Does HOF await Trevor Hoffman?

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
11:40
PM ET
How good was Trevor Hoffman over the course of his 18-year career? Consider the following:

Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman
Only two pitchers have had streaks of four straight seasons with at least 40 saves. Hoffman did it not once, but twice. (Francisco Rodriguez is the other pitcher with such a run.) His first streak came from 1998 to 2001 and was halted when Hoffman had “only” 38 saves in 2002. Hoffman’s second began in 2004, immediately after returning from an injury that cost him nearly the entire 2003 season.

Hoffman’s nine seasons of 40 or more saves are the most all time. For those who think Mariano Rivera, who ranks second with seven 40-save seasons, will break that mark, remember this: Rivera has broken 40 saves only once in the past five years.

Hoffman was not a power pitcher, but he was a strikeout pitcher. He averaged better than a whiff per inning in eight different seasons. The only closers with more such seasons (minimum 50 innings) are Billy Wagner (11) and Robb Nen (9).

The regular-season career totals for Rivera and Hoffman aren’t quite a match, but they’re closer than you might think. Rivera has saved 89.3 percent of his save chances, a hair better than Hoffman’s 88.8.

When Hoffman recorded his first save, on April 29, 1993, as a member of the Florida Marlins, the all-time saves leader was Lee Smith with 365. Smith now ranks third all time. Then there's this one from the Elias Sports Bureau: Among pitchers to debut since 1969, only two are ranked in the top 10 for lowest opponents' batting average against both lefties and righties -- Hoffman and Pedro Martinez (minimum 2,000 batters faced on a given side).

One team glad to see Hoffman end his career is the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 68 saves against them are the most by anyone against any major league team. That mark, much like his career saves mark, is in some jeopardy. Rivera, forever lurking alongside Hoffman, has 65 saves against the Baltimore Orioles.

While there's almost no doubt that Rivera -- one of the greatest postseason pitchers in MLB history -- will one day be in the Hall of Fame, has Hoffman done enough to warrant a call from Cooperstown?

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