500 pitcher with no shot of getting into the Hall, turned closer and 390 saves later, he was inducted first ballot because he was downright nasty! Goose Gossage, he of the coolest moustache, big mouth and 310 saves and only passed 30+ in a single season TWICE. Rollie fingers with the best nickname in baseball also managed that feat TWICE in 17 years and finished with 340. All HOF...

Hoffman has twice as many saves (601) as another hall closer Bruce Sutter (300) who happened to play for the 3 greatest teams in the NL - Cubs, Cards and Braves.

The problem is Hoffman wasn't sexy - he wasnt nasty - he wasnt on a winning team - and he didn't have a cool nickname... but he did top 40 saves NINE times and outside of Rivera who shares that gaudy total, was the most consistent closer in the history of the game. His career era of 2.87 is a testament, as are the strikeout stats - better than Rivera, Eckersley, Sutter et al. But San Diego is an aferthought in baseball. They are on the border of nowhere and have rarely made a blip on the radar. The reputation - favoritism is what's (currently) keeping him out of the hall because statistically there is NO ARGUMENT to keep him out. You can make up a magic number if you want 675 - but when there are 4 guys in the hall with less than 400 and the best closer of all-time sits at 652, it's all irrelevant to postulate.

Hoffman was as money as any closer in the history of the game. If his name was Shogun Hoffa, or he played for the Cards or Braves during his stellar career, he would have been first ballot - because reputation matters. Clearly.

End of story.

Return to Articles Discussion