Trevor Hoffman is one of the best closers of all-time. Even so, is he worthy of gaining entrance into Cooperstown?
As the Hall of Fame ballots rolled out and the selections became public, many did not expect Trevor Hoffman to be left out of Cooperstown. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez were permanently enshrined in the Hall, while Hoffman fell 1% short. While Trevor Hoffman came very close to a spot in the Hall, MANY candidates are more deserving and than Hoffman. Hoffman was a solid reliever over a career that lasted several years too long, but just because he is second all-time in saves does not award him anything when it comes to baseball’s most prestigious honor.
There is no denying that Trevor Hoffman was a valuable asset for throughout his career. Over his 18-year career, Hoffman saved a remarkable 601 games and amassed a solid 2.87 ERA. Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star and finished top six in Cy Young voting four times. However, that does not tell the entire story.
Hoffman’s K/9 was very respectable, finishing his career at 9.4. However, Hoffman only reached 100 strikeouts in one season twice. By comparison, Kenley Jansen has already reached that three times in his seven-year career. Hoffman only led the league in saves twice over an 18-year career, which is one time less than Jose Valverde, whose name will likely never grace the ballot. Hoffman averaged less than 40 saves per season over his career, yet saved over 600 games. If a player should earn a spot in Cooperstown largely based off one statistic, shouldn’t they be more outstanding in that statistic?
The biggest statistical argument against Hoffman is his WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He finished his career with a meager 28.4. To put that into perspective, the next TWELVE players all outscore Hoffman with ease, besides Lee Smith. Jorge Posada, who fell off the ballot after only accumulating 3.8%, had 1.5 times the WAR Hoffman had. Carlos Guillen had a similar WAR, coming in at 27.7. Imagine you are voting for the candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot. Would you vote in Guillen, who over his career amassed only 124 home runs, 660 RBIs, 74 stolen bases, and an OBP that ranks him outside the top 550 all time?
Trevor Hoffman was undoubtedly an important asset to his team. His value to the Padres is clear — they even retired his jersey in 2011. Despite never being a World Champion, Hoffman won multiple accolades throughout his career and will be fondly remembered — but those memories should stay outside of Cooperstown.