MLB Analysis: Trevor Hoffman's Legacy

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Will you remember for his entrance? You know what I mean. The Padres would blast AC/DC's "Hells Bells" as Hoffman trotted in from the bullpen. How about his intimidating glare? It wasn’t it wasn’t quite a Dave Stewart glare, but he did a damn good impression. His leg kick or devastating changeup? Will you remember Hoffman for his 601 saves?

Hoffman had two saves for Florida in 1993 before being acquired by the Padres on June 24, 1993, along with two other players for Gary Sheffield and Rich Rodriguez in the now infamous fire sale. The shortstop who was converted to pitcher in the minor leagues played 15 ½ of his 18 seasons for the Padres where he made his name and fortunes, so surely you will remember him as a fixture of the San Diego Padres. Besides Tony Gwynn, I can’t think of anyone my synonymous with the Friars.

Is Trevor Hoffman a Hall of Famer? At first glance, when you look at his regular season stats you might think that you were looking at Mariano Rivera’s stats.

Hoffman – 18 Years – 601 Saves – 2.87 ERA – 1.058 WHIP
Rivera – 16 Years – 559 Saves – 2.23 ERA – 1.003 WHIP

There just isn’t another Mariano Rivera in the modern era that we know of, but Hoffman was pretty much the next best thing. After Mariano’s next two years, one could argue that difference in the stats will narrow in all respects. You would expect a little slippage in Mariano’s ERA and WHIP and assuming he’s healthy, he’ll probably end up surpassing Hoffman in saves.

But it’s the playoffs that differentiate the two and what I’ll remember. I’m not going to waste my time quoting Mariano’s stats, you can just look at them in you aren’t familiar. Hoffman definitely didn’t have the chances that Rivera had but he did have some chances. Unfortunately there is an entire generation of MLB fans including me whose remembrance of what Trevor Hoffman did on the grand stage is what Trevor Hoffman will be remembered for.

Laying the scene

Game 3 of the 1998 World Series, top of the 8th inning, Padres down 0-2 to the Yankees lead the game 3-2.

What Happened

In the eighth, after Randy Myers walked Paul O'Neill to open the inning the call was made to Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman proceeded to walk Tino Martinez and then allowed a three-run blast over the fence in dead center to eventual World Series MVP Scott Brosius.

To be fair, that wasn’t Hoffman’s only career playoff game. Hoffman’s playoff career consists of pitching in 4 NLDS games, 1 NLCS game and 1 World Series game. All in all he pitched 13 playoff innings with a 3.46 ERA a WHIP of 1.231 and had 4 saves.

At the moment there are only five relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Goose Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersley (though Eckersley and Wilhelm had significant careers as starting pitchers). Lee Smith was 5th in the voting this year receiving 263 votes on the 2011 HOF Ballots getting 45.3% of the votes. A player needs 75% of the votes to get in, so suggesting that he’ll make it at some point isn’t a stretch. You know the Mariano Rivera will get in when he retires.

Is Trevor Hoffman a Hall of Famer? - Brain James

Brian is an independent sports journalist covering major professional sports for over 25 years.

You may email Brian at [email protected]

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