FanDuel - WFBC

September 25, 2006

Hoffman breaks Lee Smith's All-Time saves mark: He surpassed Bruce Sutter's save total long ago, and Bruce was inducted into the HOF this year. Yet, Lee Smith has not been voted in. What are Hoffman's chances?

posted by mjkredliner to baseball at 01:56 PM - 18 comments

The HOF voters will eventually have to consider Mariano Rivera, as well. Do they value the closer's role enough?

posted by mjkredliner at 02:04 PM on September 25

Based on what I feel will happen - not if I necessarily feel it should happen: - Rivera - slam dunk first ballot - Hoffman - likely first ballot HoFer with about 84% - Lee Smith - no chance in hell. For the record, Bruce Sutter was a totally different 'closer' and I have a hard time putting him the same category as these others. I simply see Sutter's inclusion as being for being a full-on kick-ass reliever. And deserved at that.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:10 PM on September 25

By the time Rivera's & Hoffman's numbers come up, there may be a few other relievers who'll be in the Hall as well (Goose Gossage, don't stray too far from your voicemail), so it'll be an easier sell by the time these guys get there. I'm inclined to go with Weedy's assessment, though I'd revise those numbers down about 5-10% across the board. (It might take Hoffman an extra year or two, but yeah, hell get there.)

posted by chicobangs at 03:17 PM on September 25

Smith and Hoffy should both eventually get voted in, but the voters work in mysterious ways. A sidelight to all the hoop-la immediately after the game was Pirate manager Jim Tracy, who had managed Hoffman in the minors when he was converted from shortstop to reliever, applauding from the top of the dugout steps as were several players. Tracy earlier in the game had quickly defused a potential rhubarb by pulling reliever Juan Perez who had just plunked Branyan high and tight. Branyan had belted a homer earlier to tie the game and Perez had just given up a homer to Bard. Tracy was aware of the importance of the game at the time, and as it turned out even more so at the end. His action during the game was immediate and wise. His actions afterward were classy. Baseball needs nore of his stripe.

posted by jazzdog at 03:32 PM on September 25

Wins and saves should not be deciding factors for admission to the HOF. They are artificial constructs based on scoring decisions not made by players or umpires involved in the game. You can use them to help narrow down the field of comparables, but to say someone gets in because they have 10 more wins or 20 more saves than another comparable is just ridiculous. Here is how I compare the "closers", not including their 2006 seasons (as baseball-reference.com doesn't have them yet): ERA+: Smith: 132 Sutter: 136 Gossage: 126 Rivera: 197 Hoffman: 146 IP/appearance: Smith: 1.26 Sutter: 1.58 Gossage: 1.63 (removing the season he was a starter) Rivera: 1.15 Hoffman: 1.08 K/BB: Smith: 2.57 Sutter: 2.79 Gossage: 2.05 Rivera: 3.39 Hoffman: 3.86 WHIP: Smith: 1.256 Sutter: 1.140 Gossage: 1.232 Rivera: 1.048 Hoffman: 1.051 IP: Smith: 1289 Sutter: 1042 Gossage: 1587 Rivera: 806.7 Hoffman: 822.3 Naturally, this doesn't take into account playoff results (where a player can only GAIN points in my book, not lose them). I'm thinking that Sutter, Gossage, Rivera and Hoffman will be HOF closers. Sutter is there, Gossage will probably need a couple more rounds of voting, and Rivera gets in as a 1st ballot lock (being a playoff superman and a Yankee). Hoffman will get in on the first ballot if Rivera doesn't pass his final total (he's 2 years younger). If Rivera sets the new standard, Hoffman's big claim to fame is tarnished and suddenly he doesn't stand out as much as before. Smith doesn't have a record, a reputation or an award to hang his hat on. If you are a fan of the "save", it's important to note that Hoffman has only led the NL in that category once before this year (now twice, if 2006 ends without a surprise). Rivera led his league 3 times, Smith 4 times, Gossage 3 times and Sutter 5 times.

posted by grum@work at 05:05 PM on September 25

Why wasn't Eckersley included in your little comparison?

posted by LaKeR4LiFe at 06:08 PM on September 25

I think I just read that Eckersley had 197 Wins and 390 saves in his career. Imagine if he was a closer for his whole career? Probably could have had 500-600 saves.

posted by LaKeR4LiFe at 06:12 PM on September 25

Why wasn't Eckersley included in your little comparison? No one brought him up in the previous comments, and because he doesn't fit the same mold as the closers listed above. As you pointed out, he had a long career as a starter before switching to the closer role. His only comparable right now would be John Smoltz, except that Smoltz was a MUCH better starter and didn't put together as distinguished a career as a closer.

posted by grum@work at 07:30 PM on September 25

Actually, LaKeR4LiFe, I posted this in hopes that grum would offer his usual concise and statistically accurate point of view....and as usual, he cleared the bases. jazzdog, nice point about Jim Tracy. As for HOF inclusion for those discussed, I feel the same as most; Rivera, a sure lock due to his postseason exposure and virtue of his rings, Hoffman, kinda iffy, a better team couldn't have hurt, and Smith, well, maybe the veterans committee will put him in.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:49 PM on September 25

