Why Former Padre Trevor Hoffman Deserves To Be in Hall Of Fame
By Gavin Binns
Trevor Hoffman is undoubtedly one of the greatest closers of all time, and a pioneer of the closing role. With 601 career saves (second all time behind Mariano Rivera), and 1133 career strikeouts, Hoffman was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.
To put things into perspective, Bruce Sutter is a Hall of Fame relief pitcher. Sutter had a fantastic career with 1042 career innings pitched, 861 strikeouts, and 300 career saves. Hoffman had 47 more innings pitched, 272 more strikeouts, and 301 more career saves. Granted, saves are not a very reliable statistic due to the changing of relief roles, so let’s take a look at WAR.
In the category of wins above replacement, Hoffman was truly dominant. According to Dave Flemming, since 1950, Trevor Hoffman ranks third among closers in WAR, behind Mariano Rivera and Goose Goosage. When looking at WAR/200 IP for relief pitchers, Hoffman is 4th all time, in front of Rollie Fingers, Goosage, and Lee Smith.
When looking at a Hall of Fame caliber player, one must look at intangibles. These players need an IT factor, that separates them from the rest of baseball history. For Trevor Hoffman, this IT factor was his changeup.
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The changeup looked exactly like his 90+ MPH fastball, but had a 10+ MPH difference in speed. The average MLB pitcher’s changeup in 2014 was only 7.5-mph slower than his fastball. According to Mike Richmond, Hoffman’s fastball rotated at about 2,500 RPM, but the changeup at only 1,200 RPM. This slow spin created a 2-3 inch drop once reaching the plate.
Many argue that Hoffman did not achieve enough postseason success to be in the HOF. On the contrary, Hoffman appeared in 12 postseason games, pitched 13 innings, and struck out 14 batters (ESPN.com). During San Diego’s 1998 World Series run, Hoffman struck out 11 batters, earned 3 saves, and posted an ERA of 2.89. Trevor was extremely clutch and dependable throughout his entire career, including the postseason.
With Hoffman’s 7 career all star appearances, 5 MVP nominations, and 4 CY Young nominations, he is well deserving of the Hall of Fame. During his 18 year career, Hoffman redefined the closer role and paved the way for future relief pitchers. Due to his WAR, legendary changeup, undeniable statistics, and clutch performance, Trevor Hoffman belongs in Cooperstown.