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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Trevor Hoffman deserves to be in Cooperstown

Por Fidel Orihuela

Trevor Hoffman is, along with Mariano Rivera, the only pitcher that has overcome the barrier of more than six hundred saved games in the MLB. It is no wonder that he already has his plaque in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. The right handed giant had a golden streak with the San Diego Padres and became one of the most domineering relievers at the end of the last century and the first decade of the present one, in which he forged a very successful career thanks to his impressive capacity to get the final outs and close the games.

In the Cooperstown’ selection of 2017, Hoffman got three hundred and twenty-seven votes and he needed five more to complete the minimum required which was a seventy-five percent of positive votes, according to the rules. This is probably related to the fact that many members of The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), do not fully appreciate the value of good relievers in modern baseball. This could be the only explanation of why Hoffman, a man with six hundred and one saves in his career and fifteen seasons in which he surpassed the twenty saved games had to wait until 2018 to get a spot in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.

Apart from his overwhelming achievements, he also developed an impeccable career, mostly since his arrival to the San Diego Padres in 1993, a season in which he only had five saves. The next year, marked with the longest strike in the history of the MLB, the Californian pitcher started his very dashing streak of twenty games saved and in the year of 1995 he had more than thirty saved games on each one of the eight seasons that would follow. Among them, the season of 1998 could never be forgotten. It was the season in which he was selected to be in the lineup for the All-Star Games. He was also second for the Cy Young Award (a prize mostly for starter pitchers) and was voted seventh in the MVP votes. That year he became a legend with fifty-three saves and only a blown save, an ERA of 1.48 and a WHIP of 0.849, his best statistics ever.

By that time Trevor had more than one hundred saved games, a number that would increase to two hundred in 1999(vs. Oakland Athletics, June 10), to three hundred in the 2001(vs. the New York Mets, August 15) and four hundred in the 2005(vs. the Saint Louis Cardinals on May six). One of the highlights of his career occurred in September 2006, when he achieved the four hundred and seventy-nine saves against the Pittsburgh Pirates, surpassing Lee Smiths’ historical mark. Another important moment of his career was the night of September the seventh, 2010, the day in which he would arrive to the six hundred saved games, with the Milwaukee Brewers, his last team in the MLB.

After that last game against the Saint Louis Cardinals, Hoffman would only get an additional save and would finish his career with six hundred and one. During that year, at the unset of his career, he would prove to be human by losing his closer position in the Milwaukee team, struggling with the mechanics and loss of control in his changeup, a throw that was one of his bests at the peak of his career. Regardless of that, his tremendous quality and sacrifice cannot be denied. They would prove to be his best assets during eighteen seasons, in which he pitched against all thirty teams of the MLB and achieved an 88.8% out of his saves opportunities (SVO) (601 SV in 677 SVO). In 2011, a year after his retirement, the Panamanian Mariano Rivera exceeded the number of six hundred and one saved games but this fact could not take the shine out of his brilliant achievements and he is still considered one of the best closers of all times.