If you are a fan of the "save", it's important to note that Hoffman has only led the NL in that category once before this year (now twice, if 2006 ends without a surprise). Rivera led his league 3 times, Smith 4 times, Gossage 3 times and Sutter 5 times. Yes, but Hoffman has 11 seasons with 30+ saves, and 8 with 40+ saves - both are MLB records. Which is pretty amazing, since you can only save as many games as those where you're handed the lead, and Trevor played for some abysmal Padre teams through the years. Rivera is at 9 30+ seasons and 6 40+ seasons and could still pass him. Smith has 10 and 3. Eckersley has 8 and 4. Sutter has 4 and 1. Gossage has 1 season with 30+ saves and none over 40. Do you think that with the lack of a prominent frontrunning starter in the NL this year Trevor has a chance to get the Cy? For the record - as a Padres fan, I'm naturally biased on the Hoffman for the hall question. :)

posted by CountZero at 12:05 AM on September 26

Do you think that with the lack of a prominent frontrunning starter in the NL this year Trevor has a chance to get the Cy? Zero chance. It's Webb, Carpenter or possibly some other starter (Zambrano? Arroyo?). I just don't see Hoffman's numbers standing out and deserving of the Cy Young. You'd have to put up some mind-boggling numbers to win the Cy Young as a reliever (like Gagne in 2003, or Eckersley in 1990). Yes, but Hoffman has 11 seasons with 30+ saves, and 8 with 40+ saves - both are MLB records. Both of these a product of the artificial nature of the "save". Sutter and Gossage played in a time when the bullpen wasn't so strict with the hierarchal setup of starter, middle man, setup, closer. Hence their ability to lead their leagues in saves but not have that many in comparison to Hoffman. Look at the IP/appearance numbers. On average, Gossage/Sutter would appear earlier in the game and pitch longer. Sometimes it was when there was a save situation, sometimes not (like a tie game, or trailing in a close game). This year, Hoffman isn't even averaging an inning an appearance (60IP in 62 games). He's there strictly to harvest "saves", and that's it. Like I said before, saves and wins are WAY overrated in terms of rating pitchers. Example: Randy Johnson's 20-win season in 1997. Everyone seems to forget that his 20th win was probably the most manufactured "win" of the past 20 years. If you don't click the link, I'll explain it: Johnson came in as a reliever in the 5th inning, after the starter (Omar Olivares) left with a 7-2 lead. Johnson pitched 2 innings, and then left the game leading 9-2. Three more relievers came in, and they pitched only one inning each to close out the game. Johnson got the win because the scoring rules state that if the starter does not go 5IP, then the win will go to the pitcher who pitched the best for the winning team (and did not get a save in the game, if available). Since Johnson pitched 2 innings and the other relievers only pitched 1, he was awarded his 20th win. Blech. It's the same as a pitcher who comes in to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th inning with his team leading 14-2. He will get credit for a save.

posted by grum@work at 01:10 AM on September 26

The definition of a save. Please note 3(c).

posted by grum@work at 01:14 AM on September 26

If I had to bet I'd put my money on Carpenter at this point, but I can't say I'd be surprised if a reliever gets the nod. And I mean Wagner, not Hoffman. I still think Hoffman had a (slim) chance before that back-to-back-to-back-to-back game against the dodgers. Both of these a product of the artificial nature of the "save". Sutter and Gossage played in a time when the bullpen wasn't so strict with the hierarchal setup of starter, middle man, setup, closer. To go back to the HOF discussion - I'm not disputing your assertion that they played in different times where roles weren't as defined as they are nowadays. What I am saying, however, is that Hoffman and Rivera can only pitch in those innings that their managers put them in. The game has changed (evolved?) to the point where guys do have the specific roles that you mentioned. If we're going to use our pitchers in these situations, we might as well acknowledge their greatness at fulfilling those roles.

posted by CountZero at 03:02 AM on September 26

Hoffman has done nothing but perform at a high level in the situations that his manager has elected to put him in. I think, sometimes it is folly to put the onus on relievers to prove themselves when the level of control they have over how they're used is minimal. I also think that it is much harder to compare relievers of different eras than it is to do the same concerning starters and fielders. The game has evolved/changed significantly in this respect. And if Lee Smith gets in I'll eat my hat. He's a longevity guy - not too many outstanding numbers there. And grum is right - total saves should not be the highest arbitor in the discussion. Hoffman's career WHIP, OBA, and ERA+ are all worthy indicators of his HoF worthyness.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:49 AM on September 26

posted this in hopes that grum would offer his usual concise and statistically accurate point of view grumbait!

posted by qbert72 at 01:16 PM on September 26

grumbait! Ha! I have no stats to back up my opinion of his opinions, however.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:54 PM on September 26

If we're going to use our pitchers in these situations, we might as well acknowledge their greatness at fulfilling those roles. But if they've become such a limited use player, what separates them from the great pinch-hitters of yesteryear? Some of them were never given adequate playing time in the field, but could be called upon to pinch-hit with great skill. Should they be rewarded with a HOF berth because of their limited use? That's what closers have become: the "pinch-hitters" of the pitching corps. Hoffman is going to probably average less than an inning an appearance. He will pitch about 4.25% of his team's innings this year.

posted by grum@work at 03:28 PM on September 26

grumbait! Grum-BATE (noun): When you really want to know something about baseball, but don't want to look it up yourself. Usually best used when framed as a likely inaccurate declarative statement. (Or by borrowing heavily from Joe Morgan.)

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:03 PM on September 26

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